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Elementary Algebra
Reviews Index


Elementary Algebra

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Publisher: W H Freeman and Co.
Author: Harold R. Jacobs

List Price: Hardcover: $68.95

Ages: 15-18 Years

Reviewed By: Beverly Krueger

Elementary Algebra, by Harold R. Jacobs, has become the Algebra I alternative for the math phobic homeschooler. This is largely due to its use of real life examples to explain mathematical principles and the readability of the text. For example, the lesson on zero and negative exponents uses piano tuning as the basis in its explanation. In addition, the text incorporates math history where doing so adds insight or interest to the topic. Generous white space in the layout and the narrow focus of each lesson helps to avoid overwhelming students who might be distracted by busy pages full of equations. The text also includes elements of humor such as naming characters in word problems Obtuse Ollie or Acute Alice or using relevant comic strips. The text covers pre-algebra through Algebra I and could be used as soon as a student has mastered arithmetic, basic geometry, and the other non-algebra topics covered in a typical pre-algebra text.

Jacobs has ordered his text in a way that suits the non-mathematical student. Some topics, like the chapter on real numbers, are found out of sequence from the typical Algebra I text. While the progression may not be typical, it is complete and offers coverage of topics that some students may have forgotten or missed, particularly if they have always struggled with math. The chapter on number sequences is a topic usually found in an Algebra II text. Elementary Algebra is a little pre-algebra, a little Algebra II, and lots of Algebra I.

A student who has completed this text should have no problem continuing in an Algebra II with trigonometry or precalculus text, which cover essentially the same topics. Most students take a break between algebras to do a geometry course. Algebra II texts provide a thorough review for this reason. A student moving straight from this text to Algebra II may be able to skip that review.

There are 17 chapters with 112 lessons in this text. Each chapter includes a summary and review with two sets of problems. One of these sets could be used as a review and the other as a unit test. A midterm review provides three sets of problems and the final review provides two test sets. Each lesson includes four sets of exercises. Set I is a review set covering past lessons. Sets II and III are practice sets for the lesson. Set IV provides challenge questions that require the student to apply his knowledge to solve a problem or mathematical puzzle. Your student will find answers for Set II in the back of the student text. Answers for Sets I, II, and IV are in the teacher's guide. There is no solutions manual, but most students should be able to solve the problems using examples from the text. Advanced students may prefer a more rigorous text. Test banks and transparencies are available.
More Information
Available From: WH Freeman and Co
Address: 41 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010
Phone: 866.843.3715; ext. 1752
Other Notes: Homeschoolers will need to order using the phone # or email address listed here in order to obtain teacher editions.

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Beverly Krueger
Beverly Krueger is Editor in Chief of the Eclectic Homeschool Online and a homeschool conference speaker. Her publishing company, EEG Publishing, also publishes a number of helpful websites including,,,,,,, and The Krueger family also participate in the ministry of Mission of Joy, a Christian mission to the people of India.
Copyright © 2007 Eclectic Homeschool Association


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