Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 What’s The Difference?

After your homeschooler finishes Pre-Algebra they will be taking Algebra 1.  Most students will notice that Algebra 1 goes over many of the topics that they learned in Pre-Algebra.  As such there might be a perception that Algebra 1 is just a little harder repeat of Pre-Algebra.  I understand how students could get this initial perception but as a homeschooling parent you need to know that your child will be learning a lot  more complex math in Algebra 1.
Many students can get over confident early in Algebra 1 only to be shocked how hard the course gets later in the year- you don’t want this to happen to your child.  I thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the chapters in Algebra 1 that really challenge students and most likely were only touched upon in Pre-Algebra.


Algebra 1 Topics Introduced In Pre-Algebra: 

  • First 1/3 to 1/2 of the course will be a review of Pre-Algebra- students will see many of the concepts they should have mastered such as variables, integers, solving equations, inequalities, graphing linear equations and finding the equations of lines.
  • Systems- much harder in Algebra 1 as students will get into systems of inequalities and linear programming.
  • Polynomials- students will learn about factoring to include advance factoring  techniques.
  • Quadratic Equations- involved topics like completing the square and the quadratic formula will be studied in-depth .  Also new abstract concepts like complex numbers will be introduced.
  • Functions and Relations- students will be challenged to find the inverse of a function, range, domain and composite functions.
  • Rational and Radical Functions – much more involved than in Pre-Algebra; students will need to use advance factoring techniques to solve problems.

So as you can see Algebra 1 starts with a review of Pre-Algebra to establish a foundation.  Once the foundation is set the course introduces many advance topics.  It should be noted that a lot depends on which curriculum / text you use however most solid learning programs will cover the essence of these topics as I described.  Lastly you want your child to be confident as they start Algebra 1 however you also want them to review the core skills they learned in Pre-Algebra as they will be needed to learn more advance topics later in the course.