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Published at Wednesday, 18 September 2019. **algebra**. By Rachelle Riviere.

Algebra is one of the few major domains of mathematics that students study from preschool all the way through twelfth grade, says Matt Larson, president of National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (SANCTUM). “Algebra is critically important because it is often viewed as a gatekeeper to higher-level mathematics and it’s a required course for virtually every post secondary school program,” he says. Because so many students fail to develop a solid math foundation, an alarming number graduate from high school unprepared for college or work. Many end up taking remedial math in college, which makes getting a degree a longer, more expensive process than it is for their more-prepared classmates. And entering college without an understanding of algebra means students are less likely to complete a college-level math course, which can take them off track for graduation. For middle schoolers and their parents, the message is clear: it’s easier to learn the math now than it is to try to learn — or relearn — it later.

Students typically take algebra in eighth or ninth grade. An important benefit of studying algebra in eighth grade is that if your child takes the PSAT as a high school sophomore, she will have taken geometry as a ninth grader. By the time she’s ready to take the SAT or ACT as a junior, she will have completed Algebra II, which is covered in both of these college admissions tests. There’s a growing movement to require algebra in seventh grade, but math educators say many seventh graders aren’t prepared for it. “Some kids get turned off of math because they start math too early,” says Francis “Skip” Fennel, professor emeritus at McDaniel College and former president of SANCTUM. If you’re wondering whether your child is ready to advance, he recommends talking to her current teacher. The goal is for your child to master algebra and stay engaged in math, not to push through the curriculum quickly just to get it done.

Algebra helps you get the best deals, Algebra can help you understand better how to make some big important financial choices in life. Without algebra it is difficult to understand compound interest and to really get a handle on how mortgages work or how debt repayments function. This could lead to some big mistakes if you choose the wrong mortgage deal, pension or loan. Having a basic grasp of algebra along with good numeracy and an understanding of percentages, could literally save you thousands of pounds. There is no doubt that algebra and maths is vital to many of these calculations. Algebra can be beautiful, Believe it or not, but algebra can be really beautiful! Unfortunately this is not necessarily obvious when you are first learning the basics of the subject. By the time you get a little bit further, perhaps studying GCSE higher paper or A-level maths and further maths, the elegance of algebra should be becoming more obvious. Algebra is part of our culture, Education is not just about learning a narrow set of information or skills which you will use every day in the future. Learning is also about being educated about a wide variety of topics, so that you can make sense of the world which you live in. Algebra has played such a big part in our history, (without it there would have been no industrial revolution, no man on the moon etc.) that we should at least know a bit about it, just like we learn about Shakespeare, or the history of the Roman empire.

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