Saxon Algebra

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  • Reviewed on Thursday, December 19, 2013
  • Grades Used: 9
  • Dates used: 2013
My son, who struggles with technical reading, struggled when trying to use Saxon on his own. A couple of times I'd read the lesson, not have a clue what they were talking about, show him a much easier way of doing the problem, and he'd be fine. I think that even at the HS level, more diagrams in the book would be helpful.

Having said that, we purchased the CDs to go with it and they get a two thumbs up! Every lesson and every problem in each assignment and test is done step by step and as it goes, the woman speaking tells not only what to do next but why. Totally great!

If you're going to us Saxon and aren't a math whiz, get the cds. The best investment ever!


  • Reviewed on Sunday, March 13, 2011
  • Grades Used: 10 - Alg 1, Alg 2
  • Dates used: 2009-2010

I started Saxon Alg 1 in grade 10 after many years of relative struggle with mathematics. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that Saxon was exactly what I needed to succeed (not just pass!) in mathematics.

With diligent hard work, I completed Algebra 1 during the first semester of sophomore year, and Algebra 2 in the second semester. By the time June rolled around, I had already started Advanced Math.

Saxon made me become proficient in mathematics (I am just about to start Saxon Calculus), and I am forever thankful for these books. If you or your child are having a tough time with math, maybe Saxon is what you need!


  • Reviewed on Sunday, August 8, 2010
  • Grades Used: 7/6 - Algebra 1
  • Dates used: 2007-present
Some of the "cons" listed by other reviewers quite frankly surprise me. One reviewer stated that the concept, once learned, is presented in a slightly different way in the problem set and that her child found that totally frustrating. Presenting the problem a little differently is actually a "pro" not a "con." Too many times, student think they understand a concept. However, if the presentation is altered in any way, and this causes the student to be conceptually "lost," then they really don't understand the concept and should spend more time on it. As for the Saxon lessons taking too long... it's Algebra... spending increasing amounts of time as one climbs the math ladder is a given (unless your student is a math wizz). Another reviewer posted speculation that a 3rd poster spoke with the author of the Algebra 1 book, stating that John Saxon had been dead for "at least 10 years, probably longer." My response is that Saxon provides wonderful support, solution manuals that are adequate... and that there is more than 1 author for each of the higher level math books (who are very much alive). Another complaint is that the book moves "too quickly." As homeschoolers, we can move at whatever speed our student needs. Spending seveal days on one lesson, spending 1 day to cover 2 lessons, etc, is all part of the beauty of tailoring any curriculum to fit our students needs. Saxon Algebra 1 is a solid program. It's presentation is "zero-fluff," which may be a negative for some. However, my dd simply wants to learn Algebra and move on to the next level. Saxon Algebra I certainly fits that bill. (An additional plus is the Geometry added in which eliminates the need for a seperate Geometry course)


  • Reviewed on Friday, February 12, 2010
  • Grades Used: Saxon 6/5 thru Algebra I
  • Dates used: 2006-2010
{I composed this as part of a local e-loop discussion comparing Saxon and Teaching Textbooks, thus the reference to TT : ) }

I have used Saxon for 4 years--from 6th grade now to nearly finishing Algebra I. I previously avoided it because of how it look--unappealing, and I had heard others say it bored their children. However, when we got into it, I immediately liked it.

Things I LIKE about Saxon:
-My dd says she doesn't like math but it seems to come fairly easily for her. She is able to read the lesson with examples by herself and 90% of the time can 'get it' with no help from me. We tried the Dive CD but she is too impatient to watch it (I KNEW Teaching Textbooks wouldn't be a good fit for her because of that factor).
-The student gets a new lesson nearly each day (about 120 lessons/book). The lessons are VERY incremental. Each successive lessons builds a tiny building block onto the previous day's lesson
-There are 30 practice problems each day. The first problems are DIRECTLY related to what was just taught with subsequent problems reviewing previous day's lessons so that the last problems are from many lessons ago.
-Since I check my dd work everyday, I know what concepts she 'got' and which she is still shakey on. I NEVER assign all 30 problems in one day--too much. I pick and choose about 15 --always the first 'new' ones, then ones that she's struggled with. (Other folks assign odd or even problems)
-Good mix of plain problems and word problems. I think their word problems can be pretty hard (like the real world : ) For example. Instead of saying 'There were 12 ducks and 6 flew away, how many are left?" they would say, "There were a dozen ducks and half a dozen flew away, how many are left?" Past small concepts must be used to solve problems.

Things I (or others) don't like about Saxon:
-Solutions manual isn't all that helpful sometimes. They sometimes skip so many steps, it can be hard to follow. (One of the beauties of TT is that you can see EVERY problem's solution worked out step by step).
-Some editions don't tell you what lessons the practice problems come from. Thus if you have forgotten the formula for the surface area of a sphere, you have to spend 15 minutes flipping back through the book to find the lesson that taught that, to find out the formula. Some editions DO have the lesson number out beside the problem which is helpful.
-The test booklet key, and answer booklet (not solutions) are flimsy and the covers can tear off easily.
-Some people feel there are not enough practice problems that relate DIRECTLY to what was just taught.

A few generalities about Saxon:
-Grades 1-3 are set up TOTALLY different from higher grades. For lower grades, Teacher book is 3" thick with each lesson literally scripted-- "Today we will talk about measurement. Get out your...." (I HATED that...) Lower levels also require a few workbooks and LOTS of manipulatives. {expensive!!}
-The first 40 lessons of Saxon tends to be HEAVY review. (If you student struggles with those, you should probably go back a level.). The next 40 lessons is new material. The last 40 lessons, difficulty can rise sharply (we saw this the most in 7/6). I would suggest whizzing through the first 40 lessons as quickly as possible. This can leave you extra time at the end of the year to spend more time on the more difficult last 40 lessons. We sometimes took 2 days to do the last lessons. I'd assign the first 15 problems the first day, the last 15 the next. (We NEEDED plenty of review for the difficulty level)
-If you use Saxon for Algebra I and II, you can automatically take a 1/2 credit for INFORMAL geometry. Geometry is included with Algebra. If you use Saxon through Advanced Algebra (they say this generally takes 3-4 semesters to cover), you can take a full credit for PLANE geometry (proofs), a semester credit for trig, AND a semester credit for Advanced Algebra. For verifications of this info, see
-I hear Saxon is making a separte Geometry text I guess for those who want to use Saxon in isolation for Geometry.
-Sharp students can skip Saxon 8/7. I hear that initially they didn't even make an 8/7 but schools asked for it so that they could be SURE their 8th grade students had a full grasp of elementary school math concepts before moving on to algebra. For math strugglers, it can be a good final review (we skipped it with NO problems).

Ok, here's my PERSONAL OPINION conclusion:
-If you student is sharp in math, Saxon can be a good fit. I think it is hard.
-There seems to be 'chatter' that TT is not as rigorous as Saxon. BUT, if your child struggles with math or is not going into a science/math related field, rigor is not that important. Why put a child through Saxon if they hate it or struggle with math? (I plan to use TT with my other 5th grade dd starting next year. She struggles with math and I think could really benefit from the detailed tutorial explanations EVERY DAY)
-TT is expensive. Although TT can successfully be used without the video tutorial, why pay the premium price for the curric if they won't use part that makes it expensive--the tutorial video?
-One other thought... If what you are using now IS working, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'. It can be very difficult for a student to change math currics especially at the high school level. They don't all cover the exact same things from year to year so you don't know if the 'new' curric will be redundant or if you will have gaps. I think this would be especially true if you are currently using Singapore or Math U See. Both of those (I hear) teach math from a different perspective than traditional math currics and thus moving to a more traditional format (Saxon or TT) might take extra adjustment.
-Both Saxon and TT have placement tests at their website which can aid in helping you pick the appropriate level for your child : )