Pre-algebra is a common name for a course in middle school mathematics. In the United States, pre-algebra is usually taught in the 7th grade or 8th grade. The objective of it is to prepare students for the study of algebra. Usually algebra is taught in the 8th and 9th grade.
As an intermediate stage after arithmetic, pre-algebra helps students pass certain conceptual barriers. Students are introduced to the idea that an equals sign, rather than just being the answer to a question as in basic arithmetic, means that two sides are equivalent, and can be manipulated together. They also learn how numbers, variables, and words can be used in the same ways.
Subjects taught in a Pre-algebra course may include:
- Review of natural number arithmetic
- Types of numbers such as integers, fractions, decimals and negative numbers
- Ratios and percents
- Factorization of natural numbers
- Properties of operations such as associativity and distributivity
- Simple (integer) roots and powers
- Rules of evaluation of expressions, such as operator precedence and use of parentheses
- Basics of equations, including rules for invariant manipulation of equations
- Understanding of variable manipulation
- Manipulation and plotting in the standard 4-quadrant Cartesian coordinate plane
- Powers in scientific notation (example: 34 × 107 in scientific notation is 3.4 × 108)
- Identifying Probability
- Solving Square roots
- Pythagorean Theorem
Proficiency in pre-algebra has been shown to be an indicator of college success. It can also be taught as a remedial course for college students.
- In the Introduction to their book on pre-algebra.Szczepanski & Kositsky (2008) say that "the math in this book should match what's taught in many middle school classrooms in California, Florida, New York, Texas, and other states". (p. xix)
- "A Leak in the STEM Pipeline: Taking Algebra Early". www2.ed.gov. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
- Linchevski, Liora (1995). "Algebra With Numbers and Arithmetic With Letters: A Definition of Pre-Algebra". Journal of Mathematical Behavior. 14: 113–120. doi:10.1016/0732-3123(95)90026-8.
- "Gifted and Talented Honors Pre-algebra | Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth". cty.jhu.edu. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
- Gningue, Serigne Mbaye; Menil, Violeta C.; Fuchs, Eric (June 1, 2014). "Applying Bruner's Theory of Representation to Teach Pre-Algebra and Algebra Concepts to Community College Students Using Virtual Manipulatives". The Electronic Journal of Mathematics and Technology. 8. ISSN 1933-2823.
- Szczepanski, Amy F.; Kositsky, Andrew P. (2008), The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pre-algebra, Penguin, ISBN 9781592577729