Most people associate algebra classes with high school and assume that they will never use algebraic concepts after college. Others assume that the only people who need to know algebra are mathematics teachers. However, algebra is a very useful tool throughout life; if nothing else, understanding these concepts gives individuals a broad knowledge base and practice in logical thinking. Today, anyone can learn algebra online for no cost instead of having to study it in a classroom.

**Importance of Learning Algebra**

Some students detest algebra because it seems less concrete than basic mathematics is. However, before writing off this type of math completely, it is wise to see how it could benefit students in the future. Of course, most know that algebra is the prerequisite subject for most other upper-level mathematics courses, including geometry, trigonometry and calculus. Algebra is often required for entrance to college as well. Students must know some algebra in order to pass the SATs or ACTs, typical college entrance examinations. Therefore, at least one year of algebra should be taken in high school, preferably during one’s freshman or sophomore years.

Many jobs require some type of algebraic training. Of course, white-collar workers, such as engineers, physicists, analysts, pharmacists and accountants, use algebra weekly or even daily. However, it is surprising to some that even a handful of blue-collar workers find algebra to be a useful tool. Examples include electricians and plumbers.

However, algebra does more than simply prepare people for a variety of jobs. Algebra develops abstract thinking and the ability to construct and solve problems in one’s mind. Word problems break down everyday questions into something that can be solved. Those who study algebra also learn more about logical thinking, fractions and graphs. In fact, many find that knowing algebra helps them with ordinary tasks, such as cooking and building.

**Benefits of Learning Algebra Online**

Now that the benefits of learning algebra have been proven, some may be wondering how they can take a course, especially if they are not currently in high school or college. Today, numerous algebra courses are offered at no cost online. These courses are ideal for a variety of people in every walk of life. Adults who have a daytime job can take these courses in the evening or whenever they are home because the courses are always available. College or high school students who need to brush up on their algebra skills or who need extra help while they are taking a classroom course will find these practice problems and worksheets to be just what they need. Parents can also benefit from these online courses if they need to help their children with homework.

Online classes allow users to work at their own pace and at times that will work best for them. They can test their knowledge with online tests and can review concepts as often as they like. They have access to written materials, video courses, printable worksheets and fun games that will solidify the concepts in their minds.

**Items Needed to Learn Algebra Online**

Online algebra courses do not require many additional materials. Of course, students will need to have a computer with internet access. Some students who do not have their own may wish to consider using a computer at a library or local college. A printer is helpful for printing out tests and worksheets. In addition, students should have one or two blank notebooks, a pen or pencil, an eraser and a scientific calculator.

**How to Begin Learning Algebra Online**

The first step to learning algebra online is to choose a course. Some courses may cover more advanced concepts while others begin with basic concepts or pre-algebra. Finding the right course for an individual will decrease frustration.

Beginners will need to start by mastering preliminary concepts such as factoring, number types and properties, fractions and decimals. When learning a new skill, one must read the instructions, study the example problems and do the practice problems. Students who already have a basic knowledge of pre-algebra will be able to start with concepts such as graphing, ratios, proportions, exponents and equations. More advanced classes will cover quadratic equations, word problems, functions, complex fractions, logarithms and cofactors.

The second step is to practice and study constantly. Continual reinforcement will make algebra second nature. There are numerous ways to practice. Many online courses have printable worksheets for a variety of concepts. Students can even search other sites for additional worksheets. Students who like to play video games will enjoy learning games that make use of algebraic concepts.

The third step is to test one’s knowledge periodically. Some students feel that they can skip the unit quizzes and tests that are provided on many sites along with the classes. However, these tests will help students see how they are doing and will show them which concepts they struggle with the most.

**Additional Tips and Tricks for Learning Algebra**

Students should never try to skip ahead in their classes or overlook a certain concept that they have difficulty understanding because algebraic concepts build on one another. Students also need to be patient with themselves. Sometimes, it may take a while for the logic of algebra to become completely understandable. Finally, if someone is struggling to understand a concept, he or she should not be afraid to ask for help. Some online sites allow users to ask questions of algebra teachers. Students may also be able to find a friend or a tutor who can help them.

Algebra definitely has a place in the real world, whether one is a physicist, an electrician or a homemaker. Those who have never taken algebra in school or those who wish to brush up on their knowledge can search through a myriad of helpful online sites that will teach beginning to advanced concepts for no cost. With a computer, pencil, paper and determination, anyone can master these concepts.

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