This series of ten workbooks is equivalent to a complete first year algebra course, although less difficult than most. Titles of each book indicate topics covered: Operations on Integers; Variables, Terms and Expressions; Equations; Polynomials; Rational Numbers; Multiplying and Dividing Rational Expressions; Adding and Subtracting Rational Expressions; Graphs; Systems of Equations; and, Square Roots and Quadratic Equations.
The worktext format provides instruction, examples, and room for problem solving, all within each workbook. Word problems help students understand life applications for algebra. As in the Key to Geometry series, much of the time students "discover" mathematical principles through problem solving activities with presentation of the rules following. This is in contrast to most algebra programs which teach rules first, with application practice following. Review takes place at the end of each book. Reproducible tests are available. Answers and Notes come in three separate books: one covering Books 1-4, one for Books 5-7, and one for Books 8-10. Like the other Key series, the books are black and white, consumable workbooks. They have large print and fewer exercises per page than most standard textbooks, so they are unintimidating.
Because they are easy to use and understand, these books are especially good for both students and parents who are weak in math. While Key to Algebra can be a full, first-year algebra course, it can also be used for review or as a gentle introduction, possibly using only the first seven books before a student begins a rigorous algebra course. Students who plan to go on to an Algebra II course should probably choose a more rigorous first year course.