The 10 Best Algebra Textbooks

Updated June 07, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Algebra Textbooks
Algebra and Trigonometry
Algebra 2 Common Core
Survival Guide
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Let's face it, math isn't everyone's favorite subject and not many of us are geniuses at it, but we all need to get through algebra class. Whether you're a concerned parent, struggling high schooler, or imminent college student, we've included helpful textbooks in this selection for everything from basic to advanced levels. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best algebra textbook on Amazon.

10. Introduction to Linear Algebra

Introduction to Linear Algebra is a basic option with easy to understand correlative challenge and review questions. It is often praised among teachers in high schools and colleges because of the way it breaks down difficult concepts in a simple manner.
  • good starting point for newbies
  • chapters begin with a short overview
  • doesn't have enough worked examples
Model n/a
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Introductory and Intermediate Algebra

Introductory and Intermediate Algebra gives a great overview of the basics and then goes more in-depth, making it good for a wide range of students, even those with limited starting knowledge. It's well-organized with thorough explanations and examples.
  • can personalize your study plan
  • easy to follow along
  • doesn't contain many illustrations
Publisher Simon & Schuster Childr
Model n/a
Weight 12.6 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Algebra 2 Common Core

Algebra 2 Common Core is designed for students in 10th or 11th grade. It has a nice clean layout with minimal pictures to distract you, though this can make it difficult for individuals who prefer a visual learning experience.
  • builds upon algebra 1 concepts
  • uses real-life examples
  • interactive online tools
Publisher Algebra 2 Common Core
Model n/a
Weight 5.5 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. College Algebra: Graphs and Models

College Algebra: Graphs and Models offers lots of visual references with side-by-side algebraic and graphical solutions. It's accompanied by a MyMathLab online course and has review exercises throughout to assist in the learning process and prepare students for exams.
  • takes an unconventional approach
  • indicates when to use a calculator
  • no answers for the even problems
Publisher College Algebra: Graphs
Model n/a
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. McGraw Hill Algebra 1

McGraw Hill Algebra 1 provides comprehensive coverage of the subject, introduces concepts and skills, and offers opportunities to practice and reinforce what has already been learned. It's great for homeschooling, tutoring, and the classroom.
  • uses interactive resources
  • detailed examples of formulas
  • part of the common core curriculum
Publisher Glencoe McGraw Hill
Model n/a
Weight 5.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Structure and Method, Book 1

Structure and Method, Book 1 may not have as many pictures or frills as some other options, but it might just have the best sequencing. The problems incrementally get harder as students work through the book, so they never feel overwhelmed.
  • slowly builds up foundational skills
  • won't frustrate learners
  • suitable for self instruction
Publisher McDougal Littel
Model n/a
Weight 2.9 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. For College Students

For College Students covers the basic foundations, such as variables and functions, and gradually leads up to the more advanced levels. The author uses unique examples to illustrate the importance of algebra in real life, like building the Pyramids.
  • more engaging than many other texts
  • explanations are very clear
  • helps foster an interest in math
Publisher For College Students
Model n/a
Weight 4.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

3. No-Nonsense 2nd Edition

The No-Nonsense 2nd Edition reviews pre-algebra, expands beyond basic knowledge, and allows students to easily work their way up to more advanced concepts. The lessons are concise and simple with clear explanations to facilitate independent learning.
  • contains lots of examples
  • works through problems step by step
  • good for those who find math hard
Publisher No-Nonsense 2nd Edition
Model n/a
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Survival Guide

Former middle and high school teacher, Josh Rappaport's enjoyable Survival Guide might not technically be a textbook, but it definitely deserves a spot on this list. It is like having your very own tutor and does a great job of making learning fun.
  • teaches a lot of unique tricks
  • helps students master word problems
  • provides a complete answer key
Publisher Singing Turtle Press
Model n/a
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Algebra and Trigonometry

Robert F. Blitzer, the author of Null Pearson Education's Algebra and Trigonometry, uses topics like inflation, student loan debt, and the average sleeping hours of college-aged individuals to keep learners interested in the concepts being taught.
  • reviews prerequisite material
  • builds foundational skills
  • includes videos for visual learners
Publisher Algebra and Trigonometr
Model n/a
Weight 6.3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

A Lesson In Mathematics

Few subjects in school send students into a state of cross-eyes confusion more readily than mathematics. Even among students who naturally excel at it, who are somehow more attuned to the principals of the mathematical world, there can be a resistance to the subject.

I've had some good conversations with mathematician friends of mine, as well as a couple current math teachers, about why so many students balk at math more than other classes. I expected most of them to tell me that math is just harder to learn, or that the majority of human brains simply aren't built to wrap themselves around concepts beyond a certain level.

To my surprise, the bulk of the conversations I had shared a common thread. It's not that higher levels of math are necessarily more difficult to learn; most of the people I talked to said that certain higher levels of math are actually harder to teach.

That may seem like a matter of semantics, but take a look at how we physically interact with our world using math. Learning addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division through elementary school, we find ourselves applying what we learn on a near daily basis. Going to the store for snacks, saving up our allowance for a new video game–everything about this mathematical experience is tangible.

It's when we get into the intangibles that things get hairy. Most school textbooks covering algebra or geometry spend 90% of their pages explaining concepts and formulas as dryly as possible, and finish off each chapter with a petty attempt at exemplifying a scenario in which you might actually apply a given lesson.

That's all well and good for the one student in a thousand who goes on to become an architect, but there's no hook in it for the rest of us. When I got to college, after sloughing through years of unintelligible, inapplicable math textbooks, I took a practical physics class, and I realized what all math text books needed, which is something these algebra books have in varying degrees: a sense of wonder.

The seven books on our list all combine centuries worth of algebraic discovery into a few hundred pages of lessons, quizzes, and examples, but in recent years–likely in response to this sense among math teachers that there was something missing from their books–math texts have been imbued with a greater sense of magic, with the idea that numbers have meanings and implications we can only begin to grasp.

A Method To Your Mathness

As important as I think a sense of mystery is to the education of young mathematical minds, you may completely disagree. And that's fine. Like I said, there are varying degrees of wonder spread through the books on our list, so you can go with the driest among them if that suits your style.

After all, each of us learns in slightly different ways. I know that I need my sense of suspicion and curiosity stimulated for my brain to open up to new information. I suspect that this is true of most brains, though I'm sure some shut down as soon as things get philosophical.

As you read up on the descriptions offered for each of the algebra textbooks on our list, it'd be worth keeping in mind your personal learning style. If you're investigating these books as teaching tools, then a close look at your teaching style will be just as useful.

When I taught English for a year at my old high school before heading to graduate school, I actually preferred the drier texts to the more evocative ones. I found that I flew so far off the handle imaginatively that if I had a textbook that did the same, we'd never get anything done. I used a more conservative packet of materials to ground my teaching insanity.

You might be just the opposite, preferring a text that can elevate your lessons to new heights. Whatever your approach, there's a book on this list that'll fit the mold. Not all of the algebra texts on this list approach the same educational levels, either, so make sure that fit is suited to the height you wish to teach or to attain.

Ages Of Algebra

It's a comfortable thing for westerners to attribute all of the great historical achievements of mankind to Greek and Roman thinkers, but the roots of algebra and other mathematical works reache back much farther than that.

Archeologists and math historians have dated the oldest texts known to man that elucidate algebraic concepts to sometime between 2000 and 1500 BCE. These texts–the Babylonian Plimpton 322 tablet and the Egyptian Rhind papyrus–both put forth models of linear equations.

The work of these ancient mathematicians spread to the critical thinkers of Greek antiquity, whose work then spread to the Persian empire. By the time the Persian mathematicians made their own great strides in the art, they'd already distributed the thought eastward and into India and China. At the height of the Persian empire, western Europe received a new taste of evolved algebra up through Spain.

All this rich history covering centuries of exploration, experimentation, and expression, all so sleepy students could have the luxury of checking out in the middle of math class and thinking, instead, about their crush sitting across the classroom.

Statistics and Editorial Log

Paid Placements

Recent Update Frequency

help support our research

patreon logoezvid wiki logo small

Last updated on June 07, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For our full ranking methodology, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.