As teenagers struggle to figure out the order of operations in algebra, parents have their own worries. They are trying to figure out if there’s a specific order to follow for high school math. It can be confusing! What comes first? Should you take Algebra 2 after Algebra 1, or should Geometry come next?

Each math curriculum will have a their own order of high school classes. Some textbooks do it one way, and some do it the other way. Of course, they all try to convince you that THEIR way is the RIGHT way! Does it matter? Well, yes it does matter, sorta… sometimes… but not always…

In reality, it doesn’t matter **mathematically **which one comes first. There is no correct sequence you must follow, and mathematically you can teach geometry before or after algebra 2 without a problem. However, in terms of **testing**, there can be some important reasons that will help determine your math sequence. There are compelling reasons to choose the Algebra 1 – Geometry – Algebra 2 sequence. Let me explain.

Students who take geometry before their junior year are better prepared to take the PSAT, which is administered in October. There is a lot of geometry on the PSAT, so if your student doesn’t start studying it until fall of their junior year, they probably won’t score very well on that section of the PSAT. Of course, very, VERY few people get a National Merit Scholarship (which is tied to PSAT scores) anyway. In general, winners are students who score in the top 1/2 of 1 percent in the nation.

Even if your student isn’t destined to win a National Merit Scholarship, there’s still another purpose for taking the PSAT—it’s great practice for the SAT. Taking the PSAT gives kids practice with sitting in a large group and filling in bubbles on paper! Seriously, it’s great practice to take a test where they don’t know all the answers, and it gives them practice with the format of the SAT. That preparation will most likely increase their SAT test scores, which will in turn probably increase the financial aid they are offered from colleges.

Geometry and algebra are quite different skills. But geometry includes some algebra 1 skills, so it’s sort of a nice year-long review of algebra, and may give your student a chance to really digest and “become one” with algebra 1 concepts. For most people, what comes first doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that your child is learning math consistently each year.

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SoCalLynn says:

My daughter is 13 and entering 9th grade. She completed Algebra 1 last year and did very well, so I was planning on having her continue with Algebra 2 in 9th, and Geometry in 10th grade. Based on what you said above, this would work out well for the PSAT test, but now I’m second guessing my decision, if Algebra 1 skills are helpful for Geometry.What do you think? (fyi: I am not a math person, hence my insecurity.)

July 27th, 2013 at 8:39 am

Lee says:

Lynn, it looks like either Alg 2 or Geometry will be a good fit and good timing. If you are using a curriculum that you like, do what they suggest for your next step. If you need to make a change into a different curriculum, then perhaps a brief interlude for geometry would be a good idea. In any case, your daughter is gifted in math, so encourage her along the way, and don’t slow her down with your anxiety. She’s good at it, and she will likely continue to be good at it.

Blessings,

Lee

July 27th, 2013 at 8:48 am

Lois says:

This is what I always thought, but my son has not finished algebra 1 yet, although he is 15. Reason being, he switched from ALEKS back to Saxon mid year. He is really struggling with it, but easily gets the geometry questions found in Saxon. As soon as he gets done, I’m putting him in Consumer Math and a Dave Ramsey finance course (semester each). Then I’ll have him take Algebra II with Teaching Textbooks (which I’ve heard is “behind” other math courses.) Since I can’t see him pursuing a career involving complex math, will that be adequate for high school? Is geometry necessary at all, especially since it is included with Saxon? I speak as someone who only took algebra and geometry in high school, since that was all that was required.

July 27th, 2013 at 9:21 am