My kids are getting older, and I can tell you now that I’m a little freaked out about helping them with their math questions. My latest review item, Math Refresher for Adults by Richard W. Fisher of Math Essentials came at a great time since my oldest is about to start 8th grade pre-algebra. It is a 270 page softcover workbook just for adults hoping to brush up on their math skills.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved algebra as a high school and college student. I excelled in business math and statistics, too. Geometry wasn’t my favorite, but I could always pull an A some way or another. However, I haven’t had to face anything but real life math problems in years. I’ll admit that I’m a little rusty!
Math Refresher for Adults has so much information. I could see this being an awesome tool for adults going back to college (or even recent high school grads!) to brush up on their knowledge before taking the placement exams. It’s perfect for the person who is going back to the workforce or changing careers and needs a refresher. I also know that I’ll be using it as somewhat of a reference guide for myself and my own kids when math questions pop up.
You see, each page contains a helpful hints section that cuts to the chase and gives you the bare bones information that you really need to know. For example, in the Whole Numbers section in the Reviewing Division by 1-Digit Divisors practice section, they remind us in the Helpful Hints that the order of operations is to divide, multiply, and then subtract, that remainders must be less than the divisor, and that zeroes may sometimes appear in the quotient. This information is given as short and sweet reminders to help someone work the problems correctly.
Here are just a few examples the things you can expect to be covered in the Math Refresher for Adults book, arranged by the main topics:
Whole Numbers (including things like addition, multiplying by 1, 2, and 3 digits, dividing by 1-digit divisors, etc)
Fractions (including things like expressing fractions in their simplest form, subtracting like denominators, multiplying mixed numerals, and reciprocals)
Decimals (reading decimals, adding decimals, subtracting decimals, dividing decimals by decimals, etc)
Percents (changing decimals to percents, finding the percent, reviewing word problems)
Geometry (types of angles, perimeter of polygons, circls, circumference of circles, areas of squares, rectangles, triangles, and parallelogrames)
Integers (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division)
Charts and Graphs (bar, line, circle, picture)
Word Problems (1-step and 2-step whole numbers, fractions, decimals)
Pre-Algebra and Algebra (sets, integers, potisive and negative fractions and decimals, number lines, equations, statistics, and more)
Each subtopic covers one page of the workbook. The author suggests using a separate sheet of paper to work the problems. The subtopics begin on page 11 and go to page 125. That’s a LOT of information to cover! The pages include the same type of format, which has review exercises, helpful hints, more problems to work through, and then a Problem Solving section with a single word problem. I like the predictability of the format for each page.
At page 126, a Final Review Section begins through page 133. This covers all of the previously-worked topics and each page has 20 questions. At the beginning of the book, the author says to consider anything at 80% or above to be a passing grade, so it’s easy to gauge house you’re doing. I like the final review as it is comprehensive with all of the information up to that point.
I admit that when I first received this book, I was worried that it would primarily focus on algebra, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the book was pretty much divided into all of the math topics combined and then in another section, ALGEBRA. There were topics in that first portion of the book I had completely forgotten about! I love algebra, but admit that I do need review on other things to lead back up to doing these more complex problems.
Page 134 begins the Pre-Algebra and Algebra section and goes to page 196 with different topics. Then there are practice problems from page 197-218 and a final review of all pre-algebra and algebra concepts from page 219-224. That final review has 100 total questions and is comprehensive from that section only, not the earlier reviewed subjects.
The back of the book contains a Solutions section with the answers to all of the problems throughout the whole book. Be advised that they do not work out the problems for you, it is simply numbered and has the answer typed up. If you get stuck, that won’t help you out. There is also a Glossary to help you with the terms mentioned in the book.
That said, if you need additional help for a topic, there are video lessons available at the Math Essentials website, but I was expecting to go to the website and see them correspond page by page with this book. Instead, they’re video lessons for other books by the same publisher covering the same topics as are covered in this book, so it all ends up working out in the end. In the future, I would love to see a video library more specifically linked and correllated to this book in particular. There are also video lessons available on the No Nonsense Algebra page, which the book gives you the password to access. It has a huge library of videos that breaks down each pre-algebra and algebra concept way more than the Math Refresher for Adults book does, so it’s great for those of us that need it spelled out step by step.
While completing the book, you can choose to skip around in the book or to work one page to the next, in order. To take full advantage of the review sections, you’d probably want to make sure you did complete all of the included topics prior to working the topic review sections. If you’re in a hurry and feel like you already know and have mastered something, obviously feel free to skip and test yourself with the topic reviews.
Another way you could use this would be to simply do the review questions at the end of each main topic and review anything that confused you or that you missed by backtracking in that part and reading those helpful hints and working on practice problems and watching the video lessons as needed.
I am using this more as a memory-jogging practice book. I’m working through it from front to back, as written. I’m a total math-lover, so I feel like I could complete several pages at a time, but am limiting myself to one or two. The author says not to spend more than one hour per day on math, so if you’re someone who is struggling more or reviewing a lot using the videos, you’ll probably find one page a day to be plenty of review for you.
I’m enjoying the format of the book and the simplicity of it. I’ve been away from home, and it’s something I can easily do while away from WiFi.
There are no illustrations, no quirky tidbits thrown in, nothing distracting. This book is straight-forward and informative. The information covered is helpful and has never made me feel babyish completing it. It’s presented in a way that won’t feel overwhelming as I think the number of questions on each page is perfectly reasonable and doable for an adult in a single session. I would recommend this book to others hoping to regain those math skills that they’ve all but forgotten about over time.