Math-U-See Algebra

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  • Reviewed on Monday, May 9, 2016
  • Grades Used: Algebra 2 and Geometry
  • Dates used: 2013-2014
I wanted to like this program, and my daughter did....until she got her ACT score. After doing Algebra 1 with another program, we switched to Math-U-See for Geometry and Algebra 2. It felt like a breath of fresh air, and she thought she was finally understanding math. When she took her ACT test, she only scored a 20. Disappointment is an understatement, but since she didn't think she'd need math for the field she had chosen, she let it go.

Now two years later, she's changed her college plan and she's trying to improve her ACT score. She's using Khan Academy to review, and it turns out, all she learned in Math-U-See's Algebra 2 is only Algebra 1 according to Khan Academy and other publishers.

If you are going to use this program, be aware that you will need to get through at least the Pre-calculus program in order to cover what other publishers consider Algebra 2.


  • Reviewed on Saturday, September 13, 2014
  • Grades Used: Primer-PreAlgebra
  • Dates used: 2009-2014
We've used Math-U-See from Primer through PreAlgebra.

Our daughter has scored between 98-100% on the math portions of her state exams.

Math-U-See's greatest strength is it teaches the "why" of math: Why it's done this way; not just the traditional way of providing the formula to solve a problem with no reason or logic applied.

The second strength is that it teaches how to apply the math lesson to real life scenarios, at each step and in each grade.

Third thing we like is this: It strengthens the student's ability to do math in his/her head.
Already, we're going to the grocery store, and our daughter is figuring - mentally - how much each item costs per ounce; whether we're getting the correct change at the restaurant, etc.

Fourth: LOVE the instruction videos and the teacher's manual. Both are excellent resources and explain things in a way that's understandable.

The only con is that our daughters like to use the blocks - they like SEEING the math problem - and that takes extra time. We've scheduled 40 min. for math each day instead of 30, and that seems to have allotted them enough time to get each assignment done.

Hope that's helpful!

Have Fun in Math!

GA Peach

  • Reviewed on Friday, October 26, 2012
  • Grades Used: Primer, Epsilon, Zeta, Algebra 1
  • Dates used: 2010-2012
I hope that my review will be beneficial to someone. I am going against the grain here ... I'm not singing MUS praises. :)

After hearing such rave reviews of MUS, we made a big shift last year and all of our children worked through (well, mostly through) a MUS book. We really invested in the program... blocks, fraction overlays, decimal name it, we have it.

However, we are now on to other math programs.

We really wanted to like this program, but...
Here are our reasons why it wasn't a fit for us...

First, the obvious appeal is the manipulatives. We loved the colorful blocks and can see the ideal benefit for young children. seems that my primer student was learning the colors of the blocks instead of and before the number...she knew that a yellow and a brown would make a blue. Translation: 2 and 8 make 10. That lost points with me. I am sure that in time she would understand the number part of the equation, but I wasn't willing to experiment with that any longer. :)

Second, while the fraction overlays have some great promise, we found the explanations on how to use them for "advanced" fractions quite confusing. of Primer...
I understand that most 4 year olds don't want to do paper work. Mine is no exception. She quickly tired of math "work".
When we approached the "count by two's" section. She was stumped. I felt that if we moved on to another topic without mastering that one, I would be doing her a disservice. After all, isn't that what a mastery program does...offer mastery? So...we stayed on the topic of skip counting for some time. Finally, after drying her tears when I told her that it was time for math, I realized that this was NOT a good fit for her.
She needed to "play" while doing math...we opted for Rightstart math for her Kindergarten year and, after using it for just a few weeks, realize that this will be our math program for her for years to come.

Review for Epsilon...
As I said above, the fraction overlays show great promise, but we were confused and frustrated when we actually had to use them for some topics. I felt as though Mr. Demme "forced" their use into some of the lessons. We didn't even finish this book...though we came close to doing so.

Review for Zeta...
We actually appreciated the conceptualization of the decimals for this program! I plan to keep the blocks for that reason. :) This level worked for my son, but I can't see any reason to switch to this level from a different math program just for this level.

Review for Algebra...
This is when we decided that MUS was not working ... for sure. :)
It just...didn't work. I'm not even sure I can pinpoint why.
The video presentations were too short. Way too short. Sometimes Mr. Demme only worked one or two examples before turning the students loose to do their own work.
There just didn't seem to be enough "meat" in the worktext. My son often forgot what was taught...and that isn't typical for him.

Again, we ditched the book and moved on to something else. We found VideoText to be an appropriate match for my son (and myself!).

While I appreciate the ideas behind MUS and we loved the consumable worktext...this was, sadly, not a fit for our family.

Carolyn Harrison

  • Reviewed on Tuesday, February 21, 2012
  • Grades Used: 9th
  • Dates used: Fall 2011
I have friends who love MUS, so I tried it a few years ago (Gamma through Pre-Alg) and the kids (and I) did indeed pick up some neat tricks. Steve Demme makes math enjoyable and easy to follow, and his technique to ensure mastery is the best. So I would recommend up through Pre-Alg.

But end-of-year tests found my kids lacking, as the MUS scope and sequence isn't on the same track as most math programs (and apparently, starndardized tests). And now, the grades actually count toward that all-important GPA. So we started using MUS as a precurser to A Beka on the same level, with more success than just MUS alone. MUS (like Alpha-Omega maths) doesn't seem to be as rigorous as some other programs and may not adequately prepare students for college math. Fine, however, if college is not in the future plans.

Now, as for Algebra I. MAKE SURE, if you buy used, that you have the same level/edition of Instructor Manual, Student Texts/Tests, and DVD. The level I had (2009, I think) -- even though the IM and DVD were the same edition -- weren't synced up after Lesson 8. Not a big deal, but irksome.

Seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time (lessons) on graphing. Didn't really need the manipulatives at this level, as kids are able to solve abstractly. I've been told that the MUS high school scope and sequence is more in line with traditional views, but I don't have the luxury of experimenting with that theory!

I hate to leave MUS, but we're currently searching for another high school math.