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About algebra

Algebra is one of the broad areas of mathematics, along with number theory, geometry and analysis. In its most general form, algebra is the study of mathematical symbols and the rules for manipulating these symbols; it is a unifying thread of almost all of mathematics.

The basics of algebra cover the simple operation of mathematics like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, involving both constants as well as variables. For example, x+10 = 0. This introduces the important algebraic concept known as equations.

The basic parts of algebra are called elementary algebra, while the more abstract parts are called abstract algebra or modern algebra. Elementary algebra is considered to be essential for any study of mathematics, science, or engineering, as well as applications such as medicine and economics. Abstract algebra is a major area in advanced mathematics, studied primarily by professional mathematicians.

Why is algebra important to study?

Algebra is critically important because it is often viewed as a gatekeeper to higher-level mathematics and it's a required course for virtually every postsecondary school program. The first year of algebra is a prerequisite for all higher-level maths: geometry, algebra II, trigonometry and calculus.

Learning algebra helps to develop your critical thinking skills. That includes problem solving, logic, patterns, and reasoning. You need to know algebra for many professions, especially those in science and mathematics.

How can algebra help me in my career and everyday life?

Just as multiplying two by twelve is faster than counting to 24 or adding two twelve times, algebra helps solve problems more quickly and easily than we could otherwise. Algebra also opens up whole new areas of life problems, such as graphing curves that cannot be solved with only basic maths skills.

Algebra is also necessary to get on top of concepts, statistics and calculus – used by many people in their jobs. For example, a research analyst uses statistics every day. In general, statistics are used in businesses, the media, health and wellness, politics, social sciences and many other fields. Understanding statistics makes us wiser consumers of information and better employees and citizens.

Learning calculus is a must for anyone interested in pursuing a career in science, medicine, computer modelling, or engineering as scientists and engineers use calculus in research and in designing new technology, medical treatments and consumer products. 

A student may feel that they are not going into a career needing statistics, but many people change jobs and entire careers many. Possessing a firm knowledge and understanding of algebra will make career-related changes a much easier ride.

Outside careers, algebra is helpful in making day-today financial decisions: insurance plans, mobile phone contracts, mortgages, even simple shopping. Then there is the fact that algebra encourages logical thinking.

The beauty of algebra is that it provides us with a basic language to describe so many types of real-world phenomena from gravity to population growth. There is also beauty when we start with a complex-looking problem and combine and simplify many times until we have one value for each variable. The process is enjoyable, and the result is immensely satisfying.

So, approach algebra with an open mind and look for ways to share its applications and consider algebra as a gateway to exploring the world around us.

How much do algebra lessons cost?

Algebra lessons can start from around £12, and some tutors or teachers offer a first trial lesson free.

There are many tutors, teachers, instructors and service providers of varying experience and expertise, therefore the price can vary greatly. You must factor in location, the level of study for each course, your commitment and length of lessons.

Search TutorExtra for providers and view their experience, prices and more.

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