SAT Prep with No-Nonsense Algebra (Review)


This year brings the second round of college prep in our homeschool. My oldest graduated last year and will be leaving for college in just under two weeks. I’m incredibly excited for him, but at the same time, my mommy heart keeps having panic attacks. He’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. Right???

Anyway, so this year my daughter is doing a combo 9th/10th grade so we can knock out high school in three years instead of four. Because her birthday is in October, she started public school a year older than everyone else. But now that we homeschool, we can do whatever we want we can do what’s best for her, and that means graduating her early. As we prep for her PSAT in October of this year and then the SAT next year, we were incredibly blessed to receive the perfect material to help her – No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials.

Along with the book, we also received access to online video tutorials.

SAT Prep with No-Nonsense Algebra

No-Nonsense Algebra has short self-contained lessons that follow the same five part flow:

  • Introduction and explanation of the topic
  • Helpful hints that give important tips and shortcuts
  • Examples of step by step solutions
  • Written exercises with answers in the back of the book
  • Review section that reinforces what the student has learned

Each lesson contains the necessary structure and guidance that will ensure that the student will learn algebra in a systematic, step by step, logical manner.

Did you catch that? The algebra is taught in a systematic and logical way. Those two words – systematic and logical – are like music to my daughter’s ears. Her way of thinking and doing has resounded those two words her entire life. I’d *almost* give her the label of OCD, almost.

With the PSAT coming up in a couple of months, I had her take a practice test. Her language arts scores were near perfect, but her math wasn’t so great. Apparently what we’d been using wasn’t teaching her what she needed to know. No-Nonsense Algebra has been the answer to that problem.

Because she took the practice test, we know which concepts she needs help with. Thankfully, the chapters are set up so they can be done in any order. Julia has been able to skip around the book practicing only what she needs, yay!

Using No-Nonsense Algebra

We went through the book and marked which concepts she needed to practice. Then we made a schedule that would allow her to make it through everything in the eight or so weeks until the test. Each time she sat down, she’d log in to the website to watch the tutorial video. Once that was done, and she fully understood what was being done (sometimes this took two or three watches), then she would tackle the pages in the book.

One of her biggest foes was graphing linear equations. (here’s a screenshot of that particular tutorial)


And here’s a quick photo of her sitting down to do the book pages. (We don’t have air conditioning downstairs so do A LOT of our schooling outside)

This was actually the lesson she started with. As soon as she began reading through the lesson, I heard, “Mom, Mom!!!” I came running because I thought something was wrong. Let me share the ensuing conversation with you . . .

Julia: “Mom, Mom!!”

Me: “What? What’s wrong?!”

Julia (with a smile): “This is SO much easier than Khan! It makes so much more sense!!”

Me (somewhat irritated but glad she likes the math): “Okay, great.”

Julia: “Do I have to do one lesson per day or can I do more?”

That moment. ^ Right there. The world shook. My world shook. My daughter asked to do math.

We (as a family) been using Khan Academy for years, but at some point, they switch over to the common core way of doing things. I firmly believe this is why she found the Khan way so much more difficult. Okay, and the fact that the book speaks her love language – logic. From here on out we’ll be using the No-Nonsense Algebra videos and book for her math training. This was actually her idea, not mine. She also plans to go back and complete the chapters that weren’t marked specifically for testing purposes.

Thank you, Math Essentials, for getting my girl to enjoy math.

A few quick note about the structure of the book . . .

No-Nonsense Algebra is a 275-page softcover book. It has 10 chapters with 4-22  lessons each, and a chapter review at the end.

At the back of the book, you’ll find the answers, a Final Review, Glossary, and other helps. It retails for $28.95.


If you buy one math book for your high schooler, make it this one.

If you buy one SAT Math Prep book, make it this one.

Seriously. It’s that good.

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