My son loves math, but Beast Academy is the only math book that he’s ever **begged** to read.

After all, most math curricula don’t include problems that start

The combined cost of a slingshot and a grapefruit is $23…

And I’ve certainly never seen any other math book that includes references to Alex Trebek, *The Princess Bride,* and *Star Wars*. (Not to mention comic book monsters with distinct personalities, including a two-headed custodian named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.)

But, don’t let the humor and the adorable cartoon monsters fool you. Beast Academy is not only a **serious math curriculum**: it’s the most challenging math program available for these grade levels.

In this review, I’ll explain what makes Beast Academy so different from other programs and help you decide whether it’s a good fit for your family.

(Psst…Have you already decided to use Beast Academy? Click here to receive your 1-page guide to using Beast Academy. )

### Overview

Beast Academy is published by Art of Problem-Solving as a lead-in to their rigorous middle school and high school textbooks. Eventually, Beast will be a comprehensive curriculum for grades 2-5, with four guides and four practice books per grade. As of this writing, you can buy grade 3, grade 4, and most of grade 5.

### Beast Academy Guides

The Beast Academy guides serve as textbooks in the series, but they are unlike any textbook I’ve ever seen before. They are full-color, **graphic-novel-style** softcover books that tell the story of four “beasts” who attend Beast Academy. We follow the four as they attend classes and puzzle over the problems posed by their instructors. Each of the students and teachers has a distinct personality, with lots of humor sprinkled through the text. My favorite so far is the cover of Guide 3D:

The guides use many everyday contexts and visual representations to encourage children to think deeply and understand what they’re learning. Kids can’t just memorize procedures when they have to apply their learning to so many different situations. For example, here are three different ways that the final chapter of 3B presents the distributive property:

Throughout the guides, stop signs in the text remind kids to stop and solve the problems themselves before they read the characters’ answers. The books often provide multiple solutions to the problems to help kids learn to think about math concepts flexibly.

Each guide is divided into three chapters, with each chapter further divided into short sections that help develop the chapter topic. Rectangles in the guides show when the student should stop and complete the corresponding pages in the practice book.

### Practice Books

While the guides introduce the concepts, the real substance of the program is in the practice books. Each chapter has 100-150 practice problems, ranging in difficulty from very basic practice problems to “double-star” problems: challenging multi-step problems that often require quite a bit of time and thought. Overall, Beast Academy has far fewer basic computation problems than other curricula. Instead, basic skills practice is incorporated into the more complex problems.

There are no specific review pages, but previous topics are constantly revisited in new contexts. For example, perimeter and area are introduced in 3A. Then, both topics are reviewed in all three sections of 3B and 3C (in contexts ranging from variables to perfect squares) and again are the focus of the final chapter of 3D.

### Support for Parents

In Beast Academy, all of the teaching is done in the guides and practice books, with no teacher’s guides. Instead of teaching lessons, the parent’s role is to discuss the material and encourage and coach the student as he or she tackles difficult problems. At my house, my son and I always read through the guides together, stopping to discuss as we read. I often sit with him as he solves the more difficult problems in the practice book and solve them myself as well so we can compare answers and solution methods.

Unfortunately, there are no teachers’ guides or other helps for parents using Beast Academy. However, the practice books do provide a full solutions guide for all practice problems, sometimes even with multiple solutions. For the starred and double-starred challenge problems, the practice books also provide hints to help kids get started when they’re stuck.

### Problem-Solving

Using Beast Academy requires a very different approach to math than the traditional textbook method.

In some ways, this approach is more relaxed, and in other ways, it is more rigorous. It’s relaxed because the focus is on thinking deeply about fewer problems, without much routine practice. But, it’s more rigorous because it requires children to stretch their brains and apply their knowledge in a variety of ways. These problems aren’t just your typical word problems!

Children who are used to whizzing through a worksheet may be frustrated at first to find that they have to work much harder, and that they may not be able to solve every problem. (It can be hard for parents to watch, too–just ask me how I know!) But learning to struggle builds perseverance and a growth mindset, which pays off a lot in the long run.

### How much time does Beast Academy take to teach?

Children typically spend 30-45 minutes per day solving problems. Also plan to spend twenty minutes once or twice a week reading and discussing the guide, and at least five minutes a day discussing the problems your child has solved. If your child needs a lot of support and hand-holding when tackling difficult problems, this could take more time.

### What type of learner thrives with Beast Academy?

Beast Academy is a great fit for children who do well in math but are easily bored with lots of repetitive practice. The program requires patience and perseverance for difficult problems, but it also helps to build patience for children to whom it doesn’t come naturally.

I do not recommend Beast Academy for children who struggle in math (and neither do the authors.) If you think the comic book style would appeal to your child, but you’re not sure it would make a great main curriculum for your child, the Guides make a great supplement.

### How much does Beast Academy cost?

A full year of guides and practice books (four of each) costs $108. No manipulatives or other resources are needed.

If Beast Academy doesn’t sound like fun for you and your child, don’t use it! There are plenty of other excellent math curricula that follow a more traditional format.

But if your child loves to wrestle with interesting, thought-provoking problems and thrives when concepts are presented with lots of context and visuals, Beast Academy might be a great fit. Despite the cartoon monsters and jokes, it is a thorough, rigorous curriculum that prepares children well for higher-level math.

Click here to receive your 1-page guide to using Beast Academy.

*Updated April 2016.*

*My curriculum disclaimer: You know your children far better than I do! Please take my advice with a grain of salt and use the samples to decide whether the curriculum is a good fit for you and your child. This review is my honest opinion–I don’t make any money off of any purchase you make. I have previously done a small amount of freelance work for Beast Academy but otherwise do not have any affiliation with the company. *

JEssi says

This is a wonderful review, thank you! This helped me to decide whether to get Beast Academy for my kids or not.

Kate says

I’m so glad it was helpful!

JW says

Our very mathy/sciency/geeky family is also loving Beast Academy. I wish I’d found it sooner!

I love it for my super-geeky second grader because it’s stretching his mind with challenging problems that involve spatial reasoning. But I also think Beast Academy would be great for kids who struggle with math because they need to know WHY formulas work instead of just being content to memorize and apply them. These books really give students the WHY up front.

One thing I do notice with Beast Academy, however, it takes us a LOT longer to get through this curriculum than I’m used to. Partly this is because the problems are much more challenging, which is great. But partly it’s because he is VERY involved in the story and the characters so the math is kind of absorbed in the process of something that feels more like Harry Potter With Monsters. I think this is good on the whole. The problem sets really are challenging – they are explicitly designed to help students develop the mental grit to handle AMC and Math Olympiad problems, and later on to tackle the kind of non-trivial open questions that real mathematicians work on. This is a vey different kind of mental attitude than normal school work where you everyone is supposed to “know” the answer. And paradoxically it’s harder for talented kids when they first encounter real math problems because they are used to math being easy for them. So the monsters and humor and engaging characters definitely help ease the tension.

That said, if you are used to handing your child a Kumon book and having them bang out 6 or 8 pages while you cook dinner … this a very different experience. There is a lot of time in working on BA problem sets where you just have to be able to chill out while your kid fidgets, groans, twists their hair, goes to get a drink of water, and so forth … until suddenly the light bulb goes on. It’s made me think a lot about our unspoken assumptions of what “learning” looks like. Because all that fidgeting, etc, is exactly what I do when I’m faced with a hairy physics problem. But somehow it’s really hard to watch a 7 year old do that and not tell them to stop fidgeting, look at the paper, and concentrate. This has really made me think about real learning versus the appearance of learning. And also about how public school teaching undercuts precisely the work habits that typify really successful research scientists. If we really wanted to build the next generation of technology innovators we would probably spend half of math class outside playing ultimate frisbee … and then go back inside and finish the problem set 🙂

I think y hit the nail on the head in your earlier post about how sometimes it’s better to solve just ONE problem. There is way too much busy work and not nearly enough brain work in most grade school math books. The only other books for grade schoolers I know that use this approach of giving a small number of “thinking problems” instead of reams of “just apply the formula” problems are the Ed Zuccaro’s Challenge Math books. Those books are great math books for kids who are budding engineers and physicists at heart. But Beast Academy offers a more systematized, complete curriculum. And it’s more focused on pure mathematics. I particularly love that it puts geometry at the core of the curriculum from the beginning. This is SO different from standard US school math where kids can literally arrive in college calculus courses with NO CLUE that a quadratic equation describes the area of a rectangle (ARGH!!!!!)

So far I have to say that this is the single best grade school curriculum I’ve seen for giving kids a leg-up on that all-important first rung of the ladder toward higher mathematics.

Kate says

JW, there’s so much I agree with in your comment that I don’t even know where to begin! 🙂

I was definitely one of those advanced students who flew through my math and science courses, but then was aghast to realize that I didn’t actually know how to solve problems. I hit a wall halfway through my college math-major courses when I didn’t know how to struggle with proofs and mull them over without feeling discouraged. Fortunately, I was able to limp through and complete my major, but it was a humbling experience. I’m so glad that Beast is helping my math-loving kid experience that struggle now, so that he’ll learn perseverance as an eight-year-old and not a twenty-year-old.

When I look back at my experience as a teacher, I also question a bit what I was trying to achieve. I was often trying to make the road so smooth for my students that they would learn without doing any hard work for themselves…but I realize now how I was often depriving them of the chance to figure things out for themselves! You’re right, it’s a very different picture of what good learning and teaching are.

Melissa miller says

Thanks for the excellent reviews and the back and forth in the comments. I luckily stumbled upon BA earlier today as I was doing more research on a math program for my son. Love the comic book style, but really love that BA focuses on critical and spatial reasoning and not just rote memorization. Discussion on our expectations of what learning really looks like vs what we’re comfortable with it looking like really rang true also. Thanks!

Kate says

You’re most welcome, Melissa! I hope you and your son enjoy it. 🙂

Rachel says

Hi Kate! This is such a great review, I was looking up Art of Problem Solving a few months ago so I was interested in what you had to say about Beast Academy. My twin boys age 9 have struggled with math. We took all of our children out of public school in the beginning of October of last year. We did some backtracking with education.com worksheets and Singapore math. However, I still don’t see them “getting it.” Math always came naturally to me, so teaching them has definitely been a challenge. I’m not sure where to go from here. They don’t quite grasp the concepts and I’m trying to teach the way they learn but I feel like I’m not doing such a great job.

LONG STORY BORING, I’m worried that Beast Academy might be for more advanced math students…if you disagree let me know. But if you agree, do you have any suggestions for me? I would appreciate them so much.

I jumped the gun and already ordered Singapore for the year, but I have been trying to find an alternative math curriculum.

Kate says

Hi Rachel, glad you enjoyed the review! I love Beast Academy, but I do agree that it is generally geared for pretty advanced math students. (Richard Rusczyk, the founder of Art of Problem Solving, spoke at the WTM conference this spring and said pretty explicitly that their audience is the top 5% or so of math students. I disagree slightly with him–I think their products work for a much broader variety of kids–but they are certainly aiming for kids who really enjoy math and need a challenge.)

With 9-year-olds who need a better conceptual foundation, I’d suggest doing a number sense/place value “boot camp” to review those essential ideas and skills and get them solid. My favorite resource for this is RightStart’s “Activities for the AL Abacus” book and worksheets. It goes through everything from beginning place value to multiplication and division, but you can pick and choose which activities your kids need most and spend the most time on the areas where they need the most work. After you go through that (perhaps it would take until about Christmas?) I expect your kids would be in much better shape to jump back into Singapore. If they’re not used to reasoning and thinking in math, it can definitely take some time to change their habits–but it’s so worth it!

I’d also recommend reading Arithmetic for Parents by Aharoni to help you as a teacher. I’m haven’t had a chance to write a full review yet, but I read it this summer and found it so helpful at laying out the key teaching moves that kids need at different stages of elementary math.

Rachel says

Thank you! I appreciate your input, I actually have the Right Start Activity set, which I’ll admit I forgot that I had until last week. Silly, I know. I try to read the book you recommended asap, hopefully it will help me in teaching them math. My expectation all along was for my kids to love math, because I did. I realize now how that’s unrealistic,. But, I do think they can be good at it, understand it’s concepts, and still not like it; as long as they “get it.” Thanks, again.

Rachel says

way too many typos in that last comment for me to fix. HAHA! just forgive me 🙂

Melissa says

Kate,

I stumbled upon BA yesterday while researching curriculum for our upcoming school year. My son, who is 9 and has completed 3rd grade, is having some math difficulties. He is so bright, grasping concepts quickly, but he hates doing math because he struggles to memorize his math facts from addition to division. It isn’t all the facts, but he seems to require “tricks” to come up with the answer for many of the facts. My question is two part. Do you have any insight as to how I might help him memorize in a way he can remember, and if I start in 3b, will the work be too hard for him? He was able to pass the 3b pretest, but did a lot of the figuring and figiting you spoke of. He took one look at the pretest for 3d and 4a and was far to intimidated to even try (even though he has learned all the skills necessary to solve the problems on both tests. The multistep, “deep” format of the questions had him very intimidated. He did however LOVE all of the puzzle type questions. I have tried both A Beka Arithmetic (he hated it) and Saxon Intermediate, he hated at first but eventually got so he didn’t fight me as much every day. I love the look of the text book, and the idea of fewer , but tougher problems each day. Am I crazy to have him go back 3/4 of a year to try this?!?!?!?

Frazzled Mom in Texas

Kate says

Not crazy at all! Beast is extremely challenging, and it’s not at all a step back to start with even 3A. It might help to keep in mind that Beast is written for kids to be ready to start the very-challenging Art of Problem Solving’s Pre-algebra text after 5D. So, even if you spend three full years on Beast, your son would still be ready to start pre-algebra in 7th grade, which is right on target. Plus, he’ll have much deeper critical thinking skills and hopefully a love of math, too. Saxon and Abeka can be useful for some students, but my son would absolutely rebel with that much review and repetition.

If your son passed the pre-test, I’d expect he’ll do just fine with Beast. I’d suggest continuing to spend a few minutes on the math facts each day as you use Beast, but he’ll get lots of embedded practice in the problems. I’ll be posting much more on the math facts in September (and will be publishing a book for mastering the addition facts) so stay tuned for lots more math facts help soon.

Erika says

Thank you so much for your thorough review. I had been considering Beast Academy for my daughter (8 yrs, starting 3rd grade) because she just wasn’t enjoying math. Even though she’s bright, she’d get so bored with the workbooks and the drill that she’d quickly lose focus. Then she’d start telling herself that she “just didn’t like math”. I knew we needed something different. After reading this review, I ordered 3A, not sure whether it would be a bit too advanced for her or not. I decided to do some quick Math Mammoth Blue series books (we’re flying through add/sub. 2B now and will move on to multiplication 1) each day to help reinforce her basic skills, but my daughter has just LOVED Beast Academy. She was skeptical at first, but I’ve seen her come alive as she works to figure out very challenging problems. Some days, she’ll sit and want to read then practice with B.A. for almost an hour. This is incredible to me, considering that last spring, I struggled to get her to work in Singapore for 15 minutes. Truthfully, I can’t always solve the harder problems without a glance at the answers in the back of the book!! That being said, another bonus with B.A. is that I sit with my daughter and we talk through the challenging problems together, both working to see if we can figure it out. Humbling as it is, she’ll sometimes spot the solution before I do! So, Beast Academy seems to be guiding me into a deeper understanding of mathematics right along with my daughter!

Kate says

Erika, that’s wonderful! Thank you so much for letting me know! I’m so glad that your daughter is discovering that math can be a fascinating journey rather than a dreary slog.

renae says

hi Kate! where do you recommend buying Beast Academy from? Home School Bldg?

how’s your school year going? we miss seeing you guys every week at CC!

Kate says

Hi Renae, We’re having a great year so far this year–hope you are, too! I’m not sure whether the Homeschool Building carries Beast Academy. I usually buy mine from Rainbow Resource. 🙂

Melissa says

Kate,

I wrote back in August as “Frazzled Mom in Texas”. I just wanted to thank you so much for you advice and support concerning Beast Academy. We have completed 7 weeks with B.A. and I am thrilled to say that it is working!!!!! My son, who was so discouraged, has completely connected with it, and is loving math now. In fact, he gets giddy when he sees the starred problems! I never thought we would find ANYTHING that would pull him from the “I hate math” blues, but truly Beast Academy has breathed new life into this part of our homeschool!

Do you know of any other curriculum, for other subjects that teach in similar ways?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Thanks!!

Kate says

Melissa, that just warms my math-loving heart! I’m so glad your son is loving the challenge of Beast Academy and learning to love math again, too.

I agree, if only every subject were like this! You can take a look at the link on the side for what I use, but unfortunately none of the other programs I use are very Beast-like. One curriculum that a lot of people seem to like for challenge in language arts is Michael Clay Thompson’s language arts program. (I personally use a very boring one, though, so I can’t vouch for it personally. 🙂

Liz says

We’ve been using Beast Academy for 6 months (with a lag during the summer) and my 9.5-year-old just completed 3B. I love Beast Academy and so does he, but it is definitely a challenge. In fact, I found parts of 3B to be a bit too challenging for the previous work given. They jumped to double-digit multiplication pretty fast. So, we supplemented with some Singapore and that helped my son with the lack of understanding.

I appreciate the comment about going slower as the lesson progresses. My son flew through 3A, mostly on his own, and I held the same expectations for 3B. That wasn’t necessarily the case and his difficulty with memorizing multiplication facts has caught him more than once. However, we’ll continue on to 3C because he really knows the material at the end of the lessons – a much better transfer of skills than with just cranking out worksheet after worksheet. But, first I think we will do some practice in Singapore and focus on those multiplication facts.

Kate says

I agree, Liz: my son also knows the material so deeply by the time he’s worked through a Beast Academy chapter. But more practice with the multiplication facts has been essential for him, too. I added in the Kumon 3rd grade multiplication book, plus a little flash card drill each day to really get the facts solid. (Singapore is a great complementary program, too.) Kids who use Beast definitely need to know the math facts well so they can devote their brainpower to problem-solving and not figuring out basic multiplication.

Sally says

I’m sold! But my oldest is only four years old. Can you recommend a preparatory curriculum?

Kate says

Glad I’m so persuasive, Sally! 🙂

For your 4-year-old, check out my just-published Preschool Math at Home. It prepares a child well for all three of the curricula that I’d recommend considering before Beast Academy: RightStart, Math Mammoth, and Singapore Math. (To be ready for Beast Academy, you’d want to have your child work through RightStart Level C, Math Mammoth 2B, or Singapore Math 2B. My favorite of the three is RightStart, but it’s not the best choice for every family. Take a look at the reviews under the Curriculum tab at the top of the page for the pros and cons of each ..

Sally says

Thanks! I will check out your book! Also, I saw the tentative release dates for their second grade curriculum so I am hopeful that it will be released a year or so before she will need it. I’ll report back after going through preschool book with my girls. :}

Kate says

Yes, I can’t wait to see to see what the 2nd grade curriculum covers. I’m hopeful that my current kindergartner will get to use some of the 2nd grade, too!

Michelle says

Your review was excellent and I agree with all your points! My son has been doing BA since 3A. Unfortunately for us they are not pumping them out fast enough. Next year he will have to move to the first regular AoPS book without being able to complete 5C or 5D. Is there something that he can work through over the summer to get him up to speed? Perhaps Math Mammoth? He has really disliked every other math program that we have done (MUS and TT). Thanks!

Kate says

Thanks, Michelle! I’ve heard of a lot of parents who’ve gone straight from 4D to Pre-algebra without any problem, because the Pre-algebra book covers a lot of the same topics as the Grade 5 books. So you might be fine just starting the Pre-algebra books.

I get the sense that the main challenge that the Pre-algebra book provides isn’t so much the math content, but the new textbook format and the challenging problems. So, if you’d like to make sure your son has at least some exposure to those topics before starting it, I suggest using a few of the Key to Decimals and Key to Percents books. They’re thin, inexpensive workbooks (available from Rainbow Resource) that provide a gentle conceptual coverage of those topics. They’re nowhere near as fun or challenging as Beast, but they would get the ideas across to prepare a child for pre-algebra.

Danielle says

Hi Kate,

First, just wanted to say that I really loved your episode on Pam Barnhill’s podcast! Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions over there.

I do have a question for you about Beast Academy. You mention that it is a good fit for students strong in math who are a bit bored with other options. I’m wondering, though, if you think it might work well for a student who isn’t quite as strong in math, but is a very strong reader and artistically minded and might enjoy this format more than a traditional approach? My daughter does well with the high concept parts of math, actually, but just needs more time to memorize math facts and procedures. We have been using Math U See (we are halfway through Beta) and while it seems to be working alright, sometimes it is not super exciting and sometimes I worry that it is too easy or simplistic, such that she might struggle with upper level math later on. I’m a little hesitant to switch from something that works reasonably well, but I’m wondering if Beast would help spark that love for math, or if it would just frustrate us.

Kate says

So glad you enjoyed the episode, Danielle! It was so fun to talk with Pam.

I think it’d be well worth trying Beast with your daughter. You’d need to finish Beta first (as Beast requires that kids be fluent with addition and subtraction before beginning), but then 3A would be a great place to start. Beast might prove to be a good fit because it gives kids lots of practice with the facts and procedures, but in the context of more interesting problems.

Two things to keep in mind:

1) Read the FAQ at beastacademy.com/faq before starting. Make sure you especially note that the first chapter in 3A is one of the hardest in the whole series, so feel free to skip the most difficult problems near the end of that chapter.

2) In general, if your daughter ends up enjoying Beast but gets frustrated by the double-star challenge problems, it’s okay to skip them, too. She’ll still get lots of conceptual understanding and interesting practice simply through solving the more straight-forward problems. But who knows, maybe she’ll discover that she loves the challenge of really meaty problems? 🙂

Danielle says

That is very helpful, thank you!

Philip Biggs says

I was wondering if beast academy is working toward doing there math for higher grade levels as well?

Kate says

They offer a excellent, challenging math curriculum for pre-algebra through calculus called Art of Problem Solving. But alas, there are no comic books or monsters (and no plans to extend the Beast curriculum, sadly). You can learn more about the upper grade materials at artofproblemsolving.com.

Sara says

Hi Kate, me again. My rising 4th grader is trying out Beast 3A this month as I decide what to do for the fall. Stick w/ Singapore or make the switch? It’s too early to tell on her part, but as I flipped ahead I noticed several words I’ve never seen and can’t pronounce in the latter half of the Shapes chapter. So I’m wondering, for a Liberal Arts-loving, English major mom like myself, is Beast just too tall an order? There’s going to come a point (maybe very soon!) where I will be of no help. I want the very best for my children and I don’t want to assume they’re not “mathy” because I wasn’t. I thought Beast might broaden their horizons and flip switches in their brains that even Singapore won’t. I don’t want them to be limited by my limitations (I’m sure all homeschooling mothers feel this way). AND YET, is Beast Academy really best for kids w/ math-whiz parents in residence? I’m perfectly willing to read through with her and consult the answer key at the back, but how important is it for me to already be familiar w/ these concepts? I’m no moron, but spatial reasoning was always my weakest area on IQ tests and such. I know you’ve said Chapter 1 of 3A is one of the toughest. Thoughts? I need to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.

Kate says

Definitely don’t let the shapes chapter stop you! I’d never heard of most of those words at the end of the first chapter either, and I majored in math! (I’m also terrible at spatial reasoning myself, I have to admit.) The point of that chapter is incremental improvement from wherever kids are with their spatial reasoning, so don’t worry at all if your child can’t solve every problem.

I’d say to do all of 3A before you make a decision. The next two chapters are quite different, and they’ll give you a much better feel for how the program handles more traditional topics, like multiplication. If you don’t feel comfortable with it after all of 3A, then maybe it’s not for you.r family. (And going back to Singapore is a fine option–it’s a great program.) But if you find that your kids are thriving on the level of challenge and that you’re able to help them along with the answer key, then full speed ahead!

Orlando says

What else do you recommend which has a similar focus on problem-solving? I heard about “Kitchen math” series – how about the level; anybody familiar with it?

Kate says

I’ve heard great things about Kitchen Table math, but I haven’t used it myself. (It’s also highly recommended by Art of Problem Solving, the company that makes Beast Academy, which is quite an endorsement!)

Orlando says

There are more challenging problems (contests) for ages 9-10 upwards listed at http://www.moems.org/ and http://www.primarymathschallenge.org.uk/. Do you know of anything else, or for younger children?

Kate says

Math Kangaroo has some good sample problems along these lines for younger kids. I think you’d probably want to look at the Levels 3&4 problems: http://www.mathkangaroo.org/mk/sample_questions.html

You can also buy their full tests from previous years for only $2.50 once you figure out which level you want.

Sarah :) says

Thank you so much for writing these reviews!!! I have a quick second grader who loves math, and he FLEW through Singapore 2A and B this year (finished in March). I grew up doing Saxon, which I’ll admit was great for rote memorization, but it made me hate math (nor was I ever able to understand how parabolas worked, despite sometimes getting the right answer to a problem). I don’t want to do that to my son, so I’ve been looking for something both interesting and rigorous. When you said “Beast Academy is a great fit for children who do well in math but are easily bored with lots of repetitive practice” – that describes my son to a T – so thank you for the confirmation!

Kate says

I bet your son will LOVE it, Sarah! Enjoy!

BELLASTR says

Hi Kate,

I was looking to see if anyone had recommended Beast so I can link to it for friends, and I’m so glad I found your post because it is excellent! We have used 5A-5C, and are just starting 5D now for my 7th grader and it has worked great as a prealgebra course if you just ignore the “grade 5” label on the books and are not aiming to do MOEMS or math olympiad anytime soon. I think Richard Rusczyk is unnecessarily limiting his audience with these grade level labels and his statement that the books are geared towards the top 5% of students. Sure, maybe only the top 5% can do this at the grade level listed, particularly if they have to unlearn a rote memorization method from previous math curricula or school, but if you wait a couple of years for reticent math learners, this is a great way to start from scratch for anyone (see Youcubed.org) so that they learn how to think and not just follow procedures. I’m an engineering graduate and I have not known how to do some of these problems, mainly, I think, because I was good at learning the rules as a child but problem-solving, not so much. For other problems, I’m glad I had read the first chapter of AoPS Prealgebra and had a new understanding of the arithmetic properties, because that’s osmething I think we missed by going straight to 5 instead of doing 3 or 4. We are starting 4A for my 4th grader now because I think he’s ready for more formal math and he’s interested–my eldest at that age was not ready for formal math, we more did games and talked about concepts as they came up in everyday life, aside from a stint trying to learn the times tables. The times tables did not stick for her until she got to factoring in 5B, and now it and division all make sense to her in a way that it did not before, and probably would never have if I had forced her to learn it the standard way first. So, there is more than one road to Timbuktu and I think Beast is a fantastic addition to the map, however a family wants to use it.

Kate says

Glad you liked the post, Bellastr! I agree, limiting Beast Academy to the top 5% of students is unnecessarily limiting. )I suspect Richard Rusczyk has focused on high achievers for so long that he’s forgotten what the other 95% are capable of, too. 🙂 ) Using Beast Academy in my own homeschool has been an absolute joy.

BELLASTR says

Thanks, Kate, I agree that BA is a joy to use (especially after trying some less than joyful curricula in the past). 🙂 Interestingly, I just noticed that in their FAQ they say essentially the same thing I just said, now if they would just change the back of the book to say that too since kids can take that sort of thing to heart (“I’m in 7th grade–I don’t want to use a 5th grade book!”):

https://beastacademy.com/faq/books

Tracey :-) says

Hi Kate,

Thank you for the indepth review! I have a rising 6th grader who fits your description ( hates rote math and endless problem sets, wants some thing more creative and conceptual) BUT- she has gotten turned off math generally , even though her teacher says she’s one of the top kids in class and has great “math sense”. I’d love to try Beast Academy to see if we can re-ignite her learning before she starts 6th grade . Oddly, it seems that hte #A-D books are where she should start – she just got through operatiosn with fractions & mixed numbers in class. I’d love your suggestions or recommendations!

Tracey :-) says

Yikes, I can’t edit my comment – but I meant that the 3A- 3-D books seem to be the best fit, even though she’s headed for 6th grade. I looked at the 4A pre-test and it seemed pretty far beyond where she is both in knowledge and enthusiasm. Mostly I’m looking for a summer math supplement to her required school work !

Kate says

Hi Tracey,

If you’re looking for a fun summer math supplement, Beast is a fabulous option! You’re right–even though the Level 3 books mostly focus on topics like multiplication and division, they go waaaaay further than any other third grade math workbook. The problems in 3A in the geometry, perimeter and area, and even “skip-counting” sections are some very interesting math that even puzzle-minded adults will find interesting. I’d say to go ahead and give 3A a try. Just skip any introductory pages that are too easy for your daughter in each section and go straight to the good stuff!

Happy Math!

Kate