# Beast Academy Review: Unconventional and challenging curriculum for curious kids

In-depth and detailed Beast Academy review. Everything you need to know to decide whether this quirky and rigorous homeschool math curriculum is a good fit for your child.

My son loves math, but Beast Academy is the only math book that he 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.

### Overview

Beast Academy is published by Art of Problem-Solving as a lead-in to their rigorous middle school and high school textbooks for advanced students. It’s a comprehensive curriculum for grades 2-5, with four guides and four practice books per grade.

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:

This is Guide 3D, and the monsters are watching…a movie in 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 flexibly about math.

Each guide is divided into three chapters, with each chapter further divided into short sections that help develop the chapter topic. Notes 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. When my son did Beast Academy, we always read through the guides together, stopping to discuss as we read. I often sat with him as he solved the more difficult problems in the practice book and solved them myself as well so we can compare answers and solution methods.

Unfortunately, there are no teachers’ guides 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 should I use before Beast Academy?

The prerequisites for Beast Academy 2A are quite simple: counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s beyond 100, addition and subtraction to 20, and the ability to solve simple word problems. (Take a look at the Level 2A placement test for more details.) Nearly any formal kindergarten and first grade program will prepare your child with these skills, so read my reviews of other excellent homeschool programs to find the one that will best fit your kindergartner or first grader.

### 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. Check out my curriculum page for reviews of my other favorite programs to help you find one that’s a good fit for your family.

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.

Updated May 2020. This is my honest opinion of the program; I was not paid or compensated in any way for the review.

Please note that comments are closed on this post. If you have a question, you can contact me here

### 82 thoughts on “Beast Academy Review: Unconventional and challenging curriculum for curious kids”

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

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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!

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

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

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

11. 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

12. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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!

16. 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. 🙂

17. 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!!

18. 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. 🙂

19. 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.

20. 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.

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

22. 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 ..

23. 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. :}

24. 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!

25. 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!

26. 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.

27. 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.

28. 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? 🙂

29. That is very helpful, thank you!

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

31. 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.

32. 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.

33. 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!

34. 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?

35. 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!)

36. 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.

37. 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!

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

39. Hi Kate,

40. 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.

41. 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!”):

42. 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!

43. 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 !

44. 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

45. Hi
My son is turning 10 in july and will be moving to grade 5 in september 2018. I ordered BA 5 all books(A,B,C &D)
we never did before any of BA books. My son is ahead in math and he loves doing math. WIll BA starting at level 5 wbe too much? should I also do level 4 or 3 before starting 5?

Thanks,
NM

46. Hi NM,

If your son loves math and is doing well with it, I think you’ll be fine starting in level 5. The topics covered in Beast are pretty comparable to other curricula–they’re just covered in much more depth, with many more challenging problems.

Hope your son enjoys it, and happy math!
Kate

47. My twelve year old son was pushed through to the sixth grade in public school. Nearly every year since second grade, the school would question whether to advance him and each year they did. He would barely eek through. When in sixth grade, we realized this was not for him. They would keep promoting him but he never seemed to really get the concepts. I think he understands more than he lets on most the time (he’s rather be doing anything else than school) but his assessments are at about 2nd grade since he still doesn’t get multiplication. That being said, I really like the looks of BA. My son loves graphic novels and it’s about the only thing he reads. Do you think this would work for him? To challenge his lazy, I’d rather be playing video games but I can be pretty smart when I try, attitude and mind. I would start him in the lower level and he would be happy with that (he says it makes him feel smarter) and I’m hoping it will teach and challenge him from the time his parents and his school failed him and catch him up.

48. Hi Becca,

It sounds like Beast could be a great fit for re-setting how he feels about math. The graphic novels are so much fun, and the interesting problems hopefully will get him more interested in thinking about math. You’d probably want to start him in 3A (which begins laying the foundation for multiplication) and then work up from there.

Happy Math!
Kate

49. Hi Kate,
Thank you so much for this post/ review. I feel a kindred spirit with Becca above…I have boys ages 9 & 11. They have been trudging through math for the past few yrs together. (Both finished 4th gr. CLE) The 9yr old is mathy & sees the world in patterns, numbers, etc. The other. Has hated math since the beginning but I feel that my traditional (Saxon, CLE) teaching may have killed any spark he may have had. The 9 yr old just needs to be let loose & I think BA will allow him to soar ( ecstatic mommy here!). However my 11 yr old only knows algorithm/ step by step math. He’s great with skip counting math facts, counting ridiculously fast on fingers for + & -, but he doesn’t see the whole picture/ concept… He just heard in his mind’s song what comes next. He has to put the algorithm on paper to solve basic 2 digit addition & subtraction problems. Conceptually he’s lost. He’s progressing through to 5th gr Math in CLE (but technically in 6th gr) but all joy is gone. He dispises math. I feel I need to start at the basics to remediate him or he’s never going to understand any higher level math. What do you recommend? Would BA be good? What level? I’m going to start his brother at 3A but I don’t know if that would be right for him. He’s also very unmotivated by anything other than comic books, legos & preteen boy humor!

50. One more thing. My 11 yr old processes new info very slowly..very very slowly. That’s why we have hung onto drill & kill for so many yrs. But when he gets it…its solidified. Does BA have enough practice for this kind of mind?

51. Hi Boymom33,

Sounds like BA will be a great fit for your 9yo! Unfortunately, I don’t think it will work well for your 11yo. He can certainly read along with your 9yo and enjoy the graphic novels, but it won’t have enough practice for him. It definitely requires kids to already have pretty good number sense and mastery of the basic facts, too.

I’d definitely recommend doing some remediation before moving on. My Facts that Stick books would be a great place to start, and then Activities for the AL Abacus and the Rightstart card games could be a good way to remediate the other gaps without a much drudgery. (Use the search in the menu above to find my full review and description of Activities for the AL Abacus.) After he’s more comfortable with these basics, take a look at Rod and Staff. It provide clear, step by step instruction, but without the excessive review and dizzying spiral of CLE. I’ve found it to be very helpful for kids who struggle in math.

Best wishes, and happy math!
Kate

52. Hi Kate,

My second question is what to do with my rising kindergartner. I don’t think I can be consistent to get any math done with her without an actual curriculum so I would like a book she can go through. I was thinking to just do Horizons with her since it was fine and I’ve already used it once. Then I thought we could transition to Math Mammoth in 1st grade. But, now that Beast Academy starts in 2nd grade would that be too much switching around in those first 3 years of school?

Thanks for all the wisdom you bring to this tricky area of homeschooling! 🙂
-Emily

53. Hi Emily,

Beast 2A begins with place-value, so I think you’d be fine starting there even if your daughter is still working on mastering the facts. I’d suggest just making sure to practice the math facts for 5 minutes per day as part of your lesson time so that she fully masters them.

For your kindergartner, I hear you on using a curriculum! Even as a curriculum writer myself, I always like an open-and-go program so that I don’t have to waste any time or energy deciding what to do next. (I even use my Facts books this way.) No need to worry about switching around a lot in these early grades–all these programs cover similar basics, so I don’t expect you’d have any trouble with gaps.

Happy Math!
Kate

54. Hi Kate!
I stumbled across this review while researching BA for my two older kids. I can tell it would probably be perfect for my rising third grader. We have always used Math U See, and he was so bored with Beta this past year that we just quit doing math about 2/3 of the way through the year. Not the best solution I know, but he was cranking out four or five worksheets without thinking about it and also I was pregnant with #6 and a little overwhelmed! I was wondering what you think about startingbhim out in 3A. Should I go back and cover some of the material in the new second grade program? Make him finish up Beta first? He thinks super logically and already solved problems in ways that were not taught in the book, but is impatient with the process and just wants to skip ahead to, “Mom I already know the answer. Why do I have to write it out?”

My daughter is a rising fifth grader. She has also done Math U See. In the very beginning Math was a challenge for her so we slowed down a bit. However she has sailed through easily and she just completed Gamma this past year and would be ready for Delta this year. She also easily knocks out several rote worksheets every day but doesn’t have the boredom problem that my son does. Where might she fall on the BA spectrum?

I also have a rising first grader. What might I use with him that would get him ready for BA 2A next year?

Thank you so much for the great info!!!

Kelly

55. My 8yr old just started using Beast Academy online (and doing the physical worksheets). She is through the first chapter of 3A and LOVING it! We tried Singapore Math & it wasn’t a great fit for her. She was bored. BA problems require a lot of effort, but she is a willing participant now! I love the reporting for parents from their new online site. I also love that we can access all three grade levels in one subscription. If she breezes through third grade math before the end of the year, we can start level 4 without additional costs.

56. Hi Kelly,

For your third grader, I think you’d be fine starting him in 3A. That was actually the first book, and it doesn’t expect that kids know much beyond place-value, addition, and subtraction.

It’s a little trickier for your 5th grader. I think I’d put her in 3D so that she got some solid fraction work in before starting level 4. But definitely take a look at the table of contents to confirm my hunch, please!

For your first grader, any solid first grade curriculum will prepare him for Beast. You can continue with MUS, use Singapore, Math Mammoth….really, anything that teaches addition and subtraction along with some place value and mental math will be just fine.

Happy Math!
Kate

57. Hi Meryl,

So glad that your daughter is loving BA online! The program can really transform math for kids who are bored by math. Thanks for the info on the reporting, too. I haven’t had a chance to hop on it myself yet, but I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

Happy Math!
Kate

58. For my daughter (7 yr old, starting 2nd), we definitely want to start online with 3A (they only do 3-5) because living o/s it is hard to get the books. However, I can bundle my order (online and books). Is it worth getting the books as well?

• Hi Tobin,

The graphic novel guides are quite lovely, but you won’t need them if you’re doing the online program. So, it’s really just a matter of personal preference and budget. Either way is fine.

Happy math!
Kate

59. Hello Kate,

Thank you so much for your review of Beast Academy. I have just started searching for math programs for my six year old, who has (by far) the strongest natural math skills of my four children. He can quickly multiply and divide numbers into the hundred thousands by two, including multiple regroupings, all mentally. He can read and understand numbers into the quintillions. He knows squares and square roots through the 12s. He can tell me change for a purchase if I tell him the price, make him add ten percent tax, and then give him a larger quantity of money from which to subtract. Really, anything I have thought of to throw at him, he understands almost immediately. Because of the mental math nature of Singapore, I had planned on starting him this year in that series, but I am now wondering if this product would be a better fit. Most of his instruction thus far has just been from “playing math” with me, as he was bored by kinder math in public school last year, which is one of the reasons we are homeschooling this year. What would you do?

60. Hi Kelly,

I’d say to go for it! Your 6yo sounds like the perfect fit for Beast Academy (and he’d likely be impatient and bored with Singapore). He may be ready to start later in the second grade books, or possibly even in 3A–take a look at the placement tests that they offer on their website to find a good starting place.

Happy Math!
Kate

61. Thank you so much for this review! When I was a teacher we as a grade level decided to combine two programs because there really is no perfect curriculum. But there are some that do a better job than others! With my 7yo, we did Abeka in K and then moved to CLE for first grade. I have noticed all the troubling elements in CLE that you have mentioned in other comments (it’s not teaching the understanding of math).
Because of this review I’m looking at purchasing the Activities for the Abacus book and the Abacus from RS to supplement the rest of this year and then using Beast Academy for 2nd grade. My 7yo is good at math but becomes very frustrated when he doesn’t immediately grasp a concept. I think the Abacus will be a good bridge for him to think more concretely about math and use less counting on his fingers etc.
My youngest will be entering K this fall, and I’m torn between a lighthearted curriculum where he’s learning his numbers and values (like The Good and The Beautiful) and starting him with RS either midyear or for first grade. He’s completely different from my first born in that he’s never been one to push to “do school” and I’ve followed his lead on that.
Why is math so hard to decide on!?

62. Hi Sherri,

It’s so true! Math can be a conundrum. Different programs just work better for different learning styles…and sometimes we just have to experiment before we know what works best.

Activities for the AL Abacus and Beast Academy would be a great combination. BA will cover all the important concepts and problem-solving, and Activities for the AL Abacus will give you lots of good computation practice.

Happy Math!
Kate

63. Hi Kate,

I so appreciate you sharing your math help with all of us! I’m currently trying to decide on math for my rising 3d grader for next year. We’re finishing up Singapore 2 now. He does well with it, using the IP for extra depth, and I like it as well. I know Singapore finishes teaching multiplication tables in grade 3 and some other fundamentals. Wondering if it’s worth it to keep going with Singapore through grade 3 and then switch to Beast or go ahead and make the leap. Should we try to fit in both? I love the idea of Beast Academy, but wondering if one more year of fundamentals is helpful. If it’s working, why rush a switch? Or go ahead and go for a stronger, more problem-solving based curriculum? Thanks so much!

64. Hi Fran,

You’re in the happy position of being able to choose whichever you prefer! I agree: if it ain’t broke, no need to fix it! Both are great programs, and your son will get a thorough math education with either. If you or your son love the idea of Beast, you’d be fine switching to level 3, too. The only thing I would NOT do is try to do both in their entirety. There’s just too much math, and you’d likely end up feeling overwhelmed. But one option would be to continue with Singapore and dabble in BA when you feel like you need a little change of pace.

Happy Math!
Kate

65. Hi Kate – Thanks so much for your thorough review. My daughter is in 5th grade. She’s pretty good at math. She gets A’s and as of her last standardized test, she is in the top 10% nationally. I recently learned about math competitions and came across AOPS and Beast Academy and became immediately disillusioned. We just started and she’s doing pretty well with the 5th grade Beast Academy stuff but I was actually getting really upset because I thought her school was failing her when I saw several topics they’re covering in Beast Academy that she’s not touched yet at her school. I have been doing more research and thanks to your blog and others I’m starting to see that I shouldn’t be as stressed as I was. Beast Academy is meant to be very advanced.

I’m a right-brained person so math is definitely not my thing and I don’t want to push her too much and then not be able to support her if she struggles since I’m the one who will be working with her most often even though my husband is better at math than I am. I also want to challenge her but don’t want to waste \$400+ if she gets tired of it all. Decisions, decisions……

Thanks for any feedback you can give!!!

I would only do the summer Pre-Algebra class over the summer if your daughter absolutely adores math and wants to spend a lot of time on it this summer. If that sounds great to her, then go for it! But otherwise, I think you’re right that she doesn’t need to do that to be prepared for advanced math next year. And knowing AOPS, it’ll be a challenging and time-consuming course.

Beast Academy provides plenty of preparation for pre-algebra, so instead I’d just try to use BA to target those topics you know she needs for next year, especially the integers and simple equations. They’ll likely review all those topics again anyway in Pre-Algebra, and she should be fine as long as she has some background with them. You could also add in the Life of Fred Pre-Algebra books, which are a fun summer supplement and would be another good way to understand equations better before tackling the advanced math class.

Happy Math!
Kate

67. Hi Kate,

Sorry if I missed this in the comments above, but what do you think of the Beast Academy online resource? I just started going through the 2A book with my son, who likes it so far. I am extremely impressed with AOPS in general (and learned of Beast Academy from their site). School age kids who want to do math have amazing options.

I’ll note that, to date, I’ve had good luck with apps (eg, all DragonBox apps) and online resources (eg, Reflex Math). My son is 4 (and enters pre-K in the fall) so apps and other game like methods of learning math have proven to be good ways to teach basic math concepts and get him interested in math. He’s gotten very good, from what I can tell, at most of what they teach through first grade and is exceptionally motivated to do math (he cried once when he found out he missed a math class at the Russian School of Mathematics because he was sick). He’s also fairly relentless as long as you’re there to offer help, so given his motivation level and temperament, I think that Beast Academy is the way to go for him, whether just in print or online as well.

P.S. Your preschool math book really opened my eyes to some of the very fundamental numerical skills very little kids have to learn.

68. Hi JA,

Glad you found the preschool book helpful! I haven’t looked at Beast online in a lot of detail, but I’m with you–I trust AOPS to make good materials, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it.

Happy math!
Kate

69. Thank u kate for through review about beast academy.. i enrolled my kids who are 6 and 9 in beast academy online..they are gifted and are enjoying it.. would u plz recomend anything good for english language arts. i am not impressed by institutes like kumon ,eye level,best brains for that matter. i know its offtopic, any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.. thank u.

70. We just started a home school program with our 13 y/o daughter. She would be in 7 th grade if in public school. She has done well with public school math, in that she got good grades, but doesn’t feel like she is “good at math”. She actually struggles with addition and subtraction. She still sometimes uses touch math or her fingers to count basic addition. As a side note, she loves graphic novels and cartoons. What are your thoughts on starting her with BA? And how far back would we go? Addition and subtraction are taught in 2nd and 3rd grade! She is enjoying some free lessons at BA online right now; she started herself at 2nd grade. I just need a little input from others…home schooling is new to me.

71. Hi Darla,

With a 7th grader, I’d only use Beast Academy as a supplement. Reading the guides and doing the lessons online could be a great way to build her confidence and make math more interesting. But if she wasgetting good grades in math in public school, she’s likely ready to tackle a program that’s on grade level, even if she occasionally has some trouble with basic calculations. (My math facts books would also be a good supplement if you’d like to remediate the basic facts and make sure she can do them without counting. )

Happy Math!
Kate

72. Hi Kate,

Thanks so much for all the time you take to share your knowledge, and answer each comment!

I have a 7.5 yo son whose mind loves solving problems and whizzes through his 2nd grade worksheets. He has a quick and logical mind.

He attends a local charter school. His teacher and I are looking into BA as supplemental work to keep him learning while his classmates are working on the current material. (I also hope to continue it during the summer.) She currently gives him worksheets from later on in the curriculum, but wondered if he might even be ready for 3rd grade level math. In our recent parent/teacher conference, she said his mind automatically knows answers. She will sometimes need to show him the process of how he got there, but once he understands it, it’s solid.

He’s excited to do BA, and to see himself as a Math Beast. So far, he’s taken pretests 2A and 2B. The word problems give him the most challenge. He’s anxious to take pretest 2C. I think he missed all the word problems in 2B. I’m curious to see how he would do with pretest 2C, but also wonder if I should start his guide and practice books on 2A or B to give him an intro to BA itself. I would hate to have him miss any important foundations.

I think during school, we’d want him to work as independently as possible, so his teacher can give her attention to the students who need more support in 2nd grade work. I’m more than happy to work through things with him at home. Would this approach work? Should we also maybe just have him work on his math facts during school?

Thoughts? Suggestions?
Thanks so much!
Jody

• Hi Jody,

That’s wonderful that he enjoys math so much! Based on what you’re describing, I’d suggest having him read the Guides for 2A and 2B (to get him oriented to the program), and then start doing the practice books in 2B or 2C. Those books introduce the characters and the approach, so it’s probably best not to skip them entirely.

The independent work plan makes lots of sense. The great thing about Beast is that it allows kids to go deep, not fast, so that they don’t get too far out of sync with their same-age-peers while remaining challenged and interested. I bet he’d be bored to tears just doing math facts–Beast is a much better option.

Happy Math!
Kate

73. Thanks so much Kate,
I’ll get those ordered today 🙂
Jody

74. I like your books. They are expensive but worth it. But I wish you would at least ship them for free, considering the fact that you send them media mail, which is very inexpensive for you and takes a full week to arrive.

75. Leslie, do you mean the Beast Academy books? I’m not affiliated with them in any way, so that’s an issue you’d need to raise with them.

76. Hi Kate! I’ve recently discovered your website and some podcasts you were on and have found your insights to be so helpful! My second son is currently in second grade and BEGGING to homeschool next year, saying he’s bored in school and tired of staying on the same topic for weeks after mastering it on day one, particularly in math. He’s also expressed frustration with not being allowed to find creative ways to solve a problem. He has always been very “mathy” and had a mind for mental math. My goal in homeschooling would be to provide him with more of a challenge while significantly lessening the book work so we can reinforce with games, Manipulatives, enrichment activities, and just have more family time.

After a lot of review, I am leaning toward Beast Academy. If my son struggles in one area, I think it would be trouble with focus/persistence (the reason he didn’t technically pass the test to be in the gifted program this year, though his teacher is giving him all the same assignments as her “gifted” students and he’s still bored.) My hope is that BA might give him the challenge he needs/wants in math while also perhaps teaching him a little more about persistence when he has trouble solving something (something he currently rarely has to experience), while also scratching his itch for creativity.

Am I on the right track? Or should I consider Singapore Math or one of its cousins?

If I do go with Beast Academy, is there any reason not to go with Beast Academy online? He prefers anything online based but I don’t want to do that if there are disadvantages.

In the meantime, he is begging to start multiplication. Is there something you suggest I supplement with while he’s still in public school/2nd grade to give him a jump start? Maybe Math Mammoth light blue Multiplication? Or your Multiplication Facts that Stick? Or maybe an online game or resource for now? Or should I just make him wait?

Any guidance would be much appreciated!

77. Hi Rachel,

Your son sounds like a perfect candidate for Beast Academy. I definitely think you’re on the right track with that! BA online wasn’t available when I was using Beast with my son, so I’ve only looked at it briefly. If I were teaching it now, I personally would go with the printed books rather than the online program, as I think they’re more conducive to the kind of focused and sustained thinking kids need to do to really get the full benefit of the program.

Yes, Multiplication Facts That Stick would be a great way to get started with multiplication. It’ll feed his appetite for math and also give you a chance to “try out” homeschooling a little, since it has scripted lessons and games for you to do with him.

Happy Math!
Kate

78. This is so helpful, thank you! I went ahead and ordered Multiplication Facts that Stick for now, and if we decide to move forward with homeschooling next year I will stop searching and plan to go with BA like my gut said to do. 😊 I will do the placement tests but generally speaking, even with the introduction of multiplication this year while he’s in second grade, I assume 3A would still be a good place to start next year?

79. Hi Rachel,

Yes, 3A would be a good place to start. The first few multiplication lessons will be review, but then it will ramp up.

Kate