Community reviews for Art of Problem Solving

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Great curriculum, no real world applications, pure math(this is good)

Strong program with emphasis on deep understanding of concepts and love of math. Would highly recommend above most curriculums I have tried.

The K-5 program is strong and could easily be used in any k-6 program. The content is challenging but so strongly done that any level of student could use the program with support. The art of problem solving program for 6-12 is very challenging. It could be used for all students, but again, would need support. The online classes are excellent, books alone would need strong classroom support. Clearly aimed at high functioning students. This is a math program that goes beyond basic understanding and rote memorization to emphasize true, deep understanding and complex thinking. There are a plethora of problems available and a rich online community.
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Two stars for remedial. Five stars for advanced.

Below are a few points I disagree with the common sense reviewer. Reviewer: "However, many of the videos and Alcumus tasks are classic, straightforward math problems. These can be useful to all students who are learning basic math skills because they provide immediate feedback, but they may not be very exciting to a math superstar ready to get stumped" "The site could be improved by adding more complex, interesting problems with multiple approaches and solutions." Alcumus is an adaptive learning system. It gives you harder problems only if you have mastered a lower level. Alcumus contains challenging AMC problems like, which the vast majority of students would not know how to approach. The video instruction to solve this problem is here: I will leave it to the reader to decide if this is a "basic" math problem for your students. Reviewer: "Many teachers are looking for innovative ways to make math real for students; Art of Problem Solving, while helpful, is just another version of what's already available in standard math textbooks." "Meant to challenge math whizzes, actually best for struggling students" It depends on what the reviewer means by "real." There are limited resource on aops that is related to biology, which is the expertise of the reviewer (see profile here: However, the claim that aops offers materials that is already available in standard math textbooks is simply ignorant. I don't believe there is any standard middle or high school math textbook that contains problems like At the same time, recommending aops to struggling students is simply irresponsible. If you read the resume of AoPS staff, you will find none of them had the necessary academic or professional preparation to handle struggling students. Struggling students would not be served well by aops and are likely to be discouraged by problems on the website. The biggest issue with aops is that it doesn't fit everyone's need. But it is a paradise for a particular group of students perhaps for the same reason. If you know a student who recently enrolled in MIT or Caltech, ask them where they get their math resource, and you will hear about aops. As a math educator, I would not make comments on biology curriculum due to my lack of knowledge. Misleading educational advice will hurt children and family.
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The premier resource for Advanced Learners

I wanted to clarify the misconceptions in several of the previous reviews. Art of Problem is first and foremost a textbook and online class company. The website is meant as an adjunct resource for these purposes. So while there are several online tools like Alcumus on the site. These were never meant to be stand-alone. Secondly, the primary focus of all the textbooks is problem solving. AoPS offers an extremely rich/deep take on traditional topics. The problem organization in the books is particularly brilliant with problems building on each other towards a more complex view of each topic. The style of questions is structured around interesting samples from contest math with a focus on rigorous proofs and building techniques for attacking harder problems. I highly recommend reading a sample chapter of the books and judging the material for yourself. The books take a very constructionist approach with the students being asked to first try to solve a group of exercises and then explanations are given and structure is built up. For a few of the books i..e Algebra/Pre-Algebra there are companion videos which I've found useful. The overall level is geared towards advanced students. In practice, many kids find the jump from other texts to AoPS to be difficult initially because of the added depth and rigor. I can't imagine as someone previously suggested using any of this as a remedial program. Instead, either you should the website as an additional resource if you're using the AoPS textbooks or it also works well as an enrichment resource with another curriculum. I'd suggest interleaving some of the material as appropriate and particularly as challenge problems within the normal sequence.
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1 person found this helpful.

Deep, complex problem solving to challenge gifted learners

Our gifted math students love this program - it is complex, deep, comprehensive, challenging, rich, and fun. It is true that it doesn't offer a lot of "real world" connections for mathematics, but I don't see this as a downside for our students. Some students might need this to engage with math, but highly gifted math students, in my experience of working with this program for several years with many students at our school, love going deep with the math for the sake of the math. They don't need connections to cell phone plans or coupons to develop interest in the topic. There are relatively few practice problems (again, a positive when working with gifted learners) and they build in complexity very quickly. Alcumus and the problems in the book offer excellent challenges. Consistently, there are problems that challenge me and other math teachers at our school. And feedback I get from home is that parents who are math majors, computer science majors, programmers at technology companies, etc. have the same experience - they consistently find problems that challenge them. The only reason that I did not give this program 5 stars on "Support" is because I believe that this program is not equally successful for all learners - some students need topics to be broken down and scaffolded more than is provided by this program. Some students may need more practice problems or more hands-on activities to learn mathematics. Some may need more of the "real world" applications in their math learning to be engaged. For our students, however, this program is ideal.
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1 person found this helpful.

Math resources are plentiful; broad but shallow

While the resources offered on Art of Problem Solving are vast, the depth of the content itself is quite shallow. Real-world applications of math topics are minimal, and the DOK of most of the problems included in the curricula are 1-2. This site might help students understand more advanced topics, but ironically there is not much true, open-ended "problem solving" to be found.
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