Review by Pamela Brittain, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2019

Art of Problem Solving

Variety of math content supports struggling and advanced learners

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Math

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
2–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (6 Reviews)

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Pros: Presents information in multiple ways; courses are organized specifically by grade level.

Cons: The forums are a bit hard to navigate; continued use of the program could get a bit pricy over time.

Bottom Line: Separate sections for younger and older students help to teach kids at all levels, from foundational skills up to Math Olympiad training.

The Art of Problem Solving allows students to focus on math concepts that they're struggling with or (for advanced students) that offer a challenge. The site presents the materials as self-paced for younger students or as online, interactive courses for older students. There's also a large collection of additional resources available on the site, including videos and an extensive forum (over eight million posts and counting) where students discuss all sorts of math concepts. 

The site is best designed for students wishing to work independently on their math knowledge, although some of the materials presented -- such as the videos -- may be good for a teacher to use with a whole class to introduce a topic or give a different perspective on it. If you're a Math Olympiad coach or have students preparing for math contests, you'll find the videos of sample test questions very helpful; many of the resources found here are especially geared toward kids who are preparing to compete at a national level.

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The Art of Problem Solving has added a lot of math content over the past few years and now includes videos, interactive courses, and a fun, game-based academy for younger students. The site is divided into different sections, each focusing on a different area of math and different grade levels. The main divisions are AoPS Online, Beast Academy, and AoPS Academy.

AoPS Online provides older students with lessons on everything from pre-algebra foundational skills up to Math Olympiad training. There's also a substantial forum where students can interact with one another to ask -- and answer -- various math problems. The Beast Academy is for younger students and has a fun interface with comic characters, videos, games, and more for grades 2 to 5. Finally, the AoPS Academy is an in-person academy that students can attend. 

Overall, the Art of Problem Solving provides a variety of resources to help struggling students succeed and to encourage and build enrichment for students to challenge themselves. The fact that it's all presented together in one place may also have the bonus effect of encouraging once struggling students to take on greater and greater challenges -- and perhaps be the next Math Olympians. 

The choice of videos, books, forums, online interactive classes, and games (for the younger students) means that students have a number of different ways to learn the material. The Beast Academy, in particular, is very good at providing students with different learning options. The bright colors and fun characters also lend an air of friendless to the site without losing the focus on teaching. 

The forum promotes collaboration among students, but it's hard to navigate, and some of the posts are less about math and more about "kids being kids" in an online environment. But for those who take the time to explore, there's a rich source of information to be found.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

A variety of content formats gives students of different abilities multiple options for accessing the materials. The forum, though hard to navigate, encourages kids to engage with one another in a safe, friendly way. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Math content covers a large number of concepts and is structured differently by grade level: webinar lectures for older students and games and comic book characters for young kids.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The Beast Academy supplies kids with lots of hints, and online, interactive classes give students direct access to the teacher. Digging through the forum may provide additional help.


Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Kelly A. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Ladue Middle School
St. Louis, United States
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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