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I have a female friend (Mid 20's) who wants to get an associates degree, who has an absolute phobia of math, and algebra in particular. I'm trying to find a good program that can help her to study algebra to take the entrance exam to the community college, so that she can take as few classes as possible. Does anyone have a suggestion of a great resource, be it an online study course, book, etc that can help her learn enough algebra to at least qualify for an intermediate algebra level?

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Stewart Calculus has a review of algebra that looks useful. I tend to take basic algebra for granted in everything I do so I have a hard time understanding how to teach it. Also, why would it matter that your friend is female... – anon Jun 9 '11 at 2:27
@anon: Just that there are some resources around that might be geared more towards females, that's all. – PearsonArtPhoto Jun 9 '11 at 4:03
Last time I checked, there was nothing about math that was gender-specific. – ItsNotObvious Jun 9 '11 at 12:27
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Have her take a look at the algebra videos at the Khan Academy. The videos there cover all of basic arithmetic, Algebra I, and Algebra II.

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Please correct the name, it is "Khan" – kuch nahi Jun 9 '11 at 4:08
@yayu: OK, thanks. – Jim Belk Jun 9 '11 at 5:14

There are some books by the actress Danica McKellar, who played Winnie on The Wonder Years television series. She got a mathematics Bachelor's at UCLA and is one of three authors on a paper about percolation theory. She has written at least three books at about the level of algebra or even pre-algebra. I understand that the tone is set for teenage girls, that might be off-putting or it might be hilarious. I'm afraid I have not seen the books, but it is clearly a good idea to have such a resource available.

  • Danica McKellar (2007). Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail. Hudson Street Press. ISBN 978-1594630392.

  • Danica McKellar (2008). Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss. Hudson Street Press. ISBN 978-1-59463-049-1.

  • Danica McKellar (2010). Hot X: Algebra Exposed. Hudson Street Press. ISBN 978-1-59463-070-5.

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I edited your answer a bit, since for some reason pound signs caused the text to become very large and bold. – Zev Chonoles Jun 9 '11 at 3:39
@Zev: are you sure this formatting was unintended? It conveyed a subtle message... :) Seriously: the # signs are first level header prefixes for markdown – t.b. Jun 9 '11 at 3:43
Thanks for the edit. I just copied and pasted from the bottom of the Wikipedia page, by the time it got here it had pound signs beginning each line. I took one off, I realized I liked the bold characters, but I was not thinking about the standards of the website (it has been an annoying day for me). Anyway, this is good, keep it. If anyone has seen the books, are they any good? I guess we want the opinion of a middle-school girl on that. – Will Jagy Jun 9 '11 at 4:11
There's a blog post by Terence Tao the first few paragraphs of which are about the first book (and link to other reviews, etc; there's also some discussion in the comments). – ShreevatsaR Jun 9 '11 at 6:10
That's nice, thanks for the blog link. – Will Jagy Jun 9 '11 at 22:24

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