Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Algebra Survival Guide: A Conversational Guide for the Thoroughly Befuddled
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on September 18, 2004
I purchased this book last spring in order to prepare myself to take college algebra this fall. In high school I failed algebra and I was beyond confused or befuddled. I put off going to college for 10 YEARS simply because I didn't want to do the math. I was dreading the idea of having to spend the summer studying it. I've always had a fear of math and algebra, and over time I began to hate it. Now when I say I hate it, the term hate may not be enough; my loathing was beyond measure; but from working through this book something amazing happened; I don't hate or fear algebra anymore! Seriously!!! And I understand it! And not only do I understand it; I enjoy it! If the idea of enjoying algebra makes little or no sense to you, if you have spent your time and your money struggling through books or classes that are boring, uninformative, over your head, and/or just plain stupid, then really, this book is for you! Please don't pass this book up; it will change your life. And if you could understand how much I hated algebra, you would understand how good this book really is.

Josh, you changed my life! Thanks!!!
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on July 7, 2004
Let me start by saying that in High School, I felt like a mathmatical retard. I failed math horribly. I never got the basics. It didn't help that I was a bit lazy, but nevermind that! At age 30, and a liberal arts degree later, I decided it was time to learn Algebra properly, once and for all. This book, and the workbook that goes with it was a balanced and enlightening start that truly was painless. I have just about finished the book and will be moving on to harder algebra. I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone looking to simply the fog that surrounds the word "ALGEBRA".
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on October 19, 2004
This book is excellent. I took all the math offered in high school and college algebra (20 years ago!) My 7th grade

daughter is struggling with pre-algebra and I couldn't remember a thing to help her. I ordered the Survival Guide and workbook and they are both fun! My 12 year old works out of this book on her own. It really is self-teaching. Each section takes you step by step through the concepts explaining in simple terms how to do the problems. I am learning all the Algebra concepts and love the way the book is laid out. Very direct, simple, engaging & great to look at visually. I am an artist by profession and give you kudos on the graphics. I also substitute teach in our public schools and this is a great book to learn how to teach basic algebra. I work with a lot of special needs students and knowing how to explain the algebra in fun and practical ways is a blessing. I recommend this book to teachers, parents and students.
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on October 26, 2006
I have been shopping for a good tutorial algebra book for several weeks so that I could help my struggling teenagers. I probably would not have shopped this book because the cover gave me the impression of chaos. I feared that the pages would be full of text that would baffle us even more. I bought this book and workbook based on the customer's reviews...and am I happy I did so. I learned not to judge a book by its cover. The book layout is easy to read with one problem per page in step-by-step detail. This is exactly what I've been seeking. Too bad Rappaport does not have a book on Geometry...that's our next level.

ps. The only reason I did not rate this book a 5 is because the contents covers ten fundamentals whereas other books cover a bit more. But the layout is worth the compromise.
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on January 17, 2006
I want to talk to the grownups who, like me, never got the gist of Algebra, and certainly never passed an Algebra course (Come on, soul mates, go back with me in time: remember how we sat at our desks, sweating, fighting off that sick "I know I'm not going to pass this test" stomach).

Well, fear no more--we can now emerge from the darkness that was ignorance of Algebra. We now have hope. we can now live the consummate human life, because there's a new sheriff who will help us defeat the bullies in Algebra Town (You know the ones, my friends: they sit, confidently, smugly even, figuring out how those numbers become

algebra.). The sheriff is named Josh Rappaport. But Mr. Rappaport doesn't tote a gun, no sir--his weapon doesn't mutilate, it enlightens. His weapon is the ALGEBRA SURVIVAL GUIDE ( A Conversational Handbook for the Thoroughly Befuddled). Oh my! This handbook has so charmed me, I'm reading it like a novel. Good sign, right? It's no chore reading Josh Rappaport's gem. And you will also love Sally Blakemore's illustrations. She gets it! that falling down a hole feeling ( You have to buy the handbook to see Ms. Blakemore's visual take on fear of Algebra).

So, come on grownups-who-never-passed-Algebra...wouldn't you like to live a full life? wouldn't you like to give numbers, then Algebra, a chance? I KNOW you'd like to read words like REFLEXIVE Property, COMMUTATIVE Property and ASSOCIATIVE Property without fighting the the urge to cry? Well, do yourself a favor and purchase the Algebra Survival Guide. Then, do yourself a further favor and buy the WORKBOOK. Okay?
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on October 25, 2004
This book is a "Must-have" resource for anyone teaching or studing Algebra. Fun enough to keep the math "demons" away, and detailed enough for the math-Challenged to finally "get it".

I went from "Hate math" to "Hey, I can do this!" in two weeks.

Mr. Rappaport needs to write more math book.
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on May 23, 2003
This delightful, easily understood explanation of algebra's basic concepts saved my hide in a standardized math test I had to take last week! I spent two days studying this book and suddenly felt like a mathematician, capable of explaining exponents, coefficients, radicals, factoring, square roots, quadratic trinomials and even the slick operation of the Pythagorian theorem to other novices-- who now thought I was a math expert! Boy, I wish I'd found this lovely little text when I was in school. A perfect supplement for your kids' standard algebra textbook... or, heck, a great textbook all by itself! Buy it, and watch your kids smile when they finally understand algebra!
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on April 5, 2006
As a home educator who is not tied to a specific curriculum, I was looking for an eighth-grade Math book that I could feel comfortable with. I found this on a fluke and took a chance on it. Josh explains things so well, and his book is helping my daughter breeze through Algebra so effortlessly, that I catch myself thinking, "This is too easy; can she really be progressing?" We enjoy getting a little goofy with Josh's conversational Q/A style that introduces each textbook page; even when the concept is a simple one, my daughter comments that Josh makes "the obvious" funny instead of boring.
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on December 20, 2010
What can I say about this book other than I FINALLY GET MATH! Algebra, at least. I bought this book before starting a college level algebra class because I was so terrified I would fail. I knew I was going to need extra sources of help as I have struggled with math all my life. I even put off pursuing the degree I wanted in college because of the math prerequisites. I am back in college now and decided enough was enough - may as well try again. I am so glad I did! I just finished my College Algebra class with a 97 term grade! Yes, a 97: A+! This coming from someone who nearly failed math, physics and chemistry in high school. My confidence in math was so low, I really thought I would struggle just to pass this class.

Anyway, here's how this book made such a huge difference for me. Previously, I had picked up math books and begun trying to follow what seemed like illogical steps to me - the books would show examples but didn't explain or emphasize what was really being done in the steps and why. So I would quickly get in over my head because I didn't understand the concepts that the math problems were being built on. That led me to believe you must have a talent for math, an "engineer's brain", in order to "just know" how to do math. Sort of like how people have a talent for art or music. But it's not true - you don't need talent for math at all!

This book made me realize that math is all about RULES. Simple rules. It's not esoteric, it's not intuition, it's not something you have to have a talent for. It's something that you must simply memorize rules in order to master. And you start not with complex rules - but simple rules, like about the types of numbers, what they are allowed to do, and about properties. MEMORIZE these things and when you see a math problem just apply the rules you already know! The key is memorization of math rules. Memorize, memorize, memorize - and don't move on to the next rule until you know the more basic rule so well that you could teach it to someone else.

Take for instance a very simple rule, the rule of symmetry: if a=b, then b=a. Let's say you have an equation: 23 = 2x + 7. The rule of symmetry says that if you want to, if it's easier for you to read or just for the heck of it, you can rearrange that equation as follows: 2x + 7 = 23. You can write it either way because why - because if a=b, b=a, every single time! No guesswork! So if you see an equation written one way in one place, and then you see the same numbers and variables written on the next line in a different way, you can say, "okay, this equation was rearranged based on such-and-such rule." And you have confidence then, because you KNOW what's going on, you know it wasn't just some random thing and you aren't lost. I know it sounds so basic and silly, but even something as simple as an equation being rearranged would throw me off in the old days because I didn't know the rules that allowed such things. I would see something like that and just go, huh, okay. I never GOT it and I never knew how to really ask for help because I didn't really even know what I was missing. I just thought I was stupid and would always feel debilitated when it came to math - I thought I would literally never get past it.

Thanks to this book I am feeling confident about my future studies. As silly as it sounds to say that an algebra book changed my life, I truly believe this book has changed my life. It has broken down a barrier in my mind and therefore in my life - I am now free to charge ahead in the other math classes I have to take, and I know I have a great foundation to build upon. I encourage anyone who struggles with math to get this book. Sit down with it in a leisurely way, with a cup of coffee or whatever your pleasure, and just read it. Don't pressure yourself to get too many concepts at once - like I said, I really believe memorization is key, and you will know you know it when you can teach someone else. And believe me, you WILL get there! Best of luck to you from a very, very unlikely A+ math student :)
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on September 29, 2006
I can do algebra but I couldn't explain to my kids and get them interested. Looking at my kids, I could tell that their minds wandered away from me. Many thanks to Josh Rappaport, I have finally grasped their attention. We were laughing while learning algebra. Josh has made algebra so much easier to understand and enjoyable. The illustrations are great too. Highly recommended book.
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