Algebra 1 focuses on the manipulation of equations, inequalities, relations and functions, exponents and monomials, and it introduces the concept of polynomials. One of the key skills learned in Algebra 1 is the ability to solve a basic algebraic equation. After that skill is mastered, students learn how to write their own algebraic equations based off of given word problems. Graphing is also highly emphasized, and the definition of a function is introduced.
Algebra 1 primarily teaches students how to think about real world situations mathematically. Word problems make up a large part of the curriculum, with nearly every unit including some form of word problem interpretation. Exponents, a concept learned prior to Algebra 1, are reviewed and applied to equations. The mathematical laws of exponents are taught and applied to exponential equations. The ideas of negative and zero exponents are also introduced and applied.
Algebra 1 is the first mathematics class to introduce the concept of scientific notation as a substitute format for very large or very small numbers. The Pythagorean theorem is introduced and applied, providing a mathematical basis for geometrical concepts that are taught in subsequent math classes. Statistics and probability are included as supplemental units in most curriculum plans but are only briefly touched on in most cases.