• John Manison

What Makes 7th Grade Algebra So Hard for Students?

Ask any seventh grader you know, and they’d tell you that it’s the most challenging grade level ever. You might think that they’re just exaggerating, but once you see what they have to deal with daily, you’ll probably understand. Not only do they have to adjust to social changes and even shifts to how they study, as most of them do so remotely, but they also have to handle more complex subjects, like 7th grade algebra.

In fact, 7th grade algebra is more advanced than the elementary math your child had been used to. It’s unfamiliar, and the concepts are more abstract. This is why so many parents look for online tutoring services for their children.

Before you start looking for one, you must first understand why your child finds algebra a challenge:

It Requires a New Type of Thinking

Your child is familiar with elementary concepts of math, and they handle math problems arithmetically. However, for your child to learn algebra, they need to develop analytic and qualitative reasoning skills. As they are yet to develop these skills, they can get overwhelmed and feel like algebra is beyond them.

It is Non-Visual in Nature

You may not realize it but mathematics, in general, has a visual nature. Problems in arithmetic can be solved in pictorial terms. For instance, when the problem requires the student to find 25% of 10 m, the student can visualize a 10 m ruler and divide that into four equal parts.

This visual approach helps students solve math problems. The problem is that you can’t apply this visual approach to algebra, and you can’t imagine visual representations for actual operations. As a child who has grown accustomed to imagining visual models to solve math problems, you will see why algebra is complicated for them.

It Needs Strong Foundational Math Skills

Algebra requires a solid foundation in basic math operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, addition, and concepts like fractions and decimals. If a child doesn’t have a thorough understanding of these, they will surely find 7th grade Algebra extremely difficult.

Its Use of Symbols Is Hard to Understand

Students who are unfamiliar with algebra can be confused by the use of symbols because it can seem like a foreign concept. Children may get easily disoriented when values are represented by letters, for instance, which they do not normally associate with math. For example, 7th graders have no trouble solving this equation: 8 + _ = 24, but they have a hard time solving ‘x’ in 8 + x = 24.

It may be their poor attitude towards the use of symbols and their prejudice that puts up a wall between them and their understanding of the complexities of algebra.

It Feels Like a Huge Leap

Despite it being the natural next step after elementary math concepts, algebra can still feel like a giant leap for most students. And while some may argue that it can be quickly learned, this switch can take some time to adapt to students, and especially because it’s different from the basic arithmetic that took them years to master.


Kids are already having a challenging time transitioning to a different way of studying, and the current situation that the world is facing is adding to the stress. Add to that a “new kind of math” that they might have never encountered before, and you’ll get a 7th grader who feels like the world is on their shoulders.

However, your child doesn’t need to feel so burdened. You can provide them with extra support, like an online math tutor who can guide them as they learn algebra and help them with their school work.

Apex Tutors can provide you with reliable academic tutoring services for Algebra and other subjects like Science and English. Contact us today to know more about our tutors and the services we offer!

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