Is Intermediate Algebra Hard? 7 Best Tips to Pass Algebra

Is Intermediate Algebra Hard

The mathematical realm requires applications of complex algebraic expression and problem-solving skills to surmount. So, the question remains: is intermediate algebra hard or just students’ perception? Intermediate algebra is among the toughest branches of college math. Its combination of expressions, variables, inequalities, and equations leaves many students entangled in a web of confusion. This article demystifies intermediate algebra difficulty, delving deep into why you need professional math help to succeed in this branch of mathematics.  

What’s Intermediate Algebra?

It is a foundational math course in which mathematical thoughts and reasoning are developed through the study of the following topics:

  • Polynomials
  • Quadratic Equations and Formulas
  • Graphing Systems
  • Rational Expressions
  • Roots and Radicals
  • Factoring Quadratics
  • Absolute-Value Inequalities
  • Special Factoring Formulas
  • Graphing Quadratic Equations
  • Linear Programming

Intermediate algebra is designed to expand and broaden the basic concepts of elementary algebra. It is necessary for students who need to be successful in precalculus, college algebra and/or statistics. While it counts as part of your attempted credits and factors into financial aid calculations, it doesn’t contribute to overall credits earned or satisfy degree or General Education requirements.

Is Intermediate Algebra Hard? Perception vs. Reality

Intermediate algebra is often viewed as a challenging mathematical subject, where a mere mention of “algebra” invokes fear among many students. However, the reality remains that it is a tough subject, only comparable to calculus. But with the right approach and expert guidance, the subject is as manageable as tackling any other math problem.

Common Challenges Students Face in Intermediate Algebra

Intermediate algebra is a challenging mathematical branch with many obstacles on the path to mastery. Here are common challenges students face in intermediate algebra.

Poor Mathematical Foundations

Solving algebraic expressions starts with strengthening fundamental concepts in basic mathematics, such as arithmetic and number theory. Inadequate comprehension of these fundamental algebraic concepts from earlier courses can deter future progress.

Complex Concepts

Quadratic equations, rational expressions, and inequalities are complex mathematical concepts many students struggle to grasp in the introductory stages. Without proper motivation and help, many students lose hope in the subject right at the introduction of these concepts.

Symbol Overload

The topic uses mathematical symbols and notations extensively. Balancing variables, equations, and different symbols in solving algebraic problems can be overwhelming and confusing.  

Word Problems

The first step to solving an algebraic word problem is translating it into mathematical equations and expressions. Deciphering the word language used and determining the correct mathematical expression used is a double tragedy for many learners.


Biases and stereotyping are major hindrances in excelling in intermediate algebra, linear algebra, and other technical subjects. Stereotyping affects students’ approach to the course by making them feel inadequate to excel in this subject.

Demystifying the Difficulty

Build a solid foundation.  Success in intermediate algebra starts with grasping elementary algebra concepts like number theory. This helps you understand fundamental concepts clearly, making it easier to grasp complex and more advanced concepts.

Use available resources

Leverage textbooks, online algebra courses, educational software, and graphing calculators for practice. Most textbooks have structured topics to help you grasp and build on your knowledge as you progress. They also offer practice problems to test your understanding after every topic.

Is Intermediate Algebra Hard Compared to Linear Algebra: Key Difference

Some students confuse intermediate algebra with linear algebra. Here’s everything you need to know about the two branches of mathematics.

Scope and Complexity

Linear algebra is a more complex branch of math compared to intermediate algebra. It deals with matrices, vector spaces, abstract algebraic structures, and linear transformations. Conversely, the unit focuses more on algebraic concepts, such as solving equations, factoring polynomials, graphing linear equations, and working with rational expressions. 


Linear algebra has diverse applications in areas that require modeling and solving problems of linear equations. The most common applicability includes machine learning, computer graphics, engineering, and cryptography. Intermediate algebra serves more as a fundamental building block for advanced math learning but with limited direct applications in specialized fields. It offers essential math skills for daily problem-solving.

Abstract vs. Practical

Linear algebra is more abstract and theoretical. It deals more with mathematical structures and may not have immediate real-world applications. It emphasizes nurturing abstract reasoning abilities. On the contrary, intermediate algebra covers abstract concepts while remaining practical and focused on solving real-world problems.

In a nutshell, linear algebra is a more advanced field with specialized applications, while intermediate algebra is more of a foundational course, focusing on everyday algebraic skills for problem-solving and a stepping stone for advanced learning.

Is Intermediate Algebra Hard?

Intermediate algebra is undeniably a hard subject that many students struggle with. However, success is attainable with the right help and a positive mindset. Seek guidance from math experts to help you build comprehension from foundational principles to more advanced concepts like quadratic equations and polynomials.

Leave a Reply