Is Algebra 2 Harder Than Algebra 1? (Yes, and here’s why!)

Is Algebra 2 Harder Than Algebra 1
Students Solving Algebra 2 Problems

You have made it through Algebra 1, and you are ready to take the next step in your mathematics journey. Now, you might be wondering, is Algebra 2 harder than Algebra 1?

Generally, Algebra 2 is harder than Algebra 1 because it includes trigonometry topics. In Algebra 1, students learn to solve and graph equations and inequalities, whereas a typical algebra 2 class covers new functions, such as exponential and logarithmic equations.

However, the factors that contribute to making Algebra 2 harder than Algebra 1 are often complex. In other words, the difficulty level of algebra 2 can vary depending on the curriculum.

Keep reading to find out the differences between Algebra 2 and Algebra 1 and understand why they may be more difficult for some students.

If you are also wondering whether Calculus is Harder Than Algebra, I wrote a whole article that I encourage you to read.

The Basics of Algebra

Before we dive into the differences between algebra 1 and algebra 2, I believe that it is important to understand the basics of both classes. A typical Algebra 1 class introduces students to basic concepts, including equations, inequalities, functions, linear equations, polynomials, and exponents. It also covers topics like graphing, solving for variables, and operations with real numbers.

In contrast, a typical algebra 2 class builds upon these topics by introducing more complex equations, such as quadratics and higher-degree polynomials. It also covers logarithmic functions, matrices, and more advanced topics like conic sections and exponential growth or decay.

If you are looking to strengthen your knowledge in Algebra 1 and Algebra 2, I encourage you to check out Khan Academy to learn Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 for free.

Differences Between Algebra 1 and 2

Algebra 1 focuses on linear equations, while Algebra 2 introduces exponential equations and more advanced mathematical concepts such as logarithms, matrices, and imaginary numbers.

In addition, while Algebra 1 builds upon basic arithmetic skills (such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing), Algebra 2 dives deeper into algebraic principles such as polynomials and factoring.

The table below contains an overview of Topics Covered in Algebra 1 and 2

Topics Covered in Algebra 1 Topics Covered in Algebra 2
– Algebra foundations
– Solving equations & inequalities
– Working with units
– Linear equations & graphs
– Forms of linear equations
– Systems of equations
– Inequalities (systems and graphs)
– Functions
– Sequences
– Absolute value & piecewise functions
– Exponents & radicals
– Exponential growth and decay
– Quadratics: Multiplying and factoring
– Quadratic functions and equations
– Irrational numbers
– Creativity in algebra
– Polynomial arithmetic
– Complex numbers
– Polynomial factorization
– Polynomial division
– Polynomial graphs
– Rational exponents and radicals
– Exponential models
– Logarithms
– Transformations of functions
– Equations
– Trigonometry
– Modeling
The table Contains An Overview of Topics Covered in Algebra 1 and 2

Why is Algebra 2 so Hard?

Most students find Algebra 2 more challenging because it introduces more complex and less concrete topics, including complex numbers, logarithms, and trigonometry, making Algebra 2 harder to grasp than Algebra 1. 

Another essential factor that can make Algebra 2 harder is the teacher because how you learn the material in Algebra 2 generally depends on your teacher.

Additionally, Algebra 2 can also be hard for students who are unprepared or have not mastered the fundamentals of mathematics from Algebra 1 and other prior mathematics classes.

For example, if a student is struggling with basic addition or subtraction operations in their early math classes, then they might have difficulty understanding more complex concepts like graphing functions or solving quadratic equations in their later math classes.

Furthermore, because Algebra 2’s material builds on itself over time (from addition to multiplication to algebraic equations), any gaps or misunderstandings of the concepts can create difficulties for students when taking higher-level courses like algebra 2.

And, Algebra 2 classes cover so many formulas that need to be memorized in order to understand the material fully; I find out this is also another challenge for some students who struggle with rote memorization tasks.

Is Algebra 2 Harder Than Algebra 1
Algebra Problem

Algebra 1 Vs. Algebra 2: Which One Is Harder?

Generally speaking, though, many students find that they have an easier time with algebra 1 because it introduces them to foundational concepts that they will need in order to understand more complex topics in later math classes.

On the other hand, some students find that they struggle more with algebra 2 because it requires them to apply their knowledge from previous math classes in order to solve more challenging problems.

Real-World Applications

Another important factor in determining whether or not a course is difficult is how applicable its concepts are in real-world situations.

While both courses cover theoretical concepts that are useful for future math classes, many students find that they have an easier time understanding material when they can see how it applies outside of the classroom setting.

Fortunately for students taking Algebra 1 and 2, both courses cover practical applications of their respective topics as well.

For example, students taking algebra 1 learn about solving systems of equations which can help them understand concepts like budgeting or calculating taxes, whereas those taking algebra 2 learn about logarithms which can be used to analyze data trends over time.

Prerequisites for Algebra 2

The two main prerequisites for Algebra 2 classes are Geometry and Algebra 1. Generally, students take Geometry before Algebra 1 and then Algebra 2.

I suggest you take Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 as closely as possible because the topics covered in Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 are related.

I also believe that Building good study habits will help you succeed in both Algebra 2 classes and college courses.

How Do You Ace Algebra Class?

Learning math, particularly Algebra, can be very challenging for most students. Based on my experience, here are the most helpful tips to help you ace your Algebra class. 

  • Put in the proper amount of work: Generally, a four-credit course should require about twelve hours of work per week (including class time) for a student with average abilities (Source: University of Oregon)
  • Make it a habit to read your textbook: I generally encourage my students to read their maths textbooks before every class because it helps them understand the new concepts taught in class.
  • Always do your homework earlyEven though you might think that your Algebra 2 class’s homework is easy, I encourage you to do it anyway. Doing your homework will strengthen your problem-solving skills.
  • Find a good math tutor: Working with your math tutor, I encourage you to redo problems by yourself when your tutor is not around. I also suggest your force yourself to work on different problems to improve your problems solving skills.
  • Avoid memorizing when it comes to doing maths: I always tell my students that everything has a reason and a story behind it in mathematics. Students who memorize a method can do one specific type of math problem—however, students who successfully understand how to apply their knowledge to various mathematics problems.

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In Conclusion

While algebra 2 is undoubtedly more complex than algebra 1 due to its focus on exponential equations and other advanced mathematical concepts such as logarithms and matrices, it does not necessarily mean that it will be harder for all students.

I believe each student has their own learning style and needs, and I found that what may be difficult for one student may not necessarily be challenging for another.

If you are planning to take Algebra 2, I encourage you to ensure you understand the basics of mathematics to build a strong foundation.


I am Altiné. I am the guy behind When I am not teaching math, you can find me reading, running, biking, or doing anything that allows me to enjoy nature's beauty. I hope you find what you are looking for while visiting

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