Understanding Saxon Math


Saxon Math has been a homeschool mainstay for 20+ years. It was written by John Saxon and remained a family company until 2004 when it was sold to Harcourt Achieve. It is still however the same high quality program as when it was owned by the Saxons. This curriculum has been used by homeschoolers practicing nearly every homeschool method. We use 2 Math programs in our homeschool for the Grammar Stage we use Christian Light Mathematics. It is systematic, comprehensive, emphasizes facts memory, advanced  in scope & sequence and provides constant reviews of what has already been taught.  Then we switch to Saxon during the Logic Stage  (grade 5) and they begin 7/6 from CLE Math 4. I decided to switch to Saxon because of it’s reputation, CLE moves a little to slow through the Middle Years and I like the scope and sequence of Saxon.

The Big Question…Which Saxon Book Covers Which Grade Level?

I’m sorry but I have found the naming of their books from grade 4-7th to be so confusing. So here is the deal if you are looking to match the book to grade. 1st grade – Saxon 1
2nd grade – Saxon 2
3rd grade – Saxon 3
4th grade – Saxon 5/4
5th grade – Saxon 6/5
6th grade – Saxon 7/6
7th grade – Saxon 8/7 or Algebra 1/2  – YOU SHOULD DO ONE OR THE OTHER
8th grade – Algebra 1 
9th grade – Algebra 2 
10th grade – Advanced Mathematics 
11th grade – Calculus 
12th grade – Physics or Trigonometry  There are two sources of DVD instruction with Saxon Math either Dive Into Math CD for Saxon Math 7/6 4th Edition or Mastering Algebra John Saxon’s Way: Math 76, 4th Edition DVD Set What is the difference you ask? The understand the purpose of the naming but I am still confused. Saxon 5/4 is for a 4th grader or struggling 5th grader, 6/5 is for a 5th grader or struggling 6th grader etc… If you would like to learn more about Saxon then I highly recommend the book Using John Saxon’s Math Books (Art Reed) – Paperback  a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Aspired Living

Kyle is a full time frugal wife of Wayneand Mama to 5 adorable children: Peyton (15), Parker (10),Pearson (8), Parson (3) & Providence (3). My hope is to present families with an attainable simplified model of classical education with a Charlotte Mason twist.She likes listening to audio books, watching the kids play sports or piano & doing anything with my husband! She likes to do all of that while having a cup of coffee! You can find her blogging on a regular basis here at Aspired Living, The Curriculum Choice & Womanhood with Purpose.

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About Aspired Living

Kyle is a full time frugal wife of Wayne and Mama to 5 adorable children: Peyton (15), Parker (10),Pearson (8), Parson (3) & Providence (3). My hope is to present families with an attainable simplified model of classical education with a Charlotte Mason twist.She likes listening to audio books, watching the kids play sports or piano & doing anything with my husband! She likes to do all of that while having a cup of coffee! You can find her blogging on a regular basis here at Aspired Living, The Curriculum Choice & Womanhood with Purpose.

27 thoughts on “Understanding Saxon Math

  1. Thanks for sharing this information about Saxon. We found it be pretty good. My son used Saxon Calculus in 12th grade with DIVE DVD. The DVDs were better for science than math, though. He still needed a tutor for Calculus, because there wasn’t quite enough explanation for a Calculus course 🙂

    1. The Saxon DIVE CD’s work out every problem and they use different examples then are provided in the book so the kiddos can still review/study if necessary. After reading Art Reeds book my best guess is that you might have switched between editions or from one program to another. Both of these actions sometimes leave a gap that makes it difficult for students to attain success in Saxon. I’m glad you took evasive action and got your kiddo a tutor. Mom knows best. 😀 Thank you for stopping by and sharing it’s been a while please come back soon!!

  2. I had read and then heard at a math practicum that in 7th grade, kids can use Saxon 8/7 — if they have 80% mastery, then they can move on to Algebra 1 – if not, they do Algebra 1/2. In the Challenge Program at Classical Conversations my 8th grader will be doing Algebra 1/2 and I’m ok with that. We want those math skills to be strong. I was wondering if you had heard anything about this is your research for this post.

    1. We ended up requiring the children to move from 87 to Algebra 1/2 before moving on to Algebra 1. There’s quite a leap in difficulty between 87 and Algebra 1, and children struggle with Algebra if their arithmetic skills are week. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing the post. We’ve used Art Reed’s books to help our progression through Saxon Math. He also spent quite a bit of time on the phone advising us when we ran into problems.

    2. Hi Mary,
      According to my research 8/7 & Algebra 1/2 are the same course. The difference between the two is that 8/7 concentrates on basic skills that often make it difficult for them to be successful in Algebra. “The contents of both books appear the same; however; Math 8/7 starts off with review of some sixth grade concepts. Algebra 1/2 does not have this review. ” Art Reed Also the 8/7 goes over some of the basic math skills in depth like decimals & percents. Kids that have trouble in Algebra often have issues in percents,decimals etc… We are going to do 8/7 and then Algebra. Mostly, because both of my kiddos will be doing it in 4th or 5th grade and I want to make sure they have a firm foundation for Algebra.So you could do both books but there would be A LOT of overlap which could be good for a struggling student. For your 8th grader if her percents, etc… then 1/2 is great if she still needs to work on it then 8/7 is preferred. I hope that helps. I’m actually writing a few more posts on Saxon as I have learned a lot more about the program and frankly now I am even more impressed with the program.

      1. This is what Art Reed’s Using John Saxon’s Math Books suggests:

        -Students who use Math 76 and score 80% or above on the last 5-6 test can skip Math 87 and use Algebra 1/2. Those who score below 80% need to use Math 87.
        -Students who need to use Math 87 and score 80% or above on the last 5-6 tests can skip Algebra 1/2 and go directly to Algebra 1 (pg. 67).

        So Math 87 and Algebra 1/2 aren’t interchangeable, and your student may need to do BOTH to be ready for Algebra 1.

        I think it’s great that the series provides that extra help for students who need it. Some kids need two years of pre-Algebra in order to be prepared. I think it’s more important to understand math than it is to simply have an Algebra or Calculus credit by a certain grade. Children just don’t always “get” math according to our timetables.

        Mr. Reed does have some information regarding math tracks (fast, average, and slower) in his April 2012 newsletter.

        1. We went through 8/7 and Algebra 1/2. We did notice a lot of overlap in Algebra 1/2, but it was a great time to solidify those math concepts, and has really paved a great foundation for success in Algebra 1. I don’t think we wasted any time by doing both, and my son loves math.

  3. We just started using Saxon for the second half of the year. I really liked it and ordered the next book for the fall. I like hearing what some of you moms with kids a few years ahead have to say about it =) Thanks for sharing!

  4. May I ask what your reason was for using CLE for grammar math as opposed to Saxon? We will be beginning our hs journey in the fall and I am struggling to make a decision on our math curriculum. My DS is strong in math like I am and I’m trying to find something that will be challenging yet still appropriate. Thanks

    1. One of our homeschool distinctives is independent work. In my opinion children become independent in CLE Math faster then they do in Saxon. I like the using CLE Math has a lot more written instructions. It also has a lot of problems for them to work on. Finally, it has a HUGE emphasis on learning math facts from K-3rd and they have completely laid out the process for it. I hope that helps sorry for the delayed response we just got back from vacation.

  5. I prefer CLE over Saxon for the same reasons above. When I showed both Saxon 5/4 and CLE 4 to my 9 y/o son, he preferred the CLE. It is so simply laid out, the pages have lots of white space, it’s simply easy on the eyes and easy for the child to follow. Saxon seems to require flipping between text and workbook and appendix pages- agh! I also like that the CLE division into “Light Units” of 10 workbooks. My child can easily grab his one single math workbook and start work himself or take into the car to work on it on the road.
    Question: We are starting CC Essentials this Fall, and plan to continue into Challenge. Our Challenge tutor says my son will be “behind” in Math when we hit Challenge if we continue with CLE, and she strongly recommends we switch to CLE now.
    Thoughts? I really like CLE layout, I don’t like Saxon layout . When I compare the two programs, it doesn’t look to me as though he’ll be behind in Math when we get to Challenge.

    1. I’m not sure your tutor is really familar with CLE…..CLE’s scope and sequence is ahead of Saxons. It’s more comparable to Abeka or the early years of Horizon Math. For instance last year we tested one of our children who was completing CLE 4 and she tested into Saxon 7/6. Now that said I would definitely switch them from CLE by 5th grade (if you want to move into Saxon) because then Saxon’s scope and sequence gets faster then CLE’s. After 5th grade I would assume a CLE student would test into Saxon 8/7 which is their version of Pre-Algebra (they do have a pre-algebra but it is recommended you do one or the other according to the book Understanding Saxon Math). During the 6-8th grade I think CLE’s scope and sequence slows down a bit and they stretch what I think should take 2 years into 3. I hope that answers your question. BTW I didn’t like Saxon when we first started it either! I ended up buying Math grid paper for my Saxon kids. Now that we are a year into it and I really like it! the Blessings and thanks so much for stopping by!

      1. Thanks so much! It’s really helpful to talk to someone w/ experience w/ both Saxon and CLE. So…We plan to do Essentials for the next three years, then start Challenge. Challenge A uses Saxon 8/7, so to be ready for that, we could do CLE 4 this year,then switch to Saxon 6/5 , Saxon 7/6. The next year we’d start Challenge & Saxon 8/7. If we stick w/ CLE 5 next year, you’re saying that Saxon starts to accelerate their Scope & Sequence w/ Saxon 6/5? Is there a disadvantage of continuing CLE 5 next year, then switching to Saxon the following year (presumably 7/6, just for argument’s sake), then he’d be ready for Challenge A and Saxon 8/7 . So sorry for my pea-brained confusion:)

        1. When does CC start to tutor Saxon? I don’t see any harm in remaining in CLE until CLE5 but I would compare the Scope & Sequence just to make sure. Additionally, when you finish CLE take the Saxon placement test to see where your student places, just to make sure. But I would want my student to be in Saxon if CC is tutoring Saxon, CC cost a lot of money so I’d want to get the most out of it! 😀

          1. CC Challenge A stars specifically using Saxon 8/7, Challenge B uses Saxon 1/2, Challenge 1 is Saxon Alg 1, Challenge 2 is Saxon Alg 2, Challenge 3 is Saxon Advanced Math, and Challenge 4 is Saxon Advanced B or Calculus, all of this per the CC catalogue.

            Thanks, helpful suggestions!

  6. Thank you this was just what I needed to know about both CLE and Saxon. I feel good starting with CLE knowing they’ll transition into Saxon well.

  7. I am also a BIG fan of CLE and also looking at switching to Saxon after this 4th grade year; however, we had to detour this year/end of last year and my kids switched from CLE to Switched on Schoolhouse for 3rd & 4th grade math. Now I am wondering what to do for 5th grade; I was going to go back to CLE, thinking they will probably test into 4th grade CLE. Do you think this would be OK and they will be ready for Saxon in 6th grade (with 7/6)? Thanks for any insight; if we need to make a move I want to do it for 5th grade.

    1. Hi Jodi, I would test them and see where they test for CLE. if they test into 4th grade for CLE they might be ready for Saxon 7/6 in 6th grade. Again, you’ll have to test them and see if they will need to complete at least CLE 5 to test into Saxon 7/6. But right around 7/6 is where Saxon starts moving more quickly then CLE.

  8. We used Saxon for one year and we didn’t like it, either. We then swiethcd to Horizons and it has worked very well for us. We also really like Teaching Textbooks, but it doesn’t start until grade four. Both of these programs have online placement tests.

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