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Beast Academy Review (*NEW* BA Level 1a)

"Trust the process" is something I can say much more easily than I can do. There might not be a more relevant description for Beast Academy math.

You see, I was a Saxon mom. It was plain, straight-forward, and simple. Uncomplicated. It was how I had begun homeschooling my kids (Disclosure: We started with Saxon 1, not Saxon K, because holy smokes I know I could not handle the redundant 180 pages of counting 1-5 that is in Saxon K). I appreciated things about Saxon. I liked the "spiral learning method" of constant review. I enjoyed the assessment pages. It was plain and boring, like me.

My oldest (now 16) was in 6th grade taking Saxon 7/8 when I started to hear the hype about Beast Academy. He was decently gifted at math, but I was interested in challenging him more. We decided to try Beast Academy for him. Naturally, I assumed since he was in 6th grade and doing 7/8 math at home, that Beast level 5 would be an appropriate start for him, I even anticipated it being too easy!

One thing you absolutely need to know about Beast is that the levels do NOT correspond well to grades. Beginning algebraic concepts begin to be introduced in Beast level 3. In level 5, students will be doing prime factorization, solving complex arithmetic sequences, and much more complicated algebra. Level 5 BA is not comparable at all to Saxon 5, not that a very gifted 5th grade math student couldn't handle it.

Another thing, these concepts are introduced in ways that are totally foreign to 30 something and 40 something mom "instructors." I would be completely lying if I told you that BA was not also challenging to me. The way the concepts are introduced is different, sometimes not in ways that I can logically understand. And this is where I say "trust the process." No, this isn't some silly Common Core way to do math! Its just different.

Every level of Beast has 4 parts, A through D. You will find incredibly helpful placement tests on The placement tests are self-graded with answers also online.

Also online are sample pages from the book:

You can print them out and give them a try with your student. Keep in mind that the answer key is at the back of every book, no separate answer book to purchase. The answer key is also very thorough and helpful with step-by-step instructions for solutions.

All the BA levels and books have corresponding guide books. The guide books are meant to teach the chapter/lesson in a comic book form. I have not found the guide books to be 100% necessary. When my oldest decided he no longer wanted to read the comic, we stopped buying the guide book. The only challenge then was on me to be able to explain the lesson and the math. No problem, but if you struggle with math, you may want to consider buying the guide books. The guide books are reusable, so if you have multiple children, you will get your value from them.

In the practice book you will find a number of practice problems for every lesson. Additionally, you will find questions marked with either one or two stars. These are challenge questions, and I will tell you that they are indeed challenging! Regarding the challenge questions, from the BA website:

Most real problems in math, science, or life can’t be solved with a simple, cookie-cutter solution. Instead, real problems usually require applying knowledge in a novel way. We include many challenging problems in Beast Academy because we believe they help kids become flexible, logical thinkers who persevere in the face of challenge. Students also learn math at a much deeper level when they solve difficult problems, since they have to think for themselves rather than mimicking prescribed procedures. As an added benefit, difficult problems make math much more interesting and fun! Most kids find unraveling one challenging puzzle far more satisfying than mechanically completing pages of simple problems.

Also available now is Beast Academy Online. My 6th grade son used Beast Online (starting at level 3) for almost an entire year. It is the same comprehensive program and the same practice problems. A subscription includes a digital version of the guide book. Every lesson is taught by an instructor that is quite a dynamic character. He is decently weird and entertaining, and my son has enjoyed him. You can enroll for the month ($15/month) or year ($96). For us, the value was in using the books. If it was taking him multiple months to go through a workbook online, then economically the books were a better choice. I may have stuck it out with BA Online if I had not needed to help my son as much as I did (he required some kind of additionally explanation or assistance from me at least 50% of the time). That really took away from the convenience of using BA Online.

Beast Academy only goes up to level 5D. After that, you move on to AoPS Pre-algebra. For my son, he ended up completing Beast Academy level 5 concurrent with Saxon pre-algebra (he does not mind math and never balked at the additional work). This set him up incredibly well to do Saxon Algebra 1 in 8th grade, he did fantastic. We did not move forward with the AoPS program because my son returned to a 2 day classical school that used the Saxon curriculum.

Beast Academy 1A

Early in 2021, BA came out with a level 1a book. It looks very much like basic first grade math, equivalent to grade 1 level (so far). It is exciting to have a younger book option, previously BA started at level 2. I am looking forward to seeing what the level 1 books encompass.

It seems there might be a focus in 1A on very basic number concepts.

Excerpts from Beast Academy 1A

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