saxon math

Saxon Math: Your Top 11 Questions, Answered!


Have questions about Saxon math? It can be challenging to get the answers you need when everything is new.


But no worries–I’ve got you covered. This whole post is dedicated to giving you easy access to the answers you need to the top questions I get.


So, without further ado, here are the Top 11 Questions I get asked about Saxon:

How Does Saxon Math Work?

The Saxon Math curriculum works on what is called the spiral method. That means in each Saxon math book, you will find concepts introduced, taught, and then revisited over time. 


Each day your child will have a new lesson, practice with that lesson, and then practice sets in which the new concepts are worked with alongside concepts that were introduced in previous lessons. 


Over time, this “spirals” into true mastery because the constant revisiting builds a solid foundation of math knowledge, as opposed to methods in which concepts are “mastered” but not revisited. Get it?


So in each lesson, you’ll see practice of basic math facts, mental math, and problem solving practice. 


There will also be an introduction of a new concept, practice with that concept, and then problems that involve a mixture of previous concepts with the new lesson material represented as well.


For more information on how Saxon works, go here.

saxon math


What Do the Different Saxon Math Levels Mean?

Okay, buckle up. If you are new to Saxon, some of the textbook titles can be confusing. If the number is something like 5/4, 6/5 or similar, that means the book is designed to be “on-grade” for the SECOND number, and a good choice for a kid in the first-number grade who needs to go at a slower pace.


In other words: Saxon 5/4 is on-grade level for 4th grade and for a 5th grader who may need to take it at a slower pace. Saxon 6/5 is on-grade level for 5th grade and for a 6th grader who may need to take it at a slower pace. And so on.


Here’s a list of the titles and the grade it *roughly* correlates with:


Saxon in the Elementary Grades

Kindergarten: Saxon Math K

1st Grade: Saxon Math 1

2nd Grade: Saxon Math 2

3rd Grade: Saxon Math 3 (or Intermediate 3)

4th Grade: Saxon Math 5/4 (or Intermediate 4)

5th Grade: Saxon Math 6/5 (or Intermediate 5)


Saxon in the Middle Grades

6th Grade: Saxon Math 7/6 (or Course 1)

7th Grade: Saxon Math 8/7 (or Course 2)

(A discussion on how to approach Saxon after 8/7 can be found here)

8th Grade: Saxon Math Algebra ½ or Saxon Math Algebra 1 (or Course 3)


Saxon in High School

9th Grade: Saxon Math Algebra 1 or Saxon Math Algebra 2

(A Note on Geometry: See here for a discussion on using the separate Geometry text or the material within Saxon Algebra 1, Saxon Algebra 2 and Saxon Advanced Mathematics )

10th Grade: Saxon Math Algebra 2 or Saxon Math Advanced Mathematics

11th Grade: Saxon Math Advanced Mathematics or Saxon Physics

12th Grade: Saxon Physics or Saxon Math Calculus

(Of course for high school math, always, always, always (!!!) check your state’s requirements for graduation!)


How Can I Find Out Which Saxon Level to Use?

If you are brand new to Saxon, you’ll want to start with a free Saxon Math placement test. These are designed for students who have not previously used the curriculum. 


Don’t be afraid of the placement tests! They are super useful. 


A placement test will include material from prior textbooks to help determine where a student should begin. Different curriculums may teach concepts in a different order, so this helps resolve the discrepancies. 


Saxon Math placement tests also help determine what your student has retained from previous instruction.


The instructions on each test are clear and will tell you how to use the information from the test.


Most of the time, you’ll find your student will begin in the Saxon level designed for their corresponding grade. There may be exceptions to this, which I discuss here.


Is Saxon Math Common Core?

This is a super common question I get.


In short, it all depends on which version of the textbook you have. The “homeschool” line (the two-toned books that have names like Saxon Math 7/6 and 5/4) were created before Common Core existed. So no, they are not Common Core aligned. 


The “school line” (the books with the colorful pictures like soccer balls, keyboards, and camera) is essentially the same textbook as the homeschool line, but it has been adapted to meet Common Core Standards. 


However, the differences are small. Most lessons are exactly the same between the two lines of books, but a few additional practice problems have been added that focus more on word problems and real-life applications (a Common Core requirement.) 


But there is no particular “common core way of teaching” in those textbooks. The teaching, for the most part, is exactly the same.

saxon math

What’s Up with All the Different Saxon Math Editions? How Do I Know Which One to Get?

The homeschool line consists of two-tone books that have names like Saxon Math 7/6 and Saxon Math 5/4.


The school line consists of books with colorful pictures like soccer balls, keyboards, or a camera on the cover. They are very similar to the homeschool line, but have been adapted to meet Common Core Standards. Most lessons are the same, but there are more of the Common Core required word problems and real-life applications in those books.


As far as what books you should use if you are subscribing to Nicole the Math Lady for your Saxon Lessons, here are details on what you should get.


What Saxon Math Materials Do I Need to Buy?

Whether you go it alone or use online lessons and grading, I recommend purchasing the Homeschool Kits. They provide:

  • Student Textbook –this will include all of the daily mixed practice sets
  • Solutions Manual – this provides the answers for the daily mixed practice sets. It is SO helpful when a student isn’t quite getting the answers or understanding why the answer is what it is.
  • Tests and Worksheets Book – this includes assessments to make sure your student is retaining what they’ve learned


How Long Does Saxon Math Take Per Day? Per year?

Per Day: Much of this answer depends on your kid, your household, and how you want to approach it. 


Saxon lessons can take anywhere from 45 minutes (in the elementary grades) to upwards of an hour and a half as the student moves forward. That would include all the drilling that needs doing in the early years and all the complicated math of the higher grades. 


I’ll be frank: Saxon is a rigorous curriculum! But if need be, the work can be broken up and done at different times in the school day, or even over the course of more than one day for complicated concepts.


Per Year: There are anywhere from 110 to over 130 lessons per book, plus investigations and tests for some levels. Depending on whether you do lessons on test days or have co-op/field trip days where perhaps math lessons aren’t done, you can easily fill a 180-day school year with one Saxon math book.

saxon math


Do We Have to Do the Whole Saxon Math Lesson? The Whole Book?

As a math teacher, I love math! So I see so much benefit in doing every problem in every lesson and finishing every book! And of course, the curriculum is designed for the student to get the most out of doing all of it and completing the entire book. 


However, YOU are in charge here, and we all know life happens. 


There are lots of options people use to modify Saxon lessons and still turn out highly capable math students. It’s a rigorous curriculum so even those who don’t do every single problem are still getting a quality math education! 


Most people choose an option based on the daily practice sets.

  1. All problems (about 30) in one day
  2. All problems (spread out over 2 days)
  3. Half of the problems (odds or evens) in one day


The key is: make it work for you! Your household, your kid, your choice.


I Didn’t Do Well in Math. Can My Kids Learn Saxon Math if I’m Their Teacher? 

Absolutely, yes! Yes, yes, YES THEY CAN!


The Saxon curriculum is designed for homeschool teachers, not classroom teachers! In the early years you are given a script (or you can use my lessons starting with Saxon Math 3) so you know just what to say. From Saxon 5/4 on, the books are designed for students to be able to do the work themselves. Hallelujah!


The Solutions Manuals are also extremely helpful if you’re concerned about how they are doing. Regardless of who is doing the teaching, being able to walk step-by-step through answers will help a child who’s struggling with a particular problem. 


How Do I Know if Saxon Math is Working for My Child?

There are lots of ways to measure if a particular curriculum is working for a child. 


Of course constantly ace-ing problem sets and tests means it’s probably working! 


But even a struggle can be a win if the student is learning! This is why going back to work on problems that are missed is such an important part of a math education.


If time is an issue for you, I’ll just say that this is why Online Grading has become so popular among my subscribers. It frees you up to focus on the areas that need help instead of spending precious time marking papers


Additionally, I find it’s important to manage expectations. Saxon is a no-frills curriculum and it takes time to do. The homeschool editions, in particular, don’t have fancy pictures or graphics. It may look boring, but that also means there are no distractions for your child. Knowing that going in can be helpful to both parent and child.


Another way to know is to assess attitude. It’s one thing for kids not to want to do their school work–that’s normal! But tears of frustration every day can mean something needs to change. 


However, that doesn’t mean the problem is necessarily with the curriculum. Sometimes, a switch in time of day helps. 


Breaking up the work can help. 


Rewards can help.


 And certainly online resources like my videos can help–that’s why I made them! 


Will my child do well on the SAT/ACT if I use Saxon Math?

Excellent SAT and ACT scores are absolutely possible with Saxon. 


Sure, some curriculums have changed to specifically help students to do well on the SAT and ACT and will market themselves specifically for that reason. 


However, Saxon has retained its commitment to grow excellent math learners who will do well in math for their entire life, regardless of changes made to college-entry tests.


As such, I recommend that those pursuing the many benefits of a Saxon math education simply add in some test prep when it comes time for the SAT and ACT! Your student will then know the content, but also be prepared for how the questions are phrased on those types of tests. 


It doesn’t have to be a fancy course, either. Textbooks you can buy online seem to do the job well. A lot of practice problems on top of what they have learned in Saxon textbooks will go a long way on test day.



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  1. Would an average math student who has been using Math-U-See all the way up to the ZETA level be equipped to handle Saxon 7/6 in grade 7? Or is there too much content missing from Math-U-See to switch? Should they start with 6/5 or maybe even 5/4 in grade 7 to be caught up to handle 7/6?

    1. well I’m taking the corse as a 13 yr old just looking for a quick refresh… and I took Abeka since I was 6 and I actually learned everything im learning right now in 3-4th grade so I think your child could handle it.
      hope this helps 😊

  2. When are tests given with the Saxon curriculum? Specifically, looking at the Algebra 1 (third edition), the curriculum is lesson after lesson after lesson, with no chapter division and no indication of when to administer a test. The Solutions and the Tests and Worksheets books have not yet arrived. Will those books indicate when to test to determine if student is retaining the information?

    1. Hi Lori. Yes you are correct. When you receive your test booklet, it tells you exactly when to take each test and also what material is covered in each test. If you have online grading, the tests will automatically come up when they are supposed to be taken. Hope that helps.

  3. This was helpful. Thank you. I have a 2nd edtion Algebra 1/2 solutions manual and a 3rd edition textbook. Will they match up? What is different between the textbooks? Thank you very much!! Leigh

    1. Hi Leigh Ann. Unfortunately, I don’t believe those editions match up. (I do not have a copy of the second edition Algebra 1/2 books so I couldn’t tell you exactly what was different. You could contact Saxon directly to see.) There is a third edition solutions manual that you will need to get if you’d like to use online grading. You can order a copy of the solutions manual here or by searching the web.

  4. we have been using teaching textbooks and its just not enough for my son but I just can not teach math lol can my 10 yr with Dyslexia and I think may have dyscalculia be able to do Saxson 4/5 using your videos?

    1. Thanks for reaching out. We have many students with dyslexia and dyscalculia who use our program. However, since every student with learning challenges differs, I highly recommend signing up for the free trial to see for yourself if the program is a fit for your student. Observe him as he watches the videos. Is he able to follow along? Is he picking up the concepts? Is he able to apply the concepts taught to the practice problems? You’ll have a better sense during the trial. Good luck. I hope it works out for you and him!

  5. Is there any specific difference in the odd-numbered problems vs the even-numbered ones? What is the reason for choosing to do odds as opposed to evens or switching depending on the day? I understand why doing half the problems is an option just wondering if there is a rhyme or reason to choosing which ones to do.

  6. Do you need the Saxon books to try out the trial period? I just don’t want to buy the books until I know this is a good fit for our kiddos.

    1. Great question. You’ll get the most value out of the trial if you have the books because you will get to see how the grading option works. However, you still will be able to see all of the videos and get a sense of how the program works.

    1. For best results, Saxon recommends that students do all practice problems. However, I believe you have to do what works best for your family based on how students are performing. It’s like piano lessons. You can spend 10 minutes a day practicing piano (just the new songs you are working on) or you can spend 20 minutes a day (practicing the scales and your new songs.) Practicing scales are kind of a pain, but if you know them very well, you’ll be able to better play your songs.

  7. Do I have to have the exact edition of the textbook that you are using in order to use the online grading?

  8. I see that you have learning videos for each chapter/subject but do you have a layout for daily lesson plans? i.e. What problems they should be completing each day?

    1. For best results, the publishers recommend that the full mixed practice (all 30 problems) be done for each lesson. However, some families find doing all 30 practice problems difficult so they opt to do half (odds/evens) or they select the exact problems they would like their students to do. Both of these configurations for each student from the parent account.

  9. Do I need the manipulatives kit for Saxon 1 (1st grade)? I saw a kit that came with a clock, small tiles, counters, etc. I have several of the things in the kit, but if it’s necessary to have them all, I can buy the ones that I don’t on Amazon.

    Thank you! 🙂

  10. In a timed math lesson can a student skip a problem and move to the next?

    When grading a test when students are not allowed to skip a question, are skipped questions counted
    for a final grade?

  11. Sorry, I need to rephrase my last question.

    On a math test when students are not allowed to skip problems are unfinished
    problems counted towards a final grade?