Algebrator from Softmath, our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award winner for algebra software, offers a dynamic worksheet capable of solving any equation you enter into it. We tried to throw several different types of equations at it, but they were no match for the worksheet. This algebra software serves as a tutor for struggling students. It doesn’t just solve the problem for them; it offers an explanation so they can solve it the next time.
Algebrator teaches its problems using a dynamic, powerful worksheet, but nothing else. No games or animations come with this algebra software. Designers pride themselves on this fact. In a matrix comparing algebra software on an Algebrator site, there is a red mark by the category labeled “Entertainment Value.” This product is meant to be “a tool instead of a toy.” Designers of this algebra software have no interest in entertaining you, but that shouldn’t keep you from buying it. Even on its best days, algebra is not fun for most folks. Algebrator is an interactive tutor that will aid in learning. Succeeding at algebra is its own kind of fun anyway. We think Algebrator will help you achieve that success.
This algebra software does seem better suited to students who already have at least a basic understanding of algebra concepts. It will not entertain or act as a tutor for very beginning students. The explanations can be somewhat complex and assume at least a basic knowledge.
We were looking mostly at algebra instruction, but this algebra software also branches into a few other areas, including basic geometry and trigonometry.
With its worksheet, Algebrator can take you through homework assignments step-by-step. This algebra software offers bite-sized pieces of instruction along the way through its “solve step” button. You can solve the entire equation or just a piece at a time. The “explain” button will generate an explanation about each step. The “visibility” button will allow you to see as much or as little explanation as you would like. You can opt to use any of five different levels – anything from exposing just the answer to exposing every detail of every step of the process. The “graph all” button will offer graphical representations of a given system of equations.
Algebrator cannot solve the oft-dreaded word problem for you, but if you can extract the equation, Algebrator can solve that and explain to you how it was accomplished. Also, Softmath has an Instant Word Problem Solver on its website where you can email them a problem and have the answer sent back to you, whether you figured out the formula or not.
There is also a “wizard” interface for solving extra complex problems.
Algebrator is designed to cover pre-algebra through college-level algebra. Specific topics covered include polynomials, exponential expressions, fractions, roots, radicals, factoring, finding LCM and GCF, simplifying complex numbers, solving linear and quadratic equations, Cramer’s rule, graphing curves, operations with functions, simplifying logarithms, ratios, proportions and linear algebra.
The most recent additions to this algebra software include step-by-step basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication), large number arithmetic, graphing general functions, sequences (classifying progressions, finding the nth term of an arithmetic progression) and statistics (mean, median, mode, range and standard deviation). You can also now export math solutions and view them in your favorite browser.
When it came to this category, we had no expectations when we started up Algebrator. We were very surprised when it said there were new updates to download on three consecutive days after we fired up the program. What those updates offer is unclear. The fact that this algebra software does have such regular updates is a definite plus though.
Algebrator was the best algebra software we reviewed when it came to ease of use. The others had problems with loading time across the board, but this program loaded everything in seconds. Granted, this program doesn’t have as many features as the others. However, if all those features make the program run slower, turning it into something that’s no longer easy to use, then those extra features might not be worth it. Streamlined programs are better in many respects because they don’t slow your computer down.
There is a lot to be said for a one-time expense like Algebrator too. This is good old-fashioned algebra software. It is not web-based so there are no ongoing subscriptions or license renewals, and it's not tied to any books. You just buy this software and it is yours to use forever. That will add to ease of use in many ways.
This algebra software is special because it’s the only one that has a button within the program that instantly creates an email to Softmath’s customer support. All you have to do is input your information and send it to them. You don’t even have to open your own email program. You just have to click the “support” button. We appreciated that convenience and think you will too. There is also a helpful FAQs page and a toll-free number if you need them.
There is also a stellar guarantee with this algebra software – 100 percent satisfaction or you can get your money back, no questions asked.
Despite its simplicity, or even because of it, Algebrator is a program worth looking at. It gives you everything you need to solve the problems you have before you without all the fluff other programs push in your direction. You won’t be disappointed if you pick up a copy of it today because you won’t need anything else to succeed in algebra.
Algebrator will show you as much or as little of the solving process as you choose.
Some students might prefer software with more games.
With its powerful solving abilities and great guarantee Algebrator is the best algebra software overall.