What is your favorite PreCalculus textbook for someone that needs to get their algebra skills up to snuff? Something comprehensive with some tricky problems. Stewart? Sullivan? Blitzer? Something different?

  • $\begingroup$ Get something free, like OpenStax. Then get some good harder problems from the free part of Art of Problem Solving. Alcumus: artofproblemsolving.com/alcumus $\endgroup$
    – Sue VanHattum
    Mar 24, 2022 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ OpenStax is pretty good. I was mostly happy with it for Precalculus last year. I think I has a student use Stewart to brush-up precalc. with good results a few years back. It's probably more important to pick an old edition. $\endgroup$ Mar 24, 2022 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ @JamesS.Cook Why the old edition? $\endgroup$ Mar 24, 2022 at 2:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ They're cheaper and as standards decline over time so do the textbooks. $\endgroup$ Mar 24, 2022 at 3:13

1 Answer 1


I like the old (1958) Ayres Schaum's book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0007DPVM2

[not promotional]

I generally find that older editions are better, but I have no evidence that the Schaum's got worse. Just the old edition is a known trusted quantity. You can get it used for $30 or so. [check other booksellers if you want to try to shave that number down, personally I think 30 is cheap, when you consider the value of your time from actually studying.]

I think there are some disadvantages (in general, caveat, caveat) of web-based open textbooks. Not professionally proofed, edited. And I think for a person actually sitting and doing drill homework, that a paper book is more convenient and worth the price. Especially if you do some used, trusted edition.

Note, the Schaum's has all the answers, not just half. So it is designed for self-studiers, unlike books marketed to professors, where the market (professors, not students) wants to hold some of the answers captive. I also find a drill book or review (of any sort, but Schaum's good) is more convenient and usable for adult students that may have had the course before, but just need to improve their algebra via drill. (Typical "doorstop" texts marketed to selection committees are written in a way to impress selection committees with verbose text and derivations rather than to connect with students. And the rocket pictures, not needed by kids drilling.)

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    $\begingroup$ +1 Schaum's Outline if you want something comprehensive. Has many worked problems, and many exercises for the readers to do themselves. $\endgroup$ Mar 24, 2022 at 17:18

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