Whether you are anticipating taking a pre-algebra class in the future, are struggling with a current pre-algebra class, or need to master the basics to enter a beginning algebra class, learning pre-algebra step-by-step can help you understand the material that you will build on in later courses. Trying to go too fast and skimming over the basics can hurt your understanding of more complex problems later on. Therefore, working methodically through pre-algebra material will help you progress in a more productive way.

Study numbers and their properties. Though students who are ready for pre-algebra will already be familiar with basic functions and operations, including addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, a good knowledge of more complex numerical operations and properties, such as decimals, square roots, negative numbers, and integer properties, will prove to be invaluable in algebra studies later on.

Work with ratios and proportions. Students may already be familiar with basic ratios, which describe the relationship of one amount to another, and proportions, which compare ratios, but may need to practice these concepts to work with them at a more advanced level. Problem sets, online practice, and diligent corrections will help prepare students for the more complex problems they will soon encounter.

Study factoring. Factoring will prove to be extremely useful in algebra, for problems involving exponents, complicated expressions that need to be simplified, and other topics. Begin by approaching basic factors, breaking down numbers like 4 into factors of 2 and 2 or 4 and 1. Take your knowledge to the next level by studying more complex factoring topics, like finding the greatest common factor of two numbers, or performing prime factorizations of a number.

Develop your understanding of fractions. Though you may already have worked with fractions in a variety of capacities, develop this knowledge further by working through problem sets that require you to manipulate fractions by adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions, as well as problems that require you to convert from decimals to fractions, and vice versa.