Course Syllabus

Welcome to RWM102: Algebra

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Saylor Student Handbook.


Course Description

This course discusses how to use algebra for a variety of everyday tasks, such as calculate change without specifying how much money is to be spent on a purchase, analyzing relationships by graphing, and describing real-world situations in business, accounting, and science.


Course Introduction

This introductory mathematics course is for you if you have a solid foundation in arithmetic (that is, you know how to perform operations with real numbers, including negative numbers, fractions, and decimals). Numbers and basic arithmetic are used often in everyday life in both simple situations, like estimating how much change you will get when making a purchase in a store, as well as in more complicated ones, like figuring out how much time it would take to pay off a loan under interest.

The subject of algebra focuses on generalizing these procedures. For example, algebra will enable you to describe how to calculate change without specifying how much money is to be spent on a purchase-it will teach you the basic formulas and steps you need to take no matter what the specific details of the situation are. Likewise, accountants use algebraic formulas to calculate the monthly loan payments for a loan of any size under any interest rate. In this course, you will learn how to work with formulas that are already known from science or business to calculate a given quantity, and you will also learn how to set up your own formulas to describe various situations by translating verbal descriptions to mathematical language. In the later units of this course, you will discover another tool used in mathematics to describe numbers and analyze relationships: graphing. You will learn that any pair of numbers can be represented by a point on a coordinate plane and that a relationship between two quantities can be represented by a line or a curve.

This course is comprised of the following units:

  • Unit 1: Variables and Variable Expressions
  • Unit 2: Linear Equations
  • Unit 3: Word Problems
  • Unit 4: Inequalities
  • Unit 5: Graphs of Linear Equations and Inequalities
  • Unit 6: Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
  • Unit 7: Operations with Monomials
  • Unit 8: Operations with Polynomials
  • Unit 9: Factoring Polynomials


Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • evaluate and simplify algebraic expressions;
  • solve linear equations and inequalities in one variable;
  • solve systems of linear equations and inequalities;
  • solve literal equations for a given variable;
  • translate verbal phrases to algebraic (variable) expressions;
  • define percent, and solve basic percent problems;
  • apply simple interest formula to problems involving loans and saving accounts;
  • apply uniform motion formula to problems involving motion of one or two objects;
  • solve word problems by identifying a variable and creating an equation or an inequality;
  • solve word problems by identifying two or more variables and creating a system of equations or inequalities;
  • plot points on the coordinate plane, and determine the coordinates of any point on the coordinate plane;
  • graph linear equations and inequalities in two variables on the coordinate plane;
  • calculate a slope of a line passing through two given points;
  • write an equation of a straight line in point-slope or slope-intercept form;
  • solve word problems by creating a graph of a straight line and interpreting the meaning of the slope and intercepts of the line in the context of a problem;
  • perform operations with algebraic exponential expressions using the rules of exponents;
  • perform operations with polynomials;
  • identify polynomials that can be factored and determine appropriate factoring strategy; and
  • Identify the proper method to factor a given polynomial, and use it to solve a quadratic equation. 
Throughout this course, you'll also see related learning outcomes identified in each unit. You can use the learning outcomes to help organize your learning and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are readings, lectures, video tutorials, and other resources.

All course materials are free to access, and can be found through the links provided in each unit and subunit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will instruct you as to what specifically to read or watch at a given point in the course, and help you to understand how these individual materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also access a list all of the materials used in this course by clicking on Resources in the course's "Activities" menu.


Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first attempt, you may take it again as many times as needed, following a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Saylor Certificate of Completion.

Any unit assessments and other types of quizzes in this course are intended to help you to gauge how well you are learning and do not factor into your final course grade. You may retake all of these as many times as needed to feel that you have an understanding of the concepts and material covered. You can locate a full list of these sorts of assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's "Activities" menu.


Tips for Success

RWM102: Algebra is a self-paced course in which you the learner determines when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or predetermined schedule to follow. While learning styles can vary considerably and any particular student will take more or less time to learn or read, we estimate that the "average" student will take 38 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular (daily, or at least weekly) progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so below we've compiled a few suggested study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories as you read. This can help you differentiate and contextualize concepts and later provide you with a refresher as you study.
  • As you progress through the materials, take time to test yourself on what you have retained and how well you understand the concepts. The process of reflection is important for creating a memory of the materials you learn; it will increase the probability that you ultimately retain the information.
  • Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor Academy students through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums at
  • Please note that the CK-12 resources require you to sign in with Google, Facebook, Twitter, or a CK-12 account.  You may set up a CK-12 account for free by clicking on "Create an Account” and following the steps provided.

Suggested Prerequisites
In order to take this course you should:

Technical Requirements

This course is delivered fully online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one, free of charge, here. Although you can access some course resources without being logged into your account, it's advised that you log in to maximize your course experience. For example, some of the accessibility and progress tracking features are only available when you are logged in.

For additional technical guidance check out Saylor Academy's tech-FAQ and the Moodle LMS tutorial.



There is no cost to access and enroll in this course. All required course resources linked throughout the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, activities, etc are accessible for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

Last modified: Monday, April 6, 2020, 6:35 PM