Algebra I and algebra II, along with geometry, form the basic high school mathematics curriculum in the United States. The courses are highly interrelated, with algebra II building upon knowledge accumulated in algebra I. Each course takes one academic year to complete.

Algebra I Topics

Students typically take algebra I in their first year of high school, so the course serves as an introduction to more advanced classes like geometry, algebra II and precalculus. The standard algebra I curriculum aims to give students basic command of the tools of algebraic problem solving like tackling linear equations with one or two variables or unknown values in an equation. Students also learn how to manipulate exponents -- or numbers multiplied by themselves -- and to factor equations with exponential terms, called polynomials, by rewriting them in simpler but equivalent forms.

Algebra II Topics

Algebra II builds on the topics covered in algebra I by teaching students to apply algebraic reasoning to increasingly complex problems. In algebra II, students learn to apply their linear equation-solving skills to equations with more than two variables, for example. They also learn more difficult factoring techniques and begin working on more advanced exponential functions like logarithms. Additionally, they study irrational and imaginary numbers like "i" -- the square root of negative 1.