- Factors to Consider When Choosing a Free Online Math Course
- Top 15 Best Free Online Math Courses 2021
- 1. Learning Everyday Math
- 2. Game Theory
- 3. Learning Algebra: Pre-Algebra
- 4. MathTrackX: Statistics
- 5. Teach Better Mathematics – Numbers Operations & Relationships
- 6. Everyday Statistics
- 7. Math by KhanAcademy
- 8. Introduction to Actuarial Science
- 9. Mathematics for Machine Learning Specialization
- 10. Algebraic Methods, Graphs, and Applied Mathematics Methods
- 11. Introduction to Probability
- 12. Introduction to Mathematical Thinking
- 13. Introductory Mechanics XSeries
- 14. Overview of SAT Math Questions
- 15. Math Tricks and Hacks
- FAQ
- How to Take an Online Math Course in 2021
- Now It All Adds Up
Mathematics is a massive subject. From an early age, we are taught “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.” We face math problems every day, from making sure we aren’t being conned by sales to trying to understand the statistics of health issues.
Of course, some of us need math more than others. Engineers have to develop strong skills in physics, while businessmen must struggle with actuarial science. It is difficult to avoid having any skills in the subject, no matter what you do.
Fortunately, there are hundreds of free courses online to teach us math. From the basics of addition and subtraction, all the way to the mathematics of machine learning, there are courses presented by experts available for us.
When picking a math course, there are a few factors to consider that will influence your enjoyment and success. After we explore those, we’ll present our list of the best free math courses, and follow this with some supporting information, as well as our answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Free Online Math Course
To make sure you pick a course that suits your expectations and learning style, pay close attention to the following factors.
Prior Learning
Some of the mathematics courses below have been created for those with little to no skill in the subject. However, others have been designed to help those who are already quite knowledgeable in topics such as calculus and algebra. These may be better to take after taking some preliminary classes first.
Reason for Taking the Course
People look for online math classes for different reasons. Our review list highlights a range of courses well suited for the following user groups.
Best Free Online Math Courses for Professionals
If you are looking for a promotion or thinking about a career change, it is well worth your time to consider a free online course. These courses often come with well-respected certificates, and many are online versions of on-campus courses at universities around the world.
Best Free Online Math Courses for School Students
School students can’t avoid the need to learn math. You may be a student needed to supplement your classes because your current teacher is not helping as much as you want. Fortunately, there are amazing online courses out there for students who need some extra help.
Best Free Online Math Courses for Everyone to Enjoy
Learning for the sake of learning can be very enriching. Mathematics is, in itself, an exciting subject that we interact with every day of our lives. Take a free course to have a better understanding of how mathematicians think, how we can get better at arithmetic, and how we can better appreciate the statistics and probabilities we come across all the time.
Personal Learning Style
Everyone learns in different ways. Some people like to listen to a teacher speak, while others need visual animations, or to write things out. Practical exercises can be more important to some students than others. By knowing a little about the teachers of the course, and how the content is presented, you can have a better idea as to if the class is the right one for you.
Resources
Some of the math courses offered below are short courses that offer an introductory look at a topic. Others are year-long programs as complex and detailed as a university unit. Knowing how much time and effort you can afford will help you save on unneeded stress.
A few of the courses below also require work specifically on a computer (instead of a smartphone or tablet). They involve exercises using programming languages through your browser and online testing. You may also think about getting an exercise book as completing some math problems is easier by hand than using a keyboard and mouse.
Certification
Finally, many of the courses below offer certificates of recognition. If you can afford them, these certifications can be of great benefit to your professional life, and we highly recommend getting them if you can.
If you are unsure if a course is right for you, you can always simply try it anyway. As all the courses we talk about here are free, you are not losing money if you decide they are not for you. For more information about the things to consider when taking an online math course, check out our full guide below.
Top 15 Best Free Online Math Courses 2021
1. Learning Everyday Math
- 4+hrs Free (1-month trial)
- Course Highlights
- Teacher: Vince Kotchian
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Great For: Those of us needing some extra help with the math we use every day
Why we like it
The most practical math course for adult life, teaching us the skills that are needed.
The Content
This is by far the most practical math course and is suitable for everyone. Rather than topics set out to include “Algebra” and “Calculus,” the sections in this class include “Shopping and Cooking” and “Health and Fitness.”
With clear examples and exercises available to help cement learning, the course could be taken by anyone over 13. It also points out where you can continue learning if you wanted to delve deeper into a particular topic or concept.
The Teachers
Vince Kotchian offers several Math courses, including the SAT preparation course that we reviewed. His style in this course, designed for those who don’t attend school, is relaxed, professional, and never patronizing.
Overall Impressions
As a practical course that contains the math concepts we should all know (but often don’t), you can’t go past this one. Each lesson is worth checking out and for those of us who are confident in the basic concepts and are only interested in real-world applications, jumping straight into the second half is quite easy to do.
The only real negative about this course is that there could be more of it. If only other practical examples, such as home banking, were given, this could go from a short useful course into something necessary for all.
Being a short course, however, does mean you can easily complete it within the 1-month trial period, and by then you’ll know if it is worth paying the small fee to check out Kotchian’s other classes.
Pros
- Teaches practical math skills that we will actually use
- Engaging and simple
- Really clear examples
- Can jump to the second half if you already know basic arithmetic
Cons
- Not a very long course
- We could use more for other common situations
2. Game Theory
- 18+hrs Free (Pay for Certificate)
- Course Highlights
- Course Provided By: Stanford University
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Great For: People in Economics, Marketing, Management, and Political Sciences
Why we like it
Stanford has put together an accessible course showing how game-theory can be used to drive decision-making in a range of circumstances.
The Content
“Game Theory” is a field of mathematics devoted to modeling the interactions between rational and irrational agents. To put it simply, “how do people act when given a problem.” It has been made popular in culture by movies like “A Beautiful Mind.”
This course breaks down the concept of “Game Theory” into lessons that make sense to even the complete beginner. At times, it doesn’t even feel like mathematics. Still, in the end, you get a strong grasp of the math behind how banks, tech companies, and even advertisers use maths to help them “win” in a competitive market. The course uses easy-to-understand examples for each of the theories, and there is an advanced, follow-up course for those who are interested.
The Teachers
Stanford University has produced some of the greatest mathematical thinkers of our time, and to be taught by professors there and at British Columbia is an exciting experience. The fact we can do it for free is, frankly, mind-blowing.
The primary lecturer is Matthew O. Jackson, who has been a Guggenheim Fellow, winner of the Social Choice and Welfare Prize, and the John von Neumann Award. He has written a number of papers and a renowned book on social and economic networks. He is also the editor of several publications centered around game theory and economics.
He is joined by two other professors in Computer Science, who help provide a better understanding of how computers can help create modeling for more complex examples of game theory.
Overall Impressions
Game theory has been at the cornerstone of business management for a while now, and the mathematics behind it has helped drive profits for thousands of companies. However, it can be a very complex field of mathematics, with some of the greatest minds of the 20th century battling their whole lives over the equations and experiments that form its core.
So, when you find there can be a beginner’s course that any professional can find benefit from, you are right to be skeptical. Fortunately, the teachers at Stanford have taken a lot of time to ensure their course is accessible, and we find ourselves time and again returning to what we have gotten out of these lectures. While at first some of the jargon may be intimidating, the clear examples help us understand quickly.
Pros
- Engaging content from world experts
- Breaks down the math through easy-to-follow examples
- Covers the utility game theory has in the wider world
- Offers an intermediate follow-up course
Cons
- Some intimidating jargon
3. Learning Algebra: Pre-Algebra
- 3+hrs of videos plus exercises Free (1-month trial)
- Course Highlights
- Teacher: Karin Hutchinson
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Great For: Kids just starting high-school, people needing a refresher
Why we like it
Starting high school can be tough if you are already unsure about what you learned before it. This course ensures you are ready for the years ahead.
The Content
It could be said that all math education could be firmly split by the time when you only worked with numbers and the time you started to deal with letters and symbols. Pre-Algebra is that line. To properly understand how we get from one plus one to full equations that don’t even include numerals, you need to have a solid understanding of the basics.
This course has been made for those entering high school as well as the parents and teachers that want to help. As well as eight select classes that give clear explanations of math topics, it includes worksheets and exercises to put the knowledge into practice.
The Teachers
Karin Hutchinson has been teaching math for over a quarter of a decade and creating online tools to help since 2009. With a Master’s from Johns Hopkins, she is highly qualified as both a teacher and mathematician.
Overall Impressions
Getting core concepts right is going to save any student major headaches when tackling more complex issues. With clarity and patience, Hutchinson breaks down everything we need to know for pre-algebra, without being patronizing or skipping over steps.
This course isn’t just good for students being introduced for the first time, but also for seniors who need a refresher before tackling more complex math.
The one thing that could be better, however, is more exercises and examples. Sometimes repetition is the key to learning. Having these, and offering more ways to check your work, would make this course perfect.
Pros
- Covers all the necessary core concepts
- Every topic is broken down clearly and expertly
- Well-designed class units
Cons
- No worksheets are available
4. MathTrackX: Statistics
- 20+hrs Free (Pay for Certificate)
- Course Highlights
- Course Provided By: The University of Adelaide
- Skill Level: Intermediate (expected to know basic probability)
- Great For: People who are in constant contact with research papers
Why we like it
For those who already understand a little probability, this course will set you on the course to understanding all types of statistics.
The Content
Getting your head around “p-values,” “double-blinds,” and “sample proportions” can be a major headache for anyone who hasn’t been educated in these terms and how they work. Fortunately, this university-level course provides a solid foundation in the fundamental mathematics required to understand the statistics you see every day.
There is a greater focus on theory than practical application, but the examples provided are clearly examined so you can take the skills learned and apply them to papers you are more interested in.
The Teachers
Adelaide University has a reputation for being one of the best in the world, and the instructors of this online course are the same lecturers who teach Statistics as part of STEM degrees on campus. Very few online classes can say the same.
Overall Impressions
To properly understand how rigorous a study is (whether it is in Medicine, Sociology, or Political Science), you need to be able to unpack the statistics. It is the only way to work out if the conclusions are valid. This course sets us up nicely with the skills to point out common flaws, understand how much stock we should put into papers, and the math behind how we know when to trust or not.
The course is completely free, but can also be combined with other free courses as part of a wider program that the university offers through EdX, called MathTrackX. For a reasonable cost, this program can be a very impressive addition to any resume.
Be warned; this isn’t a course for someone who is a little shaky on general mathematics. In fact, it is set up as the final course of the program. However, we’ve found that those with even a basic understanding of probability can keep up if they are willing to put in the work.
Pros
- University-level teaching with zero cost
- Chance to pay for a fully certified program
- Run by the same lecturers who teach on-campus
- Gives you all the necessary skills to understand most studies on any topic
Cons
- Will be found difficult by those without basic knowledge of probability
- Heavily theory-based
5. Teach Better Mathematics – Numbers Operations & Relationships
- 6+ hrs of video Free (7-day trial)
- Course Highlights
- Teacher: Matthew Henshall
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Great For: 10-15-year-olds, gifted younger students, teachers who are looking to improve
Why we like it
This “bare bones” look at basic mathematics helps build confidence in skills we likely didn’t know we had.
The Content
“Numbers and Operations” offers much the same content as “Pre-Algebra,” at least in terms of what skills and knowledge are handed over. However, the approach is slightly different. With 49 separate videos, some as short as four minutes in length, these lectures are far easier to review when you need help with a specific skill.
The course is only the videos presented and does not have worksheets. That being said, the course includes tips on how to use real-world examples and even seek out examples using the internet.
While the primary aim of the course is to help teachers find ways of presenting information to the class, the videos are quite appropriate for presenting straight to students and therefore make great study tools.
The Teachers
Matthew Henshall has a background in engineering and has recently begun a tech startup teaching kids to code. While he may not offer much about himself as a school teacher, this should not hold you back from enjoying his videos. He has an engaging and confident tone to his presentations, with his South African accent offering more, rather than less, reason to listen to him.
Overall Impressions
At first, this course just seems like a bare-bones, low-effort series of videos and nothing more. However, it soon becomes apparent that this “low-tech” presentation encourages us by showing just how we should be approaching math on the page. No fancy animations, just things written by hand as they are explored.
Each topic is broken down to its very core, using language that is very accessible for even primary students. In fact, for the gifted young student, this may be the perfect introduction to math material before they reach high school.
Unfortunately, the course doesn’t come with any exercises, worksheets, or summary notes, and their inclusion would have likely led us to give it a perfect score.
Pros
- Accessible communication of ideas
- A large number of small units so as not to get bored
- Engaging teacher
- Perfect for gifted youngsters
Cons
- No worksheets or quizzes
- May be too simple for some
6. Everyday Statistics
- 4+hrs Free (1-month trial)
- Course Highlights
- Teacher: Eddie Davila
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Great For: Everyone who wants to understand the truth behind the statistics they hear every day
Why we like it
Statistics are all around us, and this ongoing course points out all the ways they are used.
The Content
This is a course that keeps on giving. There are over 90 short videos currently up, while more are being added regularly. Each video is short, less than five minutes usually, but offers a simple way of explaining how we learn to correctly read the everyday statistics we come across in life.
What makes this more than just a “math” course, however, is the willingness to look at psychology, sociology, and other scientific explanations for statistical conclusions. From the statistics of the insurance industry to the Superbowl, a wide range of interesting, everyday topics are covered.
The Teachers
Eddie Davila has been lecturing at Arizona State University for the past quarter of a century. In that time, he has written dozens of books, made training videos used by Fortune 500 companies, and taught over 30,000 students. He has provided consulting services for companies in the energy, publishing, retail, technology, global health, and agriculture industries.
Overall Impressions
Davila’s style is quite informal, sometimes neglecting the math behind the statistics in favor of interesting historical notes, or a fun psychological fact you may not have known. For some, it may be disappointing that these core concepts are not always present in his videos.
However, those concepts are covered in other videos. More recent ones simply assume that students have started from the very beginning of the course.
It is worth checking out this course, if only because you can watch the first video without even signing up.
Pros
- Engaging material with real-world examples
- Constantly updated with over 90 lessons available
- Covers more than just the mathematical concepts
Cons
- Doesn’t go into the concepts with great depth
- Some classes may be seen as possibly irrelevant
7. Math by KhanAcademy
- 100+hrs Free
- Course Highlights
- Course Provided By: Khan Academy
- Skill Level: Beginner/Intermediate
- Great For: Finding help on specific topics, any level up to university
Why we like it
Every topic you could ever face in school is covered somewhere in this broad yet comprehensive course.
The Content
While not a discrete course, per se, Khan Academy has produced an impressive list of hundreds of miniature lessons in math, from preschoolers to AP Statistics. Each lesson comes with several videos, backed by self-marking quizzes to help show understanding and cement ideas. A really helpful addition to the quizzes is the ability to “get hints,” which offer help in completing exercises.
To add a gamification aspect to the courses, you gain points for watching videos, completing tests, and finishing streams.
The content is available for free, without needing to sign up for anything. However, if you do, you can get more personalized help from teachers as well as set up a schedule with your child/student to follow their progress through the courses.
The Teachers
Khan Academy is a non-profit organization with a reputation for great teaching. Sadly, they don’t make it easy for you to get to know the content creators of their videos. After some digging, we found that the team is quite large, with a range of skills and experience.
This does come across in the videos. While some classes offer really clear explanations and the quizzes back the information well, when you get to higher grades, the teachers do not link back to previous content well. It can be assumed this is partly because they themselves did not create the previous content.
Overall Impressions
For a free set of classes, Khan Academy has done an impressive job. Hundreds of hours of videos, backed by thousands of questions in quizzes, all with hints and solutions to make us better at math. However, the scope of the operation has, in some ways, caused as many problems as it has helped.
This “course” is best used when you want a quick look at a single topic or are looking for ways to test your knowledge. The quizzes are, in many ways, more important than the videos. Khan’s content could best be used as complimenting other courses, and providing a way to prove what you learned elsewhere has stuck.
Pros
- Videos, exercises, and tests on every maths topic in school
- High-quality videos and easy-to-follow layout
- Gamification of courses
- Can register to help track multiple students taking the courses
Cons
- Can get lost in all the options available
- Some videos have better teachers than others
8. Introduction to Actuarial Science
- 30+hrs Free (Pay for Certificate)
- Course Highlights
- Course Provided By: Australian National University (ANU)
- Skill Level: Beginners
- Great For: Business Finance, Insurance, and Banking
Why we like it
The banking and insurance industries rely on people with strong actuarial skills. This university course provides just that.
The Content
Actuarial science is the study of risks and how you can use mathematics to determine the risk of ventures, events, and people in order to maintain economic stability. It is the cornerstone of insurance and an important part of ensuring the longevity of big businesses.
This course is very practically based, offering a range of skills using spreadsheet software. It comes with very few requirements, boasting that “secondary/high school level being the only assumption of mathematical background.” Certainly, each unit in the course is quite standalone, so if the odd math-based one is difficult, it will not affect your ability to learn the rest.
The Teachers
Adam Butt is the senior lecturer for Actuarial Studies at the university and teaches the courses on campus as well. His teaching follows over half a decade working as a professional consultant, and he is a Fellow of the Actuarial Institute of Australia. He teaches this same course on campus for ANU.
Overall Impressions
Getting into a degree in Actuarial Science is as difficult as entering Law or Medicine. So to have a course offering the basics, and presenting it in a way any high school graduate could understand, is a feat indeed.
Something we appreciate is how Butt has ensured that you don’t need specific software to follow along with the course. Google Sheets is as good as Microsoft Excel for participating in the exercises.
Being a course for beginners means that it doesn’t go into as much detail as some may hope for. However, it is a great starting point and, with a low-cost certificate available, can be proof to your employer that you are ready for that next promotion in the finance sector.
Pros
- Does not require a strong understanding of mathematics
- University-level course
- Presented clearly for beginners
- Low-cost certification is available
- Does not require specific software
Cons
- May be considered too simple for experienced professionals in the sector
- Gives very little theoretical background
- It may not be as useful if not in the financial sector
9. Mathematics for Machine Learning Specialization
- 16+hrs Free (Pay for Certificate)
- Course Highlights
- Course Provided By: Imperial College of London (ICL)
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Great For: IT professionals and engineers
Why we like it
Artificial Intelligence is the way of the future. This course is the perfect introduction to this complex, yet essential, area of knowledge.
The Content
Machine Learning, the foundation of Artificial Intelligence, is being used all around us. From how websites deal with large amounts of data to how traffic systems become more efficient, machine learning has become an expected part of any large computer system.
For a programmer, machine learning may still not be an area that has been studied. To get a good grasp on what can be a complex subject, the ICL has put together this course. Aimed specifically at programmers, it uses Python-based examples to teach the calculus and algebra that makeup machine learning systems.
The course includes self-marking assessments, including using a Python terminal through your browser. You will not need outside software, though it may be worthwhile installing your own Python IDE for practice.
The Teachers
David Dye is the Professor of Metallurgy at the ICL, which helps give some understanding of how machine learning is integral to all our systems. His work on big data analysis in engineering has produced incredible results in the field of metal fatigue and stressors put on reactors and jet engines.
Dye has received awards for innovation in teaching and has an accessible style. This helps a lot, as sometimes the content can be quite inaccessible if you are a complete beginner to math or programming.
Overall Impressions
This is a very hands-on course that will take quite a bit of work to complete. While Dye does a great job teaching such a complex subject, it isn’t something that anyone can walk into if they don’t already think like a mathematician or programmer.
It is also important to make sure you are ready to put time aside to do this course. It is not the type of course where you can just look over all the material within one weekend. It needs to be treated like any night class you might take on campus.
To get a strong introduction to machine learning and move to the next stage in your programming or engineering profession, this is a challenging but ultimately fulfilling online class.
Pros
- A solid foundation of the math behind machine learning
- Well-presented by someone who gives a non-programming perspective
- Great exercises and tests to prove understanding
- An important topic for the future of programming and engineering
Cons
- Requires background knowledge and already present mathematical thinking
- Will require a few hours of week of concerted effort
- It helps if you have some basic programming skills
10. Algebraic Methods, Graphs, and Applied Mathematics Methods
- 21+hrs Free (Pay for Certificate)
- Course Highlights
- Course Provided By: The Imperial College, London
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Great For: Final year math students and first-year university students
Why we like it
This course is designed for UK schools but is also perfect for AP classes in the USA.
The Content
The English “A-Levels” classes are a form of “higher” secondary education designed to be equivalent to AP courses in the US. This online class was specifically created for A-Levels Mathematics but is also perfect for those learning AP Mathematics or taking their first math classes at university.
What sets this course apart from many others is that the focus is not on any one specific skill as much as it helps develop general skills that will make you a better mathematician across the rest of your education. It especially helps you develop the ability to turn real-world problems into the math question being asked by them, as well as finding the correct methods to solve problems quickly and accurately.
The Teachers
Dr. Philip Ramsden is a fellow of The Imperial College in London and is a regular masterclass speaker and online educator. Having this university-level educator in a high-school course is wonderful. He is joined by Phil Chaffe, a national coordinator for the UK Advanced Mathematics Support Programme.
The qualifications and experience of both men shine through this course, as they present difficult topics with an ease that gives the student confidence to tackle the problems themselves.
Overall Impressions
The concepts covered here are tough, but conquering them makes all other math learned seem so much easier. If you are planning to take a STEM course after school, this course should be considered.
However, as a course to help you with your final exams, it may be too complex, go into too much detail about aspects not covered in exams, and take too much of your time that could be spent on other studies. A great bridging course to university, this course is not for everyone. Who it is for will really enjoy it, though, and have an advantage against other students when they hit university.
Pros
- Taught by university teachers skilled in online teaching
- Designed to cover what you will face in year 12 (UK)
- Bridges between school and university math well
Cons
- Offers more than is needed for an average school student
- Takes a lot of time to get through the entirety of the course
11. Introduction to Probability
- 70+hrs Free (Pay for Certificate)
- Course Highlights
- Course Provided By: Harvard University
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Great For: People wanting to take their understanding to the next level
Why we like it
We can make better decisions when we understand the true probability of events occurring. This course helps us do just that.
The Content
This course is a deep dive into the core concepts of probability and how we can use these concepts to make predictions. Heavy on the mathematical frameworks that inform the subject, it is heavy going. You need to have a good understanding of math to start with, and they recommend having an understanding of basic calculus and matrices.
While the concepts can at first seem complex, understanding them offers a new sense of freedom when talking about probability problems in the real world. It gives you a good grounding in statistical inference (understanding how statistics can inform your choices), as well as showing how you can use what is learned to solve complex real-world problems.
The Teachers
A free course from Harvard University sounds unbelievable, but this is exactly what the course is. Joe Blitzstein, the lecturer, is Professor of the Practice in Statistics at the university and has been teaching there for fifteen years. He was the co-creator of Harvard’s Data Sciences courses and is a chess guru.
Blitzstein’s approach is dry and not as engaging as many other teachers. But if you are enjoying the content, you come to appreciate how precise his language is and how you cannot misinterpret any instructions he gives.
Overall Impressions
This isn’t a course for the person with a casual interest, but one in which you receive a university-level education in a topic that permeates our entire culture. It is sometimes dry and possibly boring for many. Once the concepts start to become second nature, however, the way you approach choices in your everyday life changes.
If you have the time to take the ten-week commitment and don’t feel the need to try and rush through it, you will not regret tackling this rigorous online course from a world-class institution.
Pros
- A comprehensive look at probability
- Taught by a Harvard professor
- Offers complex, real-world examples to examine
Cons
- Can be quite dry and theoretical
- An intense, university-level course
- Ideas can be complex if you don’t have basic skills perfected
12. Introduction to Mathematical Thinking
- 40+hrs Free (Pay for Certificate)
- Course Highlights
- Course Provided By: Stanford University
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Great For: People interested in history, philosophy, and logic
Why we like it
This course looks at mathematicians and their work from a completely different perspective; very few numbers are involved in this one.
The Content
What is “Number Theory”? How does “Real Analysis” Work? How did the concept of Infinity change mathematics? The “Introduction to Mathematical Thinking” course is not about learning equations or plotting graphs. Instead, it is a course about how mathematicians throughout history have developed a way to think. It teaches us the terminology of mathematics, the structure of theories, and how the history of mathematics reflects the world around it.
From the very beginning, it is clear this course is not like others. Each week includes assignment questions and tutorials to help you through them. These questions are not going to be answered with calculators but by reflecting on the intriguing material within.
The Teachers
Dr. Keith Devlin is a co-founder of Stanford University's H-STAR Institute. He has written over thirty books, is a recipient of the Carl Sagan Award, and is best known as “The Math Guy” on NPR.
As a teacher, Devlin is incredible. A very engaging presenter; he makes some complex concepts seem accessible to everyone. Without skipping over important steps, he carefully leads the class from what seems obvious into what is new territory for anyone who hasn’t studied this sort of material at a university level.
Overall Impressions
The most unique course on our list, “Mathematical Thinking” could easily be described as “The Math course for people who don’t like Math.” By looking at the entire concept of mathematics the same way you would the concept of History or Philosophy, there is a great chance to learn a lot about how we come to discover new theories, develop new ways of thinking, and how experts can ensure they are on the same page when talking about complex ideas.
It’s not a course to teach you how to use equations, but a course that teaches you to think like the people who developed them.
Pros
- Offers a clear and impressive look at how mathematicians think
- Provides an interesting overview of the history and philosophy of mathematics
- An engaging set of classes from a Stanford teacher
Cons
- Won’t be of great benefit to your arithmetic skills
- Needs to be taken from start to finish to properly appreciate
13. Introductory Mechanics XSeries
- 500+hrs over one year Free (Pay for Certificate)
- Course Highlights
- Course Provided By: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Great For: People interested in engineering, tradespeople
Why we like it
Engineers sometimes sound like they are speaking a different language, and this course is the translator we need
The Content
This program is a series of free courses you can pick and choose from or complete across one year. Doing the whole program is, according to MIT, “the full set of topics covered in the first semester of physics at MIT.”
While a strong high-school knowledge of calculus is helpful, most concepts are reviewed when necessary. This course is a great way to see if a move to engineering is good for you, to have a better understanding of the physics behind your trade, or to help you better communicate with those in the industry.
The Teachers
The teachers of this course are the same professors and lecturers that work at MIT’s campus, offering the same units that they do for freshman science students. They are led by Deepto Chakrabarty, Professor of Physics and Astrophysics. He has been teaching at MIT for over twenty years and has written over 100 papers on physics and astrophysics.
Overall Impressions
There could not be a better way to decide if a career change is a good move than to take the first courses you would need. Taking this XSeries course from MIT for free will let you know if the education is something you can and want to do. For those in engineering industries, this can be the leg up against the competition. Being able to understand the projects you are managing or the theory behind the practical skills you use every day can help you stand out in the workplace.
It is a course that would be difficult for those who struggled with math at school, and it does ask a lot from your time, but there are few other ways to get a true tertiary education experience without paying for it.
Pros
- A comprehensive freshman-university course
- Taught by people with decades of experience
- From MIT
Cons
- Requires a high level of previous math knowledge
- Takes a lot of time to complete
14. Overview of SAT Math Questions
- 1+hrs Free (1-month trial)
- Course Highlights
- Teacher: Vince Kotchian
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Great For: Those who are sitting their SATs soon
Why we like it
For the millions of students who sit the SATs each year, this course (and its larger parent) is perfect.
The Content
Quite a specialized set of classes, this online course is part of a larger “Test Prep” course that we would recommend for all students of the SAT. Through the classes, they break down the three sections of the Math SAT, how the questions appear, and how to approach them. The course comes with example questions to practice with, as well as helpful tips you are unlikely to find elsewhere.
The Teachers
Vince Kotchian has been a Test Prep tutor for over a decade and has been the creator of numerous books, papers, and even apps to help students prepare themselves for the SAT, ACT, and GRE. While his BA is in English Literature, he has also been part of a Math honors program.
Overall Impressions
This is a highly specialized course and doesn’t offer much to students who are not sitting the SATs. However, if you are about to enter these stressful exams, there is no better way to prepare than to experience the exact kind of questions you’ll see on the real thing, and have really helpful advice on how to approach them. Kotchian’s experience is obvious in how he presents the material in a really clear way.
It would have been nice to have more time spent on Math, considering its importance. However, very few other courses do such a great job at approaching the test. We not only recommend this course but the wider Test Prep course for every student sitting the SATs.
Pros
- Specifically designed to prep for the math section of SATs
- Run by a very experienced SAT tutor
- Part of a larger Test Prep Course
Cons
- Doesn’t cover enough for students beyond the SATs
- A very short course, with fewer examples than we would like
15. Math Tricks and Hacks
- 1+hrs Free (7-day trial)
- Course Highlights
- Teacher: Marc “G-Code Tutor.”
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Great For: Avoiding a calculator, on the fly arithmetic, and struggling students
Why we like it
It’s nice to think that when our phone dies, we can still calculate the right tip in our heads, and this course makes sure we can.
The Content
This course is all about the most basic form of math - mental arithmetic. Working out the tip on any bill, knowing what a discount will mean for you, and showing off to friends. Yes, we could pull out our smartphone, but something is pleasing about doing it ourselves.
Beyond this, the tricks shown in the course have been of huge benefit to school students who struggle to succeed while using the more traditional methods taught in most schools. By providing a new perspective on arithmetic, this course can increase grades quickly.
The Teachers
Who “G-Code Tutor” is can be anyone’s guess. They say they have been an electrical engineer, but offer no other information. Strangely, it doesn’t matter. To know they are engaging and providing new ways to approach arithmetic that isn’t seen very often is all we need.
Overall Impressions
This is a very short course, each “lesson” being only a few minutes long. It is also a course entirely based on the videos, with no extra material or help. On the other hand, the techniques and “hacks” are clearly explained in a way that we can test them ourselves with any numbers we choose, and “G-Code” is engaging and clear in their instructions.
One of the more “fun” courses out there, and one that can start being used immediately, it’s a low-impact course for math that you’ll find was worth it the next time you go out for dinner.
Pros
- Short and catchy classes
- Engaging presentation of clever, innovative content
- Feels “fun.”
Cons
- Not a lot of content
- No worksheets and few examples
- Isn’t very deep beyond basic arithmetic
FAQ
There are many common questions people ask when thinking about taking math courses. To help you out, we’ve looked for some of the most asked questions out there and given our answers.
Some people are clever and do not need books or videos or lecturers to help them learn new skills. They simply need to sit down and think about a problem. However, most of the greatest mathematicians were not like that. Einstein poured over Newton and Newton read a lot of Galileo and Kepler.
Learning from experts is how we ourselves become experts. That is why the courses we search for are by the brightest and best teachers out there.
The skills needed in mathematics are different from those needed in English. Neither is intrinsically harder or easier than the other. Some people are naturally more gifted in one, but anyone can be taught both.
If you are simply more interested in English than math, however, consider taking a course that bridges the two. Introduction to Mathematical Thinking is less about arithmetic and more about the language of mathematics and how it helps scientists discuss theories together.
There can be many reasons why a course is free. Some, like Everyday Statistics, hope you will want to stay around and check out other courses after your trial ends. Others, like Game Theory, hope you will realize the benefit to your career that having the certification will bring you. Khan Academy is a non-profit organization, relying on donations and volunteers in the belief that everyone should have access to education.
How to Take an Online Math Course in 2021
Mathematics is a skill we all use in our everyday lives. It can be as simple as working out if we can afford dinner, and as complicated as using data science to predict weather patterns.
The opportunity to take an online course in mathematics, for free, is one we shouldn’t waste. Because of this, it is important to think about some of the ways we can make mathematics easier to learn.
Find Yourself a Good Calculator
A simple calculator can be found on any smartphone or computer you pick up. However, if you want to tackle some of the more complex math that courses can offer, you may want to invest in a calculator that can do more.
Texas Instruments, for example, produce a calculator that can draw graphs based on the input of algebraic functions. Smartphones and tablets can also take advantage of incredible mathematics applications like Wolfram Alpha, which can translate everyday questions into math problems to solve.
Practice, Practice, Practice Makes Perfect
In a lot of ways, the best method to ensure you learn a skill is by practicing it over and over again. So the best way to learn how to do something in math is to practice using it in problems. This is why many of our courses come with exercise sheets or quizzes to help cement that knowledge.
We can, of course, also create our own “practice” by thinking about real-world applications. After taking the University of Adelaide’s Statistics course, we can look at the latest research in medicine, and see how scientists come to their conclusions. After going out for dinner, we can use what we learned in Math Tricks and Hacks to find the right tip without reaching for our phone.
Stop Using Google When You Have a Math Problem
Of course, one of the best ways to practice is to stop relying on our phones, our calculators, and Google. When we come to a math problem in our everyday life, we try to solve it ourselves first.
We all have strange questions pop in our heads. Like “how many soccer balls could fit in an Olympic pool,” but rather than ask that on Google, why not just look up “volume of soccer ball,” “volume of Olympic pool” and start doing the math (for those of you interested, the answer is somewhere around four hundred thousand balls).
Graphics Tablets Can Help You Learn Math
Having a good graphics tablet means you can write out equations and have them appear on your computer screen. Since a lot of math requires symbols not easily found on a keyboard, we find that this is a great way to practice without the need to fill a heap of exercise books. For those who can afford it, we are big fans of the XP-Pen, which can be used with any modern computer.
Now It All Adds Up
Developing better skills in mathematics has never been easier. Whether it is to further a career, get better grades at school, or simply enrich your life, there is a free online math course out there that’s perfect for you.