If your kids seem to have a head for numbers and a talent for math, traditional grade or age appropriate curriculum options may not accommodate their pace, which can result in them becoming bored or even disengaging with the material.
As a parent, you may be interested in finding a different, more rigorous curricula that can provide them with more stimulating problems to further develop their potential in math.
Beast Academy and Singapore Math are two very highly regarded math programs that challenge students, while deepening their understanding of math concepts and honing their mathematical thinking skills.
While both are quite popular with parents looking for enrichment math options for their kids, there are some differences between them that we will explore in this article.
What is Beast Academy
Created by Art of Problem Solving, Beast Academy is a math program aimed at kids in grades 2-7 that uses a rather unique graphic novel teaching method to introduce math concepts.
Through its highly challenging puzzles and problem sets, Beast Academy helps students develop stronger logical thinking and problem solving skills, as well as a more in-depth understanding of math concepts.
What is Singapore Math
Singapore Math is a teaching method for math that is based on the highly successful and effective Singapore national primary mathematics curriculum.
Taking a sequential and mastery approach to teaching math, Singapore Math uses a particular three step technique (as well as some other methods) to dive deeper into math topics and lets kids develop stronger knowledge and skill proficiency before moving forward.
Beast Academy is aimed at kids 8-13, or grades 2-6.
Beyond that kids can graduate to Art of Problem Solving, which continues to grade 12 and covers topics such as pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, precalculus and calculus.
Singapore Math, on the other hand, can cover pre-Kindergarten to grade 8, giving it a bit of an edge when it comes to early childhood education.
Versions and Cost
Note: Prices correct as of writing and are in USD.
Singapore Math is mainly printed, although they’ve recently introduced videos for home learning as a digital subscription.
Both programs are quite flexible in terms of how they can be purchased.
For both Beast Academy and Singapore Math, parents can purchase complete bundles for an entire grade level (budget allowing), or to buy their guides, workbooks and supplements separately.
Individual books cost about $15 with Beast Academy and about $12 with Singapore Math.
All things considered, in terms of price, the two programs are more or less priced similarly for their printed material.
Beast Academy and Singarpore Math’s online versions are a bit different, however.
Beast Academy Online costs about $96 per year per student and includes access to all levels and grades.
Singapore Math At Home is less expensive, at $85 per year per student. However, it only includes video tutorials, so you’ll need to buy the books separately and it also covers only one grade at a time.
What Kind of Math Students Are They For
Beast Academy is aimed primarily at kids who are gifted or advanced in math for their grade level.
In general, there is less repetition and practice than other programs, while its puzzles and problems can be quite tough, demanding stronger logic and problem solving skills.
Struggling students and even some non-gifted math students may in fact find Best Academy too difficult and, at times, very frustrating.
Beast Academy levels are usually a grade beyond their respective age and grade levels as defined by traditional US public school curricula, to the point where the company recommends kids start a grade below their current level or take a placement test before beginning.
While designed to provide a stronger and deeper understanding of math concepts, and widely considered more rigorous and challenging than typical age/grade level public school math curriculum, Singapore Math is more applicable to a broader range of student abilities and skills.
Over the years, all types of students have found great success in developing and improving their math skills with the program, which shouldn’t be surprising as it was originally designed for the Singapore Ministry of Education as their primary mathematics curriculum.
That said, Singapore Math does have ample practice opportunities for more gifted students, such as their intensive practice and challenging word problem books, that can bring up the difficulty level quite a bit and offer quite challenging, brain-teasing problems to students.
Beast Academy vs Singapore Math: How They Teach Math
Beast Academy Approach
Beast academy teaches its material using a pretty innovative approach.
It uses full color, professionally illustrated comic books that guide students through mathematical concepts and teach strategies for approaching various math problems without overburdening kids with text.
In essence, kids read and learn with their graphic novel guides and then practice using the puzzle guides and extra puzzle sets.
There is also an online version of Beast Academy, which uses much of the same material as the print form, although it includes video explanations by the founder and provides access to all guide books, not just those for a student’s grade level.
Finally, Beast Academy takes a Mastery approach to teaching math, presenting fewer topics at a time and delving into them in far greater depth, giving kids a chance to develop skill proficiency before moving on.
Beast Academy Pedagogy
Overall, Beast Academy places less of an emphasis on having kids perform calculations or do drills than many other programs.
Instead, the program focuses more on developing higher order thinking skills, delving deeper into teaching logical thinking, problem solving, understanding concepts and developing mathematical thinking.
Beast Academy offers fewer computational problems and drill, and focuses more on problem solving, word problems and puzzles.
Essentially, kids are challenged to learn why things are the way they are and, more interestingly (and perhaps more importantly) how problems can be approached in a variety of ways.
Singapore Math Approach
Compared to Beast Acadmey, Singapore Math takes a more traditional learning approach.
Each grade is separated into two semesters (A and B), and each semester includes a textbook, workbook and teacher’s guide (or home instructor’s guide).
Lessons are taught primarily by the textbooks and students complete related exercises in the workbook, as you might expect.
In addition, there are a number of supplementary activities that help reinforce and extend the learning, many of which are intended to include a variety of manipulatives, which makes it more appropriate and useful for kids with different learning styles.
Singapore Method Pedagogy
Singapore Math is rooted in the Mastery method of teaching math in that concepts are explored in depth, and fewer topics are focused on at a time.
Kids don’t move on until they’ve developed proficiency in the topic, which fosters a deep understanding of the material and encourages both skill development and a better conceptual understanding of the mathematical principles at hand.
Like with Beast Academy, the problem sets are, in general, more interesting and challenging than traditional curricula. They are usually a year or so ahead of the US curriculum and don’t involve a lot of repetition or drill, and encourage multiple approaches to any given problem.
Singapore Math does use an interesting and relatively unique method called the CPA approach, which stands for Concrete, Pictorial and Abstract.
The idea is that starting off with abstract concepts and symbols is not as effective at conveying a proper understanding of math, especially for younger kids.
In this methodology, kids are first encouraged to approach a concept by doing, physically interacting with it in some manner.
Afterwards they move to a pictorial stage, where problems are modelled visually with diagrams and pictures.
Finally, students move to the abstract stage, where the learning is connected to and represented by abstract symbols.
This methodology really encourages kids to explore topics and think critically about them, often focusing more on the why of math than rote memorization and computation.
Beast Academy Vs Singapore Math: Similarities
Both Beast Academy and Singapore Math differ in their approach and teaching of math compared to how students traditionally learn math in school.
They both introduce concepts earlier than with traditional curricula, and do so in more depth and complexity.
The problem sets they use are often more challenging than traditional curricula, often emphasizing logic, systematic thinking and even creativity when approaching them, and there is less repetition and cycling.
Focus on mathematical thinking
Both Beast Academy and Singapore Math focus more on developing stronger mathematical thinking skills and developing a better conceptual understanding of math, i.e. the why of math, rather than focusing on computation and drill.
The programs encourage kids to think critically about problems, often offering several approaches to solving particular challenges and rewarding kids for coming up with solutions.
This tends to lead to better math outcomes in the long term, particularly when it comes to related STEM fields
Both Beast Academy and Singapore Math take a Mastery approach to teaching math, where fewer concepts are introduced sequentially but at greater depth.
In a Mastery approach, kids don’t advance to new topics until they reach a certain level of skill proficiency and understanding, which is opposed to a spiral approach where more topics are introduced and revisited later, developing proficiency over time.
Can be used to challenge and enrich students
Being considered more challenging than a typical curriculum and introducing topics earlier and often in more depth, both Beast Academy and Singapore Math are often used to enrich students who might be more advanced in math skills than their peers.
Beast Academy is specifically designed to challenge gifted math students, while Singapore Math offers intensive practice and additional word problem supplements that can really challenge math-adept students to push themselves.
Common Core Alignment
By default, neither Beast Academy nor Singapore Math are all that aligned with Common Core Math, being a bit more challenging and following their own scope and sequence.
That said, both offer resources to help parents who are interested in following Common Core do so.
Beast Academy offers freely available CCSS Alignment sheets and Singapore Math offers specifically designed Common Core Editions as part of its Primary Mathematics program.
Beast Academy Vs Singapore Math: Differences
In terms of how they actually teach math, Beast Academy and Singapore Math do differ pretty significantly.
Beast Academy introduces concepts somewhat unconventionally.
It uses brightly colored graphic novels with characters using humor and visual metaphors to explain topics in depth before kids tackle their puzzles and challenges and is, overall, more configured for visual learners in our opinion.
Singapore Math on the other hand, broadly speaking, uses a more traditional textbook-workbook method.
That said, its CPA method is quite unique un that it introduces concepts in a more concrete manner first before moving to abstractions and often involves manipulatives and other tactile activities. This makes Singapore Math potentially more multisensory and appropriate for a wider range of learning styles than Beast Academy.
Beast Academy is mainly intended for gifted students and those who are a bit more advanced when it comes to math. Struggling students can often find the challenges frustrating and even non-gifted students may find it a little too challenging at times.
Singapore Math, while it can easily be made to be quite challenging for gifted students with its supplementary material, is based on the method of teaching math used by the Singapore Ministry of Education for its national primary mathematics curriculum.
By its nature it is more flexible in its appropriateness to students, meaning with a little forethought it can be adapted to teach gifted, non-gifted and struggling students alike.
With material for Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 8, Singapore Math supports a wider age range of students than Beast Academy, which covers grades 2-6.
That said, students “graduating” from Beast Academy can progress to Art of Problem Solving’s Middle and High School materials, whereas Singapore Math doesn’t cover high school.
Parental familiarity with the material
While its problems are quite a bit more challenging and its graphic novel guide books are fun and a bit unusual, Beast Academy typically explains and explores math concepts in a way that is not all that different from the way in which parents have learned them (although perhaps going into more depth).
Singapore Math’s CPA approach to teaching math, although effective, can be quite a bit different than what parents are used to and it may take some time for them to get the hang of it.
Consequently, parents helping their kids with the math learning, activities and exercises may need a bit of time themselves to review the instructor guides, or even visit the various online communities that have sprung up around Singapore Math.
|Beast Academy||Singapore Math|
|For Grades||Grades 2-7||Pre-K to Grade 8|
|Price per grade bundle||$118||$122|
|Price per book||$15||$12|
|Designed for||Gifted math students looking for extra challenge||Students looking for a more rigorous approach to math to promote deep familiarity|
|Common Core option||❌||✔|
|Claim to fame||Rigorously teaches math concepts and thinking using high quality graphic novels||Highly successful, proven method of teaching math using CPA (concrete, pictorial, abstract) progression|
|Mastery or Spiral||Mastery||Mastery|
To Learn More…
Visit Singapore Math
Visit Beast Academy
Or, read our in-depth review of Beast Academy
About the Author
David Belenky is a freelance writer, former science and math tutor and a tech enthusiast. When he’s not writing about educational tech, he likes to chill out with his family and dog at home.