What Math Is Taught In Sixth Grade?

Written by Dan

Are you bracing yourself to send your sixth-grader off to math class in the fall? Or, have they already started and you’re wondering what new skills your child is going to learn this year? Either way, it can be helpful for parents of sixth grade students to know a bit about what their children will be learning in math.

And while it may seem intimidating (especially if math isn’t your strong suit), don’t worry! Because contrary to popular belief, learning math at this level doesn’t have to be all equations and formulas – there are plenty of fun activities that students get up to in their classes. Keep reading as we break down the key mathematical concepts covered during sixth grade lessons!

Introducing the Basics of Algebra

Algebra is a crucial branch of mathematics that deals with mathematical symbols and the rules for manipulating these symbols. It allows us to understand and solve various types of mathematical problems. In sixth grade , students begin to explore the basics of algebra, focusing on linear equations and graphs. This introduction lays a strong foundation for their future mathematical endeavors.

What is a Linear Equation?

A linear equation is an algebraic equation in which each term is either a constant or the product of a constant and a single variable. The general form of a linear equation in one variable is:

ax + b = 0

Where ‘a’ and ‘b’ are constants, ‘x’ is the variable, and ‘a’ cannot be zero. Linear equations are characterized by their degree, which is the highest power of the variable. In this case, the degree is always one.

Solving Linear Equations

Solving a linear equation means finding the variable’s value that makes the equation true. In sixth grade, students learn different methods to solve linear equations, such as:

  1. Addition and Subtraction: Students can solve linear equations by adding or subtracting terms to simplify the equation and isolate the variable.
  2. Multiplication and Division: Multiplying or dividing by a constant can help eliminate fractions or decimals and make the equation easier to solve.
  3. Using Inverse Operations: Applying inverse operations (e.g., if the equation involves addition, use subtraction) helps isolate the variable and find its value.

Graphing Linear Equations

Graphing linear equations is another essential skill that sixth graders begin to learn. A graph visually represents the relationship between variables and helps students understand the concept of slope and intercept.

To graph a linear equation, students need to follow these steps:

  1. Convert the equation to slope-intercept form: Rewrite the equation in the form y = mx + b, where ‘m’ is the slope, and ‘b’ is the y-intercept.
  2. Identify the slope and y-intercept: Determine the values of ‘m’ and ‘b’ from the slope-intercept form of the equation.
  3. Plot the y-intercept on the graph: Mark the point (0, b) on the y-axis, where ‘b’ is the y-intercept.
  4. Use the slope to find another point: Starting from the y-intercept, move along the graph following the slope (rise over run) to find another point on the line.
  5. Draw the line: Connect the two points with a straight line, representing the linear equation’s graph.

Discovering Geometry Concepts

Geometry is an essential branch of mathematics that deals with the properties, measurement, and relationships of points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids. In sixth grade, students begin to explore more advanced geometry concepts, including working with angles, shapes, and transformations. This stage of learning provides a solid foundation for understanding more complex geometric principles in later grades.

Angles and Their Properties

In sixth grade, students delve deeper into the world of angles, learning about different types of angles and their properties. They discover the following angle types:

  1. Acute Angle: An angle measuring less than 90 degrees.
  2. Right Angle: An angle measuring exactly 90 degrees.
  3. Obtuse Angle: An angle measuring greater than 90 degrees but less than 180 degrees.
  4. Straight Angle: An angle measuring exactly 180 degrees.

Students also learn how to measure angles using a protractor and how to identify angle pairs such as complementary (adding up to 90 degrees), supplementary (adding up to 180 degrees), adjacent (sharing a common side), and vertical (opposite angles formed by two intersecting lines) angles. Understanding these angle relationships is critical for solving more advanced geometry problems.

Shapes: Polygons and Circles

Sixth-grade students expand their knowledge of shapes, focusing on polygons and circles. They study the properties of various polygons, including triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and other multi-sided figures. Students learn to classify polygons based on their sides and angles, such as equilateral, isosceles, and scalene triangles, or parallelograms, rectangles, squares, and trapezoids.

Circles are another significant topic in sixth-grade geometry. Students learn about the parts of a circle, such as the radius, diameter, and circumference, as well as terms like chord, arc, and sector. They also start exploring the relationship between a circle’s circumference and its diameter, which leads to an introduction to the concept of pi (π).

Transformations: Translations, Rotations, and Reflections

Transformations are a crucial aspect of geometry that involve manipulating shapes by moving, rotating, or reflecting them. In sixth grade, students learn about three essential types of transformations:

  1. Translation: Moving a shape from one location to another without changing its size or orientation.
  2. Rotation: Turning a shape around a fixed point, known as the center of rotation, by a certain angle.
  3. Reflection: Flipping a shape over a line, called the axis of reflection, to create a mirror image.

Students practice performing these transformations on various shapes and analyze their properties to understand how they relate to the original shape and its transformed image. This understanding helps students develop critical spatial reasoning skills in advanced geometry and other areas of mathematics.

Understanding the Fundamentals of Statistics and Probability

Statistics and probability are essential mathematical concepts that help us make sense of the world around us. In sixth grade, students begin to explore these topics, laying the foundation for more advanced study in later years. Students can better interpret data, make predictions, and solve real-world problems by understanding the fundamentals of statistics and probability.

What is Statistics?

Statistics is the branch of mathematics that deals with data collection, analysis, interpretation, presentation, and organization. In simpler terms, it helps us make sense of information by finding patterns and trends. Some common statistical tools used in sixth grade include:

  1. Mean: The mean, or average, is the sum of all the values in a dataset divided by the total number of values. It’s a useful measure of central tendency that can give a general idea of what’s typical for a group of numbers.
  2. Median: The median is the middle value of a dataset when the values are arranged in ascending or descending order. If there’s an even number of values, the median is the average of the two middle values. The median is less sensitive to extreme values than the mean and can provide a more accurate representation of the “center” of the data.
  3. Mode: The mode is the value that occurs most frequently in a dataset. There can be more than one mode if multiple values have the same frequency. The mode is particularly helpful when analyzing categorical data.
  4. Range: The range is the difference between a dataset’s highest and lowest values. It gives an idea of how spread out the data is, but it can be sensitive to extreme values.

What is Probability?

Probability is the study of chance and uncertainty. It helps us quantify the likelihood of an event happening, based on known conditions and outcomes. In sixth grade, students learn about basic probability concepts, such as:

  1. Experiment: An experiment is any situation or process that produces a definite outcome, like flipping a coin or rolling a die.
  2. Outcome: An outcome is the result of a single trial of an experiment. For example, getting heads when flipping a coin or rolling a 3 on a die.
  3. Sample Space: The sample space is the set of all possible outcomes for an experiment. For a coin flip, the sample space includes heads and tails. For rolling a six-sided die, the sample space consists of the numbers 1 through 6.
  4. Event: An event is a specific set of outcomes that we’re interested in. For instance, rolling an even number on a die is an event, which includes the outcomes {2, 4, 6}.
  5. Probability: The probability of an event is the measure of how likely it is to occur. It’s usually expressed as a fraction or decimal between 0 (impossible) and 1 (certain). To calculate the probability of an event, divide the number of favorable outcomes by the total number of possible outcomes.

Why are Statistics and Probability Important?

Both statistics and probability play a crucial role in our daily lives, helping us make informed decisions and predictions. They’re used in various fields, such as science, economics, sports, and medicine. By understanding these fundamental concepts, sixth-grade students can develop critical thinking skills, improve their problem-solving abilities, and better appreciate the world around them.

Mastering Ratios, Proportions and Percentages 

Ratios, proportions, and percentages are essential mathematical concepts that students learn in their early years of school. These concepts form the foundation for more advanced math topics and real-world applications in various fields.


A ratio is a comparison between two quantities, typically expressed as a fraction or with a colon. For example, if there are 3 apples and 5 oranges in a basket, the ratio of apples to oranges can be written as 3:5 or 3/5. To master ratios in sixth grade, students should:

  1. Understand how to write ratios in different forms, such as fractions or with a colon.
  2. Learn to simplify ratios by finding the greatest common divisor (GCD) of the numbers involved.
  3. Practice solving word problems that involve ratios, including those that require converting units.
  4. Explore real-life examples of ratios, such as recipes or speed-distance-time problems.


A proportion is an equation stating that two ratios are equal. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour for every 3 cups of sugar, and you want to make half the recipe, you can set up a proportion to find the new amounts: (2/3) = (x/y), where x is the new amount of flour, and y is the new amount of sugar. To master proportions in sixth grade, students should:

  1. Understand the concept of equivalent ratios and how to set up a proportion.
  2. Learn to solve proportions using cross-multiplication or other methods.
  3. Practice solving word problems involving proportions, such as scaling up or down a recipe, or determining the value of a missing variable.
  4. Explore real-life examples of proportions, such as map scales or interest rates.


Percentages are a way of expressing a number as a fraction of 100. For example, if a test has 50 questions and a student answers 40 correctly, their score can be expressed as 80% (40/50 x 100). To master percentages in sixth grade, students should:

  1. Understand the concept of percent and how to express it as a fraction or decimal.
  2. Learn to convert between fractions, decimals, and percentages.
  3. Practice solving word problems involving percentages, such as calculating discounts, tax, or tips.
  4. Explore real-life examples of percentages, such as grades, population growth, or financial investments.

Analyzing Number Systems

In sixth grade, students delve deeper into the world of mathematics by analyzing various number systems. They explore whole numbers, integers, fractions, and decimals, forming the foundation for understanding more complex mathematical concepts.


Integers are a set of numbers that include positive and negative whole numbers and zero. They are represented on a number line with negative numbers to the left of zero and positive numbers to the right. In sixth grade, students learn to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division operations with integers. They also explore the concept of absolute value, which is the distance between a number and zero on a number line.

Integer Operations

  1. Addition: When adding integers with the same sign, students add their absolute values and keep the common sign. When adding integers with different signs, they subtract the smaller absolute value from the larger one and use the sign of the number with the greater absolute value.
  2. Subtraction: To subtract integers, students change the operation to addition and replace the second integer with its opposite (e.g., subtracting a negative number becomes adding a positive number). Then, they follow the rules for adding integers.
  3. Multiplication and Division: When multiplying or dividing integers, students first determine the sign of the result. If the integers have the same sign, the result is positive. If the integers have different signs, the result is negative. Then, they multiply or divide the absolute values.


Fractions represent parts of a whole and consist of a numerator (the top number) and a denominator (the bottom number). In sixth grade, students learn how to simplify fractions, find equivalent fractions, and perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with fractions.

Fraction Operations

  1. Addition and Subtraction: To add or subtract fractions with the same denominator, students add or subtract the numerators and keep the common denominator. They find a common denominator for fractions with different denominators by identifying the denominators’ least common multiple (LCM), then convert the fractions to equivalent fractions with the common denominator before operating.
  2. Multiplication: To multiply fractions, students multiply the numerators together and the denominators together, then simplify the result if necessary.
  3. Division: To divide fractions, students invert (flip) the second fraction and change the operation to multiplication. Then, they follow the rules for multiplying fractions.


Decimals are another way to represent parts of a whole and are based on the concept of place value. In sixth grade, students learn how to read, write, and compare decimals. They also perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division operations with decimals.

Decimal Operations

  1. Addition and Subtraction: When adding or subtracting decimals, students align the decimal points and add or subtract as they would with whole numbers. If necessary, they can add zeros to the right of the last digit to make the numbers have the same number of decimal places.
  2. Multiplication: To multiply decimals, students multiply the numbers as if they were whole numbers, then count the total number of decimal places in both factors and place the decimal point in the product so that it has the same number of decimal places.
  3. Division: When dividing decimals, students first move the decimal point in the divisor to the right until it becomes a whole number. They then move the decimal point in the dividend the same number of places to the right and place it directly above the dividend in the quotient. Finally, they divide as they would with whole numbers.

Gaining Insight into Measurement

In sixth grade, students begin to delve deeper into the world of mathematics, and one essential topic they explore is measurement. Understanding the metric system and learning how to convert between different units is a crucial skill that will be used throughout their lives, both in and out of the classroom.

Additionally, students need to be familiar with calculating volume using various formulas. In this article, we’ll discuss these two important concepts and provide some tips to help sixth graders gain insight into measurement.

Converting Metric Units

The metric system is an internationally recognized decimal-based measurement system used in science, industry, and daily life. There are seven base units in the metric system, including meters (for length), kilograms (for mass), and seconds (for time). To convert between different metric units, students need to understand the prefixes that indicate multiples or fractions of these base units.

Here are the most common prefixes used in the metric system:

  • Kilo- (k) = 1,000
  • Hecto- (h) = 100
  • Deka- (da) = 10
  • Base Unit (m, g, L, etc.) = 1
  • Deci- (d) = 0.1
  • Centi- (c) = 0.01
  • Milli- (m) = 0.001

To convert between units, students can use the following steps:

  1. Identify the starting unit and the desired unit.
  2. Determine the conversion factor between the two units by referring to the prefixes.
  3. Multiply the original value by the conversion factor to obtain the converted value.

For example, to convert 5 kilometers to meters:

  1. The starting unit is kilometers, and the desired unit is meters.
  2. The conversion factor between kilometers and meters is 1,000 (1 kilometer = 1,000 meters).
  3. Multiply the original value (5 km) by the conversion factor (1,000): 5 x 1,000 = 5,000 meters.

Using Formulas for Volume

In sixth grade, students learn to calculate the volume of various three-dimensional shapes, such as cubes, rectangular prisms, and cylinders. To do this, they must understand and apply the appropriate formulas:

  • Cube: Volume (V) = side length (s)³
  • Rectangular Prism: Volume (V) = length (l) x width (w) x height (h)
  • Cylinder: Volume (V) = π x radius (r)² x height (h)

When solving problems involving volume, students should follow these steps:

  1. Identify the shape of the object.
  2. Determine the necessary measurements (length, width, height, or radius).
  3. Substitute the measurements into the appropriate formula.
  4. Calculate the volume using the formula.

For example, to find the volume of a cylinder with a radius of 3 cm and a height of 10 cm:

  1. The shape of the object is a cylinder.
  2. The measurements are r = 3 cm and h = 10 cm.
  3. Substitute the measurements into the formula: V = π x (3 cm)² x (10 cm).
  4. Calculate the volume: V ≈ 3.14 x 9 cm² x 10 cm ≈ 282.6 cm³.

By mastering metric unit conversions and understanding how to use formulas for volume, sixth-grade students will be well-prepared for future math courses and real-world applications. Practice and repetition are key to gaining insight into measurement, so encourage students to work through problems and seek assistance when needed.

Math is an enjoyable subject in sixth grade and lays the foundation for more complex math equations that students will tackle in later grades. Sixth graders learn various topics that help them hone their problem-solving skills and gain an appreciation for the world of mathematics. Learning math teaches students to think logically, analyze situations, and explore possibilities. There are so many exciting topics for sixth graders to enjoy learning including ratios and proportions, number theory, algebraic expressions, and geometry.

It’s important to keep in mind that mastering those concepts can be challenging but with hard work and effort, these topics can become fun for all. With this information about what is taught in sixth grade, parents can help support their children through homework assistance or simply being there with a supportive word when they get stuck on a problem.

Additionally, if your child needs further lessons outside the classroom then consider tutoring services or online courses which can help smooth the transition into more advanced math lessons. Before you know it your child will be an algebra master! Don’t hesitate to check out our other articles about math-related topics too!

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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