South African Mathematical Literacy (ML) learners are unlikely to have mastered the mathematical skills essential for undergraduate degree studies in Business Science and are most likely to commence tertiary studies in a foundation programme (FP). One such FP at one private higher education institution included an algebra course and provided an opportunity for such students to articulate to undergraduate degree studies in Business Science. Essentials, an algebra reteaching strategy, supported underprepared students. The perceptions of 11 students from ML were probed in semi-structured interviews on aspects influencing the development of algebraic knowledge. Four themes: introducing the ML student, beneficial aspects, aspects to address for improvement, and personal aspects emerged from deductive coding. Perceptions identified may sensitise future ML students entering higher education studies through similar pathways about previous students’ experiences of FP algebra courses, and inform FP algebra course teachers about ML learners’ needs during their development of academic knowledge.