IXL Insights – Welcome to the Challenge Zone

September 26, 2013


IXL Insights

Practice on IXL is always exciting, but there’s something about that final stretch you just can’t beat. As soon as you reach a SmartScore of 90, you collect your third ribbon and the countdown begins…Welcome to the Challenge Zone!

The Challenge Zone, that stretch of questions between 90 and 100, gives students a chance to really show off their stuff. Any score above 90 is excellent, but for those who wish to push even further, hidden prizes and a deeper level of understanding await!

In the Challenge Zone, students will encounter some of the most difficult questions in that skill, so taking their time and double-checking answers is encouraged. At the same time, the pulsating glow of their SmartScore motivates them to keep up their momentum and finish strong.

When they reach that 100, they’ll know they really earned it!

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All Comments (59)

jake September 30, 2013 at 8:18 am

I think ixl is a really fun way to learn math and solve equations.


The IXL Blog September 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Thanks, Jake. We’re so glad you’re enjoying IXL!


A random person February 18, 2014 at 1:03 pm

IXL seems boring as it is just a digital workbook… I wish it was fun. Now it seems like the saying “IXL is a fun way to learn math” was a lie. It just seems like a workbook.

IXL language arts, however, is great. I like the topics and the content.


The IXL Blog February 19, 2014 at 9:36 am

Hi there. We’re so glad to hear that you’re enjoying IXL Language Arts! The awards, colorful visuals, and real-world examples do make IXL Math fun for many students as well, and we’re sorry to hear that you don’t feel that way. We will pass your comments along to our development team.


A Reviewer October 17, 2017 at 12:44 pm

I hate saying bad stuff about things but honestly when I tried this I couldn’t solve HALF of the questions please remove challenge zones or make it so you earn more points per question


The IXL Team October 17, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Hi there–Students don’t enter the Challenge Zone until they have passed the beginning stages of a skill. (With math and language arts, you enter the Challenge Zone once you reach a score of 90.) Once there, if you answer a question incorrectly, your score will drop to give you more time with the skill and make sure you really understand the concept. If you find that a skill is too challenging, we recommend trying a related skill or even a lower level skill to help review and build your knowledge. If you’re practicing math, you can always check the recommended skills at the bottom of the skills practice screen to discover related skills that will help!

Eisa October 13, 2013 at 7:32 pm

How many problems must a student solve in order to receive a smart score of 100 on a 6th grade objective? (If they do not miss any along the way…)


The IXL Blog October 16, 2013 at 10:48 am

Hi, Eisa. A student can master a 6th grade skill (meaning they earn a SmartScore of 100) by answering about 28 questions correctly without missing any.


lanaya October 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

i love doing it


Noah Earley December 6, 2013 at 11:12 am

HI IXL, the challenge zone is new to me and i don’t know what its per-pose is. Other then telling me im at mark 90 on my smart score.


The IXL Blog December 9, 2013 at 10:17 am

Hi, Noah. Once you reach a SmartScore of 90 and enter the Challenge Zone, you’re in the final stretch. This means the questions are more difficult, and you should take your time and double-check your answers. Once you clear the last hurdle of the Challenge Zone and reach 100, you can celebrate that you’ve mastered the skill (and maybe get a secret prize or an award)!


Cat January 23, 2015 at 2:55 pm

IXL? you say the same thing over and over again. When will you realize that the students don’t like the extreme point decrease and fix it. I mean I have a friend who when she’s 96 and gets dropped down to 85 from one missed answer and then 85 to 72. Two problems, 92-72, I’m sorry but that is unexplainable. She cries when this happens. Please do us all the favor and stop saying what you said above and start fixing it. Thx. Cat.


The IXL Team January 23, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Hi Cat, we’re sorry that you and your friend feel frustrated using IXL sometimes – we will pass your comments along to our development team.


Cat January 23, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Thank you!

Zap Len October 3, 2015 at 8:57 am

It’s okay, decimals tis he easiest to stay with, if you get what it means.

Noah Earley December 6, 2013 at 11:14 am

(just for ixl) how long does it take for you to answer
the blog questions?


The IXL Blog December 9, 2013 at 9:39 am

Hi, Noah. We get a lot of questions—on the blog and in other places—but we try to answer as soon as we can. If you ever have an urgent question about IXL, your parents can call us at (855) 255-8800 or e-mail us at support@ixl.com.


Noah Earley December 11, 2013 at 11:26 am

ahhh thanks!!!!\


EJ Shulman December 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm

143 goes into 1001 7 times


The IXL Blog December 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

That’s right! Good job!


Alex January 12, 2014 at 12:09 pm

I am in 4th grade.-7 x-7=49


The IXL Blog January 13, 2014 at 10:01 am

Awesome! That’s correct!


Ilhaam January 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I really love IXL,I mean it really helps me! It’s awesome.


The IXL Blog January 24, 2014 at 10:13 am

Thanks, Ilhaam. We’re so glad to hear that IXL is making a difference for you!


deirdre ferry February 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm

ixl teaches my kidoes some great math my dauhters are eager to learn math now because of ixl


The IXL Blog February 11, 2014 at 4:50 am

That’s fantastic, Deirdre. Thanks for using IXL!


L1am335 February 20, 2014 at 7:47 am

I really don’t like the challenge zone. It makes me lose much more than I get, and it adds a lot of time to what I’m doing. (EX: 4×4= 16c Score: 99 (BEFORE) Score: 90 (AFTER). Also, the Challenge Zone only gives you 1-2 points every question you get right, so it takes quite a while to get back your 9 points.


The IXL Blog February 20, 2014 at 10:43 am

Hi there. Any score of 90 or more is excellent, and shows that you have a good sense for the topic. The idea behind The Challenge Zone is that reaching a SmartScore 100 shows complete understanding of a skill. Of course this can be tricky, and we suggest that you speak to your teacher or parents if you are having trouble with a particular topic, or if you think it is taking you too long to get there.


Joanne February 28, 2014 at 11:47 am

I love IXL. I think it encourages my daughter to learn above and beyond what is expected in her classroom. She does get quite frustrated at how much the score drops when missing a problem – as opposed to how little is gained by answering a question correctly (especially near the 100 smart score). I wish that IXL was designed so that once a child reaches a score of 90, they never drop below a score of 90. I think that once they have reached the challenge zone it should keep them in the challenge zone.


The IXL Blog February 28, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Hi, Joanne. We’re so glad to hear that IXL is encouraging your daughter to go the extra mile!

The idea behind SmartScore is that when a student misses a question, they are brought to a level of difficulty where they can better understand the topic. As students practice, it is constantly assessing and responding to how well they doing, which is why a student who reaches 90 but is struggling may be brought to a more foundational level in that skill. Of course, it is up to parents or teachers exactly what level a student should reach before they are done practicing. A score of 90 shows excellent understanding of a skill, and a score of 100 is true mastery.

We are always working to improve IXL, and we appreciate you taking the time to let us know your thoughts. We will pass your comments along to our development team.


Jackie March 11, 2014 at 10:13 am

My 4-year-old has really been enjoying the IXL math questions and has completed most of them (he skipped some of the basic dot-counting questions which were too easy). I’m wondering if there is a way for him to start completely over on the Pre-K level (including the prizes for motivation), as I don’t think he’s quite ready to move on to KG just yet. I would like for him to get more practice with the Pre-K. Is there a way that we can clear everything so that he can start over?


The IXL Blog March 11, 2014 at 10:36 am

That’s fantastic, Jackie! Congratulations to your son on his hard work! Yes, we should be able to reset the data in your account. Someone from IXL technical support will reach out to you via email shortly to help with this.


SEan! July 9, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Thx for making ixl!Im in Summer,but i know this.-850*7434=6318900.


isaac February 5, 2015 at 7:31 am

Hello i would just like to say that i have a few problems. im a student and i was working on algebra 1 and when i wrote out an equation i wrote mx+b=y instead of y=mx+b and it was counted wrong. I just wish the program had a little more versatility>


The IXL Team February 5, 2015 at 11:21 am

Thanks Isaac, we appreciate you sharing your feedback!


I :) ixl July 28, 2015 at 10:18 am

All I have to say is it’s a wonderful experience for me but having hard time with the challenge zone but I hope we have ixl in the further ten times better It really helps me excel ! Keep up the good work:)


Zofia September 29, 2015 at 6:26 pm

I enjoy playing IXL for my schoolwork, but i just dont understand why on the challenge zone it deducts more points then needed to. otherwise i LOVE it!


The IXL Team September 30, 2015 at 10:09 am

Hi Zofia, we’re glad to hear that you enjoy IXL! In the challenge zone, you have to answer harder questions consistently and correctly to earn that score of 100 and prove you know your stuff! When the SmartScore decreases, it’s meant to give you more time to practice so you can reach mastery.


Spencer December 9, 2015 at 6:26 am

To me Ixl is boring, and the point drop is an awful issues. I reccomend changing your format to actual, fun games, like baseball or something kids actually like. Sorry, but irs true


The IXL Team December 9, 2015 at 10:07 am

Hi Spencer, thanks for your feedback! We’ll let our team know about your suggestion.


Spencer December 9, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Thank you,and the prizes are good, but use them on ela


The IXL Team December 10, 2015 at 11:46 am

Hi Spencer, thanks for letting us know! Our team is working to bring gameboards to ELA as well.


Toby Dinoop March 18, 2016 at 6:54 pm

It’s awesome but I wish there were awards on english but…its cool seriously.
IXL is really helping me out because I used to be bad at mat but now I’m excellent at it.Thanks alot IXL.


The IXL Team March 21, 2016 at 11:14 am

Hi Toby, thanks for your feedback and we’re so glad to hear that IXL has helped you in math! Our team is working on creating gameboards for English, so stay tuned!


Kevin Wong September 13, 2016 at 4:25 pm

My whole school uses IXL and they love it. But when im working on a hard skill and get one wrong in the challenge zone I lose 9 points sometimes. When that happens i rage or cry. Once my sister lost 11 points.


The IXL Team September 14, 2016 at 10:45 am

Hi Kevin, thanks for your feedback and glad to hear your school enjoys using IXL! We know the Challenge Zone can be difficult to complete – in order to master a skill you have to consistently answer a certain number of questions correctly, including some of the most difficult questions. When the score drops, you’ll see easier questions so you can solidify your knowledge of the material and then work back up to mastery.


Kevin Wong September 14, 2016 at 3:45 pm

thanks for your feedback


kay jackson September 28, 2016 at 5:07 pm

why cant the students restart a ixl strand,what if they feel disappointed themselves and don’t feel their teacher should see that,why cant they restart one


The IXL Team September 29, 2016 at 10:17 am

Hi Kay,
IXL’s SmartScore is designed to reflect a student’s current understanding of each skill, so as you improve, your score will go up. Even if you leave the skill and come back, you’ll start from the same score you reached previously, so it’s always possible to make progress and increase your score!


Kevin November 21, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Hi, sometimes when i answer my first question i get to 20 or 12, then i go by 2 in the challenge zone. Why?


The IXL Team November 22, 2016 at 10:42 am

Hi Kevin–Great question! The SmartScore is dynamic and changes to reflect your current level of understanding. When you begin a skill, you’ll rapidly earn points and lose very few, since we don’t penalize you while you’re first starting to learn the concept. Once you start to get the hang of a skill, you’ll be given more challenging problems and may earn or lose more than one point at a time. When you finally reach the Challenge Zone, you must consistently answer a certain number of questions correctly in order to show that you’ve mastered a skill. If you answer questions incorrectly, the score will decrease and you’ll see easier problems to give you more time to practice. Then, once you reach 100, you can be confident you’ve truly mastered the material.


Kevin December 13, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Whenever i try to sign in i cant. Why?


The IXL Team December 14, 2016 at 10:18 am

Hi Kevin–We certainly want to get you signed in as soon as possible! Contact us any time at help@ixl.com and we’d be happy to help you out.


Khald Mohamed March 27, 2017 at 2:02 pm

How many problems does it take to get to 90?


The IXL Team March 28, 2017 at 10:26 am

Hi Khald,
Because IXL’s questions constantly adapt to a student’s skill level, there is no set number of questions required to reach a 90 SmartScore–instead, it will depend on things like where you are in the skill, what skill it is, how consistent your correct answers are, and other factors. The idea is that though students may take different paths, it’s possible for everyone to accomplish concept mastery!


Kevin#2 July 6, 2017 at 2:54 pm

idea: maybe you can create something like playing with each other and competing in teams?


The IXL Team July 7, 2017 at 10:46 am

Hi Kevin–Thanks for writing in! We’ll pass your idea along to our development team.


Brooke October 5, 2017 at 4:22 pm

The most frustrating thing about IXL is the 7 point drop when you miss ONE question! This makes absolutely no sense at all. My 4th grader is a strong student and very good at math, but has spent too many nights in tears over this huge drop in points. If you get one point for each question then you should lose only one when you miss. Please, please change this function in IXL. Surely I am not the only parent who has experienced this frustration!!


The IXL Team October 9, 2017 at 10:19 am

Hi Brooke–Thanks for taking the time to write to us. Students rapidly earn points and lose very few in the beginning of a skill. However, as they start to get the hang of the concept they are given more challenging problems and may earn or lose more than one point at a time–especially in the Challenge Zone. This is to make sure that they truly understand the skill and give them more time to work if they do not. We do emphasize that while a score of 100 is mastery, a score of 80 is very good and 90 is excellent, so updating your child’s goals to those milestones rather than a score of 100 may be helpful. Students can also take breaks and come back at any time and their work will always be saved!


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