IXL SmartScore: The key to mastery-based learning

IXL is designed to guide students toward authentic skill mastery. And a big part of that is the IXL SmartScore! 

When students work on skills in IXL’s curriculum, the IXL SmartScore accurately measures their current understanding of each topic, and ensures that they are challenged at just the right level. While working toward their SmartScore goal, students learn from their mistakes, and have unlimited opportunities to grow!

And research shows that this approach works. When students consistently reach proficiency (SmartScore of 80) and mastery (SmartScore of 100) on IXL skills, schools see as much as a 16-point bump on state assessments.

Want to see how the SmartScore supports mastery-based learning? Let’s dive in:


Challenging students at just the right level

As students work through skills, the question difficulty adapts based on their level of understanding to meet students exactly where they are and help them grow! 

When a student answers a question correctly and their SmartScore increases, the following questions will become more difficult to help them steadily build upon their knowledge. When a student answers a question incorrectly, they’ll receive a step-by-step walkthrough of how to solve the problem they missed. Their SmartScore also decreases, and the following questions will become easier. This gives students the time and support they need to address any learning gaps and work their way up to a solid understanding of the topic. 


Unlimited opportunities to grow

In traditional scoring systems, each missed question becomes a permanent deduction from a student’s percentage score. The IXL SmartScore is completely different—it gives every student the chance to achieve proficiency and mastery. 

Even when a student misses a question and their SmartScore decreases, they can always continue answering questions and increase their SmartScore. Students are empowered to try new things and learn from their mistakes in an environment that will give them endless opportunities to improve and reach their SmartScore goal.


Achieving mastery

When a student has earned a SmartScore of 100 on an IXL skill, it means that they have mastered the topic. This is designed to be challenging, and represents a truly impressive accomplishment! 

Because reaching mastery is challenging, it’s not always the right goal for every skill or every student. If a student is ready for the task, here’s what they can expect along the way.

When students reach a SmartScore of 90 in a skill, they enter the Challenge Zone, which is a chance to show whether they’ve mastered the topic. Questions within the Challenge Zone will be especially rigorous, and students must prove that they can consistently answer them correctly in order to achieve mastery. Throughout the Challenge Zone, SmartScore increases for correct answers will be smaller, and drops after incorrect answers will be larger. This gives students more time to explore the topic before they reach mastery.

Strategies for SmartScore success

Check out the SmartScore guides for both teachers and parents, full of strategies to help students toward success. And don’t miss the powerful insights in IXL Analytics, which use the IXL SmartScore to show exactly what students understand, and where you can help them improve.

Here are a few SmartScore tips:


  • Set good goals. Keep in mind that a SmartScore of 80 indicates proficiency in the topic, while 90 represents excellence. Either of these may be a perfect stopping point, especially when students are learning a new topic! A SmartScore of 100 represents complete mastery of the concept, and can be used as an extra credit opportunity, or a reason to celebrate. 
  • Show that mistakes are part of learning. It’s important for students to develop a growth mindset, and the IXL SmartScore can help. Encourage students to read the answer explanations and think through their misunderstanding before tackling the next question!
  • Take breaks when needed. Students’ progress in IXL is automatically saved, so they can always take a brain break and come back later. Plus, if they want more background on a given topic, the in-skill recommendations at the bottom of the screen are there to help! 


Teacher-approved SmartScore tips