How IXL helps kids bounce back from mistakes

As much as we all love to be right in life, mistakes are an important part of the learning process. Errors will eventually happen, and it’s important to help students learn from their mistakes so that they can become stronger and more confident learners. Read about some of IXL’s features that help kids slow down, reflect, and try again after an error.

Adaptive questions

IXL questions are adaptive, meaning they adjust based on the current level of a student’s understanding of the skill. They meet learners where they are to build confidence, fluency, and understanding. When a student answers a question incorrectly, their next question will adjust to be at a difficulty level the student was able to answer accurately in the past, instead of giving them a problem with a similar level of difficulty to the missed question.

This helps students build momentum again after making a mistake, instead of frustrating them with harder questions that they may not be ready for. Soon enough, students will find themselves solving more difficult problems. And they’ll see that making a mistake is simply a chance for them to try again!

Timely support

After every incorrect answer submitted, IXL will provide a student with the correct answer and a guided walkthrough for the solution. It’s important to help students learn how to correct their mistakes as soon as possible because the longer a pupil uses an incorrect strategy, the more difficult it will be to unlearn that solving pattern. Additionally, when students identify their mistakes and learn to fix them on their own, it empowers them to create positive outcomes based on their effort and persistence.

IXL SmartScore

While a student is practicing skills on IXL, their understanding is tracked by the SmartScore. The SmartScore measures answer accuracy, consistency, and question difficulty to produce a precise assessment of a student’s current understanding of a skill.

The SmartScore is also forgiving of errors, and rewards careful problem solving. When a student answers a question incorrectly, their SmartScore will decrease slightly, but their score will jump back up after a correct answer, typically higher than it was before the mistake. Students can always reach a SmartScore of 100 on a skill, even if they make mistakes, which encourages them to stay motivated and persevere.

Furthermore, students start winning ribbons when they reach a SmartScore of 70, including a gold medal at a SmartScore of 100! These honors remind learners of the good things that follow a bit of persistence.

Live Classroom

As students are working on skills in IXL, a teacher can view their progress using Live Classroom. If a learner answers 3 of their last 5 questions incorrectly, their tile on the Student Activity Wall turns red with a warning sign. These status updates prompt teachers to then send a message to that student in real-time to help them, before they develop an incorrect solving pattern. After they get back on track, a teacher can then send a positive note recognizing their perseverance!

Live Classroom


The best part about mistakes is that they’re only temporary, but successes can be remembered and celebrated! Students can find plenty of motivation from IXL’s awards. Each grade level has its own fun awards theme for math and English language arts. Students win awards based on various achievements, including answering a certain number of questions correct in a row, mastering skills, and spending time on IXL. They are also recognized with certificates when they reach major milestones for practice and performance.

More ways to learn from mistakes

In addition to the features IXL has to help learners recover after an error, here are some ways that teachers and family members can help students bounce back from mistakes on IXL:

  • Tell your learners how the SmartScore works before they start practicing so they know what to expect.
  • Focus on other successes besides their SmartScore, such as how often they practice, their willingness to ask for help, and for putting in extra effort on a difficult task.
  • Help them set their own goals, so they have something positive to work towards.
  • Allow them to take a break. Fatigue and frustration are normal, and can hinder our best efforts. Assist your learner in creating a healthy work/break cycle
  • Normalize making mistakes. If children see others around them making mistakes and easily moving on, it will help them feel more comfortable with their own mistakes. 
  • Create a catchphrase. Teach students phrases to help them cope with a mess-up, such as “I can try again” or “That’s okay!”

Whether you are a teacher or parent, it can be hard to see children struggle and make errors. However, allowing them to work through a problem and seeing those smiles after they bounce back from a mistake is worth the temporary discomfort!