Wow, it’s a good thing our family likes math because we have reviewed a lot of math programs this year! Among all these, MathScore stands out because it’s a drill program that’s all about math, instead of being mathematical entertainment. Entertainment is fine in its place, but a good, solid math drill program that goes from 1+1=2 right up to quadratic equations is worth its weight in gold. Rather than flashy fun, MathScore has a simple military rank reward system that provides exactly the right amount of motivation. This program is a very good fit for our family.
MathScore is an online math practice program, an effective, no-frills way to help your children achieve mastery in any of 222 topics from grade 1 through Algebra 1. Parental reporting is superb, with detailed daily emails and a well-organized student history available on the parental account. This is an excellent supplement to any math curriculum, and has been shown to increase students’ test scores significantly.
MathScore begins by training the children to use the keypad quickly and accurately. This is foundational for the timed arithmetic drills that follow. (If necessary, a parent can add padding to the time. For example, I have given Miss 7 an extra 1.5 seconds to do each problem.) Once children know the keypad, they are expected to work on fast addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, depending on grade level. Of course, older students can skip these levels if they wish.
Other topics can be chosen from a huge list. Topics are offered by grade level, but a student can choose to access those listed for different grade levels as well. In this way it is possible to use MathScore to practice topics introduced in the children’s regular math curriculum.
For each topic, the children are offered a mini lesson and sample problems to study, although they can ignore these if they wish. Each time the children finish a worksheet they are given their results and points as well as detailed answers to problems they got wrong. If they did well, they will get a more difficult worksheet or even have the option to skip several worksheets. If they did not do well, another worksheet is generated at their level. When they reach a certain level in their topic, fireworks celebrate the accomplishment.
The children do all this work on a minimalist screen. Although some complain the screen is not visually appealing, others find that its simplicity enhances concentration.
The biggest incentive in MathScore is success. Each online worksheet is a race against the clock and there’s huge joy when a child can manage the next level of a topic in a given amount of time. (As I said before, there’s a time padding option for children who just cannot succeed in the given time.) As children move through the topics, they can also see their list of completed topics as well as the number of points earned.
Each topic is worth a certain number of points. A child’s rank goes up with the points he or she earns, from Trainee through various ranks of Cadets and Petty Officers to Ensign, Lieutenant and beyond. Awards are given upon completion of a series of topics.
Reporting to Parents
Of all online and computer math programs I’ve seen, this one has the best, simplest, and most thorough parent reporting system. Everyday I get an email telling me in compact detail what the children did the day before and I can log onto the site to get much more information, right back to when we signed up: what they worked on, how well they did, how many sheets they completed, how much time they spent, whether they are on track or really need improvement, and more. Because my computer is slow I appreciate how quickly this information downloads. I don’t have to wait at all! Note that it is possible to change how often you get an email. I like knowing every day so that I can catch a slacker immediately.
How We Use It
I assign Miss 7 and Miss 9 10-20 minutes a day on MathScore, depending on what else they’re doing for math that day. Miss 12 has been asked to do 30 minutes a week. Mr. 14 will be whizzing through some of the high school topics as a review and to improve his speed, and I’ve just assigned him a 30 minutes a week as well.
Miss 7 (grade 2) has 31 topics, including addition, odd and even, and telling time. She has 500 points and has reached Trainee status.
Miss 9 (grade 4) has 57 topics, including parentheses, factoring, fractions, and graphs. She has 7800 points, is a Petty Officer, and has a Math Facts Wizard award.
Miss 12 (grade 7) has 92 topics, including fractions, exponents, interest, absolute value, and algebraic terms. She has over 16,000 points and currently has the rank of Lieutenant , but she has no awards since she was able to skip much of the work required for the awards.
Master 14 (high school) has 69 topics, including exponents, radical expressions, probability, and more. He has about 300 points and is considered a Trainee.
MathScore is satisfying work. I didn’t realize just how satisfying until I saw Miss 9 sit back after a difficult achievement, gazing at her modest fireworks with a deep, quiet sense of accomplishment. Slowly she’s building up her math ability as well as her rank She’s been very worried about doing division, but now she’s joyfully surprised that she can even do that!
So far Miss 12 and Mr. 14 find MathScore easy. Although they are both superb problem-solvers, a small investment of time weekly will give them the subtle advantage of confidence and speed. This is helpful in their everyday math studies, and will also help them when they participate in their annual math competitions later this year.
Miss 7, a hands-on girl who often still adds using her fingers and toes, seems to be close to the limit of what she can accomplish with MathScore. I don’t want to push her because she just does not seem ready for serious arithmetic yet—but she can work out any reasonable math problem applied to real life.
Our Bottom Line
Although there are dozens of online and computer math programs, many of them are so much fun that the children spend much of their time playing games. MathScore is not like that. It focuses on math and speed, and is very effective.
There’s nothing quite like seeing your little girl work hard and then realize that she has accomplished something big. I think the MathScore developers are on to something. Real accomplishments are rewarding in themselves. Gimmicks may be fun and exciting, but there’s something special about the way Miss 9 sat there reflecting on her success. Seeing that made me fall in love with the program.
To see other homeschool parents’ opinions, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog. You can also preview the program, or sign up for a free half month trial. Dial-up families, please note that MathScore may be difficult for your family to use. Try the free half month trial to see if it would work for you.
There are a number of options for your MathScore subscription, with the cost per child decreasing dramatically after the first child. It is also possible to pay lump sums, which will give you bonus credit.
Disclosure Policy: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received six months of MathScore access for four children for free, in order to be able to write this review.