cheetah running fast

Change Rocket Math Online Game speed–You can do it, but should you?


The rapid speed required to answer our Online Game is a feature, not a bug.

You can change how fast the student has to answer, but you probably should not.  The main goal of Rocket Math is for students to commit facts to memory, to be able to answer them instantly, from recall. That is called “automaticity.”  It is the point of Rocket Math.

Recall is instantaneous, but “figuring out” is not.

The fast pace (3 seconds to input an answer) means students don’t have time to count on their fingers or to “figure out” a fact–they just have to remember it.  If they don’t remember, then the game gives them a LOT of practice on only a couple of facts, until they do remember them. That is exactly the point of the game. The game gives more practice through having students start parts over when they are not able to answer quickly.

We want them to stop having to “figure out” facts and just remember the answer.   If the students are not used to “recalling” facts they will think that the game is just “too fast” for them.  If they keep playing and learning, after a bunch of repetitions, they will be able to remember the fact.   These days students are NOT asked to memorize anywhere else. Today’s students are unaccustomed to having to repeat things over and over to commit them to memory.  Almost everyone can do it, but it takes more practice than many students are used to doing. Consider the Toughness Certificate [located in the Online Game’s main navigation bar] for those who can overcome their frustration at having to start over.

The danger in slowing the game down for most students.  If you let students play at the slower speeds they may never use “recall” and instead may figure out the facts over and over.  Until I realized the difference, I allowed my students to take their time to figure out facts.  Many of my students never committed facts to memory all year long!  If, as we do in Rocket Math, you only ask them to remember two facts and their reverses at a time, everyone can remember two facts.  It takes just a few minutes to realize that they can, in fact, remember that answer instantaneously.  Once they use recall, they remember the answer in less than a second, and then three seconds to input it, is quite doable.  If you slow down the game speed, they may NEVER realize they can remember the fact, instead of figuring it out each time.

Only if their difficulty score is over 3.0 do they need an adjustment made.  Their difficulty score, shown on the Review Progress screen [Top of Main Navigation bar] tells you whether or not the game is too fast for them.

  • We expect students have to start over at least once per phase, which gives them a difficulty score of 1.0.  Even having to start over, on average, twice per phase is not too much–giving a difficulty score of 2.0.
  • [If you sort your class based on their difficulty scores you can see a display like the one in this picture.]
  • Any difficulty score under 3.0 means the student has to start over on average fewer than 3 times for each part passed.  That is not too difficult.  Students may not be accustomed to repeating anything, but it is not a real burden. On the other hand, you may find some students have difficulty scores under 1.0 and Rocket Math is very easy for them.
  • Only students with difficulty scores over 3.0 should be considered for a speed change–and then only if you know they require some kind of accommodation.  On the other hand, students with difficulty scores under 0.1 should be challenged to take on the Faster speed!


Here’s where you can make the change.  Go to the green “Individual Action” button at the right end of each student’s row. Click on “Change Game Speed.”  The popup gives you the choices of  Fast, Normal, Slow and Slowest.

The options for speed are:

  • Normal, at 3 seconds to answer (double that for two digit answers)
  • Slow, at 4.5 seconds to answer per digit
  • Slowest, at 6 seconds to answer per digit
  • Fast, at 2.25 seconds to answer per digit

Here you can see different students showing different speeds of play.

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