How Can We Help?

(B) Too hard or too fast? Check difficulty score.

You are here:
< All Topics

Facts committed to memory can be answered instantly and easily.

The main goal of Rocket Math is for students to commit facts to memory, so they can answer them instantly, from recall.

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

We give students only 3 seconds to answer each fact.  That means they don’t have time 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 a very small number of facts, until they do remember them. That is exactly the point of the game.  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” or “too hard” for them.  If they keep playing and learning, more and more facts are committed to memory and can be answered instantaneously.  Almost everyone can do it–if they keep practicing.

Committing facts to memory requires more practice than you expect.  

Facts that are not yet known will probably not be learned the first time through. On any fact that is “hard,” (where the student is slower than 3 seconds or makes an error), the student will get a correction and a little extra practice to learn the fact.  If this happens three times in a part, the student will need to do the part over again until they can get through the part without needing three corrections. hey will get this keep trying screen and get this keep trying pep talk.

Mission Control here.  You have embarked on a difficult mission. You have just defeated three hard problems. Not everyone can do these missions, but we think, you might be able to.  We are hoping you are tough enough to keep trying.  If you are, good luck.  We’ve got your back. 

Some children under 8 can’t type in answers quickly enough.

Older children can use two hands on a keyboard to go really fast.   However, children under 8 may not be able to type in answers quickly enough for the normal speed of 3 seconds.  At the younger ages, students should have touch screen devices on which to answer.  That will make a huge difference.  If they do not, and they must find the number on the keyboard and then find the enter button with the same hand–they won’t be fast enough.  They will need to have a “slow” speed or they may become upset or begin crying.  That is a definite clue that you need to change the speed for them

How hard is it? Check the difficulty score for each student.

Some students are going to complain.  Students are not used to memorizing, which invariably involves repeating things over and over.  They aren’t used to that.  You can see if it is too difficult.

Each student’s difficulty score is calculated by dividing the number of times they get the “keep trying” screen by the number of parts the student has passed.   All students should expect to “Start Over” often, but some are upset by even starting over once.  Some are shocked the first time they cannot answer a problem in the 3 seconds allotted.  They don’t realize that persisting in playing will help them learn the fact fast enough to answer in 3 seconds.    Their difficulty score, from the Review Progress screen tells you whether or not the game is too fast for them.

A normal expectation is that each student will have to keep trying at least once per part they pass.  That gives a difficulty score of 1.0–which is average. Definitely it is not too hard for a student with a difficulty score of 1.0.  Anything less than a 1.0 difficulty score is very easy.  A difficulty score of 2.o or 3.0 means the student needs to keep trying two or three times for each part.  That requires some effort and perseverance but is not too hard.  Children over 8 who can type normally, do not need to be changed if the difficulty score is 3.0 or less.


Only students with difficulty scores over 3.0 need an adjustment made.

You can sort your class based on their difficulty scores–as the teacher did in this picture.  A 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.  (Again, kids under 8 who are crying or having difficulty managing a keyboard are an exception.)

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 you consider to have their speed changed–and then only if you know they require accommodations.  On the other hand, students with difficulty scores under 0.1 should be challenged to take on the Faster speed!

The danger in slowing the app down  — they may never memorize the facts.

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.

Students who pass on SLOW should re-do the Learning Track at Normal speed

If you set students to the slower speed they will be able to answer facts that they really have to struggle to remember.  They should have more practice, but if you have allowed the slow speed, they won’t get that extra practice to bring the fact to memorization.  You should have them re-do the Learning Track at the normal speed so they get the opportunity to bring all the facts to instant recall–instead of struggling to remember them.  You may need to use the Toughness Certificate to motivate them to do the Learning Track over again.

Changing the Tutor Speed

Go to Individual Action.  Choose “Change Tutor Speed.”

Choose among the four options for speed:

  • Normal, at 3 seconds to answer first digit, additional second for each additional digit.
  • Slow, at 4.5 seconds to answer first digit, additional second for each additional digit.
  • Slowest, at 6 seconds to answer first digit, additional second for each additional digit.
  • Fast, at 2.25 seconds to answer first digit, additional second for each additional digit.


Here’s what the game speed change looks like.



Table of Contents
Rocket Math