What is IXL and How Does it Work?

(Image credit: IXL)

The IXL platform is a personalized digital learning space that covers K-12 curriculum and is used by more than 14 million students. With over 9,000 skills in math, English language arts, science, social studies, and Spanish, it is a very comprehensive service. 

By using a curriculum base, actionable analytics, real-time diagnostics, and individualized guidance, educators are given the tools to help students target specific learning goals. Thus, it can be used to support personalized learning plans.

The 'immersive learning experience,' as it's described, has so far answered more than 115 billion questions worldwide. You can even view a counter of this number on the IXL website, which is going up at nearly 1,000 questions per second.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about IXL.

What is IXL?

IXL, at its most basic, is a targeted learning tool. It offers experiences for students, tailored to their age group by specific subject and topic. By offering analytics and recommendations, it is able to help support teaching and learning with a very focused outcome.


(Image credit: IXL)

IXL is web-based but also has apps for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Chrome. Whatever way you get to it, there are nearly all the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) covered for K-12, plus some Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for grades 2 to 8. 

While there are plenty of high school subject-specific lessons, in game form, you also have access to games that focus on the fundamentals too. 

Both math and language arts cover pre-K right up to grade 12. The math side offers equations, graphing, and fraction comparisons, while the language work focuses on grammar and vocabulary skills.

Science and social studies each cover grades 2 to 8 topics, while Spanish offers Level 1 learning.

How does IXL work?

IXL works by offering skills that students practice, one at a time, earning them points and ribbons when they get questions correct. Once 100 points are collected for a certain skill, they are awarded a stamp in their virtual book. Once multiple skills are mastered, they can earn virtual prizes. The SmartScore goal, as it's known, helps keep students focused and working toward a target.

The SmartScore adapts based on difficulty, so it's not discouraging to get something wrong but rather adaptive to help each student progress to the next level of difficulty suited to them.


(Image credit: IXL)

Lots of drill-and-practice options are available to allow for independent work, making this a great option for remote learning and homework-based schooling. Since IXL offers plenty of feedback, it's possible to help students improve very rapidly with specific, targeted training. 

Teachers can recommend or assign specific skills to students. They're given a code that they can enter, then they're taken to those skills. Before starting, students can select "learn with an example" to see how the skill works, showing them how to solve a problem. They can then begin practicing at their own pace. The SmartScore is always viewable to the right, going up and down as correct and wrong answers are entered. 

What are the best IXL features?

IXL is smart, so it can learn what a student needs to work on and offer new experiences to suit their needs. The built-in real-time diagnostic evaluates learners on a deep level to work out their exact proficiency level in any subject. This then creates a personalized action plan that can be used to guide each student so they're working on the best possible growth path.

If stuck during a skill, it's possible to scroll to the bottom where other skills are listed, which can help to build up knowledge and understanding so the student can better take on the skill at hand. 

Recommendations work as a way to pick up skills that may help fill in blank areas in which students could benefit from expanding their knowledge and skills. This is a great way to work using the app, anywhere and anytime, to help students learn independently while still being focused on curriculum-specific goals.

The analytics from all this student-specific data can be used by teachers, clearly laid out, to help them see where students need to focus. This shows both parents and teachers where the student is having trouble and how prepared they are to meet learning standards. For teachers, there are both class and individual reports that include item analysis, usage, and trouble spots.

How much does IXL cost?

Pricing for IXL is widely varied depending on what is being sought. The below are prices per family, however, children, schools, and districts can apply for a specific quote that may represent savings.

A single subject membership is charged at $9.95 per month, or $79 annually. 

Go for the combo package, with math and language arts, and you'll be paying $15.95 per month, or $129 yearly.

Core subjects all included, with math language arts, science, and social studies, cost $19.95 per month, or $159 annually.

Pick a classroom specific package and it'll cost from $299 per year, going up depending on how many subjects you use.

IXL best tips and tricks

Skip a level
The "jump a level" skill can be used to see tougher questions, ideal to help test a student at a higher level, or access these for class wide use as a group.

Use Classroom
Since the system integrates with Google Classroom, this can be a great way to share specific skill-based improvement areas.

Suggest a skill
Teachers can share a specific skill, which might not automatically be assigned, in order to direct as student in an area they feel may be beneficial.

Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and much more.