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Monday, February 1, 2010 Review

Over the past two months, TOS Crew was ask to take a look at, an online Math site that can function for homeschoolers as a complete curriculum for Grade 2-Algebra 1 or just provide supplemental review and drills to enhance any other curriculum (which makes it a valuable resource to traditionally schooled students too). was developed by MIT graduates, and it shows. This is one online math resource that has dotted its "i"s, crossed its "t"s, and just generally thought of almost everything you could want. allows your student to gain practice on almost any math topic imaginable (and some keyboarding skills to boot). The drills are short, and students gain points by progressing through levels. All drills are timed, so that the goals are not only accuracy, but also speed. As students gain points, they progress in "rank" (similar to military rank), and receive celebratory fireworks on the screen when that occurs.

The pros: This site is one of the few I've seen that allow students to chose what areas they want to work on without needing to do other sections first. That's a benefit to homeschooling families since we all use different curriculums with different scopes and sequences, and the topics our students need to drill might not require the same prerequisites that traditional math sites assume. And parents have an amazing amount of feedback available to them-what was covered, what level of mastery they have shown, how that level compares to others at that grade-just to name a few. It's very comprehensive! Parents can also change the grade level the students work at and can adjust the timer length if running out of time is a problem. When students miss a problem, they are given instruction on how to correctly solve the problem, which is nice too. And it is one of the few sites that requires NO commitment-pay for a month at a time if you want.

The cons: The site is clearly designed by someone with an engineer's brain. The site itself is very sparse in appearance, and NOT intuitively obvious-especially for students to navigate on their own. And while it was the developers' intention to develop a site that offered real math drills without the fluff, yet still have enough "flash" to hold the students' interests, it comes off as pretty dry. My eldest son ironically enjoys it, maybe because he has sensory processing issues, and this site cuts the visual clutter and just focuses on the task at hand, but my other children don't find the site engaging enough and find it frustrating to navigate.

The bottom line: I like that the drills are short enough to be effective but not overwhelming. And I like the amount of parental feedback available. The price is low enough (much lower than a private tutor) that it is very reasonable to think a parent would be able to supplement their student's math curriculum with this if they need extra help.


But, it's just kind of boring to look at. I wouldn't expect that your child will BEG to do this-it's just not that enticing. However, it is a proven method of improving test scores, and kids don't always get what they want, so my best advice is check out the free trial to judge for yourself. is normally $14.95 a month, but has a discounted rate of $9.95 for the first two months right now. And the price decreases by half for the second student, and even more for subsequent students. To check out the site, including an explanatory video, or to sign up for your FREE trial, go HERE. To read what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

As a member of the TOS Crew, I received the same 2 week trial that is available to everyone to check out We were also offered a free 6 month test period, which I asked for and was granted. That free 6 month access to the site was for the purpose of being able to offer a first hand review, and is the only compensation I received for my review.
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