re-tries in math


Why do we grade? It can be a complicated answer, but it boils down to the fact that checking work and grading can help us weed out mistakes and find strengths. Making it more complicated? We often don’t know how or when or what to do about allowing our students to have re-tries in math.

I LOVE the concept of re-tries in math, but it’s important to decide how you want to use them as  you homeschool. Let’s dive deep on what all we can learn from re-tries by looking at: 

re-tries in math

Re-tries in Math: What is a re-try and why should you allow them?

A re-try is a pretty simple concept. It’s when a student gets a math problem incorrect on the first try, and is allowed one or more additional attempts to get it correct before the teacher intervenes. In a scenario where the family is using either the solutions manual or Online Grading, the parent gets to choose how many re-tries the student gets to attempt before counting it wrong and/or getting involved to correct and re-teach.

Re-tries in Math: Methods of Rewarding Points 

Some parents choose to reward points based on how many of us learned when we were students: You get one shot and if the answer on the submitted work isn’t right, the problem is worth zero points toward the grade. Others may choose to reward half a point for retries. And still others may reward full points if the correct answer is submitted at any point in the process. 

All three of these methods are used with success in growing solid math students. 

The first method prioritizes precision, even perfection in math. The second still values precision but offers a bit of wiggle room for a student to be able to try a second time. The third example may be indicative of a classroom in which the process of learning the concept is prioritized over perfection. 

re-tries in math

Re-tries in Math: How to Determine Grading Priorities in your Homeschool

“How do I grade re-tries in math, Nicole???”

This is a great question and one I get a lot.  A parent wants to know if their student has done well or not because, though they eventually got answers correct, it may have taken two or three times to do so. 

I think it depends on what’s a priority to you. Do you only want to give them credit for a grade if they get it correct on the first try? Then they would get zero points for each incorrect problem. If the priority in your homeschool is that the child gets the problem right no matter how many tries it takes, then the score would be 100% regardless of how many re-tries you grant them. (Remember, in my online grading system you have the ability to determine how many retries they get.). 

And, as mentioned above, you could also award half points, ⅓ points, or some other option for retries. 

The point I am making is that it really is up to you. When you homeschool, you get to decide what works best in your home school versus us telling you what the grade is. Online grading just provides you with the data to do it.

Re-tries in Math: Helpful Tips for Using Online Grading Re-tries. 

First, prioritize what you want in your homeschool. If there is a reason you think your child needs to be able to get the answer correct on the first try, then go with that. And there are reasons for that–standardized tests don’t come with re-tries, and there are other times in life when the ability to perform on the first chance really do matter!

But maybe you want to ease the stress on a child who needs that. Re-tries are great for giving them space to explore processes without being concerned about how it will affect their grade.

Or maybe you want to use the number of re-tries to determine when you should step in and help with a concept. If you notice your student is needing multiple re-tries on certain concepts, that may signal that something isn’t clicking. And regardless of the grade you decide to give, you may take it as a cue to help out.

Second, communicate what you prioritize to your children. This can help them understand what you are looking for and help them know your expectations. They may then be able to let you know if they are needing additional help or explanation before you’re left with a lesson you don’t know how to grade.

Third, play around with the number of re-tries you want your student to have. Too many re-tries may be just as frustrating for some kids as too few. That function of Online Grading can be changed at any time, so remember you aren’t married to any one method when it comes to re-tries. You may even choose to do different things with different kids, depending on what they need!

re-tries in math

Re-tries in Math: Conclusion

 Sometimes it can be hard to put aside our own feelings about grading. They were often formed in our own heads by our experiences when we were very young. But homeschooling is a great opportunity to define what you want for your own kids and determine how best to get there. 

In this blog post, we’ve talked about the benefits of re-tries in math and how to determine grading priorities in your homeschool. I hope that you can use these tips as a starting point for figuring out what works best for your family—you know how strongly I believe that learning should be fun! 

If you haven’t tried Online Grading yet, I hope you’ll try it out! The instant feed back and ability to customize can really help your student learn math without stressing over it. If you’re already using it–what’s your favorite feature and how has your approach changed as you’ve used it? Let me know in the comments below!

Talk to you soon,

Nicole the Math Lady


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  1. I have just been wrestling with this question! My solution (for right now-& it may change) is to give my son more opportunities for retries on his daily work but less on his tests. Right now, I have the online grading set for 5 retries on his problem sets and only 2 on the tests. Thanks for addressing this question! I think you’re advice is great!

    1. I think that’s great. While each person is able to chose how they’d like to do it, I like the idea of using less for tests. It’s adds a little …okay now this is serious…feel to the doing of the problems.

  2. I almost didn’t do the online grading feature, as I like to go over my kids’ daily work myself. But I did the free 7-day trial and found that I love the online grading! I love that it gives my child immediate feedback when they get the problem incorrect, and gives them the chance to figure out for themselves what they did wrong before I get involved. I think this is a great way for them to learn from their mistakes and solidify the concepts in their minds.

    1. Happy you tried it and it worked for you. I have had the same experience using online grading with my own son. There’s something that makes them want to go back and get it right on their own. I love that it develops that drive to want to “win!”

  3. Initially I had a hard time with the concept of retries, especially on tests. Mainly because of how we are trained in school, you get something wrong, then it is marked wrong. You might gets some points for getting some of it correct. But what is the whole purpose of taking a test to begin with? Isn’t it to see what you have mastered and what areas you still need more help with? I started out by grading the homework after it was completed and going over it the next day. This was not very effective because she did not want to take the time to go over the mistakes. I then started grading in real time. As she did a problem I would let her know immediately if it was correct or not and addressed what was wrong right away. This was helpful to both of us except it took a lot of time. Nicole’s online grading solved those problems and now my daughter can address the mistake immediately while it is fresh in her mind and see what steps she did wrong. It is important to know if something was just written down wrong or added when it should have been subtracted as opposed to not understanding how to solve the problem. It has taught her to be more careful with her solutions. I also let her use the answer book when she can’t figure it out so her brain will remember the correct method to solve that problem for next time. The whole goal is to learn the correct way to solve the problem, not to punish for not understanding. The reports show me how many retries she needed and on which problems. This lets me know the lesson concept that she may need to revisit. It has been extremely successful for us and I suggest giving the retries a trial run. I may not continue that in Junior or Senior years but for now my focus is on learning from the mistakes.

  4. I really like the idea of retries. I grade my granddaughter’s work. She is severely dyslexic with a lot of anxiety. I’ve always liked Saxon Math. This year we are doing 8/7. I like the idea of taking our time and really letting the learning sink in! Thank goodness for the Solutions Manual! She always has to show her work on a problem so if there is an error, we can track it down. I let her test grades stand but I pay attention and make note of what she may need more practice with. Sometimes I have to practice it a lot so that I’m confident. I’m thankful for your videos. I work the problems right alongside her. Sometimes she has to explain it to me! I’m excited to keep going. You are a fun engaging teacher!

    1. So great to hear how the program is working well for you and your granddaughter! And, yes, writing all the work out for each problem is the best way to track down where she went wrong. Great job, Grandma!

  5. When a student gets a problem wrong, are they pointed to the area in the book where they can learn how to correct their problem? Or perhaps if they get the problem wrong and then correct it, can they be provided more questions similar to that so they can perfect the skill? Is that something you offer

    1. Yes, our online grading program provides a link back to the original lesson the problem came from so the student can rewatch the video if needed. If they get the problem incorrect, we provide additional problems in Mastery Bank that the student can do for additional practice. (It is not currently a direct link but we are working on integrating the two programs as we speak. I hope that helps.

  6. Yes!!!! As a student I hate retries, because it is easier to just look at the answer key. Anyway, it teaches me the importance of doing what is right when no one is watching!!!