Hi! This article talks about how I’m doing in my Math subject—specifically, how I struggled and how I progressed in mastering Early to 8th Grade Math at Khan Academy. Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom, for free. They helped me have a passion for learning as an independent homeschooler and independent learner!
I’d like to share my story with you. From being content with having not-perfect, high scores only, to having 100% scores through all the challenges with patience and hard-work.
Why start again?
Before my family decided to homeschool us independently, I went to both private and public school for 10 years (Grade 1 to 8 in private; Grade 9 and 10 in public school). And when I started homeschooling last 2019, it was for Grade 11. But you may be asking, “If you were supposed to take Grade 11 Math already, why start again from Kinder Math?”
The answer’s simple. My dad told me to review all that I’ve learned in my previous levels in Math in order to master the next ones. So, I started mastering Early Math to 8th Grade Math in Khan Academy since my vacation back in 2019 (that is, April and May 2019).
At least 96% mastery
My dad said that I could go to the next unit and level if I could have at least 96% mastery in a unit. For instance, I can jump to the 7th Grade by the time I get at least 96% mastery from the 6th Grade.
Early math to 4th Grade was no problem to me. I had some mistakes in 5th Grade that I just got 99% in total, so I jumped to 6th Grade. On November 2019, I was able to get at least 96% from Early math to 8th Grade. And so finally, I was able to start studying Precalculus, which is I believe one of the lessons taught in 11th Grade.
But, in the middle of the Complex numbers unit, I’ve decided to go back and perfect the previous levels that I wasn’t able to perfect to 100%. Before we discuss why I did that, let’s first talk about how to perfect a unit in Khan Academy.
How I finish a unit
In Khan Academy, each lesson in a unit has its own supplement videos, articles, practice exercises, and sometimes, quizzes.
Mechanics of practice exercises
Most practice exercises have four questions, sometimes seven. This is an example of a practice exercise for Two-way tables lesson. Apparently, there are three levels for each exercise. If you were able to answer three questions (out of four) correctly, you would get to the first level, which is the “Familiar” level.
If you try again and have managed to perfect a particular practice exercise, you would get to the second level, which is the “Proficient” level. But if you were able to perfect the exercise on your first try, you would immediately level up to “Proficient”.
Now, do you see the challenge here? In order to get to “Proficient” level, one needs to get a perfect score. “Well, it’s not really that hard, right?” Yeah, I wish. Most of the time, I would need to take an exercise multiple times until I get “Proficient”.
Personally, it takes me 30-90 minutes (including re-watching of videos and reviewing of articles) to perfect a practice exercise; which would be pretty reasonable since in private/public schools, it would take a week on average to finish a lesson.
Tip: If you want to immediately achieve “Proficient” on an exercise but unfortunately made a mistake, just put wrong answers on the next questions to finish the practice exercise immediately. Then start over; have a fresh start because even if you correctly answer the next ones after you’ve made a mistake, you would just get “Familiar”1But for me, one should take the next ones seriously, even if he/she makes a mistake, and treat them as a practice to perfect the next fresh start. Nevertheless, it’s still up to you if you’ll follow this tip..
But it doesn’t end on perfecting all the practice exercises. Why? Because the third and highest level you can get for an exercise is the “Master” level. However, no one can level up to “Master” with a practice. Rather, one should take the unit test or the course challenge to reach that level.
So, without further ado, let’s move onto unit tests.
How to perfect a unit test
Taking the unit test to achieve the “Master” level seems fair. Why? Because what you get on the test proves whether you really have mastered the whole unit or not. And so, the real fun and real challenge begins (well, if you would consider it “fun”; but it is challenging)
The challenge? In order to get a 100% for the whole unit (e.g. Classical Genetics unit), you need to perfect the whole unit test. This is no easy task. Why? Because even if you have at least one mistake in the unit test (with all your practice exercises perfected already), the practice exercise that that certain unit test question falls in would not level up to Master.
Which means, you would just have, let’s say, 95-99% mastery for the whole unit, even if you just have one mistake. Fortunately, like I said earlier, my dad lets me move onto the next lesson when I at least get 96%, but not less. But even if I have that provision from him, I’ve decided to take it to the next level.
Personally, I’d like to have and hear that “perfect” and “100%” sound on my scores here on Khan Academy. And I know you want that, too (hehehe:). So, I’ve decided to go back to the previous units. This time, I did my best to achieve 100% mastery in each one of them.
It’s not that I’m a perfectionist, although it seems like that. It’s just because I realized something I forgot to consider before. We’ll discuss that a little bit later.
Most of the time, I make wrong answers in unit tests. Consequently, I’m tempted to put wrong answers on the next questions in order to finish the unit test immediately and have a fresh start, like what I’ve tipped earlier.
However, if we do that in a unit test, other lessons would get affected and they would most likely go down to “Familiar” level. If that happens, we would be forced to take that practice exercise again until we perfect it to “Proficient”. So, even if I made a mistake in a unit test, I do my best to correctly answer the next questions to avoid that hot mess.
Tip: I always tend to forget what I’ve just learned in the past few days. So, I watch every video and read every article in every lesson before taking the unit test. Actually, this is not new to us. We really need to review before taking a unit test!
And now, after many days (months actually) of hard-work and patience, I proudly present to you my progress in Math at Khan Academy! Please visit my screenshots for each level here.
Why I perfect units to 100 percent—Realization
“What’s the big deal? I mean, why even try to perfect and be proficient in all the lessons even if you could just move onto the next units with a happy, but-not-perfect, high score?” Excellent, long question.
The first and foremost reason is simply because we have the opportunity to try again and perfect the unit. That’s why we can always try again and again ’til we get a 100% mastery in any unit at Khan Academy. I mean, if you had the opportunity to take a unit test again and thus have a chance to perfect it, wouldn’t you grab that opportunity?
The second and more reasonable argument is this: If I make a mistake in the unit test, that’s probably because I haven’t fully discerned a lesson. Reviewing that particular lesson would be a chance to target my weakness and master it. Moreover, for me, having a hundred-percent score proves that I’ve fully grasped all the lessons in a particular unit.