How does the IXL Math program compare to Thinkster Math?

Last Updated on August 31, 2021 by Thinkster

You’ve likely heard of the IXL Math program through your child’s school or from friends or colleagues, or via online adverts. Founded in 2007, it was one of the first online math programs to use analytics to identify students’ weaknesses in math. Thinkster Math, founded just a few years later, also uses data analytics to track and improve students’ progress, but in addition, uses AI and professional math tutors to enhance the student experience and maximize progress.  

Many families ask us how Thinkster Math compares to the IXL Math program, so we’ve written this in-depth article to give an insight into the differences between the two.


IXL Math Program & Thinkster Math Compared


Who uses Thinkster math?

Thinkster Math is a great program choice for families who want a more personalized approach to their child’s online math learning.  Thinkster Math families on the Silver, Gold and Platinum programs are assigned a dedicated math tutor to assign work and oversee their child’s progress. Tutors get to know each child’s strengths and weakness and can adjust their assignments to suit.

Thinkster Math also appeals to parents who want their children to work independently since instructional videos are built into the Thinkster Math worksheets, so that all students can benefit from reviewing the particular method to use, before, during or after completing each worksheet.  

Thinkster’s world-class curriculum is based on the US curriculum and Singapore Math, but also has worksheets specific to the UK, Canadian, Australian, Indian and South African curriculum.


Who uses the IXL Math program?

IXL Math is a self-guided program, chosen by many schools as a tool to provide homework for students. It’s a great way for parents to see exactly what skills their child is working on at school. Families can also use IXL to practice a variety of other math skills themselves, see where their child struggles and choose topics to support these weak areas.

Furthermore, IXL Math is a good budget option for families who are happy to either teach their child each topic, or look to other resources  to teach each topic, as only a brief explanation  is given for each question and only when a student gets a question wrong.


Thinkster Math and IXL Math compared:

Choosing a math program for your child can be a complex and confusing process, so let’s help you by taking a closer look at the similarities and differences between these 2 online math programs.


Subscription Plans – Thinkster Math vs IXL Math

IXL Math Subscription vs. Thinkster Math Subscription

Thinkster Math’s 1 week free trial includes one or more skills assessment tests to identify previous and current topics that they find difficult. The results of the test is used by our Thinkster Tutors to outline a study plan for the student which can be valuable even if they decide not to subscribe. Also, during the trial, parents and students have the opportunity to speak to one of our academic advisors or tutors and have a demonstration of our shared whiteboard technology which we use for the one to one tutor sessions with students.

IXL Math allows students to try 10 questions for free each day. There is no access to student analytics without a subscription, but parents can see examples of the analytics generated, on the IXL website.

The Thinkster Math program includes a range of subscription options, from worksheet only subscriptions, to subscription that include one to one online tutor sessions.

IXL Math has one subscription option for families, which includes access to questions and student analytics.


Worksheets – Thinkster Math vs IXL Math

IXL Math Worksheets vs. Thinkster Math Worksheets

Both Thinster Math and IXL Math cover arithmetic, fractions and algebra, as well geometry, measures and data and include plenty of logic and word problems within each topic. These help students to gain a thorough knowledge of each topic as well as following closely the types of questions used in schools and on standardized tests.

Students are able to write on the digital worksheets on both programs, but Thinkster has a patent-pending Active Replay Technology (ART), that allows its math tutors to visualize student thinking at the point of learning. 

The Thinkster Math program includes instructional videos for each topic as well as an online video library that students can use to review other topics. The IXL program doesn’t offer instructional videos.

On the IXL Math program, students are given the worked-out solutions to questions that they get wrong. Thinkster Math takes this further by offering personalized solutions and corrections provided by the dedicated tutor, which address the student’s particular error on a question.


Progress – Thinkster Math vs IXL Math

IXL Math Progress vs. Thinkster Math Progress

On the  IXL program, students can choose to work on any topic at any time. The program generates reports detailing timing and number of correct and wrong answers on the topics worked on. Families can either use these reports to decide which topics to repeat or work on next, or they can use the program to further practice topics that the student has worked on at school.

The Thinkster Math program is different, in that tutors choose and personalize the student assignments based on regular skills assessment tests. Students can request topics be added to their worksheet queue, but Thinkster tutors main aim is to efficiently fill in gaps in students’ knowledge, then bring them to grade level and beyond, while also regularly checking that they still have mastery of previous topics.  Thinkster Math also provides a dynamically changing Progress Report Matrix, that details, by topic and concept, how the student has shown improvement over a period of time.  This progress report is also visually available to parents and students through the student app or the dedicated Parent Insights app.

Thinkster Math students can also opt to have one-on-one online whiteboard sessions with their tutor to preview and review Thinkster worksheets, work on school homework or do some test prep.


Student and Parent Experience – Thinkster Math vs IXL Math

IXL Math Experience vs. Thinkster Math Experience

On the IXL Math program, the worksheet is completed only when students reach 100 points. One thing that students find frustrating is that their score actually GOES DOWN when they get a question wrong. This is in order to force the student to practice more before completing the session.

On the Thinkster Math program, errors are treated differently. Students are given a 2nd attempt to get the answer correct and can watch an instruction video at any point in order to review the methods needed for the sub topic.

Each Thinkster Math worksheet is graded by a real life tutor who is able to provide personalized feedback and corrections for each worksheet. Conference calls via phone or online are also held at regular intervals so that families and students can get valuable feedback on their child’s performance.

In IXL Math, students can gain online certificates and gain access to online worlds to explore within the game.

The Thinkster Math program has minimal gameplay, but has a Leaderboard where students can compare their points earned within the program, to those of  other Thinkster students locally, or internationally. Each month, students are able to exchange points gained within the program for gift vouchers from Apple, Amazon and other Thinkster Math partners.

Thinkster Math also provides a dedicated Parent Insights app, available on Android, iPhone, and iPad devices, that helps parents review their child’s progress each day and stay in touch with their tutor via email, text, or phone.  Significantly, the Parent App also provides updates to parents through notifications on the daily work completed by their child, and an actual visual image of the feedback received from the tutor on specific problems and mistakes that their child did.  This is a great asset to a parent as it allows them to have periodic communications with their child on areas that they might need additional support.


What families say about Thinkster Math and IXL Math:

Thinkster Math and IXL Math both have positive reviews from their users.

Here are some reviews of the Thinkster Math program from the independent Verified Reviews website:

“Best value real instructors.”

by Raj S.


“It’s very helpful. Keeps my kid alert and busy. Very handy and easy to use. I like the follow up by the teacher every other week.”

by Daniel A


“I think that Thinkster has been great tool for my son to consolidate whatever he has learnt in school as well put him ahead of his peer. I am glad I found the app. The staff have attentive to our needs as well and you are made to feel you get your money’s worth. I am also happy with the tutors thus far; they are flexible and are willing to listen. Good job Thinkster!”

by Sharimllah R

Read more Thinkster Math reviews on the Verified Reviews website.


Here are some reviews of the IXL Math program from the IXL website:

“I have one daughter in First Class, and we love IXL. And as a result she is quite good at maths.”

Karen Purtell, parent


“IXL is great and amazing! When I go to school I get the answers right away. But not fractions because I’m not there yet.”

Sophia, grade 2 student


Summary – Thinkster Math and IXL Math

As you can see, both Thinkster Math and IXL Math offer students the chance to further practice math skills. In addition to online worksheets, Thinkster Math adds a bespoke program through the use of math specialists who assign,  monitor and give feedback on students’ work as well as giving one-to-one online tutor sessions on some subscription plans.



Features and support are constantly changing! This analysis was accurate to the best of our knowledge as of February 2018.

Sign up for a free 1-week Thinkster Math trial at

Note:  IXL®  and IXL® Learning are registered trademarks of IXL Learning, Inc. Thinkster Math is in no way affiliated with IXL Learning, Inc. 

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Caroline Mukisa

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