How to work with MARS

In short:

  • Print questions, present one at a time and suggest answering mentally 
  • Ask how answer was derived and if it can be done other ways  
  • Score most advanced reasoning or strategy (listed in advancing order)
  • You may stop after 3 consecutive questions the student can’t do yet or guesses
  • Write comments such as corrections or excessive time needed in observation box

With some more words:

This system is meant to help teachers and tutors, and also parents, particularly those who homeschool, to find out where their student is in terms of reasoning and strategies in various math operations and topics, and to provide suggested activities to how to help the student make progress. 

The main focus is not on whether they get the answers to the questions right or wrong but on how well they understand the concepts behind the topics, as this will prepare them eventually to be able to do these and more advanced calculations. So we are not focusing on calculation skills here, but on thinking concepts.

For this purpose, the numbers are chosen to be relatively easily worked out mentally, and only when a student is not able to do so, you may allow using pen and paper for some questions.

Handling this system is straightforward and works like filling in a survey. You will need to print out the questions and present them one at a time. Once the student has the question in view, you can start the module and score the given answer.

Once you have ticked the answers, the system shows an analysis of your observations and gives Suggested activities on the screen on how to develop the student further, and you will also get this emailed to you.

Always ask about the thinking process the student used to arrive at the answer and ask if it can be done in another way? Score the most advanced reasoning or strategy (the answers are listed in ascending order) 

You can stop the assessment after 3 consecutive questions, the student can’t do yet or guesses, and you get suggested activities to start working on these topics. The remaining questions are then automatically scored as “can’t do it yet” by default. It’s possible the student shows to know something of a more advanced topic, but still lacks the basics. If you want to explore that, go ahead and review all questions so the system will provide you with information about those topics and how to develop them further.

In the additional observation box you can add any comments, for example how the student self-corrects or comes up with an option not listed. You can also mention when the student takes more time than in your judgment would be necessary. We see that most students answer within 30 seconds.

About the modules

The Addition and Subtraction modules are combined just as the multiplication and division modules.

The three modules Fractions, Decimals, and Percent will have more questions and are designed to be taken as separate modules.

This tool is still in beta testing, so please if you have any comments or suggestions contact