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Practice modes and Adaptivity
Practice modes and Adaptivity

Learn how to change the presentation of exercises in your class (Adaptivity and Diagnostic tests)

Updated over a week ago

We allow teachers to change how exercises are presented to students. To change these settings, click on the "Settings" tab in the "Teacher" environment.

Go to the section labelled 'Practice mode'. You will see four options.

Options explained:

Exercise by exercise- Students can't skip exercises, they have to do them in order. Once they do an exercise, they can go back to any previously done exercise.

Learn per sequence of exercises- Students can't go back or forth through exercises. Only once they are done with the full sequence can they go back to the beginning and try again.

Learn without restriction- Students can click on any exercise, and go back and forth freely.

Adaptive exercises- Students will first have a diagnostic test that will determine their level in the given section. Exercises will then be adjusted to that level (see more under Adaptivity).

❗ You will only see these changes if you switch to the Student view. As a Teacher, you can always do exercises without restrictions.


Adaptive systems work by analyzing the performance of the students, and subsequently, choosing to make the material harder or easier. In other words, it adapts the path the students take through the content so that it fits their level.

How does adaptivity work?

The student must start with a mandatory diagnostic test on a Chapter level. This test contains the most difficult exercise (based on user statistics) of each topic (package) discussed in the chapter. If students are able to solve this difficult exercise during this test, they have effectively proven that they master the topic (package) the exercise represents. They subsequently receive a 100% progress in the reporting environment on that package. When they are not able to solve the exercise in the test, they will still need to show they master the package during adaptive practice.

What does adaptive practice look like?

An unmastered package of exercises is started in the middle, on an intermediate difficulty. To master an exercise, students need to get a score of at least 60% on that exercise. When mastering an exercise, they move up two steps (+2) in the package. Failing to solve the exercise means students move down the ladder one step at a time (-1). Once an exercise is mastered, the student will not see the exercise again.

To finish a package of exercises, students need to successfully finish one of the last two exercises in the package. The package progress is shown to the student in a progress bar at the top of the screen.

Once a package is mastered, the students get a message. When the package is then restarted, the students get to redo all exercises individually in the non-adaptive mode. To avoid confusion, a message will be shown that the package is already mastered each time the students start a package that is already mastered.

See what a diagnostic test looks like from the student's perspective here.

Diagnostic tests from a teacher's perspective

You won't be able to grade the diagnostic test that comes with the adaptivity mode. The computer grades it automatically. You can find the test results under Report-Test (as with any other test).

Why and when to use adaptivity?

This option is great if you want to allow students to skip through the topics they have already mastered. For example, adaptivity could fit well with a summer course attended by students with very different skill levels. This way, every student will get the exercises adjusted to their skill level. On the other hand, if you know that all the students are starting at a similar level, it might be better to not use this setting.

Limitations of adaptivity

We advise you to not blindly rely on the adaptivity setting, since it's completely automated. It could happen that the computer skips an exercise that might be very important for all students to master.

It's also possible to make your own diagnostic test from scratch, where you will have full control over the choice of exercises. To create this test, you will have to have Author access. See the article here on how to do it.

Keep in mind: the adaptivity setting is not flawless. We would advise you that, if you use diagnostic tests, do it in combination with an end-of-the-chapter test, where all the skills will be checked once more. You can do this by making a regular test and including the contents of the subject (learn more about tests here).

Additional adaptivity options

There are two additional options with which a teacher can control adaptivity:

  • Use diagnostic tests per chapter: There will be one diagnostic test per chapter, and student can do it only once.

  • Students can repeat diagnostic tests: This allows the student to redo the diagnostic Chapter tests any number of times, either on Chapter or on Sub-Chapter level.

  • Chapters are locked until previous chapters are mastered: A student must master preceding chapters before he can continue with the next chapter.

Adaptivity FAQ

There are too many questions in the Diagnostic test. How can I make the test shorter?

In order to make sure that the whole unit is covered, the computer chooses a few exercises from each of the packages, which can result in a very long diagnostic test. If you would like to keep the test shorter, you can hide certain parts of your course material, and it will not be included in the diagnostic test. Learn how to hide content here.

Can I grade a diagnostic test?

No, the grading is done automatically by the computer. You can only see the results of the test by going to Report, Test.

Are all of Sowiso courses compatible with the adaptivity setting?

Not all of our courses are suitable for the adaptivity setting. You can refer to this table to check if the course you are using will work with the adaptivity:


Suitable for Diagnostic Test

Basic Math


Basic Statistics

Linear Algebra

Calculus for Social Sciences

Differential Equations

Financial Arithmetic


Data Analysis

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