Student Challenge

Train Compete and Win


The MATHletes Challenge is a pioneering online and in-person maths tournament for students from Ireland and Northern Ireland. If you are a students in 4th class through 5th year/pre-leaving cert from the Republic of Ireland, or in Primary 6 through Year 13, you are eligible to compete!

As a Challenger, you will work on with Khan Academy, a free online learning platform that acts like your personal training coach for the Challenge, recommending exercises and developing a personal training plan to help you master maths skills. As you master skills in Khan Academy, you will gain mastery points. These points will qualify you for a place on the weekly MATHletes leaderboards and a chance to represent your country at the in-person playoffs. You can compete as an individual or with your school, and over €20,000 in prizes will be awarded to winners in the Challenge!



Signups open December 1, 2014
Challenge Launches January 5, 2015
Online Challenge Phase Jan 5 - March 20, 2015
Invitation send to Provincial finalists Wednesday, March 25th
Provincial in-person finals Saturday, April 18
All-Ireland Championship Final Saturday, May 2
dates provisional - may be subject to change



Phase 1: Challenge Phase

The first stage of the competition is the ‘Challenge Phase,’ which lasts for 10 weeks: January 5th to March 19th, 2015. You will be entered into one of 2 leagues (Champions or Challengers) based on how much you have learned in Khan Academy prior to the start of Challenge 2015. You compete online by creating an account at, and accumulating MATHletes mastery points through your KA learning dashboard. The more skills you master in Khan Academy, the more points you accumulate, and the higher you move up in the competition.

You can get started and meet other competitors at free Khan Clubs in participating Education Centres around the country, and the MATHletes Challenge coaching team will post weekly challenges at, which include focus exercises in Khan Academy, and extra problem challenges. It is up to you to train on your own time: as any elite athlete knows, true mastery requires dedication and commitment in your training. Learning maths is the same. Only students who work consistently and challenge themselves on Khan Academy will succeed in moving up the weekly leaderboards!

Phase 2: Playoffs Phase

The in-person Challenge playoffs consists of 2 rounds: County/Provincial finals, and the All-Ireland Championship. The County and Provincial finals will be held at regional Education Centres, and the All-Ireland Championship will be held in Dublin in May. Students will qualify for the County/Provincial playoffs based on their mastery skill points during the training phase of the Challenge. Students will advance to the National Finals based on their performance at the County/Provincial Playoffs.



Focus training with Khan Academy Missions

You will begin by taking a pretest on Khan Academy to get started. This helps Khan Academy develop an individual learning dashboard for you based on your results. Do your best, but don't worry too much about test - as you work on KA and master skills, the system will adapt and recommend new exercises. As you learn, Khan Academy learns more about you!

Once you have completed the pretest, you should select the appropriate Mission in Khan Academy, based on your Class. This will help focus your training and give you topics to work on that are challenging and focused.

You will move through the learning dashboard with the problems suggested by Khan Academy, but the exercises will be more focused for your level. You should aim to master your grade level and move beyond. However, you can always feel free to explore other areas of maths that challenge you and try new skills and topics!

Republic of Ireland class/year
Northern Ireland year
Khan Academy starting mission
4th class Primary 6 3rd grade
5th class Primary7 4th grade
6th class Year 8 5th grade
1st year Year 9 6th grade
2nd year Year 10 7th grade
3rd year Year 11 8th grade
4th year/TY Year 12 Geometry or Algebra 1
5th year/pre-leaving cert Year 13 Algebra 1 or Algebra 2

MATHletes missions


How scoring works: earning MATHletes Mastery Points

The aim of the Challenge is to earn as many “MATHletes Mastery Points” as possible during the online Challenge Phase (January 5 – March 19).

You earn MATHletes Mastery Points by mastering skills in your Khan Academy maths learning dashboard:

  • Practiced = 1 mastery point
  • Level 1 = 1.5 mastery points (+.5 for leveling up)
  • Level 2 = 2.5 mastery points (+1 for leveling up)
  • Level 3 = 3 mastery points (+.5 for leveling up)

Train Compete and Win

To gain mastery on a topic in Khan Academy, you complete 5 exercises in a row to get "practiced", then take Mastery Challenges to "level up" and test whether you have retained what you have practiced. You will get successive points for achieving "Practiced", "Level 1", "Level 2", and "Mastered" on each specific skill. Therefore each skill is worth a maximum of 3 points. It will take consistent, diligent work on Khan Academy to progress through the levels and achieve mastery, since the site only allows you to take a Mastery Challenge after you have spent a certain amount of time working.

For more information on The Learning Dashboard system and how to achieve mastery, you can read this blogpost from Khan Academy:

The energy points and badges in Khan Academy are important to see the effort you are putting in, but you only be graded on mastering skills, not on the energy points or minutes spent on the site. Stay focused and consistent and aim for really understanding and being confident in a skill to achieve mastery!


Champions League vs Challengers League: How the points add up

For MATHletes 2015, students will compete in one of 2 leagues: Champions League or Challengers League. Qualification for the league is set at the beginning of the Challenge or when you enter (i.e. you can't move back and forth or jump up into the Champions league). There are different scoring systems for each league.

If you are competing with your school, whatever points you gain individually (based on the league scoring system that you belong to) will be added to your school total. At the end of the Challenge phase, a proportion of top competitors from each League will advance to the playoffs. More details on playoff qualification will be released further into the Challenge.



All students who are new to Khan Academy, and/or have less than 250 mastery points as of January 5th, are entered into the Challengers League.


Only points earned after the MATHletes Challenge 2015 start date (January 5, 2015) will count for the 2015 Challenge Phase. The sum of your MATHletes mastery points from Jan 5th on Khan Academy qualify you for the Challengers League leaderboards and playoffs.


The Champions League is for elite MATHletes and Khan Academy users who already have an account and have diligently been putting in the training time and effort to improve their maths skills. These are the elite long time KA users, MATHletes returnees, and tried-and-true veteran competitors who know the ropes and looking to improve on last year’s performance. Keep working on Khan Academy and train year-round and you will be able to qualify for the Champions League in future years!


In order to qualify for the Challengers league, students must have earned at least 250 mastery points by the Challenge launch date January 5th. We will notify you if you have qualified for the Champions league - get in those last minute points! Note: This qualification cutoff may be adjusted slightly - any updates will be posted here.


  • If you qualify as a Champion League competitor, all mastery points earned prior to January 5th will go into a “past points pool.”
  • The total number of possible mastery points to achieve in the Khan Academy World of Math is 3,000 (~1,000 skills * 3 points for level 3 mastery of all skills). This includes everything from early math through calculus and linear algebra.
  • As you gain new points toward the total points mark (3,000), for every percentage you gain toward the total possible, that same percentage of your past points pool can be ‘unlocked.’
  • Confused? Here's an example:

    EXAMPLE: Student A has 1000 past points in the Champions league and person B has 2000. There are 3000 total points in the World of Math. If person A earns 200 points, that's 10% of the remaining 2000, so she unlocks 100 of the 1000 past points to give her a total of 300 points. If student B earns just 100 points he earns 10% of the remaining 1000 points so he gets 200 points from his past points to give a total of 300. Thus person A needs to earn 200 points to be equal with person B if they earn 100 points. Since person A's challenges are easier (they may still be working on topics they are learning in class), they'll be able to get the points faster, and as the Challenge goes on, the two students will be gaining points at the same rate.

    We know that it is much more difficult to gain points the closer you get toward the 3,000 max, since exercises are much more difficult and you are working on skills that you probably haven’t learned in class. Working on these tough skills is called working at your 'learning edge' and tells us that you are really pushing the limits of your maths knowledge – and that’s awesome. We will be putting up a blogpost soon with more details on what the Champions league would look like - stay tuned!

    Complete Weekly Training Challenges

    The MATHletes Coaching team carefully assembles weekly training challenges for all MATHletes. These weekly challenges are meant to focus your training on Khan Academy, and test what you are learning with an extra challenging applied problem. These are meant to be tough and push your learning to the next level, so try your best! Training Challenges are announced each Wednesday at 12noon on our website at, and by email, twitter, and on Facebook. Stay connected to find out about these Challenges. You will have one week from the date of posting to complete the Weekly Challenge.

    There are two types of Weekly Training Challenges:

    • Focus challenges are posted at or assigned through Khan Academy by your teacher (if you're in the Schools Challenge). Focus Challenges are specific KA exercises that will help you understand the problem set for that week. If your teacher assigns them, they will show up on your learning dashboard. You can also click on the link to the exercise on the Weekly Challenge section of - if you are signed into your Khan Academy account, it will take you right to it!
    • Training Problems for each class level will be posted on at You will submit your answer for your class level problem, along with your email and Khan Academy Username. As the competition progresses, these problems will become more difficult.


Move up Weekly Leaderboards

The MATHletes Challenge leaderboards will be updated every Friday at 12 noon. The leaderboards will show the top scoring MATHletes by class in each county, and across Ireland. There are monthly leaderboards, and overall leaderboards. Monthly leaderboards are "zero-ed out" at the start of each month, to give new competitors a chance at the monthly title. However, you will not "lose" those points. If you have been competing from the start, your points will continue to accumulate for the overall leaderboards, which are the main decider of who advances to the playoffs.

The MATHletes coaches also add up the scores of all MATHletes across each County and publishes the County and Provincial standings. Check back every week to check your standing on the leaderboard, and see where your county stands in the rankings.

Train in-person at Khan Clubs

Whether you are just learning about Khan Academy, want to get started on the Challenge, or are a veteran Khan user who wants to meet other Mathletes, Khan Clubs give you a chance to meet, get started, and get help on using the website. There are clubs for primary and secondary students, and they are run through the National Education Centres. You can find contact information for your teacher education centre here, and contact them directly to see if they are running a club.

If you are a teacher, parent, or community member and are interested in starting a Khan club in your area, please email . Khan Clubs are springing up around the country in schools, CoderDojos, and Education Centres.



The in-person MATHletes Student Challenge Playoffs take place in 2 rounds: County/Provincial Finals, and the All-Ireland Championship. Participants compete against other MATHletes in their class/year from across their province. The winners at each stage will progress to the All-Ireland Championship the first weekend in May for an opportunity to be named MATHletes All-Ireland Champion 2015

Playoff qualification

A proportion of students from the Champions League and the Challengers League will advance to the playoffs. Playoff qualification is based on your performance on the leaderboards as well as the effort and time you have put into Khan Academy during the Challenge phase. Once students advance to the playoffs, all league affiliations are done and the Champions and Challengers will compete against each other in the same events at the in-person playoff events.

Playoff format

Each playoff round will have a 3 events to test participants maths knowledge:

  • Khan Academy Time Trials: Similar to the focus exercises, competitors will receive a list of recommended exercises in Khan Academy. They will complete as many exercises as possible in the allotted time, testing MATHletes’ speed and agility to respond to a range of maths topics
  • Problem Set Marathon: MATHletes will be given a problem set with questions similar to those in the Weekly Challenges. These will test MATHletes’ endurance and critical thinking as they apply their maths skills from Khan Academy to a range of scenarios and problems.
  • Team event: Interactive, team-based projects with real-life scenarios will test MATHletes’ teamwork and collaboration skills.
  • Participants are given a score for each event, which are added together at the end of the round. This is the score that will determine if you progress to the next round of the Championship. More information on the playoffs can be found in the FINALS section of the website.


    Over €20,000 in prizes will be awarded over the course of the Challenge, including a new iPad to each of the All-Ireland Winners. More information about prizes will be coming soon!