How To Improve Score: 20+ Tips To Unlock Your Inner Dungeoneer! has been both a blessing and a curse over the years. Great for people who spend a lot of time playing, who are good at the game, and want to get matched with people who are on the same level. It’s been somewhat less good for all the rest of the people who are just starting out, returning to the game, or they simply haven’t been committing to improving their IO score. This time, I’m going over a bunch of little tips on how to work on getting that score upgraded, while becoming the best version of your dungeoneer self.

What to expect…

Fixing your RIO score isn’t going to be easy, but it’s well worth it, as you’ll at some point realize it’s not about the score at all. That number will become just a side product of the knowledge you’ve gained, the fun you’ve had, and the good times you’ve spent improving as a player. So yes, we’re focusing on how to upgrade it, but as you’ll discover, this guide will not only give you the group queuing tips and how to get accepted, but I’ll also teach you a thing or two on what you should be doing in a dungeon once you’re there.

There’s always something to learn, even when you think you’re done!

How will you improve your score, then?

The first thing you need to do to upgrade your RIO score is to commit to it without burnout. What that means is spreading your energy across a few days, or even a few weeks or months, instead of one day waking up and deciding you’re gonna become the best by the end of the evening. You might, but you most likely will not. So do realize that this is a marathon and not a sprint, and commit to gradually improving yourself, rather than pushing for a day or two and getting sick of it, only to come back a couple of weeks later and be right where you started.

If you want to learn in a safe environment without feeling pressured or being kicked for something dumb you’ve done, my best recommendation is to go into keys with friends, guildies, or any community you’re a part of. I understand you’ve heard this many times over, but do realize that you don’t need to bond and share your thoughts with every person who you wanna do dungeons with. It’s great if they’re friends, but if they’re just people with the same in-game goal as you, that’s just as good – if not better when it comes to keys, as that actually takes some goal settings. It’s super easy to apply for guilds these days, and you can filter them by what they focus on, so just join an active community that does keys and ask if you can run with them. It’s really that easy, even if you’re an introvert, and trust me, I know all about that.

If you’re not in a guild, however, one of the best things to do while you’re pugging is looking at the performance of your group (especially of your healer and tank if you’re not one) and adding those awesome people to your friends list. Make sure to also attach a note to them and write down what role they played and where you met them, so that you can approach those people again when you’re looking to get into keys. Maybe they already have a community they’re a part of, and this could be a way for you to make some additional friends, too.

Since you’ve started looking for this kind of info, you’ve probably already heard this, but running your own keys is the way to actually get into them, as you really are 100% guaranteed to be a part of the group. It’s an easy way out, but also a harder way in, as you bear the responsibility of getting that key for yourself and picking a group of people that won’t deplete it. So yeah. Don’t let your key sit in your bag while you’re complaining about not getting into any groups.

Another thing that’s very important to realize is that this thing takes time, and that the ladder is to be climbed as it’s been designed. That means that, even if you get into higher keys with a group of friends, you may not feel like you’re learning as much, and you’re probably gonna die a lot in the process, while not fully understanding what’s going on. If you’ve got some catch-up to do on your knowledge and gear, then that’s what needs to be done. Do lower keys (you’re not above that, nobody is) and learn your way up. Since lower keys award Valor too, you won’t be doing those for nothing, as you’ll be getting the currency while being able to upgrade the lower item level gear you get from those dungeons.

Speaking of gear upgrades, you wanna make sure you’re targeting the dungeons that drop gear that you truly need. If you don’t know your best in slot items, you can check them out here. That’s the only gear you want to be upgrading with Valor, so be patient, do keys, open the weekly vault, and go for your BiS.

If you want to upgrade your IO, you may wanna come to terms with the fact that you need to play a different spec, assuming that’s your problem. This can sound complicated as you may be playing what you really enjoy, but that’s not always what other people want. I’m not just saying this because it’s true, but because I also know how this feels. I’d been a Feral Druid main for many years before I decided to main Balance in PvP, and instead of stepping into raids as a Destruction Warlock, I now roll Affliction. I do enjoy the specs I play, but if they weren’t good, I probably would consider switching. At least one of your class’s specs has to be good, so if you’re playing the underwhelming one, at least consider the change.

Once you get to know the meta classes and specs, you don’t want to be the only one playing the good one in your group. If you’re the one making your own group, you should be targeting the specs you know are good in Mythic+ as that can get you far. This feels terrible and discriminating, but if you decide to sacrifice your roleplay needs and transmog desires to play the spec other people want to see, it’s okay to expect a good comp in return. Find out what the flavor of the month is and don’t be afraid to whisper people and ask them which spec they play before you accept them into a group, as that can save you a lot of frustration (especially when you get your key loaded and see a Warlock spamming his imps rather than Malefic Rapture). It’s sad, it’s cruel, but that’s the way things are now, and since this video walks you through how to keep your head above water in this system, that’s one way to do it.

When you get into keys and the whole RIO business, accepting that you can fail (and mind you, fail you will) is what will get you through the day. You won’t time every key, some will get depleted, there will be days when you get one decline after another, and all of that is okay. It happens to literally everyone who runs keys and you want to make sure you’re okay with it, too. However, every time you do fail, you learn from it as well, so that you can come out of it as a better player in some way.

Pre-Dungeon Preparation

There are also some things you can do before getting into a dungeon that will help you perform better, time your keys more often, and therefore get to higher RIO. One of those things is being 100% comfortable with your rotation. This sounds like something everyone knows, but if you’ve switched to a better performing spec or you’re new to dungeons or affixes, you need to make sure you’re pressing those buttons without thinking about them, and especially without looking at them, because you need to be looking at your screen. One of my guildies gave me a great tip for this when I switched my spec, and he said that he sometimes mindlessly spams his rotation on a target dummy while watching Netflix to practice muscle memory of your rotation. Big shoutout to Harpel for making re-speccing easier for all of us!

If you want to do great things in dungeons and be invited to the next key as well, preparing for them properly is not something that 1% of players do. It’s what all of us should do, so if you’re not using your food, your oils and flasks and all that good stuff, start doing that. I also made a guide on how to prepare for dungeons and which consumables you need, so you can check that out as well.

Here’s a cool guide on how to fully prepare for your M+ and raiding experience with all the consumables and buffs!

Another part of your dungeon prep and making sure you’re not failing your key pushing group is getting all the necessary addons. Using things like DBM, voice packs, GTFO, threat plates, damage meters, healing addons and all that good stuff can save you from wiping everyone, standing in things and dying to them, and overall feeling like a peasant in a group of people who seem to know everything about the dungeon. Very few people know everything, you know. They’re probably just using the right addons, and you should do it, too.

You’ve probably seen all the Shadowlands dungeons many times over and you probably think you know everything about every NPC there, but you most likely don’t. I don’t, and so many of us are still learning. That’s why it’s a good idea to look at some resources before you go and push keys, whether it be your dungeon journal, YouTube guides, WoWhead, IcyVeins, or Mythic Dungeon International (which is a must-watch for key pushers, by the way). You’ll have a lot more fun and understanding of what you’re doing if you just commit to learning even when you think you’re done.

Improving Your Dungeon Gameplay

Now, I’d like to touch on some of the things that you can do while doing a dungeon, so that you can make sure you’re improving, timing your keys, and really giving yourself the best possible chance to learn from your experience. My first tip is to always use voice, through Discord, or the Blizzard voice chat, as it makes a big, big difference in your runs. If you’re going with guildies, you probably have a way of communicating already, but if you’re key pushing with strangers, have at least one person speak and call the shots – that’s usually the tank, if they’re willing to. Mythics can be very cruel and unforgiving towards mistakes that happen because of lack of coordination. Wrong trash gets pulled, the healer doesn’t get time to drink, cooldowns are being misused, you name it. It’s a lot easier to give that extra bit of effort and make sure that runs are successful, than to go in blindly and hope for the best.

The next advice is to pay very close attention to kicks, or interrupts, if you’re new to the term. There’s so much damage that can be avoided if you do this properly, and if you interrupt the correct spells, you’ll make everyone’s lives easier, especially the healer’s. The best way to do this is to assign interrupts, and to know if you’re the first, second or third to interrupt, and what exactly you’re interrupting. This is why communication is super important, as someone can just say the name of the spell and you know when to save your cooldown. If you’re looking for a great kick guide, here’s an awesome one by Tactyks!

At higher keys, you’ll start noticing that there needs to be a route that you’re taking in order to have just the right amount of trash cleared, while finishing the key on time. This is where the Mythic Dungeon Tools addon comes in handy, as it enables you to create routes, edit them, and use other people’s routes that you find. Usually, the tanks will have a route that they’re comfy with and they’ll share it, but if no one is doing it, be the voice of change (and reason) and advocate for picking a good suggested route, so that you don’t end up wasting time you don’t have.

There’s also a big difference between a player who knows when to pop the cooldowns, and when to keep them for a trash pack or an upcoming boss, aaaand someone who just pops them whenever they’re available. Be the former one, and make peace with the fact that you’re not pressing a tempting button because you’ll have a good opportunity to do that in like 15 seconds. That goes for both offensive and defensive cooldowns, so get to know everything you can do and be mindful of when you’re spending them. DBM voice pack does a great job of telling you when to use your defensives, so consider using it if you’re not already.

Another important thing to remember is to not release (unless you’re told to do it). If you’re not sure, just ask, but believe me, it takes a lot less effort and time for someone to resurrect you after the combat, than for you to run back, potentially pull a trash pack or two, waste time, get everyone in trouble and yourself on their black list, just because you were quick to press a button. Respect other people’s time and don’t do it unless the res point is super close. If you don’t know, asking has never hurt anyone, so please do ask if you’re not sure, and you’ll get a clear yes or no from the healer or an experienced player.

Recording yourself isn’t something only the content creators do. If you want to grow as a player, have some sort of in-game recording software and when you’ve got time, review your behavior in the dungeon. A lot of things may surprise you, and you’ll definitely see a thing or two that you know you could’ve done better.

If you’re a class that has any way of helping your group, like giving stamina buffs, healthstones, a gate, shield, or maybe a repair toy or mount, make an effort to offer these things to your group. When you’re pushing for keys and trying to get that score upgraded, every bit of utility counts, so do your part that your class can manage, because remember – that’s what you’ve chosen to go into a dungeon with, and what you should be using.

Another thing that can easily bring you to your demise is moving too much. Moving too little is bad, yes, because you get engulfed by flames and die, but moving a lot can get your out of healer’s sight, into surrounding trash mobs you never meant to pull, and away from group buffs that are on the floor. And, out of the dungeon, for that matter. So practice moving just about enough to keep yourself and others safe.

And, this is a pretty obvious dungeon tip, but try to do more damage. The higher your group’s DPS is, the more potential mistakes you can get away with, and mistakes do happen. So do anything in your power to burst as much as possible and get the whole thing done quickly.

Of course, the last thing I want to bring up when it comes to dungeon tips is that you should not leave your groups. It can hurt your score, and the people you’re doing keys with. I know that time is the most important resource we have and you want to spend it wisely, but if you’re the one not doing 100% of things correctly – and rarely anyone is – you may wanna consider staying and practicing. Maybe someone in the group just needs a bit of guidance, or another pull on the boss. Don’t be that one person who leaves first, especially not if you’re a healer or a tank, as that’s dooming the group and not giving them even the slightest chance to finish the dungeon.


As a bonus tip, and this is probably most important one of all, is to not obsess over your IO score. You’re still playing the game to have fun, regardless of what other people with an unhealthy attitude may tell you. IO is just a number, so work on it if you want to, but try to also have fun in other areas of the game, and be a good member of the community. There isn’t an oversaturation of nice people, so try to be one of them and don’t ever go around bullying someone because they’re not helpful with meeting your standards. It’s not why we play this game and we can all do better than that.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got for you. It seems like a lot of info, but try to do one by one instead of pushing yourself to apply all of this at once. Remember, this is a marathon and not a sprint. Just come back to this guide when you want to work on another aspect of your gameplay, and if you’ve got some friends who are on this journey too, feel free to share it with them so they can benefit from it as well. If you’re more of a visual type, and you don’t mind getting easy wins in WoW, you can check out all of this in my video – and subscribe for more awesome WoW stuff!

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