Students of all ages can benefit from participating in math competitions. Competitive, timed tests allow children to showcase their knowledge and compare themselves to their peers. Taking part in these olympiads also generates pride among students in the level of math knowledge that they've attained. And regular participation in math competitions can also be a boon for future college applications. Colleges love to see what a student is passionate about and skilled in.
But of the myriad of math competitions available to students, which are the best to participate in and why?
American Mathematics Contest (AMC)
The American Mathematics Contest (AMC) is a challenging and prestigious national competition, administered by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). The main American mathematical olympiad, participants from this competition are selected to represent the United States at the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). Open to grades 6 - 12, the AMC consists of 25 problems - all based on knowledge and logic.
Students can take part in the AMC through participating public schools or through RSM. For more information visit http://www.maa.org.
International Math Contest (IMC)
The International Math Contest (IMC) is a mathematical competition based on the international standards of knowledge of top performing countries. As the United States continues to slip further in the rankings for mathematics, the IMC enables parents to compare their childrens' level of knowledge to that of their international peers.
The first round of the IMC is held online, with detailed analysis emailed to parents within weeks. Qualifying students proceed to the Final Round, a written competition that keeps with the rich tradition and prestige of mathematical Olympiads, featuring challenging non-routine problems that promote a deeper level of thinking.
Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY)
The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth was the brainchild of professor Julian Stanley, who determined after years of research that 8th grade students who scored in the top 1% of university entrance exams were often destined for greatness in the world of STEM.
Students can choose which standardized test to take (SCAT, SAT, PSAT (8/9), ACT, STB are all options) and qualifying students are eligible to enroll in the Johns Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth. Fun fact: Lady Gaga, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sergei Brin are alumni of the CTY enrichment programs.
The competition is open to students grades 2 - 8, and even if the goal isn't to enroll in the Center, participation itself is a good idea for any college-bound student. Taking the SAT or ACT is an opportunity for 8th graders to prepare for the university exam in a low-pressure environment, and strong performance looks great on a college resume.
The Math Kangaroo
The Math Kangaroo is a great way to introduce elementary school students to the world of competitive math. An interactive competition complete with prizes, the test is not based on knowledge but is rather replete with puzzle and logic-type problems.
Open to students in grades 1 - 12, the competition offers 24 problems to be solved within 75 minutes for grades 1-5 and 30 questions for students in grades 5 and up. For more information visit mathkangaroo.org.