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Hi I am trying to understand math competitions in the US. 

1. It looks like all the competitions (AMC, Math League, Math Olympiad, etc.) require a team. What happen to homeschooled kids or public schools with no math team? 

2. Do the whole team in each school advance to district to regional/state to national altogether, or will they pick the best individuals from each team to form new team to compete at higher rounds? In other words, do kids need to go to the schools with better teams? 

3. Are there any US math contests for individuals? 

4. Which competitions are better for 2e kids? I heard Math Count is easier but more intense, higher time pressure and hence is more disadvantageous to 2e. 

Edited by OnceUponAFullMoon
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Neither AMC nor Math Kangaroo require teams. Math Olympiad has options for teams and individual; we found a local Math Circle that joined up with a tiny private school to offer it to anyone who didn’t otherwise have a space to take it. There are places where homeschool kids group together to form homeschool teams.

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Continental and Noetic Math League do not require teams. They are both a series of tests, and schools submit the top scores. I always traded with another parent to proctor our kids and submit scores. 

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We are not in the USA, but my understanding is the AMC, AIME, USAMTS, and USAMO are all individual tests. 

USAMTS is an untimed, proof-based, take-home exam. The others are under time pressure.  AMC and AIME are not proof based. 

Edited by lewelma
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13 hours ago, square_25 said:

I don’t think the AMC requires a team. Does it??

AMC does not require a team.  I think a big issue for homeschoolers is that you have to find a proctor and the test has to take place at a school or another public building such as a library.  The other big issue is cost.  To register as a competition director is about $55 depending on the level if you get in on the early registration period and tests are sold in bundles of 10 for about $25.  I have never gone this route.  The AMC website does have links to institutions of higher learning that offer the exam along with contact information.  The lady locally to us was very helpful.

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On 2/8/2020 at 1:55 PM, OnceUponAFullMoon said:

 

1. It looks like all the competitions (AMC, Math League, Math Olympiad, etc.) require a team. What happen to homeschooled kids or public schools with no math team? 

2. Do the whole team in each school advance to district to regional/state to national altogether, or will they pick the best individuals from each team to form new team to compete at higher rounds? In other words, do kids need to go to the schools with better teams? 

3. Are there any US math contests for individuals? 

4. Which competitions are better for 2e kids? I heard Math Count is easier but more intense, higher time pressure and hence is more disadvantageous to 2e. 

 

For the AMC you will need to find a place that will let you test, either a local school or a university, an after schooling center or a math circle.  I have been working with the local library to host every year, but it looks like next year the rules will change and we won't be able to host again, but you'll want to call them and ask to confirm.   Because of this rule change, I might call them somewhat homeschool unfriendly, but we'll see.  

MathCounts is a team-based competition, but students can compete as individuals.  It's better if you can find at least one other homeschooled student, so your student will have a buddy because most of the other teams will be arriving in big groups.  It's ideal if your student can participate in a team of 4 students so they can fully participate in all rounds.  (I can discuss MC in more detail if you like to follow up.)  MC is very homeschool friendly.

In a full MathCounts  team, you will have 4 students competing as individuals and as a team and 6 more students competing as individuals only.  Students can qualify for State competition as individuals or as part of a team.  (LMK if you want more details about this.)  Generally whoever qualifies gets to go.  Substitutions are allowed only if a student is unable to attend and gives up his/her spot.  There's a whole big thing where the parent of the student and the student himself needs to sign off that they are giving up their spot, since they are so coveted.  I would say this very rarely occurs.  School teams and individuals from each chapter advance to State where they again compete against other schools and individuals and advance to Nationals.  There is no mixing and matching of students from different schools, except where you might have individuals from different schools and a team from another school.   Students can not join the teams of other schools, nor can student enrolled in regular schools join a homeschooled team.  

Math Olympiad is terrific because there are few other math contests for younger students.  Again, it's more fun to do it as a group, though technically your student can participate as an individual.  I would have between 3 and 8 students on a team, but the students are still competing as individuals because the team score is the sum of the highest 10 scores.  We received nice prizes like trophies, pins, patches and certificates for our registration fee, though the fee is high for what you get.  You can also participate unofficially by using old exams.  

ARML is a high school contest, similar in format to MathCounts.  I'm not as sure about the details here.  

Math Kangaroo is an individual competition, but it's nice to have a group of kids take it together.  They make it easy to run your own MK exam, and it's only once a year, and they provide t shirts, certificates, and a toy to all participants.  

I'm not sure which might be best for a 2E kid.  You'll need to sample the old exams and see which resonate with your student.  Happy to elaborate on these or other exams.  

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, daijobu said:

 

For the AMC you will need to find a place that will let you test, either a local school or a university, an after schooling center or a math circle.  I have been working with the local library to host every year, but it looks like next year the rules will change and we won't be able to host again, but you'll want to call them and ask to confirm.   Because of this rule change, I might call them somewhat homeschool unfriendly, but we'll see. 

This is correct. I'm surprised you could do it at a library this year. We have a local (hour away) uni that offers it, and we had people from 3+ hours away that drove in to test. Considering January/ February in the Midwest, that requires serious commitment.

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The Maa has a form on its site for finding the nearest location offering the tests. Generally, as a host myself I try to accomodate anyone who finds us through that route and that seems to be the case with the others I know. 

It's a pain in the neck but it might be worth trying to forge a relationship with a local school/math teacher if nothing  is close by. 

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Thanks so much for all your replies.

I am confused about the math olympiad though. Some said it was for younger students (as young as 4th grade) but the MAA website said that the USAMO is by invitation and only for top performers of the AMC 10/12. Did you mean MOEMS olympiad for middle school? It doesn't allow individual participants 

My ds goes to public school, but our entire district has nothing other than 24 math for some elementary schools (not at our neighborhood school) and math count for middle school. The AMC is not available at the high school we are zoned to either. At least the closest math kangaroo center and math circle are both only an hour drive. 
 

 

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2 hours ago, OnceUponAFullMoon said:

The AMC is not available at the high school we are zoned to either. At least the closest math kangaroo center and math circle are both only an hour drive. 

Call the math department of your local university. Many of them offer the AMC to the general public, especially for those kids whose school does not host the AMC. The local universities here say that you need to ask the math department head at the public school to host it and they might agree, but, if not, then, the student is welcome to take it at the university. This is usually to keep the seats open for homeschoolers and people who travel long distance to take the test.

Edit: USAMTS is easily accessible as it is on the web and it is an untimed exam (See lewelma's post above)

Edited by mathnerd
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11 hours ago, MamaSprout said:

This is correct. I'm surprised you could do it at a library this year. We have a local (hour away) uni that offers it, and we had people from 3+ hours away that drove in to test. Considering January/ February in the Midwest, that requires serious commitment.

 

I know, right?  I didn't think we would be able to either, but maybe they extended a grace period this year?  Here is what I found on their website:

https://www.maa.org/math-competitions/faqs

Q. #7. What if my school does not offer the AMC tests?
A. Urge your principal, math teacher, gifted education coordinator or anyone else you can think of at your school to help your school register for the contest. If your school doesn’t offer the AMC tests, then one option would be to offer the tests to your school. You could offer to pay for the registration and material cost for the school, making it hard for them to refuse. Organize a math club, or get the existing Math Club to sponsor and fund the registration for the contest. Please make arrangements for your school to register as we must send the contest materials to the school directly. Some colleges and universities also host the contests, particularly the “B” date of the AMC 10/12. Check our web pages for a list of participating Institutions of Higher Learning.

Q. #10. How do we get our organization (home schools, learning centers, testing center, etc.) involved in the AMC contests?
A. We prefer to offer our contest to public schools, a few government accredited private schools, colleges and universities. Before allowing other organizations to register for the contests, we would like to do further research about your academic structure. In order for us to do the required research, please provide American Math Competitions with complete information about your organization, including:

Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for the research to be complete and a decision or determination to be made. You will be contacted by email.

Someone really needs to go through the MAA website, because there are a lot of old links.  I also found this:  https://www.maa.org/math-competitions/amc-1012

Q. Who can proctor the competition?

A. The proctoring of any AMC 10/12 should be by a teacher (preferably a mathematics teacher) or administrator at the school; a college or university teacher of mathematics, or a responsible adult such as a math club coach or librarian. The proctoring of the competition must take place in a public building, (e.g. school, library, college or university, church). The proctor should not be related to any of the participants.

They also offer this advice:

Q. #7. What if my school does not offer the AMC tests?
A. Urge your principal, math teacher, gifted education coordinator or anyone else you can think of at your school to help your school register for the contest. If your school doesn’t offer the AMC tests, then one option would be to offer the tests to your school. You could offer to pay for the registration and material cost for the school, making it hard for them to refuse. Organize a math club, or get the existing Math Club to sponsor and fund the registration for the contest. Please make arrangements for your school to register as we must send the contest materials to the school directly. Some colleges and universities also host the contests, particularly the “B” date of the AMC 10/12. Check our web pages for a list of participating Institutions of Higher Learning.

I don't know.  I think they have an overly optimistic view of schools.  I don't think it would be hard at all for them to refuse, but maybe I'm just cynical.  

I also suspect 2020 is my last year hosting, but we will see.  

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5 hours ago, OnceUponAFullMoon said:

Thanks so much for all your replies.

I am confused about the math olympiad though. Some said it was for younger students (as young as 4th grade) but the MAA website said that the USAMO is by invitation and only for top performers of the AMC 10/12. Did you mean MOEMS olympiad for middle school? It doesn't allow individual participants 

 

 

Sorry, Math Olympiad is a kind of high-falutin' way of describing what is really an elementary math exam for beginning problem solvers.  And to make things confusing, it holds the same name as the real USAMO and IMO, which I believe are properly called Olympiads.  

The elementary one I refer to is also called MOEMS, standing for Math Olympiad for Elementary and Middle School Students.  If you want to register an official team, you can do so at their website this summer:  http://moems.org/

You can use their materials informally at home to practice problem solving skills.  You can order their books on their website or on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Contest-Problems-Division-Richard-Kalman/dp/1882144120/  I recommend volumes 2 or 3 because those are divided into 2 levels of difficulty.  

I'm happy to dive deeper if you have further questions about any of these programs, including Math Kangaroo.  I've been involved in all of them and I'm happy to answer specific questions about how to become involved as homeschoolers.  

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You can find sample MOEMS on their website:  https://www.moems.org/sample.htm

What I love about MOEMS is that they are super-short, only 5 questions, and you get about 30 minutes.  So you can spend the first half hour taking the exam, have the students turn them in, and then it takes about 20 minutes to review all the questions.  I have the students describe their solutions while I scribe for them at the white board and assist them with vocabulary.  They are done in less than an hour, so they don't get fatigued, especially for the younger students.  

If you do things officially, you don't need to meet more often than once a month, so it's easy to schedule.  And in May I schedule an award ceremony with the trophies and other prizes provided by MOEMS and food provided by parents.  It was really quite lovely and my kids made friends who went on to do MathCounts and AMC together.  

Plus, after my kids aged out of MOEMS I had them return to coach younger students, which was great for their self-esteem and public speaking skills.  

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1 hour ago, square_25 said:

Have you hosted Math Kangaroos? I've thought about doing so in NYC -- right now, we sign up at local Russian School of Math locations, but last year, it was kind of stressful due to the environment being unfamiliar and the people not being that friendly... We'll see how it goes this year. 

Yes, MK is very homeschool friendly.  They have it set up where you can either have a private site where you personally invite students, or you can make it public and anyone can sign up.  You can also specify which grades you will accommodate.  It might be too late this year, but check out this site:  http://www.mathkangaroo.us/mk/start_new_center.html  Maria responds quickly to questions.  

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4 hours ago, square_25 said:

Thank you! I'll see if I can do something next year. Did you rent space for it? 

 

We have a library room that's available on a limited basis for meetings like this, so that was free.  Since my own kids were taking the exam, I hired a proctor.  Often librarians will proctor exams.  

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There's a little known fact about MOEMS that while they do not allow individual homeschoolers to register, they do allow you to register your "school" even if it is a school of one student. Another little known rule about MOEMS is that the rules allow you as a homeschooled student to participate with the school that you would normally be districted to attend. There are two schools that we fall under. The schools are not required to accomodate you, but I have successfully petitioned and gotten both schools to allow my son to participate. I did this at nearly a year in advance of when I was trying to get accomodation. I did one school for elementary MOEMS. The second school was happy to have my son participate with them. I asked about the possibility since they have a K-8 program which would solve access through middle school. I think it helped that my son was top scorer both years for the team he was on at the first school and he had a good AMC8 score as a 6th and under student.   

ETA: Since I'm in CA, I am editing to add that if a student enrolled with a charter school, they must do MOEMS with their school of record. They do not fall under what I outlined above as they are considered public school students.

Edited by calbear
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We have done Math Kangaroo, AMC, and Mathcounts as individuals. My son also does Olympiad (I think it is as an individual) at his math circle at the university.  Finding the math circle this year has been a great opportunity for him.

Mathcounts was actually really easy to sign up for as an individual. FYI, mailing my state coordinator was more helpful than the National office, but they were helpful as well. As an individual, my son won 1st at the chapter comp and is going to State in a couple of weeks. So very doable.

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  • 2 weeks later...

1. It looks like all the competitions (AMC, Math League, Math Olympiad, etc.) require a team. What happen to homeschooled kids or public schools with no math team? 

First of all, many competitions don’t require a team. As a matter of fact, one of the competitions you mentioned, AMC, does not require a team. For the competitions that require a team, my ds will usually team up with her friends.

2. Do the whole team in each school advance to district to regional/state to national altogether, or will they pick the best individuals from each team to form new team to compete at higher rounds? In other words, do kids need to go to the schools with better teams? 

This depends on the competition. Generally, to be safe, it is best for your teams to belong to “good” team.

3. Are there any US math contests for individuals? 

Plenty--AMC 8/10/12/AIME/USA(J)MO/BAMO(Bay Area only contest)/USAMTS to name a few. Here is a more comprehensive list: https://artofproblemsolving.com/wiki/index.php/List_of_mathematics_competitions

4. Which competitions are better for 2e kids? I heard Math Count is easier but more intense, higher time pressure and hence is more disadvantageous to 2e. 

I’m not sure which ones are better for 2e kids, but MATHCOUNTS is very time-pressing. There are others contests like BAMO or USAMTS that are less about time and more about understanding.

 
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Most answered about AMC. AMC is the best of all for me. You need to find a test center, either your local school if they accept, a university listed at their site or private center like AoPS. My DS10 took AMC8 test thorough AoPS academy.

Mathleague - You do not need a team, just register yourself as some home school online and then you can register your kid for the test near to your testing center. Now with covid all tests are online, if your kid is middle school level, the tests are still open.

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On 2/10/2020 at 7:44 PM, daijobu said:

You can find sample MOEMS on their website:  https://www.moems.org/sample.htm

What I love about MOEMS is that they are super-short, only 5 questions, and you get about 30 minutes.  So you can spend the first half hour taking the exam, have the students turn them in, and then it takes about 20 minutes to review all the questions.  I have the students describe their solutions while I scribe for them at the white board and assist them with vocabulary.  They are done in less than an hour, so they don't get fatigued, especially for the younger students.  

If you do things officially, you don't need to meet more often than once a month, so it's easy to schedule.  And in May I schedule an award ceremony with the trophies and other prizes provided by MOEMS and food provided by parents.  It was really quite lovely and my kids made friends who went on to do MathCounts and AMC together.  

Plus, after my kids aged out of MOEMS I had them return to coach younger students, which was great for their self-esteem and public speaking skills.  

Thanks for this. 

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Continental Math League just opened registration for 2020/2021. They are very flexible about homeschoolers (and consider PS students who's school does not participate homeschoolers). It's not as intense as many of the other competitions, but can be fun. It was nice for my math club because kids could do the same contest, but at their grade level. https://www.cmleague.com

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