A * M * C = The AMC Math Competition


A sample problem from one of the two AMC 10 tests taken this year by students across the United States.

Mohammed Abbasi, Senior Staff Writer

The MacDuffie School recently held the American Mathematics Competition (AMC) on Feb. 7 in the cafeteria. The AMC is a mathematical examination that students from across the United States take in order to achieve higher rankings and qualify for the US International Mathematical Olympiad.

Any Upper School student can sign up to take the AMC. While Middle School students cannot, there are other alternatives provided to them (such as the AMC 8 for 8th graders). However, they were not run this year. The higher levels have more difficult and complex questions. The test has 25 multiple choice questions that have to be answered within 75 minutes. Mathematics Teacher Peter Shelburne proctored this year’s test.  

“[The students] signed up to take it in advance. I do have a sign-up that goes up a few weeks before,” Shelburne said. Once they signed up, the students went to the cafeteria and got started as soon as possible on the test date. The test was taken during the school day, so students had to be excused for two blocks.

MacDuffie has held the AMC test for about eight years. It provides students with an opportunity to show their skills in math and gives them the possibility of advancing to the next level of the competition. The AMC is significant because it helps in enabling a future for students emphasizing math, which is partially why many students like to put the effort into completing the test.

Freshman Matt Jiang took the AMC 10 this year. To prepare for the test, Jiang went on the AMC website to practice problems from previous years. He participated “partly because [his] friends were all going on that competition, and [he] really loves math,” he said.

Sophomore Arthur Tang also took the test; his motivation was simply curiosity as he wanted to see how the competition worked out.

The problems are not the ordinary problems you get in a math class, according to Shelburne. “They’re more like puzzles, so you’re using math, but you really have to think and use problem-solving skills to get to the answer, and… it can be really frustrating with the harder problems,” he said. The problems also get relatively harder and harder as you progress through the exam.

Some of the benefits from taking the test include putting it on their college applications, sometimes including the scores they have received.

“Many students list it… on their college application as something that they participated in and it just shows more interest in math,” Shelburne said.

The highest level for these tests (the US International Mathematical Olympiad), is a group of students that represent the United States in math competitions. The US participates in competitions all around the world, and they are between a variety of different countries (such as China, Greece, Romania, and many more).