Students participate in annual AMC 10 and 12 exams


Elisabeth Siegel

Students complete the 2014 AMC 10 and 12 exams. The tests are administered annually on campus in February; while the 2014 exams were taken in the gymnasium, this year’s exams were taken in Nichols Atrium.

by Michael Sikand and Tiffany Wong

More than 110 upper school students competed in the American Mathematics Competition (AMC) 10 or 12, sitting the 75-minute exam this morning at 8 a.m. in Nichols Atrium.

Every year, more than 350,000 students from 6,000 schools nationwide partake in the AMC competitions. The history and objective of the AMC competition has been the same for over 60 years: to increase the math capabilities of America’s youth through the vehicle of tests which are geared to challenge students and induce mathematical thinking.

“I think definitely where as the diverse selection of math courses Harker provides allows me to pique my interests in various fields, the challenging nature of the problems that demand you to apply the concepts you learn in the classroom to create elegant solutions to solve the problems [is] unique,” Jimmy Lin (11), who took the AMC 12, said.

The competition altered Tuesday’s schedule, with school officially beginning at 9:35 a.m., giving those who are not taking the tests a break from an 8 a.m. start.

While it is recommended that takers of the AMC 10 and 12 have taken geometry, participants in the contest are not excluded based on any particular high-level math course.

“In my opinion, the AMC 10 and 12 exams would be a good start for anyone who is looking to begin participating in math competitions,” Math Club advisor Dr. Anuradha Aiyer said. “There are other competitions that the Math Club runs that may not be as intense as the AMC, but certainly a lot of the problems at the beginning [of the contest] are very approachable.”

If a student excels on the AMC test, they have the opportunity to advance into the American Invitational Math Examination (AIME), a competition which determines students’ qualifications for further advancements with a final score based on both the result of the AMC and the AIME. The next advancement leads to a qualifying exam for the United States of America Junior Mathematical Olympiad (USAJMO), and beyond that is the national math olympiad team.

Students cite their motivation for taking the test for the potential advancement to the AIME and the ways in which it sharpens and tests their problem-solving skills in a competition setting.

“I think [the AMC is] more interesting than school math because there’s a lot more subjects, and it’s not just like simple algebra and computational math. There are a lot of logical problems,” Cynthia Chen (9), who took the AMC 10, said. “The top 2.5% from the AMC 10 qualify for the AIME, and I’m hoping I did well enough this time.”

Aiyer has high hopes for the Harker students competing in this year’s competitions.

“This year’s number [of AMC participants] is pretty much in line with what we’ve had in the past; we usually have anywhere between 100 and 120 students,” she said. “Typically, around 30 students advance to the AIME each year, and I’m hoping we’ll have as much success this year as well.”

For those who perform well on the AMC exam, such students will sit the AIME in March.