2019 American Mathematics Competition 10/12

Phillip Gan, Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again when the Valentine’s mood sets in and the American Mathematics Competition (AMC) 10 and 12 begin. The AMC 10 and AMC 12 are both 25-question, 75-minute, multiple choice examinations on high school mathematics designed to promote the development and enhancement of problem-solving skills in students all over the nation.

The AMC is an annual test split into three difficulties based on grade level: AMC 8, AMC 10, and AMC 12 (students in the 8th grade and below are allowed to take the AMC 8, students in 10th grade and below are allowed to take the AMC 10, and so forth). This challenging test is notorious for its seemingly impossible problems with complex solutions derived from simple methods. One must be creative when attempting to solve these problems. The test questions begin with effortless problems at middle school levels and grow into absurd monsters that can take the entire allotted time to solve. Fortunately, the scoring system is the same throughout: each correct answer is worth 6 points (for a maximum score of 150), each unanswered question is worth 1.5 points, and each incorrect answer is worth no points. As a result, the main strategy when taking the AMC is to answer the easiest questions correctly and leave the difficult ones blank.

The test is further split into two optional parts, A and B, though AHS is hosting only part A. Both the A and the B versions of the AMC 10 and AMC 12 have the same number of questions, scoring, and rules for administration. The only differences are the competition dates, and that each version has a distinct set of questions, although the two examinations are designed to be equal in difficulty and distribution of topics. Senior Michael Huang, a member of the Arcadia Math Team, said he enjoys taking the AMC because “the problems involve much more creativity and are unique. The hardest parts are the last few questions of the test because the problems get progressively more difficult.” 

Students who perform exceptionally well on the AMC 10/12 are invited to participate in another AMC series of examinations that culminate with the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). The first in this series is the American Invitational Mathematics Exam (AIME), followed by the USA Mathematical Olympiad and Junior Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO and USAJMO). Any student who scores within the top 1% on the AMC 10 (or 2.5% as of 2011), the top 5% on the AMC 12, at least 120 on the AMC 10, or at least 100 points on the AMC 12 is invited to take the AIME. Selection to the USA(J)MO is based on the USA(J)MO index, which is defined as a competitor’s AMC 12 score plus 10 times their AIME score (AMC 12 is substituted with AMC 10 for USAJMO), for a maximum compounded score of 300. The top students from the USA(J)MO are invited to the Mathematical Olympiad Program that takes place during the summer after the exam. Students from the Mathematical Olympiad Program are then eligible to be selected for the following summer’s six-member team that will represent the U.S. at the IMO.

Although you might be intimidated the first time you encounter these difficult logic-twisting problems, it is a good experience to learn from, and if you don’t succeed, just try again next year! The AMC 10 and AMC 12 will be given on Thursday, February 7th at 3:00 pm in F108. Please see Ms. Nairi in F108 to sign up. Good luck!