So my school offered the AMC 10 and the AMC 12 (math competitions) last week. And although we have a number of pretty strong math students, none of them broke the 100 point mark. No student in recent history — apparently — at my school has done that. The fact is that to do well on these competitions, you have to be familiar with the types of questions and methods to solving them. There are techniques to doing well, tricks that any student who has seen enough of these can put away in their mathematical arsenal. These contests require a different way of thinking, a different way of approaching problems.
I am the faculty adviser for my school’s math club, and I just go with the flow. I listen to what the students want and we do it. Sometimes students bring an interesting problem or an extension of a problem. Sometimes I bring a problem. Sometimes we watch a video. Sometimes we work on contest problems.
Last year and this year, the students haven’t wanted to dedicate time outside of math club to doing math. We have only 25 minutes a week to meet. Well, frankly my dear, you can’t get through much in that time — especially if students don’t want to concertedly work on problems outside of math club, and then use math club to present solutions or failed methods of attack. When it comes down to it, to do well on these contests, you need to practice.
I’m okay with students not wanting to spend time outside of mathclub working on math problems. They are all busy and well-rounded and are juggling a ton of different things.
Still… I am waiting for the day when someone in mathclub says: “Everyone, I am going to solve every one of these 25 competitions problems by next week” and goes at it. Whether or not they succeed, it’s irrelevant to me. That’s the kid I want to take under my wing.
PS. I finally got around to taking the AMC12 under testing conditions (75 minutes, no calculator). I scored a 108. Which is around the same score I got last year and when I was in high school.
This year I didn’t sign us up. I asked if someone else would, but nope.
On the other hand, 2 of the last 3 years we had qualifiers…
I’m just doing too much…
As far as preparation, one or two practices, and some discussion of choosing questions and skipping questions and how many questions to answer.
On the other hand, each year I lectured kids not to do “just enough” questions, and each year we lost kids who had calculated the minimum number they needed right, with 0 wrong, and who got 1 wrong and did not qualify.
We always order 100 tests of each (the 9/10 and the 11/12) but this year only had 32 kids take the 11/12 (I don’t know about the 9/10). They pull the kids out of 1st and 2nd period class to take it, and a lot of those juniors/seniors are so conscientious about their academics that they don’t want to miss class! (Crazy, isn’t it!) I haven’t seen results yet – should be interesting. We typically have 1 – 2 kids advance to the next round, but nothing beyond that.
For the first time we held a practice/strategy session after school. About 10 kids showed. We “make” all of our accelerated-honors students take the test. Next year we’re going to make it optional.
No one qualified this year (that I know of). We usually have 1-2 qualify each year.