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.