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7 Math Competitions for High Schoolers

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For students striving to excel in the field of mathematics, math competitions offer an easy avenue for highlighting your skills and talent. Many students don’t know, though, just how many options there are out there for competing in math contests. In this post we outline our top seven favorite math contests and give provide all the information you need to register.


Why Should You Enter a Math Competition?


For students interested in the STEM fields, math competitions are just one of many ways to show off your skills and highlight your commitment to the field.


Preparing for a math competition can sometimes double as test prep or school content studying. At the very least, you are building important computational and critical thinking skills that will be valuable later on.  


Participating in math contests can also be an exciting social event if they take place in person. Some have formal dinners or ice cream socials, and many have exciting awards ceremonies. Even math contests that take place at your school or online can provide a feeling of camaraderie if you create a study group or school team to prepare for the test.


Math contests are a great choice for honing your math skills, highlighting your commitment to this academic area, and showing off your strength in this important field.


7 Math Competitions for High Schoolers


1. American Mathematics Competitions 10/12


Description: These multiple-choice exams are 75 minutes long and composed of 25 questions. They are administered in February of each year and cover advanced course material appropriate to the grade level.


Grades Allowed: Students in 10th grade and below are eligible for the AMC 10. Students in 12th grade or below are eligible for the AMC 12.


Level: Local, state and national recognitions.


Registration information available here.



2. American Invitational Mathematics Examination


Description: This competitive math examination is part of a series of exams administered by the Mathematical Association of America and it falls between the American Mathematics Competition (AMC) 10 or 12, and the United States of America Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO). The AIME is a three-hour exam composed of 15 questions.


Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th, but only open to students who have already achieved a score of 100 or higher or were in the top 5% on the AMC 12, or students who scored a 120 or above or were in the top 2.5% on the AMC 10.  


Level: National


Registration information available here.



3. American Regions Math League (ARML)


Description: Unlike many other competitive exams, the American Regions Math League competition is held in person. Each year, teams of 15 students gather to participate in a team round, a power question (in which a team solves proof-oriented questions), an individual round, two relay rounds, and a super relay.


Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Level: Local, regional, state, and national levels.


Registration information available here.

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4.  Caribou Mathematics Competition


Description: The Caribou Mathematics Competition sets itself apart by taking place online and being offered in three languages: English, French, and Persian. This worldwide examination is held six times per year, and students who take all exams qualify for consideration for the Caribou Cup.


Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Level: Local, state, and national levels.


Registration information available here.



5. Harvard/MIT Mathematics Tournament (HMMT)


Description: Organized entirely by Harvard, MIT, and other nearby college students, this event features social events along with one of the most prestigious math contests in the country. Teams of students compete in multiple rounds including individual tests, the team round, and the guts round during a weekend long competition held onsite in Boston twice a year. The February competition is one of the most difficult math competitions in the United States for students who can comfortably and confidently solve at least 6 to 8 problems correctly on the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) and write mathematical proofs.


Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th.


Level: Local, but extremely competitive.


Registration information available here.



6. Mandelbrot Competition


Description:  The Mandelbrot Competition is composed of a short answer format and is delivered in five rounds spread throughout the school year. The contest emphasizes creative mathematical thinking and aims to “engage students with only a modest background while still stretching the most advanced students.” Each round consists of seven short-answer questions that are awarded points based on difficulty.


Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Level: Regional and national


Registration information available here.



7. Math League


Description: Over one million students in grades 4-12 participate in Math League exam contests each year. High school contests are administered six times per year and students compete both as individuals and as school wide teams. Problems draw on knowledge of the following areas: geometry, algebra, trigonometry, logarithms, series, sequences, exponents, roots, integers, real numbers, combinations, probability, coordinate geometry, and more. Calculus is not necessary to solve any problems.  


Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Level: Local and national


Registration information is available here.


How to Find the Best Math Competitions for You


You will need to talk to your counselor or a trusted math teacher or mentor to decide which math contests are best for you. Some might be better suited to your particular strengths or skill sets, while other considerations may include travel logistics or team availability. In any case, with some insight and care, you’re bound to find a math competition that is the best fit for you personally.


Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Download our free guide for 9th graders and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academicschoosing coursesstandardized testsextracurricular activitiesand much more!


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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.