Sunday, October 6, 2013

Preparing for the AMC 8

The AMC 8 Contest is coming up on November 19th, 2013. If you are in 8th grade or earlier, then you're eligible to participate. The Bard Math Circle is hosting the contest - 40 minutes of 25 challenging math problems, along with an engaging math talk by Bard math professor Sam Hsiao.

The AMC 8 is a challenging exam. The exam is multiple choice, with no penalty for guessing, and last year out of 48 students taking the exam, our average score was 9.8 points out of 25 (that's actually about twice as good as you'd expect from just guessing). This was from middle school students who generally are at the top of their math classes at school, who are used to taking home A's.

Why take such a tough exam? 

Simply put, the more you challenge yourself, the more math you can learn. The AMC 8 Contest is packed with interesting and accessible mathematics, but at at a level of challenge beyond what you will encounter in school, both in terms of computational skills and conceptual understanding. Trying out these tough problems will bring a sense of accomplishment for the problems you successfully solve, and an intense curiosity to learn how to solve the problems that thwart your best efforts.

How can you prepare?


The first preparation is to accept that this is a tough exam, and that the problems can fight back. Resolve that your motivation to take the AMC 8 is for the opportunity to learn new math, and that although you may feel humbled by scoring what seems to be a low percentage (which is still a great achievement!) that's not the point - learning new math is.

In 40 minutes, there's no way to learn enough math to be able to solve many of the problems - the learning happens before the test. For material to learn from, you can explore our AMC-8 Page where we point out some resources. You can look for previous contests, such as at this link: AMC 8 Sample Tests and Solutions. You can also find a full archive of old exams at the Art of Problem Solving Wiki. Mrs. Lin has collected lots of useful links on her blog post Mathcounts Competition Preparation Strategies, and also regularly offers specific AMC 8 and Mathcounts practice problems. For more cohesive textbooks, we recommend the Art of Problem Solving library, which also include challenging problems to help you learn. And if you attend a Bard Math Circle meeting, you'll get to try out a few challenging problems with a friendly group of other students and Bard Math Majors.

Don't forget to register!


To sign up to take the AMC 8 at Bard College, make sure you fill out the registration form on our AMC-8 Page. It does include a waiver form that your parent or guardian must (electronically) sign.

Good luck and happy learning!

Bard Math Circle