Best Approaches to AMC Math Preparation and AMC Math Contest Practice
What is the AMC Math Competition?
The American Mathematics Competitions are a series of examinations that evaluate problem-solving skills and mathematical knowledge in middle and high school students. There are 3 levels of AMCs:
- AMC 8: A competition for middle-schoolers (Grade 8 and under)
- AMC 10: High school level competitions (Grade 10 and under)
- AMC 12: High school level competitions (Grade 12 and under)
Top scorers from the AMC 10/12 are invited for a further examination known as the AIME (American Invitational Mathematics Examination).
250 participants with highest index, calculated by adding AMC10/12 and AIME scores, are then selected for each of the highly prestigious competition - the United States of America Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO) and United States of America Junior Mathematical Olympiad (USAJMO).
If you want your child to participate at the highest levels of math competitions, AMC is the first step. That’s what makes this competition so critical - the problem solving strategies and concepts from integrated mathematics learnt at this stage can set your child up for future success.
AMC Math Preparation at Random Math
At Random Math, we use the principle of ‘result density’ to track our achievements. This means that we aim to ensure as many students as possible qualify and achieve high scores in the AMCs and other competitive math tournaments.
Our strategies have enabled us to grow from 1 student qualifying for AIME in 2017 to 108 students qualifying for the same examination in 2021-2022. Besides, this we have grown in number of USA(J)MO qualifiers to 23 in 2021-2022.
Our high result density is proof that our problem solving strategies really work! So, let’s learn more about some of the key strategies we use.
5 Key AMC Math Preparation Strategies
Here’s a quick look at the 5 key strategies we use to prepare students for AMC contests and foster a lifelong love of math:
1. Develop a cohesive group of students: The bright side of bright peers
The first step in our preparation process is an assessment. Once students are assessed, they are assigned to appropriate-level classes. This ensures every student is being challenged at their level and has a chance to actively participate in discussions, respond with answers, ask questions and learn from alternative thought processes.
Active participation and a challenging learning atmosphere can only be fostered effectively if the classroom is composed of students at a similar level in mathematics who have similar goals, strengths and weaknesses - which is why we place such a high importance on assessing all our students before assigning an appropriate class to them.
This not only helps students learn from each other, share problem solving tactics, and push each other to do better, but also presents an opportunity for your child to interact with peers that are as passionate about math as they are - which encourages great friendships. Finding a community of similarly-minded peers can be invaluable at this age.
2. Focus on developing expertise in integrated mathematics and problem solving:
While AMC math contest practice is critical during the lead up to the competition, our classes focus on building a deep understanding of math first. This is why Random Math does NOT offer AMC 8/10/12, AIME, USA(J)MO classes.
Instead, we dive deep into on all math topics every year, which we divide into 4 key buckets - Number Theory, Geometry, Combinatorics and Algebra. Students progress to learning more advanced concepts and solve increasingly difficult problems while also developing an understanding of interrelationships between mathematical concepts and formulations.
This methodology allows students to advance in topics as they become ready. For example, some of our students begin learning geometry in the third grade, and can build an advanced knowledge of the subject by the time their peers start with the same subject in eighth grade.
Once a student has a deeper understanding of math across topics, results follow. Some of our students have gone all the way to qualify for USAMO and MOP before moving to more advanced Mathematics courses or research at Stanford University Mathematics Camo (SUMaC), Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS), Ross Mathematics Program. and MIT Primes. Others have chosen to move to closely related subjects such as Machine learning, Physics and Computing competitions.
While such successes validate our student’s learning (and our teaching methods!), they’re not the primary focus of our classes.
This is why even students not focused on the AMC contests can benefit and build an advanced knowledge of math through our programs, given its emphasis on building a strong foundational understanding of math.
3. Champions are built in the offseason - Leapfrog during Summer Break
The best time to develop expertise is when there is no pressure of an upcoming AMC8, AMC10, AIME or other math contests. Our summer camps are intense programs designed to help students advance their learning by one to two years over the course of summer.
During the school year, students have limited time as they must manage schoolwork and other extracurricular activities. Some of the students who have already prioritized competitive math over other activities make progress, but find it difficult to sustain the level of effort needed to meet their ambitious goals. Summer camps offer students interested in competing a dedicated space to hone their problem solving skills and get in some much-needed practice for AMC contests. Others can use this opportunity to advance their math knowledge by 1-2 years. Of course, this depends on the student’s themselves and their time commitments.
Random Math summer camps help students leapfrog to more advanced topics while building a strong foundation in methods needed to ace the exam.
For students applying for the AMCs, we recommend using our summer camp to kickstart math learning with an intense course load and using the school year to consolidate math learning further.
4. Measurement leads to improvement
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘what gets measured gets managed.’ At Random Math, we take this seriously. Before joining, all our students go through an assessment which helps us understand where they stand and allows us to develop a personalized learning journey for each child.
Students are also assessed continuously with help of practice tests, homework and most importantly class participation. Based on our coach’s assessment, we keep moving outliers upwards to keep them challenged throughout the year. Sometimes, we initiate discussions with parents if we see a student needs to improve in terms of their commitment.
These continual assessments provide our coaches with insights into strengths and weaknesses of the students - allowing them to adjust learning accordingly, and presenting students with challenges and problems tailored to their particular needs.
If you’d like to understand where your child stands, we highly recommend taking an assessment with us. The assessment is a closed-note exam, taken either in-person or online via Zoom. Click here to sign up for an assessment.
5. Accelerator program - Practice, Practice, Practice
As with any competitive test (or sport for that matter), doing well in AMC contests involves a lot of practice. But to really succeed, the way you practice is as important as the time spent practicing. Professional footballers don’t just play a lot of football - instead they do different workouts and drills that allow them to perform at an optimum level.
For someone who aspires to be part of the Math Olympiad, it’s no different. Our AMC math contest practice , which is part of our accelerator program, includes multiple components too - drills and exercises that train students to build speed, tactics for AMC problems as well as full AMC mock tests to prepare them for exam day.
If you believe your child has is interested in participating in math competitions, you might want to consider applying to Random Math. We’ll create a personalized learning journey that maximizes your child’s potential and helps them reach their goals with our rigorous AMC math preparation classes. (Don’t forget to take an assessment before you apply!)
Let the fun begin!