Nothing is more exciting than enabling kids to succeed in something they are passionate about. For grade school and middle school kids who are passionate about math and problem-solving, they cannot miss the AMC 8. Every year, over 100,000 students participate in one of the biggest math competitions in the U.S., the AMC 8.
Here’s what makes the AMC 8 a super cool opportunity: The AMC 8 brings out the best math students across to the country competing for the recognition of being a math master. Kids get a chance to show what they can do and explore math topics that are taught in advanced math classes. Moreover, for kids who do well on the AMC 8, there is a chance to move up to the AMC series and take AMC 10 and AMC 12. If they do well on the AMC 10 or AMC 12, they can move onto more prestigious, invitational competitions
What is the AMC 8?
The AMC 8 is a competition where kids, under the age of 14 and a half, take a multiple choice test of middle school math skills. It was created by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) to help students explore the beauty of math and get them excited about the subject.
With 25 questions to solve in 40 minutes, it’s an exciting way to challenge their knowledge of math concepts, problem solving, and analytical thinking. The AMC 8 is the first in a series of competitions where the top students in the U.S. and the world can compete for prizes, awards, and scholarships.
Here is a breakdown of the scores students need to get for awards:
- Top 2%: Certificate of Distinction (around 22-25)
- Top 5%: Honor Roll Certificate of Distinction (around 18-21)
- Top 15% (6th graders and younger only): Certificate of Merit (around 15-25)
For the 2023 AMC 8 competition, 60% of Spark Math students received National Awards.
1) Know what the AMC 8 Covers
Like any competition you can’t succeed if you don’t know the rules. The AMC 8 covers mostly middle school math topics, but also includes some high school concepts for advanced students. While these might the concepts listed on the official AMC 8 website*, anything taught in middle school or high school math is on the table for the competition.
Middle School Concepts
- Counting and probability
- Proportional reasoning
- Elementary geometry including the Pythagorean Theorem, spatial visualization, everyday applications, and reading and interpreting graphs and tables.
Advanced / High School Concepts
- Linear or quadratic functions and equations
- Coordinate geometry
- Other topics traditionally covered in a beginning algebra course.
2) Practice with real test and questions
The biggest fear, when confronting something new in life, is the unknown. When headed into the AMC 8 for the first time, make sure to practice with real questions and test. The AMC 8 website offers real problems from previous test.
Doing research online can also help students find full previous test, how to guides, and even online prep courses (more on that later) for the most dedicated competitors(more on that later). With these practice questions you can work on the different approaches for the types of questions. Getting a feel for how the questions are written will help build confidence when handed the real thing.
3) Practice with other students.
Just because the AMC 8 is about individual scores doesn’t mean you can’t be part of a team. Social learning is a great way for kids to learn to work together and share knowledge. The goal for the AMC 8 is to get as high a score as possible, not beat other students. When kids work together, they are able to help each other see new methods to face a problem.
Kids that are passionate about a subject they want to share that knowledge and excitement with other like minded people. The AMC 8 was created for kids to have a fun time learning problem solving. Just like other after school activities, kids can learn more than just math tricks. Working together helps everyone get to the next level and celebrate their success, preferably with pizza.
4) AMC 8 Prep Classes take you to the next level
For every extracurricular activity, there are kids who do it for fun and those who are looking to take it to the next level. Just like with sports, there are training camps and programs to get kids to go from math competitions to arithmetic all-stars. Competition math programs, like the one here at Spark Math, have shown to increase AMC 8 scores in their students. Just like with sports, some kids do it for fun, and others want to make it to the very top.
The AMC 8 is the beginning of a math competition journey. For students who want to move on to the AMC 10 and AMC 12 in high school, they have the chance at heading to invitation only competitions. These competitions can offer scholarships, prizes and more. For the best math athletes, they can ever have a chance to represent the their country in the biggest math competition in the world, The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).
For those kids excited to face the AMC 8 head-on, work hard and have fun. The AMC 8 was built for kids who are excited to solve problems. That passion can lead to honors and scholarships that turn your passion for math into your dream job.
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*Information and references on this page taken from the official MAA AMC 8 website, and is up to date as of May 2023