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Relay Upgrade for 2019-2020 And Beyond

At mathleague.org, we're making some exciting changes to one of the featured events at our high school contests, the Relay Round!

What's Changing?

  • mathleague.org is moving to a system where all relays allow collaboration, have only a single collection time, and award points for each of the three questions.

  • Local relays will still be auto generated, but we are working to implement a system in which questions will be arranged taking difficulty level into account.

  • It is now possible to purchase practice relays!


Why Are We Making These Changes?

Over the past year, we have identified several problems with the relay round as currently implemented, including:
  • Information Transfer - While relay rules specify that students may only pass back the answer to their question, it is difficult to define appropriate requirements for exactly what may be passed back, and practically impossible to enforce such rules in any case.

  • Missing Papers - The two opportunities (at 3 and 6 minutes) to turn in answers can create a situation where a team may decline or refuse to provide an answer paper at one of these opportunities. If a dispute arises later, it puts our volunteer proctors and coordinators in an impossible position having to adjudicate whether an answer paper was turned in and later lost, or never turned in at all.

  • Mid-round Disruption - The 3-minute collection time has proctors collecting answers while students are still trying to work on their problems, which can be extremely disruptive to the students' efforts.

  • Partial credit - Relays, in effect, award no points to a team unless they solve all three problems correctly within the time limit. While we do want to reward the speed and precision required to do so, we also want to recognize correct answers to earlier parts of the relay.

  • Incomplete teams - A team of fewer than three students is effectively excluded from meaningful participation in a "traditional" relay.


How We Are Addressing These Issues

After discussion among our staff and a survey of coaches and other stakeholders, we have arrived at the following solutions, beginning with the 2019-2020 season:
  • Collaborative Relays - At all levels, including state and national, relays will be run fully collaboratively. Teams of 3 (or fewer) students will receive all three problems and be allowed to communicate freely with each other, just as on the Team Round. Relay groups will submit a single set of answers, which will include answers to all three problems on the relay. There will be no need to physically "pass back" answers, which should also cut down on litter in the testing rooms.

  • Single Collection Time - All relay rounds will be 3 minutes long only. A single answer paper will be collected from each group at the end of 3 minutes, and the round will not continue afterwards.

  • Partial Credit - Relay groups will turn in answers to all three problems in the relay. 2 points will be awarded for a correct answer to the first problem, 3 points for a correct answer to the second problem, and 5 points for a correct answer to the third problem.

  • State and National - The previous tradition of having all three questions be the same in postseason relays is no longer consistent with these changes. State and national relay rounds will therefore have different questions in every position.


What's Not Changing

Many aspects of relay will remain the same!
  • Relays will continue to consist of 3 questions, to be worked on by groups of at most 3 students. The two top-scoring relay groups from each school will count towards the sweepstakes score.

  • At local competitions, relays will continue to be auto-generated from our database of relay templates. At state and national competitions, relay questions will be brand new, though we may add them to the database afterwards as appropriate.

  • Calculators will not be allowed on relays.

  • The term "TNYWR" (for "The Number You Will Receive") will still be used, even though answers no longer need to be physically passed from one student to another.


Purchasing Practice Relays

If your school is interested in more relay tests for practice, there are several options available to you!


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