Why participate?        Why host?        Why donate?
Why participate in our contests?
Because our contests are awesome! There are certain important things that every math contest should do, and equally important things that every math contest should avoid. Whether or not you've given these much thought, we have! At mathleague.org, we have been working for more than 20 years to design the optimum math contest. We have borrowed some great ideas from a wide variety of math contests, and we have improved on what we felt didn't work so well at those same contests. The end result is what you see here. Our contests feature:
We believe we have put more thought into developing a great math contest than any other organization in the world, and the only way to stay at the top of our game is to continually reassess our programs and see how they can be made better. We would love for you to try one of our contests and then tell us what you think! Just as we believe that students need feedback on their tests, we welcome input on our tournaments. Like the students, it is how we continue to improve.
Fresh tests. We don't recycle questions; we write new problems every month. Our tests emphasize creative and critical thinking, applied reasoning, and problem solving. Not only are our tests a worthwhile challenge on their own, but they are also excellent preparation for MATHCOUNTS, AMC, ARML, and other challenging competitions.
Fun social opportunities. Unlike some contests where you take a test in your own school and mail in the papers, our contests gather participants in one place so they can meet other students in the area who love math! This is also a great opportunity for parents and coaches to network.
Prompt results. If you're tired of doing mail-in contests and then waiting several weeks for results, try us! At most of our contests, if you win an award, you will get public recognition, in front of your peers, the same day. You might even be able to look up complete results online before you leave the building or post a picture of yourself receiving a trophy less than an hour after the last round of testing is over.
Helpful feedback. Because we believe each contest should be a learning experience, we release packets (containing student answer sheets, a copy of the test questions, and even a copy of the solutions guide) to each school after the contest. We encourage students to review their tests after the contest is over, and sometimes students are so eager to look through their tests that it can be hard to get them to stop analyzing the questions long enough to collect their trophies!
Educational value. We go well beyond the traditional curriculum. Even very young students are exposed to broad concepts from number theory, statistics, probability, combinatorics, algebra, geometry, and other branches of mathematics. Further, our tests do not encourage rote memorization but rather reward the application of problem-solving strategies. Each competition has at least one team round, where students can work together and share ideas and techniques. We believe that students learn and retain a great deal when they solve challenging questions rather than just repeating memorized facts.
Accessible formats. We have something for everyone. Within each competition, some rounds allow calculators while others don't. Some tests are written for individuals while others are designed for teams. All rounds contain easier questions as well as very challenging questions, so students of all ability levels should find something to work on. Everyone can participate and gain the satisfaction of answering questions, but the top students will find themselves quite challenged by the later problems. Scoring is structured in a way that makes sense and balances the various test components.
Appropriate challenges. In a normal math class, an exceptionally gifted student and a profoundly gifted student would likely both get an A+ and appear to be equally proficient, meaning that the teacher would not have adequate information to challenge them or help them improve. At a mathleague.org contest, we strive to ensure there are enough difficult problems that everyone gets at least a few questions wrong. In this way the hardest problems distinguish the top students' abilities and give them all something new to work on. What a great way to challenge, motivate, and educate everyone, at all levels!
Inclusive policies. Although most of our contestants are part of teams sponsored by public or private schools, our tournaments are also open to individual students and cooperative homeschool programs. You can join a team from your school, or organize a team of several other homeschooled kids in your city. As a last resort, you can even attend by yourself if your school is not supportive of math contests. We want to make sure anyone who wants to can compete at our contests! Further, we have no minimum age restrictions. A 7th-grader may choose to register for a high school contest, for instance. (There are maximum age limits, though; for example, a 7th-grader may not compete at an elementary contest, for obvious reasons.) We hold contests appropriate for everyone from 3rd through 12th grades.
Advanced technology. From start to finish, our contests use technology to automate many aspects of our operations. This not only saves time, but it also minimizes the possibility of human error. Visitors to our website can register for membership, join our mailing list, sign up to host a contest, search for and submit an entry form for upcoming contests, or view results from completed contests. We also have the most advanced math contest grading system in the world (see below), as well as an automated mechanism to announce new contests, grading opportunities, and results as they become available.
Robust grading. Our grading system is fast, accurate, and anonymous. Most of our grading is done entirely online. All answer sheets are scanned into the computer, and our special in-house program extracts images of each answer. Volunteer graders, using smartphones, see only images of the answers; the computer tracks but conceals the identity of the students. Every answer is viewed by at least three different people, and discrepancies are flagged for even more scrutiny. Try it out sometime so you can see the difference; just watch for the announcements on our Twitter feed! Anyone with an internet-capable device can help to grade--even the students themselves, after the last test ends. It's surprisingly fun.
Transparent data. At most contests we scan all the student answer sheets before returning them, so it is easy for our staff to investigate possible grading mistakes. True grading errors happen rarely, but if you believe there was a problem, please let us know! Some contests lack a way to remedy scoring discrepancies, but we believe in being transparent and accountable to our constituents. We also post our results online so everyone can help us ensure that we have the most accurate data of any math contest in the world.
Worldwide consistency. All of our contests at a given level (elementary, middle, high school) have the same format worldwide, and the same questions are administered in multiple cities for each test release, so students get the same mathleague.org test experience regardless of where they compete. Posting our results online also allows participants to compare the scores across test sites.
Tiered competition. At all grade levels we offer students the opportunity to advance to further rounds of competition, often culminating in a state, provincial, or national championship. Many of our rules for advancement are designed to allow students to advance to the next round of competition based on their absolute score rather than by their rank at the competition. This allows a greater number of highly-deserving students to advance from particularly competitive regions.
Ongoing expansion. We are growing quickly and are eager to move into new areas. If we don't currently hold contests in your area, get in touch with us so we can work together to set up a competition. If you would like to see a state, provincial, or national championship where you live, we would like to help make that happen. In 2014 we established the first-ever national mathematics championship for elementary students in the United States. We are currently working on establishing national championships in South Africa, the Philippines, and other countries, and we are looking to expand our reach into any areas where there is sufficient interest.
Why host one of our contests?
Because it’s such a rewarding experience! By opening your school for a competition, run by one of our staff, you can:
At schools that have hosted mathleague events previously, there may also be an option to run the competition on your own, without a mathleague staff member on site. A teacher or other representative of the school would need to do all of the preparatory and administrative work, but the school would also keep all the registration fees and have more control over the schedule. This could be an excellent fundraising opportunity for experienced schools. If you are interested in exploring this option, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Foster those intangible "aha!" moments teachers live for.
- Give back to your community. Sometimes high school math teams host elementary or middle school contests to provide opportunities to the younger students in their area.
- Obtain free registrations for your students. We allow a certain number of free registrations to the host school in exchange for letting us use their facilities.
- Outsource headaches. Every math contest has a few bumps, but with one of our experienced staff members on site, such things are minimized. Our representative will handle printing the tests, running the registration desk, administering the grading process, and conducting the awards ceremony.
- Build a local math community. You will not only meet other teachers and coaches in the area, but you will help your students meet other mathematically-inclined children.
- Practice for other competitions. If you’re wondering how an upcoming MATHCOUNTS chapter contest will go, why not hold a dress rehearsal? Your students will gain valuable experience, and you will also be able to gauge the level of competition to expect from other schools in the area.
- Recruit potential students. Hosting a competition allows bright students in the area to view your program. If you belong to a charter, private, or magnet school, perhaps they’ll submit an application. Of course, if your institution is a college or university, you can advertise your institution to the students as well.
- Sell concessions. This could generate a little revenue that will allow your math team to travel to other contests.
Why donate to mathleague.org?
Because you get to be a hero! As a contributor, you are making the world a better place by investing in a worthy cause with great returns. Not only are most donations to our organization tax deductible in the United States, but they also help to educate future engineers, scientists, and problem solvers. Many of these children are phenomenally gifted and are likely to do amazing things in STEM careers. Educating children is always a good investment; educating highly gifted children will likely yield fantastic returns.
Our curriculum goes far beyond what is taught in most schools, and our tests offer appropriate challenges to students of all levels. We never have a problem with supremely smart kids getting bored the way they might in class because they "know all the answers already". We are proud of this program and all the students it has helped over the last two decades. You contribution could help us accomplish even more. With increased funding, we could:
For companies looking to provide direct advertising sponsorship, we can negotiate an arrangement to include your logo on our materials, invite your representative to speak at our awards ceremonies, or distribute promotional materials at our contests. We welcome creative contributions, as well. Hurricane Electric has graciously offered us server space, and we are very grateful for it! If you have a useful skill (like computer programming) and would like to donate some time, we’d love to hear from you. We would also be grateful for other in-kind donations, such as printing services, transportation vouchers, or tablets for use by our online graders.
- Expand into underrepresented areas. We are actively engaged in expanding into less populated states in the US and into southern Africa, and additional funding could help us reach students more quickly in areas where it would otherwise not be economically viable to do so.
- Run more contests. In some cities, we run as many as six contests per school year at a given level. We would love to do that in more cities, or perhaps even increase that number! To do that, we would need to hire more test writers and staff to prepare the tests and run the contests.
- Run larger contests. Too often we are forced to turn away registrants because there is simply not enough room in a middle school cafeteria to seat everyone. If we could rent larger venues, we could accommodate more students.
- Give out more awards. Most of our sites give trophies to the winners in each grade level. With a larger budget we could offer more substantial awards and possibly even scholarships to winners at our state or national championships.
- Keep prices low. Recently, after many years, we reluctantly raised registration fees. We never want students to be priced out of a chance to learn and we hope to minimize further rate increases. With enough funding, it may even be possible to offer students free registration to certain contests.
- Raise the profile of our contests and our students. With an increased budget to promote community outreach, we could devote additional staff resources to developing marketing and publicity materials. Our goal is to raise the level of public consciousness about math contests so that not only do our outstanding students get more recognition, but also more people recognize the value of succeeding at mathematics.
- Improve our technology. We run what we believe is the most technologically advanced math contest in the world, because we are always looking for new ideas to innovate. With an increased tech budget, we could hire staff to help keep our website and grading system at the cutting edge of technology. Our current goals include video tutorials, further automation of the contest registration process, and interactive access to test questions.
- Improve customer service. Due to our rapid growth, we receive a great deal of correspondence. Hiring additional staff could help us answer email more promptly.
Our mission has always been to help gifted students develop their talent for mathematics. It is a rewarding endeavor. Please consider becoming part of this effort; by contacting us at email@example.com to arrange a donation or sponsorship, you will benefit not only the children of today but also the problem solvers of tomorrow.