Math test returns to campus as students take on challenge


Henry Lien

Students take the American Mathematics Competition test at Branson on Nov. 10, 2021. The examination marked the first on-campus AMC since the pandemic began.

By Gigi Hohenrieder

Branson hosted the American Mathematics Competition last month in the first on-campus test since 2019.

This year, Branson had approximately 30 participants, but in past years the number was closer to 40-50. Students who have a particular interest in mathematics have historically taken the test. The Nov. 10 test was the first step in a series of tests that can lead to the International Mathematical Olympiad.

It is easier to do well as a student advances in the math curriculum, but this test is great practice in the early stages. “You will do better in the future if you practice now,” math teacher Rich Parsons said. 

The test is enriching and generates interest for students in the pursuit of math. Although some colleges may request AMC scores, the test is unlike the SAT and ACT. The AMC test is multiple-choice with 25 questions and the main purpose of the test is to offer additional practice for people who have fun with math.

“It’s the sort of thing where getting 10 of them right, or 12 of them right, is a pretty good score,” Parsons said.

Students take the AMC in the Old Gym on Nov. 10. Henry Lien

If a student does well on the test, the next step is the American Invitational Mathematics Examination, which will be hosted at Branson. In the past, Branson has had students qualify for the AIME, but the school has never had anyone go past that point.

The tests draw on general skills, and to prepare, students can practice with old tests. 

“To really do well in those kinds of competitions, you need to train. You really need to participate in math circles and just get practice with that kind of problem solving,” Parsons said.

“At the end of the day, solving these problems is just satisfying and fun,” he added.

Wilson Wendt, a sophomore, called the test “challenging, not the type of math that is not taught in the classroom. You have to quantize a word problem to make it solvable with numbers.”

Although he’s a sophomore, Wendt takes AP Calculus BC, a course usually taken by upperclassmen. He also emphasized the advantage of having previous experience.

It’s the sort of thing where getting 10 of them right, or 12 of them right, is a pretty good score.

— Rich Parsons

“It was my third time taking it [and] I was pretty comfortable. I think my progress in the math curriculum has helped a lot,” he said. “It still lived up to being the challenge it’s known for, especially since I took the 12th grade level test.”

Wendt also spoke on his prospects for qualifying for the AIME competition.

“I think I did decently well for a sophomore but I don’t think I qualified for the AIME,” he said. “I answered 15/25 questions.”