By Cindy Zomar, Education Coordinator
Marlborough – Asking high school students to sign up for a voluntary high-stakes math test could be considered an exercise in futility.
However, according to Sara Snow, the Director of Accountability at the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School (AMSA), “The response was truly amazing!”
185 students registered voluntarily for that very test.
Qualifying for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination
The exam(s) in question were the annual American Mathematics Competition AMC10 and AMC 12 tests. After attaining top scores, thirteen AMSA students have now qualified for the annual American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME).
AMSA has been participating in the AMC since 2005. Indeed, as many fellow AMC schools have chosen to restrict their competitions to a select group of students, AMSA has adopted these tests into its mathematics curriculum.
“[AMC has] become part of the AMSA tradition, a part of the culture,” Snow explained in recent comments to the Community Advocate.
Expanding problem-solving skills
AMC exams give students 75 minutes to answer 25 multiple choice questions.
This year’s tests took place online, due to COVID-19 restrictions, under the eye of eight math teachers who volunteered to proctor nine breakout rooms, all coordinated by Snow and Erica Piotrowski, AMSA’s IT Director.
The curriculum covered on the AMC 10 test covers topics taught in high school math classes up through grade 10, while the AMC 12 covers all high school math up to but not including calculus.
These exams aim to hone students’ problem-solving skills in addition to serving as qualifying contests for star math students across the country
Studying with previous experience
When asked if she specifically prepared for the AMC, Sruthi Kurada, an AMSA junior and AMC test taker, explained that she has been on the AMSA Math Team for six years. Those experiences with math contests helped her.
“The AMC exam tests concepts that we don’t learn in traditional algebra classes,” she said. “So, I felt it was a great opportunity to solve some interesting problems.”
Matt Vea, a math instructor at AMSA, agreed that the Math Team helps prepare students for these tougher competitions like the AMC and the Math Olympiads.
“These use problems that you’d never see in a textbook, that require creative thinking,” he told the Community Advocate. “It’s a whole different level of difficulty and problem-solving.”
Celebrating a successful performance
Amid the pandemic, AMSA set records for its own AMC success, this year.
This has Principal Mike Nawrocki excited.
“This is the largest qualifying group in AMSA history, demonstrating a continued commitment to excellence by our students, teachers, and parents, even during this challenging year,” he said.
That next set of tests will take place over three hours and consists of fifteen questions. The highest scoring students can then participate in the USA Mathematical Olympiads.
Qualified students participating include Travis Tran, Manraaj Singh, Maurya Virmani, Krishna Purimetla, Sruthi Kurada, Anton Spiridonov, Abhijay Shukla, Colin Candiloro, Mark Mousad, Akshay ShivaShankar, Sam David, Melvin He and Sidhant Roymoulik.
As far as performance and preparation for that next step goes, Vea now has only words of encouragement.
“I wouldn’t underestimate the chances of our top kids doing well,” he said.