Yin organizes mathematics competiton, fosters creativity through problem-solving

About 30 students gathered in a classroom, Feb. 7. They were about to take two 25-question tests that were part of the American Mathematics Competitions (AMC).

The clock was then set for 75 minutes, and off they went.

The AMC’s are entry-level competitions that are but one of the multiple tiers of math competitions, which include the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) and U.S.A. Math Olympiad.

The AMC’s have different versions of varying levels of difficulty. The AMC 10 is for 10th-graders and below, and the AMC 12, the most difficult, is for 12th-graders and below.

Both tests consist of two versions, and students can choose to take both to maximize their chances of qualifying for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME).

In this case, the higher score of the two is taken. For the competition this year, students who earned scores in the top 2.5 percent for the AMC 10 and top 5 percent for the AMC 12 qualified for the AIME.

According to Andre Yin (12), an organizer for Westview’s AMC competition, a record number of students participated in this year’s AMC, with eight students qualifying for the AIME.

“We had record participation compared to the past few years, around 25 people,” Yin said. “We got quite a lot of interest, which is great to see, especially because some of the younger students, 9th- and 10th-graders, are interested in it.”

In studying for the test, the students mainly practiced using previous AMC tests and reviewed math concepts. Mathematica, a math club on campus, also helped students prepare for the competition. Members hold weekly math discussions and share interesting math problems to aid the preparation process.

Although the AMC is based on foundational math skills, Yin said that it takes a different approach towards math.

“AMC is really unlike the math that we learn in school,” Yin said. “The AMC is mainly a competition where you already have these foundational math skills, but now you have to apply creative thinking along with all those formulas in order to solve the problems. That’s part of what makes this competition so engaging, and so challenging, and so worthwhile as well. It’s not that what we learn in class stays in class, but we can apply this knowledge in creative ways to solve all these interesting problems.”

With the AMC completed, the students who qualified for the AIME are now getting ready to take the exam, Wednesday. Robert Lee (10) said that he will prepare for it the same way he did for the AMC. The only difference is that he will be dealing with higher-level and more advanced concepts.

“Unlike the AMC, there are only 15 problems and we are given three hours to finish them,” Lee said. “Thus, the problems are much harder and take more time to complete, often requiring multiple concepts to complete.”

Despite the competitions’ progression in difficulty, Yin said that the competitors are motivated to participate because they enjoy the competitions’ challenging nature and the opportunity to apply the math they learn.

As for Yin himself, he said that he organized the AMC because he wanted to help all students cultivate their passion for math.

He strives to continue spreading the word about AMC and to build on the increased student participation from this year.