After scoring in the top percentile in the first round of testing, 16 Brahmas qualified for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination, which they took earlier this month.
The 75-minute American Mathematics Competition tests consisted of 25 questions, all designed to challenge students’ problem solving skills while utilizing mathematical concepts only from trigonometry, algebra and geometry–excluding calculus.
Freshmen and sophomores take the AMC 10 exam, and if they score in the top 2.5 percent of all test-takers, they qualify for the AIME test. Juniors and seniors have a more difficult exam, the AMC 12, in which they must score in the top 5 percent to qualify. In total, only about 4,000 out of 120,000 test takers worldwide are able to move on to the AIME.
The passing students at DBHS included Jue Fang, Emma Fu, Warrick He, Yixian Huang, Hanxu Jiang, Jason Kim, Caleb Lee, Rachel Qu, Aaron Sun, Andrew Tarng, Yuze Wan, Allen Wang, Selina Wu, Jiayi Zhang, Zijie Zhao and Corey Zhong.
Fu, one of the 16 qualifying competitors, talked about her preparations approaching the exam. Rather than focusing just on the test, Fu also dedicates time to other forms of critical thinking to prepare herself.
“Nearing the testing dates, I solve old [AMC 12/AIME] test questions in order to help practice for the exam,” Fu said. “But in general, I occasionally do math or programming problems by myself or with friends for fun just to think about something.”
Kim, another qualifying student, had similar practices while preparing for these competitions.
“I prepared for the AIME by practicing with and solving previous tests on a time constraint,” Kim said. “I cram a lot of studying into a month or two before the competition, so during the 4 weeks before, I study about 1 or 2 hours a day on weekdays and up to 4 hours a day on weekends.”
The students also talked about their prior experiences with math competitions, showing how much effort some students put into qualifying in this notoriously difficult competition.
“I have been taking the AMC exams on their many, various levels since I was in 5th grade,” Kim said. “The AMC has lower levels that cap out for different grades, and I have been taking them since I was 10 years old.”
The next step for these students, following the AIME, would be qualifying for the United States of America Mathematical Olympiad, which selects around 500 of the most talented mathematicians from across the country.
“After the AIME, the next big checkpoint is to qualify for the USAMO, but it is really competitive,” Kim said. “These competitions are goals I’ve had for a long time, but the only thing I would really say I’m trying to accomplish is to build onto the things I’ve learned in high school and show that I’m not just good at getting grades.”
After taking the AIME, Kim said that it was quite difficult and truly challenged his problem solving skills.
“The AIME was way harder than the AMC usually is,” Kim said. “I don’t think I did super great, but I never intended to try and get a good score on it because of its difficulty.”
Fu seemed to agree with him that solving problems on the exam was not an easy task at all.
“I thought [the AIME problems} were very challenging,” Fu said. “The results of the competition have not been released to us yet.”