AMC 8 Summary

This is a quick summary to start off your morning. Yesterday’s AMC-8 contest at Bard College went exceptionally well. We had 48 middle school students from around the area take the national AMC-8 exam, representing almost 20 different schools. The contest was followed by a wonderful math talk by Jim Belk and Maria Belk on the Mathematics of Rock, Paper, Scissor (want to know more? Read about Princeton mathematician John Nash and the Nash Equilibrium).

We’re all curious about the answers to the contest, and they’ll be published on November 20th on the AMC-8 website (, but the really fun place to learn the solutions and interact with other young mathematicians is on the Art of Problem Solving discussion forum (

The organizers of the AMC 8 competition request that there be no public discussion until November 21, either in print or electronically, of the problems, to maintain the integrity of the competition. By the way, all the exam booklets were collected after the contest, but we’ll be returning them by mail at the beginning of next week.

On behalf of the Bard Math Circle and the Bard Math Department, thanks again for coming out to Bard yesterday to solve some challenging problems and learn some interesting mathematics. A big thanks to the parents who responded to our survey. We enjoyed meeting all of you in person at Bard, and we hope that you’ll join us soon for upcoming Bard Math Circle events.

Some comments received after the competition:

Thank you to the Bard faculty, staff and students for hosting this competition and interesting math talk. As we left the event, my son expressed that he had fun and would definitely do this again.

Thank you, my kids had a great time.

Thank you and [the] Bard Math Circle for hosting this event and constantly contributing to this area. We really appreciate it.

You and all the volunteers/staff at the AMC-8 contest were wonderful hosts, thank you so much for the event.  [My son] really enjoyed himself. Please keep us posted on any upcoming events.

AMC-8 Schools at Bard

The AMC-8 exam is tomorrow, and our event has grown even beyond what we were expecting! A few weeks ago we had to start a waiting list, but then ordered more test packets to increase our capacity. So, no more waiting list! 

We will be able to accommodate last-minute arrivals, so please encourage your friends (and friends’ children) to join us! (They’ll have to fill out waiver forms when they arrive.)

We currently have over 50 students registered for the AMC-8 competition, from all over the area! Here’s a list of schools represented:

Bulkeley Middle School, Rhinebeck
J. Watson Bailey Middle School, Kingston
Linden Avenue Middle School, Red Hook
M. Clifford Miller Middle School, Kingston
Germantown Central School, Germantown
Rondout Valley Middle School, Accord
Ichabod Crane Middle School, Valatie
Union Vale Middle School, Lagrangeville
Chatham Middle School, Chatham
Faith Christian Academy, Poughkeepsie
High Meadow School, Stone Ridge
Mill Road Elementary School, Red Hook, NY
North Park Elementary School, Hyde Park
Orville A Todd Middle School, Poughkeepsie
Our Montessori School
Taconic Hills Middle School, Craryville
Vail Farm Elementary School, Lagrangeville

We do ask everyone to arrive on time, as we’ll start the competition soon after 4pm. Don’t bring your calculator – they are not allowed.
Parents will have the opportunity to meet with Bard Math Circle organizers while their children are taking the exam. After the competition, we’ll have an exciting math presentation from Bard math professors Jim and Maria Belk.

Are you motivated by your test scores?

In preparation for the AMC-8 exam coming up on November 13th, I took a look at the statistics from last year’s contest. One thing that is striking is that, although this contest attracts some of the highest achieving middle school students in the country, the average score on the exam is less than 40%. 
That’s right – on this 25 question, multiple choice contest, where wrong answers are not penalized, the average number of questions answered correctly is about 10 for eighth graders, and less for younger students. Even the average highest score per school seems low – about 18 points out of 25, or 72%.
Given that, I’m a little worried about some students – those who are motivated by their test scores, who might feel bad that although they ace every test in their math class at school, they will see their grade score suddenly plunge on the AMC-8.
But for those students who are motivated by learning, who take pleasure in math for math’s sake, I suspect that the AMC-8 experience will be exhilarating. They’ll get to face the challenge of math problems that they don’t know how to solve, and will walk away having learned something new.
The AMC-8 exam may indeed be a humbling experience for both groups of students. But I fear that for those students motivated by their score rather than by learning, this may end up being humiliating as well, because they measure their self-worth in a bad way – by how well they “do” instead of how much they learn.
Good luck to all the students taking the AMC-8 at Bard on November 13th! Come visit our AMC-8 page for some links that will help you prepare, and learn some math along the way.



ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.––Bard College mathematics professors Japheth Wood and Lauren Rose, the Bard Math Circle, and the Bard College Mathematics Program are proud to host the American Mathematics Contest 8 (AMC8) for middle school students in the Mid Hudson Valley. The contest will be held in the Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Center for Science and Computation at Bard College on Tuesday, November 13, at 4:30 p.m.
The AMC8 is a 25-question, 40-minute exam containing engaging math problems that are challenging at the middle-school level. The exam is intended to develop and enhance problem-solving skills and to promote enthusiasm for mathematics. Students are exposed to the richness of middle-school level mathematics at a deeper level than ordinarily encountered in the schools. Although geared toward middle-school students, upper elementary school students are welcome to enter the contest.

Download a flyer: (link no longer used).

To register for the AMC8 at Bard, go to: (link no longer used).
For general information about the AMC8, go to:
For information about the Bard Math Circle, visit:
For questions, please contact Japheth Wood at or Lauren Rose at
About the Bard Math Circle
The Bard Math Circle, organized by students and faculty at Bard College, is a mathematical enrichment program geared toward middle school and upper elementary students. We bring puzzles and games and run hands-on workshops in local libraries and schools to help students strengthen their critical thinking skills, and to make math more fun.