AMC 8 Registration Update

We’re less than 4 weeks away from the AMC 8 Contest, and here is an update on registration, and some other information.

Total Registration

We now have 54 students registered for the AMC 8. If everyone attended, we’d surpass last year’s attendance of 49 students (although we had 71 students register, total).

Grade Levels

Any student 14.5 years of age or younger on the day of the contest and not enrolled in grades 9, 10, 11, or 12 or equivalent is eligible to participate.
We now have:
22 Eighth graders
13 Seventh graders
9 Sixth graders
9 Fifth graders
1 Earlier grade

Schools Represented

If there are 10 or more students from a school, they form a section. At the discretion of the Bard Math Circle, we may form additional sections by grouping schools (i.e. by city or county). All the remaining students will also form a section. Certificates are given to the top 3 students in each section.
We now have this many students from the following schools. Tell your classmates, and try to form a full section!
11 Van Wyck Junior High School
8 Saugerties Junior High School
6 Union Vale Middle School
3 Lagrange Middle School
2 Fishkill Elementary School
2 Highland Middle School
2 St. Mary School, Fishkill
1 Arlington Middle School
1 Ascension Holy Trinity
1 Brinckerhoff Elementary School
1 Bulkeley Middle School
1 Gayhead Elementary School
1 Germantown Central School
1 Grant D. Morse Elementary School
1 Hagan Elementary School
1 Harry L Edson Elementary School
1 Haviland Middle School, Hyde Park, NY
1 Linden Avenue Middle School
1 MC Miller Middle School
1 Mizzentop Day School
1 Netherwood Elementary School
1 Pawling Middle School
1 Robert E. Bell Middle School
1 St. Joseph School
1 Todd Middle School
1 Vail Farm Elementary School
1 Wappingers Junior High School


No problems on the contest will require the use of a calculator. However, you may bring rulers, protractors, and erasers. We’ll provide #2 pencils and unmarked scratch paper (but you can bring those too).

Information Collected on the Answer Form

Before the exam, you must fill in the following information, so don’t forget it!

  1. Last Name
  2. First Name
  3. Middle Initial
  4. Section Letter (we’ll announce these later)
  5. Age/date of birth, grade and gender.

Prepare for the AMC 8!

We are hosting a practice class for the AMC8 on Friday, November 8th at 5:00 PM. We will be looking at some example problems and going over some problem-solving strategies. Obviously we can only accomplish a limited amount on a single Friday evening, but if you are interested in preparing for the test this practice session is great.
Space in the class is limited. To request a spot please use the form at this link. Spots will be given on a first-come-first-serve basis.
You can also check our AMC 8 Page for online resources to prepare.


2013-2014 Kingston Schedule, AMC 8

We’re planning out events for the next school year, and here are two programs that will be running, starting this fall:

Event: Monthly math circle in Kingston, NY
Location: Kingston Library, 55 Franklin Street
Dates: We will meet on the following Saturdays, 1pm – 3pm:

     2013: September 28, October 26, November 23, December 21 
     2014: February 8, March 8, April 12, May 10, June 14
Audience: Geared toward middle school and upper elementary students
Interested? Email and ask to join our Kingston email list.

Educators: Sign up on My Learning Plan to participate and earn credit.

Program: We feature puzzles and games, challenging problems, and hands-on projects. We help students strengthen their critical thinking skills and make math more fun. 


Event: American Math Contest 8 (AMC 8)

Location: Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson

Date: Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 4pm-6pm.
Audience: Top math students in grades 5-8.
Interested? Email and ask to join our AMC 8  email list. We’ll provide more information this fall.
Contest: The 25 question, 40 minute AMC 8 Contest contains engaging math problems that are challenging at the middle school level. The exam is intended to inspire, promote enthusiasm, and a healthy attitude towards mathematics. Students will be exposed to the richness of middle school level mathematics at a deeper level than ordinarily encountered in the schools.


Program: Students and their families will be welcomed with refreshments before the exam. Afterwards, everyone will be treated to an engaging math talk, courtesy of the Bard Math Department.

January 2013 Update

Dear Bard Math Circle Community,

In November last year the Bard Math Circle offered the AMC 8 Math Competition for the first time, and had a fantastic turnout. Forty eight middle school students from around the area came to Bard College for this national exam, and worked on 25 mathematical problems in a 40 minute period.

The problems were challenging far beyond what students normally encounter in school: the median score was 9 problems correct (there was no penalty for a wrong answer or for guessing). For some this was a humbling experience (but not a humiliating one, I hope). There was a excitement about sharing solutions at our December math circles, and a lot of learning going on.

The AMC 8 Results are in!

According to the official report on the exam, there was one perfect score at Bard, by Sanath Kumar, who traveled to Bard from Westchester County with his family. Sanath was 9 years old at the time of AMC 8, and has since turned 10. He is in grade 6 at Our Montessori School. Congratulations, Sanath, and thanks for taking the contest at Bard College!

The next highest scores were:

  • Michael Liu, a student at Bailey MS in Kingston, grade 8. 
  • Katie Houston, a student at Miller MS in Kingston, grade 7.
  • Twins Erik Simon and Henry Cowherd of Ichabod Crane MS in Valatie, both grade 7.
A hearty congratulations to every student who took the exam! You learned some math along the way, and had fun doing it. For links to nicely written solutions, please see previous posts. 
If you would like a printed solution packet (while they last), then come by a math circle for a copy. If you’d like to know your score, please send a friendly email to or stop by the next math circle meeting in Kingston on February 9.

The Parent Survey

While the middle school students were taking the exam their parents filled out a survey. The results were very positive (which is called a selection bias in statistical studies) but gave lots of useful information towards future programming.
There was interest in:
  • a more sustained math circle experience, such as, a 10-session semester program or summer day program. 
  • math circles at other libraries and as an after-school program at schools around the area.
  • volunteering for the Bard Math Circle.
Please follow our blog ( and our email announcements for information on future initiatives based on the survey. Thanks for filling out the survey, parents!

Alcumus for online learning

As an informal first step towards a more sustained math circle experience, I invite those math circle students who are focused on solving challenging problems to sign up for Alcumus, a free online problem system offered by the Art of Problem Solving. Alcumus has over 5,000 challenging math problems with full solutions, and is great for student practice. If you’re interested in helping me try out this system, please do the following:
  1. Open a free account on the Art of Problem Solving website,
  2. If you are under 13 years old, you will be directed to print out the COPPA form for your parents to fill out and send in. This is important, so please do it, even though it will take longer.
  3. Log into Alcumus by clicking on the link in the top navigation menu. Try some problems.
  4. Email me with your Art of Problem Solving name so I can add you to the Bard Math Circle course.
  5. Start solving! I will seek ways to connect your online work with our Kingston Library meetings, while not detracting from everyone’s mathematical experience, even if they are not problem-focused.
If you have trouble getting started on the system, please email me, and I’ll try to help.
The Alcumus system is open to anyone, so once we get it going, it will be fun to invite friends, siblings, parents and teachers.
Here’s to our math circles in 2013!
Japheth Wood
Bard Math Circle co-director

AMC 8 Solutions

The AMC 8 Solutions have been published on the AMC website. But the real fun is happening at the Art of Problem Solving resource wiki, where you can already read nicely written solutions.
If you kept a record of the answers you submitted, you can calculate your informal score (out of 25). How did you do?
My informal score is 23. I had a lot of fun working on these problems (without a time constraint) during the week after the AMC 8, while riding around on the NYC subway, shuttling between appointments. I missed problems 21 and 22, mainly because I didn’t read carefully what was being asked. On the other hand, it’s been a long time since I was in middle school. I think I would also have really enjoyed them way back then!
Please leave a comment about your experience with the AMC 8. What were your favorite problems? Do you have a solution you’re proud of? What did you miss, and why? If you can join us on Saturday, December 8th, we’ll share some solutions at the math circle meeting at the Kingston Library, 1pm-3pm.
See you there!

AMC 8 Exams are on their way back

Good Morning,
The AMC 8 exam was last Tuesday, and 48 middle school students gathered at Bard College to face this challenging national exam. We collected the exam booklets at the end of the contest, to help ensure the integrity of the AMC 8. Now that the testing security window is over, the exams are on their way back to the students.
If you took the AMC 8, you should soon receive your exam booklet. If it does not arrive, or if you would like another copy (we have a few extras), we’ll bring them to the next math circle meeting at the Kingston Library on Saturday, December 8th, where we’ll discuss some of the problems (optional – we’ll still have a nice collection of math activities to choose from).
Can’t wait for Kingston? The official solutions will soon be published on the AMC Website, but the real fun is on the Art of Problem Solving Forum, where students around the country post and discuss their own solutions.
The AMC graders are hard at work, and as soon as they tell us how we did, we’ll share the results here and on our webpage.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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.