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10 Reasons Why You Should Participate in Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools (MOEMS)

Participating in academic contests can significantly enhance a student's college application profile by demonstrating commitment, intellectual curiosity, and problem-solving skills. One such prestigious contest is the Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools (MOEMS), a highly regarded competition that challenges students in grades 4 through 8 from across the U.S. and worldwide.


What is MOEMS?

Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools (MOEMS) is an international math competition aimed at students in grades 4 through 8. It challenges participants with monthly contests from November to March, enhancing their problem-solving skills and mathematical thinking through creative and engaging problems. 


This competition is known for its academic rigor and is a prestigious addition to a student's educational profile, especially as they build their portfolio for universities.


How is MOEMS structured?

MOEMS is structured into two divisions: Division E for grades 4-6 and Division M for grades 6-8, accommodating up to 35 students per team. The competition spans five monthly contests held from November to March, each consisting of 5 problems that students have 30 minutes to solve. It is conducted globally with both paper-based and online options for participating teams. This structure supports a wide range of problem-solving skills and caters to a diverse international student body.


What topics are covered by MOEMS?

MOEMS offers a variety of math subjects that will be tested by students across grades 4 through 8. Here's a detailed look at the topics and curriculum typically covered:

  • Arithmetic and Number Theory: Basic arithmetic operations, exploring factors and multiples, diving into prime numbers, and understanding divisibility rules may be covered.

  • Algebraic Thinking: Although formal algebra might not be heavily emphasized at the lower levels, students engage in algebraic reasoning, like patterns, sequences, and basic use of variables and expressions to solve problems.

  • Geometry: Topics include basic geometrical shapes and properties, area and perimeter calculations, symmetry, and basic concepts of angles, while more advanced problems might delve into topics like the Pythagorean theorem, geometric constructions, and coordinate geometry.

  • Combinatorics: This area includes counting techniques, the basics of permutations and combinations, and introductory probability. Students should learn how to count systematically, use tree diagrams, and solve basic problems in probability.

  • Data Interpretation and Statistics: Basic statistical concepts like mean, median, and mode might be introduced, and interpreting and presenting data effectively using graphs and charts may be tested.

Who is eligible for MOEMS?

Students from grades 4 to 8 are eligible to participate in MOEMS. There are no specific prerequisites in terms of math skills, but an interest in mathematics and problem-solving will be beneficial. Typically, students participate through their schools, where a teacher or a coach can organize a team. Homeschooled students are also eligible to participate as long as they are affiliated with a homeschool group that can register as a team.


To apply, you should look into your school (or other educational institution) first. Schools, homeschool groups, and such must register with MOEMS to participate. An individual student cannot register independently; they must be part of a team. A team can have any number of students, but a minimum of one adult (teacher, parent, or coach) must be responsible for administration and supervision. Registration typically opens in the summer and continues through the fall. Check the MOEMS website for specific dates!


There is a registration fee per team, which covers all the contest materials, certificates, pins, and other administrative costs. The standard fee may cost up to $200. The fee varies slightly depending on the number of students and the country (as international fees may be higher). Once registered, teams participate in monthly contests that run from November through March – these contests can be scheduled at the team's convenience within each month.


10 Reasons Why You Should Participate in Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools (MOEMS)

Now that we know more about MOEMS, let’s dive into the 10 reasons why you should consider participating:


  1. You will enhance your problem-solving skills.  The test questions in MOEMS are aimed at testing students' problem-solving skills through challenging and non-routine mathematical problems. These problems require you to think critically and apply various strategies, which helps develop a robust skill set that’s applicable in academic and real-world situations. This ongoing practice of thinking outside the box is incredibly important for young students, promoting flexibility in your approach to challenges.

  2. You will experience rigorous mathematical challenges. Participating in MOEMS exposes you to a higher level of mathematical thinking and problem complexity than in typical classroom settings. This rigorous environment pushes you to deepen your understanding of mathematical concepts and principles. It’s an excellent way to stretch your intellectual boundaries and discover your potential in mathematics.

  3. You will gain prestige and recognition. Excelling in MOEMS can earn you awards and recognition that attest to your mathematical skills and dedication. This recognition is not only rewarding personally but also adds a notable achievement to your academic record, distinguishing you in future academic and career pursuits. Future admissions officers may be impressed with your dedication to mathematics early on in your educational career.

  4. You will prepare for future academic competitions.  MOEMS serves as a foundational stepping stone for more advanced mathematical competitions. Regular participation hones your problem-solving skills and mathematical reasoning, preparing you for high-level competitions in high school and beyond, such as the AMC and Math Olympiads. Becoming familiar with the test setting may help you in other academic competitions as well, even if they’re not related to mathematics.

  5. You will improve your academic performance.  Engaging with the challenging problems offered by MOEMS can lead to better performance in your regular math classes and standardized tests. The skills developed through this competition, such as logical reasoning and analytical thinking, are directly transferable to your academic work.

  6. You will access unique networking opportunities.  MOEMS connects you with a community of peers who share a passion for mathematics. This network can be a source of inspiration, support, and collaboration, offering you the chance to learn from others and even form lasting friendships. These connections can also help you gain more opportunities by learning about math contests or summer programs through word of mouth. 

  7. You will learn the value of teamwork and collaboration.  Although the problems are solved individually, preparation often happens in teams. This setting teaches you how to collaborate effectively, share strategies, and support each other's learning, fostering a sense of community and collective achievement. Many schools and employers value students who are able to exhibit strong teamwork skills, which your experience in MOEMS can demonstrate.

  8. You will stay motivated and engaged with mathematics.  The competitive aspect of MOEMS adds excitement to learning mathematics. It motivates you to delve deeper into subjects and maintain a consistent engagement with challenging content, making learning a dynamic and enjoyable experience.

  9. You will build your confidence in the subject.  Successfully solving difficult problems in MOEMS can significantly boost your confidence. Each problem solved reinforces your ability to tackle challenging questions and instills a belief in your mathematical capabilities, encouraging you to take on even greater challenges. This can make a world of difference – it doesn’t matter how skilled of a mathematician you are if you don’t have the confidence to show off your skills effectively!

  10. You will learn to have fun with mathematics. Many students view mathematics as a very difficult and boring class, but MOEMS turns learning math into an enjoyable and exciting challenge. The thrill of solving complex problems and the possibility of winning accolades make the learning process fun and engaging, helping to foster a lifelong love for mathematics.

Our Thoughts

MOEMS offers students a unique opportunity to delve deeply into mathematical challenges, enhancing skills that are academically and personally beneficial. Through participation, students not only sharpen their problem-solving abilities and mathematical understanding but also gain valuable experiences in teamwork, competition, and perseverance. The prestige and recognition of success in such a rigorous program can significantly boost a student's confidence and academic profile. Moreover, the program fosters a sense of community and enthusiasm for mathematics, making it an enriching experience that extends beyond just solving problems. If these reasons are very appealing to you, you should check out MOEMS!



One more option - The Lumiere Junior Explorer Program

The Lumiere Junior Explorer Program is a program for middle school students to work one-on-one with a mentor to explore their academic interests and build a project they are passionate about.  Our mentors are scholars from top research universities such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Duke and LSE.


The program was founded by a Harvard & Oxford PhD who met as undergraduates at Harvard. The program is rigorous and fully virtual. We offer need based financial aid for students who qualify. You can find the application in the brochure


To learn more, you can reach out to our Head of Growth, Khushi Malde, at khushi.malde@lumiere.education or go to our website.

Multiple rolling deadlines for JEP cohorts across the year, you can apply using this application link! If you'd like to take a look at the cohorts + deadlines for 2024, you can refer to this page!


Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Economics. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. She aims to become a life sciences consultant after graduation. 


Image Source: MOEMS logo

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