If you’re considering pursuing a career in mathematics, participating in a competition is a great way to demonstrate your interests while developing problem-solving skills. Especially before applying to college, performing well in the competition for a subject area of high rigor can yield a great advantage.
In this blog, we’ll showcase one opportunity to expand this interest through the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME), a highly prestigious math competition for high school students hosted by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). We’ll cover the key details, such as eligibility, location, cost, dates and deadlines, as well as 7 compelling reasons why you should participate in AIME.
What is AIME?
The American Invitational Mathematics Examination is an intermediate exam designed for students in North America to demonstrate exceptional mathematical ability. This exam is the first major step towards eligibility for the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).
The competition itself consists of a 15-question, 3-hour examination where the answer to every question is an integer between 0 to 999. The questions increase in difficulty throughout the exam and answer choices are not multiple-choice. Students are not penalized for incorrect answers, but instead, only awarded points for correct ones. Those who score well on the AIME are then subsequently invited to take another test, likely the USAMO.
Next year, the main competition will take place on Thursday, February 1, 2024 (AIME I) and the alternate date (AIME II) is Wednesday, February 7, 2024.
How do you qualify for AIME?
To be eligible for AIME, students must first excel in the AMC 10/12 series of examinations. All students who took the AMC 12 and achieved a score of 100 or more out of a possible 150 or were in the top 5% are invited to take the AIME. All students who took the AMC 10 and had a score of 120 or more out of a possible 150, or were in the top 2.5% also qualify for the AIME. There is no additional registration fee for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination unless you choose to take the second sitting of the exam.
Where is AIME held?
While the examination itself is administered online, all AMC competitions (including AIME) are school-based, meaning students must take the online exam at school. If your school does not offer the AMC contests, please use their location finder to find a school near you that does.
Resources to Prepare For AIME:
7 Reasons Why You Should Participate in AIME
1. You may qualify for even more prestigious competitions.
The AIME is the first in a series of AMC examinations that encourage students to demonstrate advanced mathematical ability. After the AIME, eligible students are invited to the United States Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO). Then, top participants who scored well can attend the Mathematical Olympiad Program over the summer. Those students are then eligible to be one of the 6 members of the United States’ team for the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). However, it is only with the completion of the AIME that students can move on to participate in these other competitions, so taking the AIME exam is a necessary first step!
2. You will practice important test-taking skills.
Time management and critical thinking are both integral components for the successful completion of the AIME competition. Although three hours for 15 questions may seem manageable at first, the problems on the AIME exam are extremely difficult and require students to prepare accordingly. This is an excellent way to learn to think creatively and critically while handling pressure. All of these skills are important and transferable outside of mathematics and apply for everyday professional and academic life.
3. You will practice (and improve) your mathematical skills on a high level.
Questions on the AIME examination are interdisciplinary in nature, incorporating many disparate mathematical concepts in one question. Furthermore, calculators are not allowed on the exam, so the format of the exam truly allows students to demonstrate an advanced understanding of mathematical concepts. Thus, learning to do advanced mathematics without the aid of technology will prove beneficial for other exams, such as college-level math courses.
4. You will improve in performance on other standardized tests like the SAT and AP exams.
Given the mathematical and test-taking skills that the AIME will help cultivate, participating in this competition can help to improve your performance. Standardized testing is a significant component of college admissions, with exams like the ACT and SAT bearing considerable weight on your applications. Performance on timed, critical-thinking-based examinations such as the AIME is also really important for success at the university level.
5. Qualification will demonstrate academic excellence in mathematics.
As opposed to being focused on just one mathematics field, the exam for AIME spans the following topics: elementary algebra, geometry, trigonometry, number theory, probability, and combinatorics. Some of these concepts are not traditionally taught in high school math courses, so studying for this exam requires supplemental preparation outside of the classroom. Thus, even the act of preparing for this exam demonstrates a deep commitment to mathematics in various forms.
6. You can use success on this exam to make your college application more competitive.
Many of the top colleges in the United States, especially those with a STEM focus like MIT and Caltech place heavy weight on results for examinations offered by the Mathematical Association of America, including AIME. Being eligible to take the AIME indicates that you are in the top 5% of high school students in mathematics. This high degree of selectivity means that participating in the AIME competition will yield a high competitive advantage to your college application. You can include participation in the contest in the Activities section of your application too.
7. Successful participants in the competition will be invited to an awards ceremony.
Students who perform well on the AIME exam are invited to a ceremony in Washington D.C., the nation’s capital. Here, students can have valuable interaction with other high-performing mathematicians, and form valuable connections for entry into college life and beyond.
If you are passionate about conducting research in math, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.
Aisha is a student at Princeton University, studying Anthropology and Global Health. On campus, she is involved with student groups centered around health equity and cultural affinity. In her free time, she enjoys podcasting, learning languages, and trying new recipes.
Image Source: Mathematical Association of America logo