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AMC->12 Info Page

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Began: 1950 (as the American High School Mathematics Examination)
Number of Questions: 25
Time Allowed: 75 minutes
Type of Exam: Multiple choice
Date Offered: A Tuesday in early February
Scored: Centrally, at the office of the AMC, Lincoln, Nebraska
Grading: Six times the number correct plus two times the number unanswered
Maximum Score: 150 points
Purpose: To identify and encourage, through friendly competition, students with an interest in and talent for mathematical problem solving.
Material Covered: Secondary school mathematics excluding calculus. The problems range from easy to extremely difficult.
Invitation Brochures for the AMC->12 are mailed to schools each fall. Canadian schools contact your Provincial Directors.
Cost of Participation: Registration Fee: $30 per school.
Examinations: $12.00 per bundle of 10.
Eligibility: Any student that is officially enrolled in High School and taking at least one course; Students in lower grade levels; and Home school students (18 or under).

If you have questions regarding the AMC->12 please contact your AMC->12 State Director or the American Mathematics Competitions Director, Titu Andreescu.


The AMC->12 is a 25 question, 75 minute multiple choice examination in secondary school mathematics containing problems which can be understood and solved with pre-calculus concepts. Calculators are allowed.

The main purpose of the AMC->12 is to spur interest in mathematics and to develop talent through the excitement of solving challenging problems in a timed multiple-choice format. The problems range from the very easy to the extremely difficult. Students who participate in the AMC->12 should find that most of the problems are challenging but within their grasp. The examination is intended for everyone from the average student at a typical school who enjoys mathematics to the very best student at the most special school.

Although the excitement of testing one's mettle is naturally directed toward the examination itself, it is what happens before and after the AMC->12 that can have lasting educational value. One's talents will be enhanced if one practices beforehand, for instance by working through previous examinations, by participating in math leagues and, most importantly, by studying mathematics more intensely than one normally does in high school. Learning will take place if students singly, jointly and, especially with their teachers, strive to solve those examination problems they did not see how to solve in the allotted time as well as to understand the solutions to those problems that they did not solve correctly. The problems on the AMC->12 are chosen so that the solutions illustrate important mathematical principles. Occasionally, problems are chosen so that certain subtle but significant confusions, as well as some common computational errors, will be identified by the wrong answers listed. These principles and confusions are highlighted in the carefully prepared solutions manual. Some problems have quick solutions which seem like "tricks". What appears to be a trick the first time it is encountered often becomes a technique for solving other problems. A student's mathematical tool kit for solving problems can be greatly expanded by acquisition of these techniques.

Because the AMC->12 covers such a broad spectrum of knowledge and ability there is a wide range of scores. The National Honor Roll cutoff score, 100 out of 150 possible points, is typically attained or surpassed by fewer than 2% of all participants. For most students and schools only relative scores are significant, and so lists of top individual and team scores on regional and local levels are compiled. These regional lists and information on score distributions appear in the yearly summary sent to all participating schools. The most valuable comparison students can make is between their own current level of achievement and their levels in previous years. In particular, they are encouraged to begin taking the AMC->12 early in their secondary mathematics studies and to look back with pride each year on how they have learned to answer questions that they could not have answered previously.

A special purpose of the AMC->12 is to help identify those few students with truly exceptional mathematics talent. Students who are among the very best deserve some indication of how they stand relative to other students in the country and around the world . The AMC->12 provides one such indication, and it is the first in a series of examinations (followed in the United States by the American Invitational Examination and the USA Mathematical Olympiad) that culminate in participation in the International Mathematical Olympiad, the most prestigious and difficult secondary mathematics examination in the world. In this way the very best young mathematicians are recognized, encouraged and developed.

The AMC->12 is not an end in itself. Outstanding performance on it is neither necessary nor sufficient for becoming an outstanding mathematician. The ability to gain insights and do computations quickly are wonderful talents, but many eminent mathematicians are not quick in this way. Also, the multiple-choice format (necessary for the prompt scoring of over 300,000 examinations) benefits those who are shrewd at eliminating wrong answers and guessing, but this is not particularly a mathematical talent. In short, students who do not receive nationally recognized scores should not shrink from pursuing mathematics further, and those who do receive such high scores should not think that they have forever proved their mathematical merit. This examination, like all mathematical competitions, remains but a means for furthering mathematical development. 

Titu Andreescu, Director
American Mathematics Competitions
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0658 U.S.A.
Tel: 402-472-6566, Fax: 402-472-6087