Rules

This is the authoritative version of the rules. Recent changes are indicated in italics.

Teams

The competition is open to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students, although exceptional younger students may also compete. Remember, however, that the problems are quite difficult (see the Archives).

The competitors are organized into teams of 4 to 6 students. Individuals without teams may register as well, and will be placed onto teams with other unaffiliated individuals. To prevent cherry-picking to create elite teams, registering teams across different schools is not allowed unless specifically granted exception.

Test Information

The competition consists of four rounds: the Individual, Theme, Team, and Guts Rounds. Computational aids, including but not limited to: calculators, calculator wrist watches, and computers are prohibited, as are drawing aids including but not limited to: rulers, compasses, and protractors on all parts of the competition. Communication of any form between students on the individual and theme rounds is strictly prohibited, and any student caught either giving or receiving an unfair advantage over other competitors will immediately be disqualified. Communication between teams on the team and guts round is similarly prohibited, and any teams caught either giving or receiving an unfair advantage over other competitors will also be disqualified. What constitutes cheating will be up to the final discretion of the head proctor.

The individual round is a test taken by individual competitors that consists of 25 short answer problems to be done in 45 minutes. Each of the first 15 problems are worth two points, while each of the last 10 are worth three points. Problems are arranged in order of approximately increasing difficulty.

The theme round is a test taken by individual competitors that consists of 15 short answer problems to be done in 35 minutes. Each problem is worth four points, and the problems are divided into three 'themes' of five problems, each given to the competitor simultaneously. Within each theme, problems are arranged in order of approximately increasing difficulty.

The team round is a test taken by teams working together, that consists of 10 short answer problems and one section of long answer problems to be done in 60 minutes. The short answer problems are arranged in order of approximately increasing difficulty. The long answer problems revolve around a few themes, and require that students submit fully-explained solutions. Partial credit is awarded on long answer problems for significant progress made. Each short answer problem is worth seven points, and long answer problems are worth a variable number of points noted next to each problem. The long answer section will be worth a total of 130 points.

The guts round is a test taken by teams working together, that consists of 36 short answer problems given in sets of three. The guts round is an exciting, fast-paced round in which teams solve problems as quickly as possible, then submit answers for real-time grading. When a team is ready to submit answers to a set of three problems, a 'runner' trades these answers for the next set of problems. The number of points per problem increases from five to fifteen with later sets of problems, and accordingly, problems are arranged in approximate order of increasing difficulty. The maximum number of points awarded in the guts round is 300. Teams are given 75 minutes to solve as many problems as they can, and real-time scores of all teams will be displayed at the front of the auditorium.

Forms of Answers

On all short answer problems, there is no restriction on forms of answers so long as a final answer is exact and simplified. This means that approximate or rounded answers are not acceptable. What constitutes simplified is explained below:

  • All integers must be written out as integers in their full base 10 form, making answers such as 2^12 and 3.0 unacceptable.
  • All rational fractions must be reduced and written either as an improper fraction or a mixed number whose fractional part is less than 1.
  • All decimal answers must correctly use bar notation for repeating decimals.
  • All 'square root' symbols (radicals) must have only integers underneath, not fractions or decimals. The integers under 'square root' symbols cannot be divisible by the square of any prime (and similarly, integers under 'cube root' symbols cannot be divisible by the cube of any prime, etc.), and radicals cannot appear in the denominator of any fraction.
  • Approximations for π may not be used; any answer involving pi should be written using π, such as 2π or π√2/3.

The acceptability of an answer not described explicitly above is left to the discretion of the head grader.

Protests

An individual, theme, or team round problem may be protested before the guts round begins by giving a sheet of paper with a clearly written reason as to why the problem or answer is incorrect to a proctor. The validity of all protests is left to the discretion of the head grader, whose decision is final. Guts round problems may not be protested, and accordingly, extra care will be taken by the Problem Czar to ensure that there are no errors in the guts round.

Scoring and Prizes

Point values of problems are noted in the previous section. An individual's aggregate score is the sum of his or her scores on the individual round and theme round, for a maximum of 120 points. The top scorers in the individual and theme rounds will be recognized, and the top ten overall scorers will receive prizes.

The top three teams in the team and guts rounds will be recognized. In addition, the top five overall teams will be recognized, whose aggregate scores will be calculated in the following way: The top four scores among team members on each of the individual and theme rounds will be added, and multiplied by 1.25. This will be added to the team's guts round score and 1.5 times the team round score, for a maximum of 1200 points. Note that prize distribution is subject to change and will be finalized closer to the day of the competition

Tiebreakers

In general, ties will not be broken. In the case of a tie that affects the distribution of prizes, one party will receive the prize and the other will receive an equivalent prize by mail after the competition.