This year, a total of nine Stuyvesant students took, and qualified for, the United States Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO) and United States Mathematical Junior Olympiad (USAJMO) exams—eight took the USAMO and one took the USAJMO. The tests were administered on Tuesday, April 27, and Wednesday, April 28, at Stuyvesant High School.
The number of Stuyvesant students who qualified for this year’s exams is comparable to those of similarly prestigious high schools across the nation—eight students qualified from Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Virginia, and nine qualified from New Hampshire’s Phillips Exeter Academy.
The USAMO and USAJMO are highly challenging high school mathematical exams which are administered by The Mathematical Association of America. To qualify for the exams, a student must score high enough on both the American Mathematics Contest (AMC) and American Invitational Mathematics Exam (AIME). The AMC is given twice a year in two different iterations, the AMC 10 for students in tenth grade or lower, and the AMC 12 for juniors and seniors. The AIME is also given twice annually, with the AIME I administered on March 16 and the AIME II on March 31.
The USAMO is a two-day, nine-hour exam that requires students to write essays and mathematical proofs. “It’s two days and six questions of really hard math,” junior and USAMO participant Lijin Chen said.
“It’s a pretty trying experience. It’s not easy to sit in a room for four and a half hours each day and do productive work,” junior and USAMO participant Daniel Mendelsohn said.
Students who score highly on the exam are invited to the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program (MOSP) during the month of June, while six of the highest-scoring students on the USAMO go on to form the United States national team at the International Mathematical Olympiad, held in July. The USAMO has been administered since the 1950s, but this year saw major changes to the structure of the competition. The USAMO was previously the only exam administered in which participating students could be invited to the MOSP, but this year the USAJMO exam was added to the list of feeder competitions.
According to the AMC website, the USAJMO “better meets the level of young students,” and “bridges the gap between the AIME and the USAMO.” Students qualify for the USAJMO based on the AMC 10, as opposed to the AMC 12, which is required for USAMO entry.
Math teacher and Math Team Coach James Cocoros has positive feelings regarding Stuyvesant’s participation in the USAMO. “For the past three years, including this year, we’ve sent eight, 10 and nine kids. So we usually do pretty well,” he said.
“My goal was to get to the USAMO because even qualifying is a great honor,” Mendelsohn said. “It’s the main goal of many Mathletes.”
According to participants, Cocoros prepared his students well for the exam. “After the AIME he focused exclusively on the USAMO in his senior and junior math classes, covering general techniques, specific theorems that may have been useful and going over past exams,” Mendelsohn said.
Other members of the math faculty were proud of the USAMO participants. “I think it’s great for them and Stuyvesant,” math teacher Oana Pascu said. “We always do well, and it’s thanks to the students that we do so well.”