Every other Tuesday at the start of lunch, students make a mad dash towards the math classrooms as they scramble to find a seat for the biweekly contests.
As extra credit points are awarded for each correct answer, the classrooms quickly fill to their max within the first few minutes of lunch.
Patrick McDonough, a sophomore, said, “The math contests are pretty groovy because I get extra credit for doing them.”
In addition to extra credit, a school-wide competition is held based on the total number of questions answered correctly over the course of the school year. However, many students choose not to compete in the school-wide competition.
An anonymous student said, “I only want to go for the extra credit. I don’t care about the competition.”
Other students do not care for the extra credit and have other reasons for participating.
Alexander Wang, a sophomore in Michael Skrable’s class, said, “The math contests are quite difficult, and I do not believe they are particularly important. However, my teacher mandates that we always participate.”
This year’s competition is especially fierce with a four-way tie for first place as Sammy Zhang, Edward Vendrow, Aaron Lu, and Kevin Wang each have 52 points. Kevin Wang is a freshman and the only non-junior of the group. Following close behind the top four are juniors Joshua Vendrow, Madeleine Li, and Ryan Wilson and freshmen Vernon Luk and David Fang.
“Math contests are generally just a way for me to challenge myself. They help with math and are fun, plus, they can be put on college applications,” said Luk.
The questions vary greatly in difficulty with questions getting progressively more difficult. The contests tend to test similar concepts and learning the type of questions asked can help in future contests.
Many math teachers welcome students that wish to review the more difficult problems found in the contests.
Aside from the highest scoring students, the math contests do not hold a tremendous importance for the participants. Many simply enjoy taking the tests to challenge themselves for fun.
Luk said, “I think the top scorers really care, but the rest really don’t. It’s mostly just for fun.”