What is AMC8? Why AMC8?
Lots of parents of younger students have heard lots of math competitions already, such as: MOEMS(Math Olympiad for Elementary and Middle Schools), Math League, Math Kangaroo, CML(Continental Math League) etc.
Not every math competition is created equal. The math competitions mentioned in last paragraph are good to inspire younger students to explore more problem solving beyond school curriculum in younger ages. They are very good. No doubt about it. But after the students get into 5th and 6th grades, students should look farther. Two very important math competition to look for is Mathcounts and AMC8. I will write another book about Mathcounts. I will focus on AMC8 now.
AMC8 is a 25 questions, 40 minutes, multiple choices test designed for 8th graders and younger. It is sponsored by MAA( Mathematical Association of America). MAA has more than 100 years of history. It is the most recognized association in USA that promotes Math Education, especial in American Secondary School, High School and college. The other famous and well recognized organization is AMS( American Mathematical Society) will be more focus on academic research in colleges, graduate schools and institutes. AMC8 is the first in the AMC series. AMC10 is for 10th graders and under. AMC12 is for 12th graders and under. It started in 1950 as AHSC(Annual High School Contest), later, Annual High School Mathematics Examination, AHSME(American High School Mathematics Examination). From 2000, it uses the AMC as its name and AHSME split into AMC10 and AMC12 and AMC8 was added.
AMC series competitions are the main selection path toward the national high school math team to compete internationally every year. It is the starting point of getting into AMC10, AMC12 and AIME, then USAJMO, USAMO, then Math Olympiad Summer Program, then IMO team selection. You can find the details from web when you google “American Mathematics Competitions”. The truth is that it is the most important milestone that your child will have in younger age to be recognized by school math teacher. Especial if you want your child’s to advance in math curriculum, good AMC8 score is a very objective and recognized index to show that your child is ready to study Algebra or Pre-Algebra etc. when he/she is still in 5th or 6th grade.
What AMC8 score is good?
AMC8 is scored with the number of correct answer. There is no penalty for guess. There is no point for unanswered question. This is different from AMC10/AMC12. In AMC10, each correct answer gets 6 points, wrong answer gets 0 point, unanswered question gets 1.5 point. For AMC5, the score counts only the number of correct answer. So the highest score is 25 out of 25. The lowest is 0. So what score is a good AMC8 score. The difficulty of the AMC8 problems have been pretty stable with some exception. Recent year, in 2015, the AMC8 questions are pretty hard. There around 72 perfect scores in USA. There are only 6 perfect scores in Virginia. In 2016, there are 6 perfect scores in one middle school alone. The absolute score is not very accurate all the time.
The following is from MAA website for your reference.