If you’ve ever witnessed the magic of Kahoot or the transformation of a dry lecture into an exciting game, you’ll know: a little competition can work wonders for kids.
Students who love math will be happy to hear that most of the biggest names in the competitive math world are hosting competitions soon. Registration deadlines are coming up, so now is the perfect time to take out your calendar and mark the date for the perfect event to inspire and motivate your student.
Benefits of math competitions
It’s important to bear in mind that the vast majority of these events are designed for a particular type of advanced student. If complex equations or timed tests are not your student’s cup of tea, there are plenty of resources out there to make math enjoyable for kids; or math tutoring lessons with a mentor for support or a challenge might be a better fit.
However, if your student absolutely loves math, savors the challenge of competition, and could use an extra motivator to realize their full potential, by all means, keep reading.
Math competitions have a number of benefits for young learners. In a school year with so much uncertainty and so many changes, having something concrete to look forward to and work towards can be a game-changer. Especially as burnout from learning online sets in for some, an exciting opportunity to show their stuff could be just the thing to re-spark your student’s motivation.
You may be surprised to learn, also, that not all math competitions are individual. Several of the events on this list are team events and require communication, teamwork, and other collaborative skills to win.
Whether competing individually or with a team, these events also offer a valuable opportunity for students to set and achieve goals. If anything, goal-setting matters more than ever for kids in today’s educational landscape.
So, what better way to jumpstart New Year’s or spring semester resolutions than with the thrill of competition?
We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to 2021’s upcoming math competitions for all age levels. Elementary, middle, and high school math enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to in the next few months!
(If the “M” in STEM catches your eye along with science, engineering, and tech, check out iD Tech’s ultimate guide to STEM competitions.)
Please note that iD Tech has no affiliation with any of these events, and this post does not serve as an official endorsement. These are simply snapshots of the different events at this time. For the most up to date information, please check each event’s website.
Math competitions for elementary & middle school students
Noetic Learning Math Contest
Grade Levels: 2nd-8th Grade
Registration Deadline: On a rolling basis, check the website for the most up to date information
Event Description: Students have the chance to sharpen their problem-solving skills in a 20-question, 45 minute math extravaganza. The Noetic Learning Math Contest is offered both online and onsite in schools. Participants compete for medals, honor roll recognition, and bragging rights!
Perennial Math Tournaments
Event description: A online, virtual, or in-person math tournament—you choose! Rules vary by each tournament, so check out their info pages below to learn more.
Grade levels: Teams or individuals in grades 3–8.
When: Registration is open now! There are two seasons for the online tournaments (Nov–Feb, Jan–Apr). The in-person tournaments take place throughout the year. All winners of on-site tournaments will be invited to the National Championship, which is typically held in May.
Prize: Your own championship trophy!
Get involved: https://perennialmath.com/tournaments
Chapter competitions typically take place in February of each year
Grade Levels: 6th-8th Grade
Registration Deadline: On a rolling basis
Event Description: MathCounts is both an individual and a team competition with various formats and competitive rounds. Practice competitions are offered to help teams prepare for the event, which is being rolled out both in person and online this year. Prizes range from $250 cash to (in a non-pandemic world) a trip to national competition.
Get involved: www.mathcounts.org/programs/competition-series
MOEMS Math Olympiad
Monthly Competitions Offered November-March, check website for registration timelines
Grade Levels: 4th-8th Grade
Registration Deadline: Rolling registration for 2021-2022 is ongoing
Event Description: The MOEMS international Math Olympiad offers monthly math competitions for elementary and middle school students in teams of up to 35. Schools, organizations, and homeschool networks can register for this event and complete competitions in person or online. Participants in the Math Olympiad have the opportunity to win trophies and medals, and connect with like-minded students around the globe!
Get involved: www.moems.org/
Math competitions for high school students
Harvard MIT Invitational
Spring 2023 competition details are TBD! Check the website for the most up to date information.
Grade Levels: 9th-12th Grades
Event Description: The prestigious Harvard MIT Invitational is an international math competition for high school students. Comprising two annual events, the February competition is known for being more difficult and to provide a challenge for the world’s top math wizzes. Prizes, prestige, and the opportunity to impress two of the world’s finest universities are awarded to top ten scoring individuals and the top five scoring teams.
Get involved: www.hmmt.org/
U.S.A Mathematical Talent Search (USAMTS)
Event description: A monthly online mathematics competition where students are given one math problem to solve. Because of the level of difficulty, students have the remainder of the month to work out solutions. Students' solutions are graded by mathematicians, and comments are returned to the students to develop their problem-solving skills and writing abilities.
Grade levels: Middle and high school students.
When: Ongoing! As soon as you register, you're able to download the month’s problem.
Prize: Participants are eligible for various prizes, such as books and software throughout the year. Additionally, the top scorers are invited to take the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME), a process necessary for applying to the USA Mathematical Olympiad Team.
Get involved: http://www.usamts.org/
Purple Comet Math Meet
Event description: An online, international mathematics competition designed for middle and high school students. There is a ten-day window during which teams may compete, choosing a start time that's most convenient. Problems range in difficulty.
Grade levels: Teams of middle and high school students with an adult supervisor.
When: Registration opens February 2023.
Prize: Check the website for more details
Get involved: https://purplecomet.org/
Math competitions for all ages
Please check the Mathcon website for more specifics. Registration is currently open.
Grade Levels: 4th-12th Grades
Event Description: Over 50,000 students annually participate in Mathcon. The contest format is 32 questions to be answered in 45 minutes and will be offered online this year. Qualifying students have the opportunity to enter increasingly competitive rounds, including the prestigious final. Winners can earn medals, scholarships, and more exciting prizes.
Get involved: www.mathcon.org/
Event description: A series of competitions designed for teams of elementary, middle, and high school students that all culminate in National Championships in spring. The details of the competition change based on the age of the students. Click the link below to read more about the details for your child!
Grade levels: Elementary (grade 3) through high school students (grade 12).
When: Most regional- and state-level contests are held throughout the fall and winter; registration held on a rolling basis.
Where: Various locations throughout the entire United States.
Prize: Prizes vary based on location and competition levels.
Get involved: http://mathleague.org/
Grade Levels: 1st-12th Grades
Registration Deadline: 2023 registration opens September 15, 2022.
Event Description: This exciting international competition is designed to help kids of all ages explore and grow their love of math. Since 1998, Math Kangaroo has connected students around the world and encourages them to continue competing throughout their K-12 education. As one parent attests, “Just a fun fact, my son is hooked to the Math Kangaroo questions. Every single day after school, both of us try to solve at least 10 questions- our mini competition :)”.
Get involved: www.mathkangaroo.us/mk/default.html
American Regions Mathematics League (ARML) Contest
Registration takes place on a rolling basis; check the website for the most up-to-date information.
Grade Levels: Generally high school students, although some exceptional junior high students attend each year.
Event Description: A mathematics contest for high school students that consists of several events, including a team round, a power question round, an individual round, two relay rounds, and a super relay round. Teams generally consist of 15 students. The event is held at four universities across the United States (Penn State University, University of Iowa, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the University of Georgia). Various prizes are awarded to the top teams.
Get involved: www.arml2.com/arml_2018/page/index.php?page_type=public&page=home
What: The Mathworks Math Modeling (M3) Competition is one of the only mathematics competition of its kind. Students have 14 hours to solve an open-ended applied math-modeling problem focused on a real-world issue.
Who: Eleventh and twelfth graders located in the United States. Teams are comprised of 3–5 students and 1 coach.
When: 2023 registration is open!
Prize: Over $100,000 total in Scholarship Prizes!
Get involved: https://m3challenge.siam.org/
If any of these events caught your eye, talk with your student and get the ball rolling! Nearly all of the math competitions listed above offer practice questions, examples of past years’ tests with answer explanations, and even practice competitions.
Loop in your student’s math teacher to get their thoughts on which event would suit their level and learning profile. Our rockstar instructors are another excellent resource for math tutoring and helping kids sharpen their skills in many of the topics covered in the competitive math world.
- Pre-algebra tutoring
- Algebra I tutoring
- Algebra II tutoring
- Geometry tutoring
- Pre-calculus tutoring
- Calculus tutoring
- Trigonometry tutoring
- Statistics tutoring
We are also excited to introduce Math with Margo; a tutorial series from our very own mathematics expert and former high school teacher. In her first post, she demystifies how to solve for the value of x; finding the value of x can be tricky, but no longer with her help!
Whatever the next challenge looks like for your student, we at iD Tech hope that fun is a part of the equation!