Best virtual & online math competitions for kids & teens in 2021

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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.

Even though  school looks a little different nowadays, there are still plenty of exciting competitions for young mathematicians coming up in 2021!

Many math events in the US have been around for decades and draw hundreds of student participants, so it’s no surprise that when the time came to pivot, they did so. After all, the competition must go on!

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; there may be changes due to COVID-19 and other factors. For the most up to date information, please check each event’s website.

Math competitions for elementary & middle school students

Noetic Learning Math Contest

Fall Contest: November 12-15, 2020, Spring Contest: April 8-12, 2021

Grade Levels: 2nd-8th Grade

Registration Deadline: Fall: November 5th, 2020, Spring: March 18, 2021 

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!

MathCounts

Chapter Competition: February 4-5, 2021, with subsequent invitational competitions

Grade Levels: 6th-8th Grade

Registration Deadline: December 1, 2020

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.

MOEMS Math Olympiad

Monthly Competitions Offered November-March, check website for registration timelines

Grade Levels: 4th-8th Grade

Registration Deadline: December 1, 2020

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!

Math competitions for high school students

Harvard MIT Invitational

February competition date & registration TBD. Please check the website for updates!

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.

American Mathematics Competition 10/12

A Competition: February 4, 2021, B Competition: February 10, 2021

Grade Levels: (Recommended for) 9th-12th Grades

Registration Deadline: December 19, 2020

Event Description: In addition to offering a November middle school competition (registration now closed), the American Mathematics Competition hosts a high-school level contest.

As indicated by the event name, the AMC 10 competition mostly covers 10th grade material, and the AMC 12 covers 12th grade concepts. The competition will be offered both in person and online this year.

Prize-wise, the AMC offers a range of recognition for high-scoring participants. The competition also recognizes the top 20 scoring young women with $1,000 scholarships and Certificates of Excellence for the top 580 female scorers.

Math competitions for all ages

Mathcon

Testing Window: January 19-March 2022. 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. 

Math Kangaroo 

March 18, 2021

Grade Levels: 1st-12th Grades

Registration Deadline: December 15, 2020

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 :)”. 

Getting started 

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. 

Whatever the next challenge looks like for your student, we at iD Tech hope that fun is a part of the equation!

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains.