How the AMC can help you get into the Ivy Leagues

In this article, you will learn about:
1. Why the AMC is more important than the SAT
2. How the AMC can help you get into the Ivy Leagues
3. What is the AMC

1. Why the AMC is more important than the SAT
If you’re serious about the Ivy Leagues/top US colleges, esp. top STEM schools such as MIT, Caltech and Stanford, you should be focused as much on the AMCs as you are on the SATs. If fact, we think the AMC is more important.

The SAT doesn’t differentiate students very well. It behooves college board to increase the number of students who take the SAT, there is already an inflationary bias built in. Let’s look at the numbers:

The number of students who took the SAT in 2016: 7.3 million students – a 10% increase from the previous year. The class of 2017 is the largest cohort in SAT history. So, if you scored in the top 1% of test-takers last year, you would 1 of 73,000 students. And the numbers are likely to continue going up.

However, the AMC is run by the Mathematical Association of America; a non-profit managed by volunteer mathematicians. They care about preserving the integrity and quality of the test, seeking to challenge students. So, there is a strong deflationary bias built in. Let’s look at the numbers:

The number of students who took the AMC 12 this past year: 44,915. In 2016, the AMC 12 had 57,939 test-takers. And in 2015, there were 55,833 test-takers for the AMC 12. Not many and they’re not increasing. The MAA also regularly increases the difficulty of the tests some years to keep the passing threshold tight. So, if you make it to the AIME, you’re in the top 5% or 1 of only 2,245 students.

So, what will demonstrate academic excellence to the admissions officers at MIT more, being 1 of 73,000 students or 1 or 2,245? MIT usually has about 20,000 applicants a year, so you can bet that having the best SAT score will NOT make you stand out.

2. How the AMC can help you get into the Ivy Leagues

Another reason the AMC is so important is that the top schools now explicitly ask for AMC scores (not required).

Here are screen shots of the Caltech application:

columbia undergraduate admissions

columbia university admission rate

The second image is a screen shot of the entire page where they have a section for AIME scores as well.

Here is the MIT application:

columbia university requirements to get in

In addition, you can highlight your AMC accomplishments in the Activities section of the application and also include them in your essays. And there are lots of essays to write!

3. What is the AMC?

The American Mathematics Competition (AMC) is the first in a series of competitions to determine the US representative team for the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).

The AMC 8 is for students in grades 8 and below
The AMC 10 is for students in grades 10 and below
The AMC 12 is for students in grades 12 and below

So high school students would be focused on AMC 10 and 12. However, most of the students who score well tend to start in the 6th grade with the AMC 8.

If you score well, you make it to the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME). To catch the eyes of admissions officers at MIT and Caltech, you’ll need to make it this far and score well on the AIME.

For real math superstars, a top score on both the AMC and AIME will lead to an qualification status for the United States of America Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO). If you are an International student, you cannot participate on the US team, but you can still get the USAMO qualification, which will really set you apart on your college applications.

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