Nathan Russell wrote:
> I took the first and second tests - the ones that aren't the olympiad, I
> forget what they're called - and became the first kid in my district to be
> allowed to take the second.
The AHSME (Annual High School Math Exam) and the AIME (Annual Invitational
Math Exam). I think that approximately 1% of the AHSME contestants get
invited to take the AIME. That top 1% is also not evenly distributed --
some magnet schools and specialized math/science schools routinely get
30 to 50 students into the AIME every year. Outside of these top-rung
high schools, probably 1 in 250 students advances to the AIME. The USAMO
contestants are chosen based on the AHSME-AIME combined score, but it's not
a simple "make the cut" threshold -- non-seniors have it easier, and I
believe that every state of the US must be represented.
> This is drifting OT, but are kids supposed to be able to take the Olympiad
> tests throughout high school? I've heard things that seem to imply that,
> here and elsewhere, but my school only allowed it for seniors who were in
> accelerated math (perhaps 10-20 people a year). Perhaps that's why I was
> the first able to make it to the invitational (level 2) test?
The USA Olympiad is certainly open to students as young as 8th grade, perhaps
even younger. I know that in many US high schools, only the "top-level" math
teacher knows anything about the AHSME-AIME-USAMO trilogy of tests. Unless
that teacher seeks out precocious students in younger grades, they may never
be aware that they are eligible for the AHSME. I took the AHSME for the
first time in 7th grade (12 years old), and I had to take the exam at a
different school, since my school knew nothing about the test. I only knew
about it because I had been "discovered" by the county math team coach, who
insisted that I find a way to take the exam. In 9th grade, I took the USAMO
for the first time -- then again in 10th and 12th grades, including a top-12
finish my senior year.