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A Complete Guide to the Math Prize for Girls 

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female professor sitting on a classroom.

A Complete Guide to the Math Prize for Girls

The Math Prize for Girls is the largest mathematics competition for girls globally. Its primary goal is to promote gender equality in STEM fields and to encourage academically talented young women to pursue leadership roles in mathematics and science.

Participating in the Math Prize for Girls can be an excellent addition to your college admissions profile. This competition highlights your mathematical skills and showcases your dedication to excelling in STEM, qualities that colleges and universities highly value.

In this blog, we detail everything that you need to know about the competition and discuss if this opportunity is worth the try.

What is the Math Prize for Girls about?

The Math Prize for Girls, hosted annually by MIT in the fall, invites 300 high school girls from Canada and the United States to test their mathematical skills in a series of challenging competitions. Thanks to its challenging nature and the prestige of the host university, this event is one of the most respected and well-attended female-only math competitions in the country.

A portrait of an Asian college student in library

The Math Prize for Girls was created to address the gender gap in STEM fields, where women are often underrepresented compared to their college attendance rates. This competition encourages young women to excel in mathematics and pursue further education and careers in STEM, promoting gender equity in these critical areas.

Since its start in 2009, the Math Prize for Girls has aimed to inspire top female high schoolers to pursue further education and careers in STEM, specifically targeting leadership roles in science and mathematics. The competition is a platform to recognize and financially support young women who excel in mathematics.

The name “Math Prize for Girls” is more than just a title—it comes with a life-changing financial incentive. This competition stands out by offering the largest math-related scholarship in the world for young women. In 2017, the first-place winner took home an impressive $46,000. Participants who compete over several years can accumulate up to $50,000 in winnings, a sum unmatched by most other math contests. This substantial scholarship not only rewards excellence but also supports the educational aspirations of young women in STEM.

How does the Math Prize for Girls work?

Each year, 300 high school girls are selected to participate in the Math Prize for Girls, making it one of the most esteemed events of its kind. Despite being a competition, the atmosphere resembles that of a standardized testing environment, where each contestant tackles the challenges independently.

The competition format is straightforward, with no teams or collaborative elements involved. Participants are required to solve 20 short-answer questions throughout two and a half hours. These free-response problems demand precise answers in a specific format.

Unlike some extracurricular competitions that might cover college-preparatory or even college-level topics, the Math Prize for Girls focuses exclusively on advanced pre-college mathematics. This ensures that the content is accessible yet challenging, aiming to enhance the participants’ problem-solving skills and mathematical thinking before they enter higher education.

Who is eligible to participate in the Math Prize for Girls?

If you’re a high school girl interested in the Math Prize for Girls competition, it’s important to check if you meet the eligibility criteria before applying. Understanding these requirements will save you time and ensure you’re a valid candidate. Here are the things you need in order to qualify:

  • You must be in 11th grade or below as of February 2024 and not plan to graduate from high school or start full-time college before the competition.
  • You identify as female.
  • You must be a resident of the United States or Canada. U.S. citizens or permanent residents living outside these countries may apply, but they should contact the organization first to determine the necessary documentation.
  • You have participated in an official administration of the AMC 10 or AMC 12 exam in November 2023 for the 2023-2024 competition cycle.

What is an AMC?

The American Mathematics Competitions (AMC), organized by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), are aimed at boosting problem-solving skills and enhancing mathematical knowledge among middle and high school students in the U.S.

Here’s what you need to know about the AMC:

Levels of Competition

  • AMC 8: Open to students in grade 8 and below, this level features 25 multiple-choice questions with a 40-minute time limit.
  • AMC 10: Targeted at students in grade 10 and below, it consists of 25 multiple-choice questions based on high school mathematics, to be completed in 75 minutes.
  • AMC 12: For students in grade 12 and below, this competition also includes 25 multiple-choice questions covering a broad range of high school math, which must be completed within 75 minutes.

A woman in the hallway of the campus

Progression

High performers in the AMC 10 and AMC 12 may qualify for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME). Success here can lead to the USA Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO), the USA Junior Mathematical Olympiad (USAJMO), or the Math Prize for Girls which are more demanding, proof-oriented tests.

Excelling in these competitions proves your mathematical talents, and it can also improve a student’s college application, particularly for competitive programs and universities both in the USA and internationally. Participating in the AMC is a significant step towards budiling a strong mathematical foundation and pursuing advanced educational and career opportunities in mathematics and related fields.

How do you apply to participate in the Math Prize for Girls?

If you meet the required criteria, you’re invited to apply online. It’s important to double-check the information you enter. Specifically, the organization needs your scores from the AMC exams you participated in.

If you’re unsure about your AMC scores or which exams you took, please ask the AMC contest manager at your school, who is usually a math teacher. Remember, all scores will be verified with the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), and providing false information can lead to disqualification at any stage.

Here’s what you should consider when filing out the application form:

  • You must enter your scores for at least one of the AMC 10/12 exams on the form. If you took both the A and B versions of these exams, you must enter both scores.
  • Include your scores if you participated in the AIME exam in 2024 or the 2023 Math Prize for Girls (MP4G) contest.
  • After the June application deadline, they will set separate score cutoffs for the AMC 10/12 exams and invite those who score above these cutoffs on any one of the qualifying exams. They may also set cutoffs for the 2024 AIME or 2023 MP4G exams, so please include these scores if applicable.
  • A low score on one qualifying exam won’t hurt your chances if you have a high score on another. For example, if your score on the AMC 12A is above our cutoff, but your AMC 10B score is below, you will still receive an invitation.

Deadlines and Notifications

The application deadline is May 31, 2024. Late applications will not be considered. By July 1, 2024, you will be notified via email whether you have been selected to participate in our exam. As space is limited, they select the top 300 applicants based on their official AMC scores.

Make sure to provide all necessary information to maximize your chances of being selected.

Young curly student woman wearing backpack glasses holding books

What are the prizes for the Math Prize for Girls Competition?

Unlike other competitions that may provide scholarships or grants, the Math Prize for Girls Competition awards actual cash prizes to its qualified participants. This allows the students and their parents the flexibility to decide how to use the winnings.

Here’s the list of what’s up for grabs for the top 10 participants:

Level Monetary Prizes
1st Prize $50,000
2nd Prize $20,000
3rd Prize $10,000
4th Prize $4,000
5th Prize $4,000
6th Prize $2,000
7th Prize $2,000
8th Prize $2,000
9th Prize $2,000
10th Prize $2,000

Here are other rewards and information that the Math Prize for Girls participants can expect:

  • Youth Prize: A $2,000 award goes to the highest-scoring participant in 9th grade or below. In cases of ties, the prize money will be divided equally among the winners, although trophies will be allocated based on tiebreakers.
  • Verification Process: Before awarding any cash prizes, the organizers will confirm each student’s eligibility and the accuracy of their application information. Note that no student can win more than $100,000 from the Math Prize over multiple years.
  • Honorable Mentions and Scholarships: The team will award trophies to the top 25 performers. Those receiving an Honorable Mention or higher are also eligible for a $500 merit scholarship towards the Canada/USA MathCamp summer program, provided their applications are accepted.
  • Tokens of Appreciation for All Participants: Every participant will receive a one-year license for both Wolfram|One and Wolfram|Alpha Pro, sponsored by Wolfram Research. These tools offer advanced capabilities for handling mathematical computations.
  • Further Opportunities: The top 35 performers, starting from those awarded Honorable Mentions, will be invited to participate in the Advantage Testing Foundation/Jane Street Math Prize Olympiad. This proof-based competition, scheduled for November or December, takes place at the student’s school.

Young college student with book in college campus.

These prizes and opportunities are meant to motivate and reward the hard work and talent of participants, helping them to further their education and career aspirations in mathematics.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Math Prize for Girls

1. Where is the competition hosted? 

The Math Prize for Girls is typically hosted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

2. When is the Math Prize for Girls 2024? 

The 2024 Math Prize for Girls contest is scheduled for Sunday, October 6, with several activities planned for the preceding day. A detailed schedule will be provided closer to the event date. Please check their official website for the announcement. 

3. Is there a cost involved? 

Although there is no fee to apply or participate, you will need to cover your own travel, accommodation, and meal expenses for the weekend.

4. Are the prizes taxable?

Yes, cash prizes are typically considered taxable income. It’s advisable to consult with a tax advisor for more details.

5. How is the contest formatted?

  • Duration and Format: The contest consists of 20 problems to be solved within a 2.5-hour window. This challenging format is designed to assess participants’ mathematical creativity and insight.
  • Problem Type: All questions will require numerical answers, focusing participants on solving specific problems rather than writing extensive proofs.
  • Content Scope: The contest content will strictly adhere to high school mathematics standards and will not include calculus. This ensures that the problems are accessible to all high school students while still providing a rigorous challenge.

6. What should my AMC score be to qualify? 

The cutoff scores will vary each year. Generally, they will be slightly higher than the scores required to qualify for the AIME exam.

Should you participate in the Math Prize for Girls?

The easy answer to this question is YES. However, deciding to participate in the Math Prize for Girls really boils down to your interests and aspirations. If you have a strong passion for mathematics and thrive on challenges, this competition is an excellent way to deepen your mathematical skills and knowledge. It’s especially beneficial if you’re eyeing a career in STEM, as it can boost your college applications and highlight your dedication to the field.

Here are some key benefits to consider:

  • Financial Support: The competition offers significant cash prizes that could help fund your education.
  • Networking Opportunities: Participating allows you to meet and connect with like-minded peers and mentors, expanding both your academic and professional networks.
  • Personal Growth: Competing can enhance your problem-solving skills, resilience, and confidence.

student smiling in camera holding an orange folder

If these benefits resonate with your goals, the Math Prize for Girls could be a valuable opportunity. However, if the intense preparation isn’t for you or if your interests are more aligned with other activities, you might find fulfillment in different extracurriculars.

What are the advantages of participating?

Choosing how to spend your free time in high school can be tough, especially with so many programs, activities, and competitions to consider. At AdmissionSight, we recommend focusing on academic-centered opportunities to enhance your college applications and increase your potential for scholarship. However, it’s important to select activities that best fit your schedule and interests.

Here’s why participating in the Math Prize for Girls could be a smart choice:

  • Strengthen Your College Application: Competing in a prestigious event like the Math Prize for Girls showcases your mathematical abilities and dedication to STEM, making your college application stand out.
  • Scholarship Opportunities: The significant cash prizes can help ease the financial burden of college tuition and related expenses.
  • Develop Critical Skills: The competition helps sharpen your problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which are valuable assets in any academic or professional field.
  • Expand Your Network: You’ll have the chance to meet other talented students and establish connections that could benefit your academic and career future.
  • Boost Confidence and Resilience: Competitions teach perseverance and resilience, preparing you for challenges in college and beyond.

If these advantages align with your goals and interests, the Math Prize for Girls could be a worthwhile addition to your high school experience. But remember, it’s essential to balance your commitments to avoid overextending yourself.

How can you prepare for the Math Prize for Girls effectively?

Preparing for the Math Prize for Girls can be both exciting and demanding. Here are five practical tips to help you get ready for the competition:

  1. Strengthen your Math fundamentals: Focus on mastering core mathematical concepts such as algebra, geometry, number theory, and combinatorics. Ensure you have a solid understanding of these areas, as they form the foundation of most problems you will encounter in the competition.
  2. Practice with past papers: Work through previous Math Prize for Girls exams to familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions asked. An entire page on the competition’s website is dedicated to past problems and solutions. This practice will also help you identify your strengths and areas needing improvement, allowing you to tailor your study plan effectively.
  3. Practice problem-solving: Regularly solve problems from various sources, such as the Art of Problem Solving (AoPS), Math Olympiad worksheets, and other competitive math forums. This will not only improve your problem-solving skills but also expose you to different ways of thinking and approaching complex problems.
  4. Join a Math circle or club: Participate in a math circle or a school math club where you can learn from and collaborate with other students who share your interest in mathematics. These groups often provide insights and preparation techniques that are invaluable for competitions.
  5. Seek guidance from teachers or mentors: Consult teachers or mentors who are experienced in coaching students for mathematical competitions. They can provide personalized feedback on your performance, help you develop strategies for effective problem-solving, and keep you motivated throughout your preparation.
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