What Is the Harvard MIT Math Tournament

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young student talking to her teacher in the hallway.

What Is the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) and How Do I Sign Up?

When it comes to successful students in high school, it can go far beyond simply achieving high grades within the classroom. In fact, some of the most important and meaningful things the best high schools can do during their four years in high school take place out of the classroom. Of course, we’re talking about extracurriculars. One of the most impressive extracurriculars that students can pursue is taking part in the highly prestigious Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT).

So, what is the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT), and how do you, or your student, sign up? Together, we’re are going to break down not only what the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) is, how it works, how students sign up, and what students who want to compete can expect when the tournament finally comes.

A female student communicating with her professor while walking.

About the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT)

First founded back in 1998, the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) is one of the largest and most prestigious high school competitions throughout the entire world. Every year, each tournament draws close to one thousand high school students from every corner of the globe.

Many of the students who compete in the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) include students who earn top scores at the national and international math Olympiads. One thing that sets the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) apart from many of the other math Olympiads is that it is entirely student run. Students at both Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other nearby schools.

In fact, many of the students who help plan the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) each year started out as high schoolers who competed in the tournament themselves. Typically, the tournament runs from early November to mid-February, with different topics, team sizes and rules applying to specific tournaments.

What to Know About the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT)

Over the past several years, the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) has received an increasing number of student registrations. That does not change the fact that each year, the tournament’s totally capacity caps off at 900 students for each tournament. Unfortunately, that means that some students who apply are ultimately unable to participate.

Primarily, students participate in the tournament in teams of four to six in the month of November or teams of six to eight in the month of February. On top of that, the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) does have limited space for individuals competitors, who participate officially in the individual rounds and on unofficial teams that are formed on the day of the tournament in the team rounds.

Surely, if you are interested in participating in the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT), you have quite a lot of questions. Luckily, we’ve broken down all of the most common questions regarding the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) so that you can get a much better idea of how it operates.

What tournament is best for you?

When it comes to finding the tournament that best fits you, all you have to do is choose the tournament that will allow you to call on your expertise and skills. There are ways to get information regarding the specific tournaments here, and if that does not help you, you can always contact that tournament directly at this email.

Am I able to attend the tournaments in November and February?

As previously mentioned, the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) has gained major popularity over the last several years, and as a result, some students are not able to attend altogether, as unfortunate as that surely is.

For that reason, students are not permitted to compete in both the tournament in November and the tournament in February within the same academic year. That is why it is so important for each student to figure out which tournament-best fits their personal and team strengths.

How many teams are allowed to register each year?

When it comes from teams that come for a different school, no school is allowed to register more than three teams to the tournament in February, or five total teams to the competition in November.

How does the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) decide who can participate?

For each competition, the top 40 teams in the Sweepstakes for each year will be automatically accepted if the re-apply the following year. Other than that, the selection is simply decided by way of lottery. The numbers that are used are generated on the site random.org.

What happens if I do not get accepted to compete in the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT)?

If you are unable to compete in the official competition, the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) always welcomes students to compete in their unofficial, online competition. While it is not quite the same as competing in the real thing, it is certainly great fun and enables students to prepare for the real thing the next year!

How are teams formed?

When it comes to teams that compete in the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT), there are a number of rules that all teams must follow. Primarily, all members of a given team must attend school within 150 miles of one another. With that being said, students are able to contact the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) if they are trying to form teams under less-than-common circumstances. Sometimes, exceptions are allowed.

Who should I form my team with?

One thing that is important for all members of a potential team to agree on is which competition is more appropriate for them to take part in. For that reason, it is quite possible that you will find yourself better suited to compete with a team of students who go to a different school or many different schools rather than the school that you go to. If you are looking to compete with a team of students that do not all go to your school, the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) is able to help students find placement at a nearby team.

a student pointing at the math problem on the board

What if I want to register as an individual?

If you are looking to register for the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) as an individual, there are two ways to go about it. The first way is to register as an affiliated individual if you are affiliated with a competing organization. If that describes you, register through the coach of that organization. If you are an unaffiliated individual, all you have to do is register using this link.

Regardless of the way in which you register as an individual, you will compete officially in the individual rounds and unofficially in the team rounds and gut rounds.

Am I ready to go for this year if I competed last year?

The simple answer is no. You need to re-apply every year in order to qualify for the tournament itself. With that being said, the 40 teams that finish with the highest scores in the Sweepstakes from the previous year will be automatically accepted at the same tournament in the current year. Remember though, even those teams have to fill out applications in order to be considered, otherwise, their spot will be given to someone else

When do teams have to finalize their rosters?

All teams must finalize their team rosters before the registration deadline in order to qualify. After you receive your acceptance to the competition, you will receive a list of accepted individual applications and the number of approved teams. After that time, you will not be permitted to reselect which individuals are accepted. With that being said, you can redistribute your team acceptances among your team. Team rosters have to be filled and finalized by the confirmation deadline and can be updated online up until two weeks before the date the tournament starts.

A statue of a sitting man inside Harvard campus

How much is the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) and how do I pay?

The registration fee for the Harvard MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) are $80.00 per team and $10.00 per individual. Payment is not to be made until teams are accepted into the tournament.

Once you are looking to send in your payment, you can either mail them in or hand them to a tournament official on the Friday or Saturday of the tournament weekend. If you are looking to mail in your payment, make sure that it will arrive no later than one week before the competition is set to begin.

If you want to send your payment in by mail, the address to send it to is below:

Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament (c/o Student Activities Office)

Building W20-501

84 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02139

How each tournament works

By now, chances are good the last thing you really are curious about is what the major differences are between the tournament that is run in November and the tournament that is run in February.

Of course, we’ve got you covered when it comes to the primary differences and similarities of each tournament.

The November Tournament

The November tournament is considered to be the easier of the two with its problems raining from mid-AMC to upper-AIME levels of questions.

Here is how the November tournament progresses from start to finish

  • Individual Round consists of two rounds, a General Test (10 questions from Algebra, Geometry and Combinatorics) and a Theme Test (10 questions, many of which are connected to one another by a common theme). This round is 50 minutes in length.
  • Team Round is made up for a short answer question section as opposed to proof-based questions. This round lasts a total of 60 minutes long, but teams of four to six individuals are working together throughout that time to solve the questions. The problems in this round are weighted according to their difficulty and together they add up a perfect score of 400 points.
  • Guts Round consists of 36 total short answer questions with teams getting 80 total minutes to answer the questions. The Guts Round has some pretty specific rules, so pay attention to this so that you know what to expect when test day finally comes. Each team is seated in a spot and the questions are then divided into groups of three. At the starting signal, each team sends a runner to an assigned problem station to pick up copies of the first four problems for each member of the team. Once a team has answers for the first problem set, the runner may then bring the answers to the problem station and proceed to pick up the next set of problems. This continues until a team finishes all the problems or the 80 minutes runs. It is no expected that teams will be able to finish all of the problems. In the Guts Round, grading is immediate, and scores are posted in real-time. This results in a very fun, exciting and active atmosphere during the entirety of the round. The Guts Round is worth a total of 400 points.

Student doing algebra on a board.

The February Tournament

The format of the February tournament is identical to the format of the November tournament, the only difference is that it is considered to be quite a bit more difficult than the preceding tournament.

The problems of the February tournament range from Mid-AIME to National and International Math Olympiad level questions. There are some other key differences, which are as follows:

  • Team Round is broken up into teams of six to eight individuals. This round is especially fun for students who excel at writing rigorous proofs.
  • Guts Round is the same as it is in the November tournament, except that questions come in groups of four as opposed to groups of three.

The major difference is that for those who compete in the February competition, there is the potential to move on to the next level. The top 50 scorers at the February tournament are invited to compete in the HMIC, which is a set of five question proofs with a length of four hours to complete. The problems both are quite difficult, with competitions fully solving just three of the questions ending with very high rankings.

Why the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament is such a great competition

There are a lot of reasons why students should take part in academic competitions during their high school career, and one of the most important ones is because they look great on college applications to demonstrate the depth of a candidate’s intellectual prowess.

There is no doubt that college admissions officers are looking for students who were willing and able to find ways to challenge themselves and build a character out of the classroom. When it comes to Harvard-MIT Math Tournament there are few more exciting ways to do just that. Through this journey, students will not only expand their knowledge about the world but also gain important insight into what it means to pit head-to-head with the brightest mathematicians in the country.


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