SDMC students tend to be very involved in mathematics competitions, both in the course of SDMC activities and in their schools. The world of mathematics competitions is a veritable alphabet soup of acronyms that can be a bit confusing. On this page we provide basic information on some of these competitions, focussing on SDMC's role (or lack thereof). Information is organized alphabetically by acronym or name.


  • AMC 8

  • AMC 10 A & B

  • AMC 12 A & B

  • AIME I & II

  • USA(J)MO

  • MOSP

  • IMO

The American Mathematics Competitions sequence of competitions, sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America, is easily the most celebrated individual competitive exercise available to high-achieving math students. Extensive information about these competitions is available directly from AMC at their very complete website.

The San Diego Math Circle is the Higher Education Site for the AMC 8, 10, and 12 in the San Diego region. This means that we are authorized by AMC to administer these exams officially for any San Diego area student who does not have other options for participation. For the AMC 10 and 12, we offer both exams on both the "A" date and "B" date.

If your school does not offer the AMCs, you might consider making a proposal to your school administration that it begin to offer them. There are many schools where parent volunteerism has been a significant factor in initiating and supporting AMC participation. Alternatively, if your school will not offer the AMC exam you need, you may be able to find another school in your area that will accept visiting students on a space-available basis.

The AMC 10 is open to students in grade 10 and below, and the AMC 12 is open to students in grade 12 and below. These exams are offered in two forms, A & B, with the A form being offered in early February, and the B form in late February. Students may take both an A exam and a B exam if they wish; both exams will "count" toward awards and advancement to higher levels of competition. Note that the AMC 10 and AMC 12 are administered simultaneously and have some overlapping questions, so though an AMC 10 student may also take an AMC 12 exam, one exam would have to be the A form and the other the B form.

For awards purposes there is some advantage to taking an AMC exam at a student's school rather than with SDMC. For those students who do not have such opportunity, SDMC will administer the appropriate exam for you whether you are a member of SDMC or not; we do this as a service to the greater San Diego community. Advance registration is necessary to assure the availability of adequate space and materials.

The American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) is the first invitation-only tier of the AMC sequence. Students are admitted based on their scores on the AMC 10 or AMC 12. AMC expects qualifying students to take their AIME exam at the same school at which they qualify; however, some find this difficult to do. SDMC administers the AIME for any San Diego area students who needs that service, whether they took their AMC with SDMC or not; however, students "transferring in" to SDMC's AIME form their qualifying school should make specific advance arrangements. All AIME students should sign up in advance to assure the availability of adequate space and materials.

The United States of America Math Olympiad (USAMO) and the United States of America Junior Math Olympiad (USAJMO) constitute the second invitation-only tier of the AMC sequence. Though the number of students who reach this level of competition is small, many schools find the time, space, and staff commitments needed to administer the USA(J)MO (4.5 hours of exam on each of two consecutive school days) rather demanding. SDMC assists area schools by accepting any San Diego area USA(J)MO students into SDMC's consolidated USA(J)MO session and relieving their schools of this logistical challenge. In recent years, most of San Diego's USA(J)MO students have taken these exam with SDMC.

Only a few dozen students in the nation make it through the USA(J)MO to the Math Olympiad Summer Program (MOSP) and only a half-dozen make it to USA's International Math Olympiad (IMO) team. These programs take place at locations outside San Diego, and SDMC is no longer involved.


The American Regions Math League is a national team-based competition taking place in real time at four electronically-linked venues around the country. With some justification, it is sometimes colorfully characterized as the "world series" of high school mathematics. SDMC is the organizer of San Diego's ARML team. Qualification for the ARML team is based on scores from SDML, SDMO, AMC 10, and AMC 12 competitions and on coaching considerations. Students do not have to be regular members of SDMC to qualify for the ARML team, but participation in ARML practices is required.

We are looking for a corporate sponsor for the ARML team.

ARML Local

ARML Local is a national event administered locally. The competition is modeled after the national ARML competition and consists of three rounds: Individual, Team, and Relay. There is no Power round in order to simplify scoring. Teams are limited to six students, but multiple teams are allowed.

ARML Power

The ARML Power contest a national event administered locally. The word "Power" refers to the ARML Power round, which is a contest in math writing - the construction of complete solutions and proofs. The Power contest is given twice a year, a fall round often in November and a spring round often in March. National standings are computed and awards to top teams distributed at the annual ARML competition.


The Bay Area Mathematical Olympiad is an Olympiad-styled competition primarily for students in the San Francisco Bay area. SDMC does not automatically sponsor participation in the BAMO, but depending on student interest, SDMC may sponsor a satellite session of the BAMO by special arrangement. Interested students should consult the BAMO website for further information and consult with the SDMC Director regarding the possibility of convening a BAMO session.



CHMMC - Caltech Harvey Mudd Mathematics Competition

The Caltech Harvey Mudd Mathematics Competition is a real-time team-based competition taking place in alternate years at the California Institute of Technology and Harvey Mudd College. The primary way that students participate is through school-based teams. SDMC sponsors zero, one, or two teams (depending on the outcome of an annual lottery) comprised of "free agents" from the San Diego area who are not part of such school-based teams. This event requires the participation of adult volunteers who serve as drivers, chaperones, and proctors. Advance sign-up is required not only to compose right-sized teams, but to coordinate transportation and adult participation.

College Entrance, Placement, or Scholarship Exams

  • ACT

  • AP


  • SAT I & II

Though we certainly care that SDMC students do well on these exams, these do not fall within the scope of our mission; thus, SDMC does not offer any exam prep or tutoring for these exams.


The F=ma exam is the initial screening step in the (short) sequence of competitions leading to the selection of the national physics team that represents the United States in the International Physics Olympiad. In this sense it is similar to an amalgamation of the AMC 10, AMC 12, and AIME in a single competition. Students who rank sufficiently highly on the F=ma exam are invited to participate in the US Physics Olyimpiad Semifinal, comparable to the USAMO in mathematics. The F=ma is a multiple choice exam and is focussed entirely on the subject of mechanics. The F=ma is sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers and is offered each year in late January. SDMC assists the AAPT by provided last resort access for any San Diego area student who otherwise lacks the opportunity to participate in the competition.

The F=ma now is offered on two dates, the F=ma "A" and F=ma "B". Students may take either or both; if both, advancement to the US Physics Olympiad Semi-Final is based on the higher score.


In San Diego, the Harvard MIT Math Tournament effort is a student-led affair. Student leaders organize one or two teams (depending on the HMMT qualification rules at the time), screen for members, hold practices, and eventually travel to the East Coast with suitable chaperones for the live competition.

Math Field Day

Math Field Day is a one-day school-based activity through which students compete as individuals and in teams with students from other schools. SDMC is not involved in any aspect of Math Field Day; interested students should inquire at their schools.

Math Kangaroo


MATHCOUNTS is a middle school level school-based competition through which students compete as individuals and in teams with students from other schools. MATHCOUNTS proceeds through multiple inter-school competitions leading to regional, state, and national championships. SDMC is not involved in any aspect of MATHCOUNTS; interested students should inquire at their schools.

Math Prize for Girls

Math Prize for Girls is an annual math competition for high-school girls, the largest monetary math prize for girls in the world. It is a relatively new competition, held in the fall of each year, so far in the northeastern region of the US. Students must apply within the first half of the calendar year and admission to participate is based primarily on AMC 10 or AMC 12 scores. Not all those who apply will meet the selection criteria. Though some SDMC students usually qualify and participate, SDMC has no role in the application, selection, or administration of this event


MOEMS stands for "Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools" and as the name indicates, targets pre-high-school students. MOEMS is a school-based program and SDMC is not involved.


The PhysicsBowl is sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers and is held each April. While primarily a school-based competition, SDMC assists the AAPT in providing last-resort access to the competition for students who do not have other opportunities for participation. The PhysicsBowl is a multiple-choice exam with questions drawn from a sampling of all the major subfields of physics. The PhysicsBowl is currently the only national physics competition in which students can compete for ranking and recognition as individuals and teams.


  • SDML - San Diego Math League (SDML I & II)

  • SDMO - San Diego Math Olympiad

The San Diego Math League and San Diego Math Olympiad are SDMC's internal competitions, intended primarily for SDMC students, but also open to the greater San Diego community. The SDMLs are multiple choice and short answer exams and will generally be offered at least twice each year, at least once before the winter break and once early in the calendar year. Scores from the SDMLs are the basis for invitation to the SDMO. The SDMO is an invitation-only Olympiad-styled competition and is the culminating event of the SDMC regular season.

SDML and SDMO scores are considered as part of a student's profile in qualifying for the ARML team.

The content of the SDMLs and SDMO are generously provided by the Art of Problem Solving, who also usually read and score the SDMO. We are very grateful for their support.

UCSD Contests

  • UCSD/GSDMC High School Honors Mathematics Contest

  • UCSD/GSDMC High School Honors Statistics Contest

These contests are UCSD all the way - written by UCSD faculty, organized by UCSD staff, held on the UCSD campus. Students participate through teams representing their schools. SDMC is not involved in any aspect of these competitions; interested students should consult the contest website and/or consult with their high school mathematics faculty about joining or forming a team.


The United States of America Mathematical Talent Search is a proof-based competition for individuals only. The competition is based on several problem sets released at various points in the school year for limited periods of time. Competing students approach the problems much like homework, writing up full solutions and returning them for judging before the close of each period. SDMC is not involved in any aspect of USAMTS; interested students should consult the USAMTS website.

US Physics Olympiad Semifinal

The USPhO Semifinal is the second and final step in the sequence of competitions leading to the selection of the national physics team. The USPhO is an open response exam, meaning that students are judged on the quality and accuracy of fully-written solutions. In this sense it is an Olympiad-styled exam in which the quality of exposition figures significantly in how students are judged. The USPhO also covers content from all the major subfields of physics, not just mechanics. SDMC assists the AAPT and area schools by accepting any San Diego area USPhO students into our USPhO exam session and relieving their schools of the logistical challenge of staging the exam.

WMTC - World Mathematics Team Championship

The World Mathematics Team Championship is an international math competition sited in varying locations around the world. It is similar to ARML in its events or rounds, but is based on smaller teams (6) and is stratified by age in several tiers: Junior, Intermediate, and Advanced. SDMC's Director, David Brown, is the US Team leader for WMTC.

The website for WMTC can be found here: