Treasure Mountain students show their math-ability
May 6, 2008
An unusual team left Park City to compete last month. The group, representing students at Treasure Mountain International School (TMIS), brought only pencils as they competed in the annual Utah State Math Contest.
TMIS brought a total of 11 students to the contest. Those students were: Alex Butler, Yoo-jung Kim, Roman Amici, Brett Baggett, Ali Vangeison, Sarah Waugaman, Laura Kelly, Anna Burns, Laura Slusser, Caleb Case and Skylar Goldman. Grant Sanderson, a ninth-grader, took first in the junior division.
The contest, held at the University of Utah on March 18, invited students from around the state in grades seven to 12 to take the exam and then enjoy some of the university’s amenities as a reward. Tests were administered to students in two divisions based on grade levels. Seventh, eighth and ninth-graders took the junior exam while tenth through twelfth graders took the senior exam.
Tests were proctored in university classrooms and students were not allowed to use calculators. Each exam contained 30 questions and students had two-and-a-half hours to complete them. Most questions did not necessitate knowledge advanced past the average mathematical level of students in each grade. The test is designed to stress the students abilities to work through problems, not simply to test the level of math they have studied.
According to the University of Utah, a total of 1,972 competed in the contest. Those students came from across the state and represented 142 participating schools. The ninth grade, the group in which Sanderson competed, drew 427 contestants, by far the most crowded grade level.
The selection process at TMIS was relatively informal. Although in some years the interest is so substantial that a test has to be administered to determine which students should represent the school, this year students were able to go if they expressed interest.
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To prepare, students could simply use the contest Website where old tests are published and provided with answer keys. Sanderson said that he began to prepare for the exam only about a week in advance using these online tests.
This past year marked Sanderson’s third. In the past, he sat for the same divisional exam and consequently the material probably showed similarities.
Sanderson only missed two questions placing him in a tie for highest score in his grade level with a ninth-grader from West High School who had the exact same overall score of 110. Scores are calculated by assigning four positive points for a correct answer and removing one point for a negative one. Only one student, a twelfth grader from The Waterford School, achieved a perfect score of 120.
For his effort, Sanderson received a trophy at a banquet held last Tuesday. Next year, Sanderson will begin at Park City High School where he already takes math classes. His advice to any students who might someday take the test is to prepare to manage their time well and do everything they can to understand the theorems and formulas they apply, rather than simply plug them in.