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How important is a good AIME score for college admissions?

PandasAreCutePandasAreCute 10 replies10 threads Junior Member
Is it about the same "level" as having a 4.0 GPA or good SAT scores or does it look a lot better? I don't mean in the sense of counteracting a bad GPA or SAT score, but when in addition.
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Replies to: How important is a good AIME score for college admissions?

  • skieuropeskieurope 40509 replies7529 threads Super Moderator
    Unimportant. Most applicants, even to top schools, don't sit for AIME.
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  • PandasAreCutePandasAreCute 10 replies10 threads Junior Member
    Sorry if I'm slow, but what does "don't sit for" mean?
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  • skieuropeskieurope 40509 replies7529 threads Super Moderator
    Sorry if I'm slow, but what does "don't sit for" mean?

    Don't take
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  • PandasAreCutePandasAreCute 10 replies10 threads Junior Member
    Thank you. Do most applicants to top schools take any academic competition?
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35242 replies399 threads Senior Member
    Some are on hs teams (eg, math team,) that go to regionals or better. Where will you apply? What major?

    If it's a holistic college, it's not about better or more awards. No boost. It can be more important, if you're a stem wannabe, to participate in collaborative math-sci ECs in the hs. Then, add some relevant outside experience. Along with non-stem ECs.
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    I think you phrased your question a little off. Having a AIME score of say 6+ will obviously help as an EC, just like say winning a national tennis tournament or getting a national title in chess, as examples. Might be a tip. (Probably not a hook unless you do well in USAMO). But not having an AIME score wont hurt either in the grand scheme of admissions.
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  • CT1417CT1417 4433 replies24 threads Senior Member
    I only recall MIT asking specifically for AIME score. I don't think my son had one until after apps were submitted Sr year, although I tend to confuse all of those competitions acronyms. (USACO, USAMO, NACLO, etc)

    IMO, it is just one more EC. A measurable one, but it won't tip the scales on its own.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2632 replies5 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019
    Cal Tech also asks and and MIT does, so you can guess their importance. It doesn't mean that it's a requirement, but there's no way for these schools to differentiate among the many 800s in Math and Math 2 subject tests they get.

    "Some are on hs teams (eg, math team,) that go to regionals or better."
    These math teams are typically formed by how kids did on the AIME or AMC.

    "If it's a holistic college, it's not about better or more awards. No boost."
    I'm not sure you can absolutely say no boost, making the Olympiad is a boost, maybe it's not a hook as professorplum noted, but people that are on AMO do well with the MIT, Stanford's of the world. It is not causation but it is correlation.

    Stanford has hosted the AIME, why? From their website:
    The Stanford Math Circle, in cooperation with the Stanford Math Department and the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies Program, will once again be offering the AMC 10/12 contests to Bay Area students who are not otherwise able to participate...most high schools, and even some middle schools, already give the AMC contests. We would like to make it possible for everyone to take these contests.

    Make possible for everyone to take it, because Stanford has the same problem that MIT, Cal Tech has, they cannot distinguish between the top students at least to wrt math capabilities for their stem programs. Stanford also hosts math contests, they like them and the message is they want high schoolers to take them.
    edited July 2019
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  • yearstogoyearstogo 695 replies30 threads Member
    Anecdotal for sure but for the past several years the top kids from our local math circle (that would all have decent AIME scores but few made AMO) have all done very well in college admissions. DS is hoping he can have similar success in admissions in a few years.
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  • mathKidsmathKids 77 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I second @theloniusmonk. Many kids score 800 on Math Level 2 (21%), yet only 2.5% (AMC 10) or 5% (from AMC 12) of participants qualify for AIME. The median AIME score is usually 5 or 6. Scoring 6+ indicates strong math knowledge.

    Team results often reflect the performance of the strong team members, especially in competitions like ARML where team has 15 members.

    As mentioned above, there are at least a few schools that pay attention to AIME scores. CMU is also one of them.

    Just this past week my two kids received a college mail from University of Michigan that specifically talks about their outstanding performance on AIME (10+ in their case) and invites them apply to the honors program in mathematics at LSA and to look at their several scholarship and grants. I am not sure if my oldest got more AIME related college mail in the past, but since this was the first college letter for my rising sophomore, I actually read it :smile: At the very least it shows, that some universities consider it worth seeking students that perform strongly on AIME.

    Bottom line, if you are applying to any of the schools mentioned above, then AIME score will be considered. If not one would hope a strong AIME score will be helpful, and USA(J)MO participation will make one stand out.
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  • mathmommathmom 32781 replies160 threads Senior Member
    My son had a mediocre AIME score (3), got into Harvard and CMU, deferred and then rejected at Caltech and MIT. Waitlisted at Harvey Mudd. Quite a while ago. I assume it was slightly in the plus column, but really just confirmed he was more interest in CS than math. He never studied for any of those math competitions.

    I don't think of taking the AIME as an EC in and of itself. It's just an award you can list.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35242 replies399 threads Senior Member
    In holistic, the answer to the volume of perfect scorers isn't to look for which of them then scored highest in AIME. That wouldn't be holistic.

    Of course, kids driven to be top math performers, if they're savvy, have other assets that drive them as well. Or not.
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  • gRw110gRw110 36 replies0 threads Junior Member
    You have to do well in AMC 10 or AMC 12 to be invited for AIME. The top 2.5% AMC 10 and top 5% AMC 12 test takers are invited. I have qualified for AIME every year since 7th grade. I have done well in ARML as well. I have also received an invitation by UMichigan to apply for various grants and scholarships because of my AIME scores.
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  • sunnyschoolsunnyschool 1374 replies31 threads Senior Member
    In some areas - even in the competitive Northeast -the schools do not communicate re these exams (AMC, AIME etc) and students do not take them. However, students get into MIT every year.

    I had never heard of a "math circle" until recently and it was from an MIT alum who figured kids everywhere could join these...but again, not common around here.
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  • hs2020dadhs2020dad 189 replies5 threads Junior Member
    edited January 18
    In competitive states, math teams or math circles that represent state team at national competition are not easy to get into. In these circles, students know each other from middle school from participating in various competitions. Most often these team members are among top 10-20 math students in the state. Whether it translates into college admissions - don't know - maybe not.

    Just adding that state math team membership is not just walk-in or not something everyone could join (they maybe able to join as practice participants but not as team representing the state at competitions like ARML/HMMT/MMATH etc). There is a lot of effort goes in to make it to the team.
    edited January 18
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  • sunnyschoolsunnyschool 1374 replies31 threads Senior Member
    edited January 18
    @hs2020dad Well, 10+ kids at our HS (class size 200ish) had triple perfect 800 scores: SAT Math, SATMath2 and Physics --- and none of these kids did "math circles" or AIME. I know one kid did a math program at Columbia on the weekends, commuting to NYC. But those "state competitions" are simply not communicated around here; one would have to seek that out on his/her own. The schools do not field teams. Yet our HS has kids attending many top universities; in a state often ranked #2 in education, and schools are top rated.

    So, my guess is this is very regional. The person that told me about "math circles" was from CO, near CU-Boulder so perhaps that opportunity was more prevalent in a university town where the circles and competitions took place at the university.
    edited January 18
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  • CT1417CT1417 4433 replies24 threads Senior Member
    I agree that math circles must be regional. I had never heard the term until reading it here on CC. Our school didn't even offer the AMC until several years ago, and even then, not consistently. No one at his school practiced or prepped for AMC or AIME.

    My son ended up on the ARML team, but as @sunnyschool said, by seeking it out on his own. It wasn't until l his Sr year, so it had no bearing on college admissions. Driving him to the ARML practice session was quite eye-opening. I had no idea this existed and that some families had been participating for years. Thinking back on this, he may have sat for an exam Jr year also, in an attempt at qualifying for ARML. Details are hazy, but I recall that he had to travel 15 or 20 minutes to find a school where he could sit for the exam.
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1573 replies35 threads Senior Member
    I don't think it's that important, even though a few schools ask for it on their applications. It just adds another helpful piece to an application. It won't be a determinant factor in either acceptance or rejection.
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  • tdy123tdy123 1039 replies18 threads Senior Member
    @PandasAreCute In terms of impact on admissions at tippy top schools:

    A decent AIME score has about as much impact as submitting an STS paper;

    Qualifying for USAMO has about the impact of being an STS semifinalist;

    Making IMO team has about the impact of winning one of the top prize at the STS finals.

    I wouldn't say any of them "look a lot better" than a 4.0/1600, but if you already have a 4.0/1600, they certainly don't hurt, and can be the difference - particularly USAMO/STS Semifinalist and above.

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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1916 replies31 threads Senior Member
    edited January 19
    @hs2020dad Well, 10+ kids at our HS (class size 200ish) had triple perfect 800 scores: SAT Math, SATMath2 and Physics --- and none of these kids did "math circles" or AIME. I

    TBH, SAT M and MATH2 aren’t differentiators at a certain level, and Physics is based on Physics knowledge, not advanced math. SAT/Math2 max out at high-school pre-calculus topics. My D’s math team is current covering Sophomore college-level number theory.

    Pretty much everyone on her varsity math team have maxed those tests (she 800’d Math2 in 9th grade, SAT in 8th), but only 6 of them qualified for AIME last year. And most of them are in the 2-5 AIME range. It certainly helps differentiate where the other tests can’t.

    Whether it matters depends on the school and major. A math major applying to MIT, CalTech, CMU - they are certainly aware of the MAA Tests and consider them in acceptances. I suspect math admissions at many other schools would recognize and value it. Other majors? A nice EC.

    It’s like winning a national competition and having a story published in a literary book. Meaningful for an English major. Nice to have for an engineer.

    It’s not a magic wand, but it’s a significant academic achievement that goes in a student’s plus column. More meaningful in some places than others. It’s certainly not going to “make up for” GPA and test scores, but it can serve to differentiate among students who are at the extreme.
    edited January 19
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