The American High School Mathematics Examination: A 50-Year Retrospective

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Journal Of The World Federation Of National Mathematics Competitions


On February 9 1999, students across America participated in the American High School Math Exam. The first such exam was given in 1950. Thus, the 1999 version is the 50th. Perhaps this is a good time to look at the history of the exam, its sponsorship, and its evolution-and important changes to begin in the year 2000. We conclude this article with a Special Fiftieth Anniversary AHSME, which includes one question from each of the first 50 editions of the AHSME. The AHSME is constructed and administered by the American Mathematics Competitions (AMC) whose purpose is to increase interest in mathematics and to develop problem solving ability through a series of friendly mathematics competitions for junior (grades 8 and below) and senior high school students (grades 9 through 12). As you read below how the AMC exams have evolved, you will see that they have moved towards greater participation at many grade levels, much less emphasis on speed and intricate calculation, and greater emphasis on critical thinking and the interrelations between different parts of mathematics.

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