The AMC 8 is a mathematical examination designed for middle school students (ages 11, 12, and 13) by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).

What it is: 25 multiple choice questions, which must be answered in 40 minutes.

How often is the contest held: Once a year. The last contest was held on Tuesday, November 13, 2012.

Level of difficulty: the material covered in the examination goes up to eighth grade mathematics. It is a challenging exam for elementary school students.

Middle school students (11-13): Professor Bear recommends doing the AMC 8 for fun and for benchmarking your math progress through middle school. You could for example set yourself the goal of improving your score by a point or two each year. It’s interesting to look at the statistics on AMC 8 scores in the United States. You will see that the average score for 6th graders in 2010 was 8.6. The average score for eighth graders in 2010 was 10.6 (out of 25). If you can improve by more than one point per year, you would beat the national average.

Elementary school students (10 and under): Professor Bear recommends doing the AMC 8 if you are interested in a challenge, and if you have already had experience with math contests and competitions. If you attempt the AMC 8, keep in mind that a very good score might be 8 points out of 25. You might not be accustomed to that kind of score.

Note to coaches: if you invite students to take the AMC 8, they need some preparation. Professor Bear’s workbooks are a good first step for preparing, as are the Math Olympiad materials. The AMC 8 web site also has a math club package that you can purchase. Administering the AMC 8 is easy: you arrange a time and place for the exam, and make sure that your participants are prepared to bubble in their multiple choice answers.

Registration information is here.