How to Prepare for AMC 8 Featured

05 October 2017

AMC 8 is a middle school math competition organized by the American Mathematical Association. It is designed to foster interest in mathematics and promote the development of problem-solving skills.

The test is composed of 25 questions to be completed in a 40-minute time span. All questions are multiple-choice, and students will not be penalized for wrong answers. The topics covered include number sense, number theory, estimation, counting, probability, pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry.

About 200,000 middle school students take the exam each year. Recognitions are given to students who receive a perfect score (Certificate of Distinction), high scoring students (Honor Roll Certificate), and high scoring students in the 6th grade or below (Merit Certificate).

Ten Strategies for AMC 8 Success:

  1. Prepare your own test kit, including 3 B-2 pencils, scratch paper, graph paper, rulers, protractors, and erasers. No calculators are allowed. If this is your first time taking the AMC 8, learn how to use properly use protractors and graph paper.
  2. Take practice exams in a simulated testing environment. It is about the quality, not quantity of your practice: use your test kit, time yourself to 40 minutes, and work in a quiet environment. This is where parents can help by playing the role of a proctor. When proctoring, announce the 15-minute mark and five-minute mark to the student so they know how much time is left.
  3. Organize your scratch paper so you can easily go over unsure questions, check answers, and read through solutions and reasoning. Watch the video for examples and tips. If you consistently practice test-taking using this organization strategy, your overall test performance will improve not only for the AMC 8, but other tests at school as well.
  4. Always leave the last three to five minutes to check your answers. Go over your scratch paper, and focus first on the questions that you were unsure about then the types of problems that you easily make silly mistakes.
  5. Keep a record of the answers on your practice tests: correct, skipped, and wrong, so when you go back to review, you know which questions to focus on. This also shows how much progress you have made over your practice sessions. Watch the video for an example.
  6. Review the official solutions for all problems, especially questions 1-15. These are usually school math problems that can be solved in two ways. If you use the technique used in your school math book, you will usually take more time to find the correct answer. Learn tricks to improve your number sense for quick problem-solving and to maximize your testing time. Watch the video for examples and tips.
  7. Most of the AMC 8 geometry focuses on spatial visualization. Try the questions even if you have not learned the topic in school. These problems may be common sense, so simple strategies, as outlined in the video, will help you to tackle them.
  8. If you missed a problem during your practice session because you do not understand the concept, make note of it and take it upon yourself to learn the topic. Always challenge yourself to learn more. Don’t give up. Write important formulas, problem-solving strategies, and techniques into your notebook.
  9. Two weeks before the test, redo the missed problems on your practice exams and solidify the skills you have already achieved. You should place a higher priority to maximize and solidify your existing knowledge and skills over learning new topics. Review the notes you took in Step 8 for key formula and techniques.
  10. On test day, rest well, go to the site early, and don’t forget to bubble in your answers on the test form! If you prefer to bubble in answers at the end, do so without rushing to leave out avoidable errors.


When taking the AMC 8, it to eliminate careless mistakes and reflect your true level of knowledge and skills through the test score. These ten strategies will help you achieve your goals. For specific and detailed examples, watch the video.


Read 110 times Last modified on Thursday, 05 October 2017 21:23
Dr. Li

Executive Director, Ardent Academy for Gifted Youth; Co-President, OCSEF.