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Let's Take Some Tests!
April 27, 2014 11:28 PM   Subscribe

This FPP on the Putnam math tests made me wonder: what other outside-of-school exams or tests are out there that have some kind of competitive element? And how many of them are open to the public?

In secondary school I sat for the English tests for UNSW's ICAS competitions, which were a lot more fun compared to our regular school exams. I also did a Mensa test just for the hell of it. What other tests like these exist - ones that are not for a particular scholastic grade but have some element of winning to them? Which are open to the public (like Mensa) and which require school registration (like Putnam or ICAS)?

(there's this question about exams for jobs, but it's not entirely what I'm after.)
posted by divabat to Education (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Well it's not at all the same thing, but they kind of scratch a similar itch, IMO: There's competitive puzzle games happening all the time, all over the place. DASH just happened yesterday in a dozen different cities. Here's a calendar of puzzley events, most of which are at least a little competitive.
posted by aubilenon at 11:57 PM on April 27 [1 favorite]

The National Latin Exam? It's not actually free - it's organized by classroom (or homeschool class) and is $4 a student in the US, $6 outside. But there are prizes and certificates.
Canada has the Waterloo national math and computing contests that are administered only through classrooms, with increasing fees as the skill level increases.
posted by gingerest at 12:37 AM on April 28

aubilenon: I'm not really looking for puzzle-solving quest type things; I am very specifically looking for exams and tests.

gingerest: They don't have to be free (I think the Mensa test cost me some money). Those are great though!
posted by divabat at 1:08 AM on April 28

Hm, these are less puzzle-y than aubilenon's list, but they're not exactly exams either. They do feel like challenges that draw on academic knowledge though, and they either have winners or a way to rank participants.

The ACM programming contest is extracurricular but requires school affiliation. Many past problems are available online for folks who'd like to try them.

For the general public, there's Project Euler, which sets out a bunch of math problems that require computer programming skills--there's no winner, but I think there's a way to advertise how many problems you've solved, establishing a weak ranking among participants.

On a completely different note, The View From Your Window is sort of like GeoGuessr done as a public contest and often requiring considerable analysis of the details you're given. It looks like The Invisibles Quiz is still running, which does something similar for film buffs.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:25 AM on April 28

The AoPS wiki has a substantial list of academic competitions, not all of which involve taking tests, but many of which do. The list of mathematics competitions alone is quite extensive in itself!

Note that most (all?) of these are for students in a particular range of grade levels even if school registration per se is not required.
posted by beryllium at 4:39 AM on April 28

Mine are all from high school (with some junior high versions). But I think of the National Latin Exam as firmly in that category, too.

What I remember as the IML looks like it has become Math League. Not free, but does allow 'unofficial participants'. (See the FAQ about homeschoolers.) There's also the CML which has a calculus league.

The MAA runs a series of competitions, which ultimately ends with selecting the US IMO team. Only open to high school students, I think.

There are also similar things in physics and chemistry.

Digging around on the Art of Problem Solving website will find you a few more math contests, I think, but, again, they'll all be aimed at people in school. There's ARML and local math leagues for high schools as well.

Not quite a test, but there's also the USA Mathematical Talent Search, which does have freely available questions.
posted by hoyland at 4:42 AM on April 28

While not a competition, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) does give it results in a way that shows how you compare against other demographics that have taken the test. That was quite interesting to see with the downside if you do really well in some categories you'll be hounded by recruiters for years and years.
posted by mmascolino at 11:16 AM on April 28

beryllium: "The list of mathematics competitions alone is quite extensive in itself! "

Yes, however it has some gaps. In particular, they left out the (arguably) most widespread Canadian high school level math contests, the Pascal/Cayley/Fermat series from the University of Waterloo. And, as usual, Quebec has its own own set of contests.
posted by mhum at 12:31 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]

And nothing on that page about the Kürschák/Eötvös Math Competition, the oldest math competition in the world? Weird.
posted by mhum at 7:34 PM on April 28

To prevent confusion: I've edited in the competitions mhum mentioned to their countries' pages--let me know if there's a better place or description for them (or feel free to jump in and edit yourself!)
posted by beryllium at 8:16 PM on April 28

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