American High School Math Exam. An exam administered annually nationwide to high school students. The test covers math through calculus, and is scored on a 0-150 basis. There are 30 problems to complete in 90 minutes, with 5 points for a correct answer and 2 points for a problem left blank. Thus, scoring less than 60 requires a certain, special talent.

This is the 52nd year in which the test has been given. The test is typically given in February. Scoring better than 100 on the AHSME causes one to receive an invitation to the AIME, the American Invitational Math Exam. Doing well on the AIME allows one to take the USAMO, USA Mathematics Olympiad, a qualifier for the United States Mathematics Team which represents the US in international competition. The AHSME is open to all American high school (and below) students, homeschool students under the age of 18, and is also administered in Puerto Rico. The test is sponsored by a number of mathematical, statistical, and actuarial societies, including MAA and Mu Alpha Theta. Some think it's an artificial data-gathering construct, secretly financed by the NSA, and used to identify promising young cryptanalysts. I wouldn't know anything about that, of course...

And besides, even if I did, if I told you I'd have to kill you.

Actually, the AHSME no longer exists; it has been replaced by the AMC 8, 10, and 12 as the qualifying test for the AIME. Each test can be taken only by students in or below the corresponding grade; an 11th grader is forced to take the AMC 12, rather than the AMC 10, for example. 100 is still usually the qualifying score on the AMC 12 (though it gets lowered during "difficult years", which suggests to me that high school students are getting stupider.... a notion supported by the re-scaling of the SAT.) On the AMC 10, a qualifying score is anything in the top 1%. That is as hard as it sounds. Many intelligent students, therefore, choose to take the AMC 12 even in 9th and 10th grade.

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