By Hannah Li

The American Invitational Mathematics Examination, or the AIME, is a 3 hour long, 15 questions test for those who rank in the top 5 percent on the AMC 12, or the top 2.5 percent on the AMC 10. This year, those who scored 112.5 points or more on the AMC 10 and those who scored 96 points or more on the AMC 12 were invited to take the AIME. The top scoring students on the AIME are then invited to take the USAMO.

While the AIME is an incredible opportunity for students to learn and grow, it can also be quite daunting the first time.

“The first time I qualified for AIME, I was really nervous,” Los Alamitos senior Minh-Thi Nguyen said. “ I didn't really know what to expect because at home, I couldn't do as many tests from the previous years as I did with the AMCs. I knew that the problems were a lot more challenging than the ones on the AMCs.”

Practice books like the Art of Problem Solving or online sites like Khan Academy can help improve students’ test-taking skills as well as prepare them for problems that they might encounter on the test.


“I did a few practice AIME tests from previous years.” Nguyen said. “I would recommend that first-time qualifiers of the AIME to look over a lot of past exams and do as many problems as they can. I would also recommend that people target their weaknesses and learn the concepts well so they have a better chance at tackling difficult problems on the test.”

However, preparation is not all it takes to do well on the AIME. There are many mental obstacles that students face during the test as well.

“People should realize that they have a total of three hours; a lot of people don't take advantage of this and waste at least two hours of the entire exam [on problems they don’t know].” Nguyen said. “Nevertheless, it is important not to be anxious. Look for problems that you know you can solve. Look over the ones that you already solved and make sure that they're right. You have time to double check your answers.”

“Just keep trying,” University High School junior Linghao Long said. “This is a three hour test so they don't expect you to get everything immediately.”
When students have finished taking the test, the next time they take AIME, or any math test, they will be more prepared and have more confidence and experience they can use to get a higher score.

“After taking the exams, I felt a lot more relaxed.” Nguyen said. “I was able to focus on more school and community service activities, and I eased back a little bit before doing problem solving and math again.”