Official Rules + Procedures
A rule change for the 2020-2021 Competition Series does not necessarily indicate a permanent rule change to the MATHCOUNTS Competition Series. The rules for the 2020-2021 Competition Series apply only to the 2020-2021 Competition Series. MATHCOUNTS reserves the right to alter these rules and procedures at any time during the program year. Coaches are responsible for being familiar with the rules and procedures outlined on this page. Coaches should bring any difficulty in procedures or in student conduct to the attention of the appropriate chapter, state or national official. Students violating any rules may be subject to immediate disqualification.
Any questions regarding the MATHCOUNTS Competition Series Official Rules + Procedures articulated on this page should be addressed to the MATHCOUNTS national office.
The Competition Series is a school-based program, but for this year, if a student’s school will not register and will not support their participation in the program, the student is eligible to participate as a non-school competitor (NSC).
Who Is Eligible to Participate?
- Only U.S. students in grades 6-8 are eligible to participate in MATHCOUNTS competitions. MATHCOUNTS defines a U.S. student as any student who either (1) attends a school located in a U.S. state or territory or (2) attends an overseas school that is affiliated with the U.S. Departments of Defense or State.
- Students who are not enrolled in grades 6-8 full-time cannot participate, even if they are taking middle school math classes.
Who Can Complete School-Based Registrations?
- Schools in any of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands can register. Overseas schools cannot participate unless they are affiliated with the U.S. Departments of Defense or State.
- Any type of school, of any size, can register—public, private, religious, charter, virtual or home schools—but home schools must fill out additional forms to participate.
- School-based competitors must participate through their official school of record. Academic centers, tutoring centers or enrichment programs that do not function as students’ official school of record cannot register as schools. If it is unclear whether your educational institution is considered a school, please contact your local Department of Education for specific criteria governing your state.
- School officials, such as math teachers, principals, bookkeepers or curriculum heads, can register a school for the Competition Series. Parents/guardians can register their child’s school for the program if they have received permission from the school officials to do so (see registration procedures below).
Who Can Complete Non-School Competitor Registrations?
- Students who meet the eligibility requirements above, but whose official school of record will not register for the Competition Series and will not support their participation through the school are eligible to participate as non-school competitors (NSCs), when registered by their parent/guardian.
- Parents/guardians must contact the school officials at their student’s official school of record to confirm that the school will not allow a school-based registration for the program before completing an NSC registration.
Number of Students Allowed
- School-based registrations: A school can register a maximum of 15 students; these 1-15 student(s) will represent the school in the online Chapter Competition. Any number of students can participate in the school’s meetings and practices, and students from the same school may form unofficial teams for online practice competitions. All students will register as individual competitors.
- NSC registrations: A parent/guardian will be permitted to register 1 NSC. If a parent/guardian has multiple children in their household who meet the eligibility requirements for NSCs, they must complete a separate registration and pay the registration fee for each student (see registration procedures below).
Number of Years Allowed
Participation in MATHCOUNTS competitions is limited to 3 years for each student, but there is no limit to the number of years a student may participate in school based coaching.
How Students Enrolled Part-Time at 2 Schools Participate
- School-based participants: A student may compete only for their official school of record.
- NSCs: A student may compete as an NSC only if their official school of record is not registering for the program and will not support student participation in the program through the school. Though they are not registering through their school, NSCs must provide accurate information about their official school of record.
A student’s school of record is the student’s base or main school. A student taking limited course work at a second school or educational center may not register or compete for that second school or center, even if the student is not competing for his/her school of record. MATHCOUNTS registration is not determined by where a student takes his/her math course. If there is any doubt about a student’s school of record, the chapter or state coordinator must be contacted for a decision before registering.
How Virtual School Students Participate
A student whose official school of record is a virtual school should register through that virtual school, and their MATHCOUNTS chapter will be based on the student’s home address. A student whose official school of record is a brick-and-mortar school should register through that brick-and-mortar school, even if their coursework is partially or fully online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A student should not register as an NSC unless their official school of record—whether virtual or brick-and-mortar—will not register for the program and will not support the student’s participation through the school.
How Home School Students Participate
A student whose official school of record is a home school should register through that home school, not as an NSC. Home schools and/or home school groups in compliance with the home school laws of the state in which they are located are eligible to participate in MATHCOUNTS competitions in accordance with all other rules. Home school coaches must complete the 2020-2021 Home School Participation Form, verifying that students from the home school or home school group are in grades 6-8 and that each home school complies with applicable state laws. Forms can be downloaded here and must be submitted to the MATHCOUNTS national office by January 15, 2021.
- School-based competitors: To register school-based competitors, a school representative must (1) register online or email/mail a completed offline registration form to the MATHCOUNTS national office and (2) pay the registration fees. A school representative can be a teacher, administrator or parent volunteer who has received expressed permission from his/her child’s school administration to register. By registering school-based competitors, the school representative attests to the school administration’s permission to register students for MATHCOUNTS.
- NSCs: To register NSCs, a parent/guardian must register online and pay the registration fees with a credit card. Before registering an NSC, parents/guardians must confirm with school officials that their child’s school will not register for the Competition Series and will not support their participation through the school. MATHCOUNTS may contact the schools of registered NSCs to confirm that the school is not participating in the Competition Series and reserves the right to cancel an NSC’s registration, without refund, if their school registers for the Competition Series.
What Registration Covers
Registration in the Competition Series entitles a school to:
- Have 1-15 student(s)—depending on number registered—compete in the online Chapter Competition on the Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) Contest Platform. Students can advance beyond the Chapter Competition, but this is determined by their performance in the competition.
- Receive the mailed School Competition Kit, which includes the 2020-2021 MATHCOUNTS School Handbook, recognition ribbons and participation certificates. Mailings of School Competition Kits will occur on a rolling basis August 17, 2020 through January 31, 2021.
- Receive online access for the coach to practice materials through the MATHCOUNTS Coach Dashboard. For schools, the coach is designated by the school representative upon registration (typically a math teacher or parent volunteer with permission from the school administration).
- Have the 1-15 registered competitors, plus up to 50 additional school participants, participate in 3 online practice competitions on the AoPS Contest Platform. A fourth online practice competition (to be held January 22, 2021) will only be available to schools' 1-15 registered competitors. Access to the AoPS Contest Platform will open by October 2020 and the first practice competition will be released on October 15, 2020.
Each NSC will be considered 1 registered student and will receive the same registration benefits outlined above, including a mailed kit, online resources and the AoPS Contest Platform. An NSC is not a “school”; the “coach” for an NSC is the parent/guardian who completes their child’s registration.
The sooner a coach registers, the sooner the coach will receive preparation materials and online access. To guarantee a school’s or NSC’s participation, registration must be submitted by one of the following deadlines:
- Early Bird Registration Deadline: October 1, 2020 (Online registrations submitted by 11:59pm PT; emailed forms received by 11:59pm PT; mailed forms postmarked by October 1, 2020)
- Regular Registration Deadline: December 1, 2020 (Online registrations submitted by 11:59pm PT; emailed forms received by 11:59pm PT; mailed forms postmarked by December 1, 2020)
- Late Registration Deadline: January 15, 2021 (Online registrations submitted by 11:59pm PT; emailed forms received by 11:59pm PT; mailed forms postmarked by January 15, 2021)
A school representative can add students to an existing registration as long as the total number of registered students for the school does not exceed 15.
Registration fees cover registered students for the entire Competition Series; there are no additional registration fees required to compete at the invitational, state or national level. Registration fees must be paid by January 15, 2021.
The cost of registration depends on when the registration is submitted (see deadlines above) and whether it is for a school or NSC.
- Early Bird Registration (by October 1, 2020): $30 per school competitor (max 15 students); $60 per NSC (max 1 student)
- Regular Registration (by December 1, 2020): $35 per school competitor (max 15 students); $65 per NSC (max 1 student)
- Late Registration (by January 15, 2021): $40 per school competitor (max 15 students); $70 per NSC (max 1 student)
Due to the additional time required to process and confirm NSC registrations, (1) an NSC registration is $30 more than each student in a school-based registration and (2) NSC registrations must be completed online and paid for with a credit card.
Title I schools (public or charter schools in which 40% or more of the students qualify for free/reduced lunch or some other funding under Title I) receive a 50% discount off the total cost of their registration. Private, home or virtual schools, and schools with fewer than 40% of the students qualifying for these funds, are not considered Title I schools by the MATHCOUNTS Foundation. The MATHCOUNTS national office will verify the status of schools registering as Title I schools, and these schools are required to provide contact information for the school administration for this purpose. NSCs are not eligible for the Title I schools discount.
Cancellations and Refunds
Due to the online nature of the program this year and pre-announced competition dates, no refunds will be granted for the 2020-2021 Competition Series. MATHCOUNTS may contact the schools of registered NSCs to confirm that the school is not participating in the Competition Series and reserves the right to cancel an NSC’s registration, without refund, if their school registers for the Competition Series.
Many accommodations typically provided for in-person competitions will not be necessary for the Competition Series this year.
What Is Done for Substitutions of Students
Coaches determine which students will represent the school at the Chapter Competition. Due to the online nature of the first levels of competition, substitutions will not be permitted at the Chapter Invitational or State Competitions. If a national qualifier voluntarily releases their position on the state team, the next highest scoring student may be substituted, at the discretion of state coordinators and the MATHCOUNTS national office.
What Will Be Done for Overseas Schools
No accommodations will be made for students taking the Chapter Competition because competitors have a 24-hour period to complete the test, 1:00pm ET on Friday, February 5 through 1:00pm ET on Saturday, February 6, 2021. For the Chapter Invitational Competition and State Competition, the MATHCOUNTS national office will work with Department of Defense (DoD) and State Department (SD) coordinators to designate a possible alternate competition time for DoD/SD schools and NSCs from DoD/SD schools located in Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. No other schools or NSCs will be eligible for timing accommodations for the Chapter, Chapter Invitational or State Competitions.
What Will Be Done for Religious Observances
No accommodations will be made for students taking the Chapter Competition because competitors have a 24-hour period to complete the test, 1:00pm ET on Friday, February 5 through 1:00pm ET on Saturday, February 6, 2021. The Chapter Invitational Competition (February 25, 2021) and State Competition (March 25, 2021) have been scheduled to avoid major holidays and days of worship. A request for accommodation for a student who will be unable to take the Chapter Invitational Competition or State Competition due to a religious observance must be made in writing to the MATHCOUNTS national office by December 1, 2020. This written request should thoroughly explain the religious observance. MATHCOUNTS will review the request and determine if any accommodations will be made.
What Will Be Done for Students without Access to the Internet
Students who do not have access to the Internet at home should contact their official school of record and local public library to see if arrangements can be made for them to take the Chapter, Chapter Invitational and/or State Competitions at those locations. A request for accommodation for students without access to the Internet must be made in writing to the MATHCOUNTS national office by December 1, 2020. This written request should thoroughly explain why the student will be unable to take the competition at their school or public library and provide contact information for their school officials. MATHCOUNTS will review the request and determine if any accommodations will be made.
What Will Be Done for Students with Special Needs
Reasonable accommodations may be made to allow students with special needs to participate. However, many accommodations that are employed in a classroom or teaching environment cannot be implemented in the competition setting. Accommodations that are not permissible include, but are not limited to: granting a student extra time during any of the competition rounds or allowing a student to use a calculator for the Sprint Round. A request for accommodation of special needs must be made in writing to the MATHCOUNTS national office by December 1, 2020. This written request should thoroughly explain a student’s special need, as well as what the desired accommodation would entail. MATHCOUNTS will review the needs of the student and determine if any accommodations will be made. In making final determinations, the feasibility of accommodating these needs at the National Competition will be taken into consideration.
Online Practice Competitions (October 2020-January 2021)
To prepare for the official competitions, registered schools and NSCs will have access to 4 online practice competitions, comprised of modified, past MATHCOUNTS problems. A practice competition will be released on the Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) Contest Platform on October 15, 2020, November 15, 2020, December 15, 2020 and January 22, 2021. All of a school’s registered competitors (1-15 students), plus up to 50 additional students at the school, will have access to at least the first 3 practice competitions. The practice competitions will include a team round, allowing students from the same school to form teams.
Selection of chapter competitors, as well as the selection of students given access to the practice competitions, will be made entirely at the discretion of the coach. Any or all of the practice competitions may be used by coaches to determine chapter competitors but are not required.
Practice competitions are confidential and for use solely by students and coaches at registered Competition Series schools. These competitions must remain confidential and may not be used in outside activities, such as tutoring sessions or enrichment programs with students from other schools.
It is important that the coach look upon coaching sessions during the academic year as opportunities to develop better math skills in all students, not just in those students who will be competing. Therefore, it is suggested that the coach postpone selection of competitors until just prior to the Chapter Competition, but no later than January 15, 2021.
Chapter Competition (held February 5-6, 2021)
Chapter Invitational Competition (held February 25, 2021)
The 2021 Chapter Invitational Competition consists of the Sprint and Target Rounds and will take place online at the AoPS Contest Platform at 7:00pm ET on Thursday, February 25, 2021. Winning students will receive recognition. The top 5 competitors in each chapter will advance to the State Competition. Additionally, the next 10 highest-ranking competitors in the state will advance to the State Competition.
State Competition (held March 25, 2021)
2021 Raytheon Technologies MATHCOUNTS National Competition (held May 9-10 in Washington, DC)
Sprint Round (40 minutes)
Target Round (approximately 30 minutes)
Team Round (20 minutes)
- The top 12 students are selected to compete. These students are chosen based on their Individual Scores.
- The students compete in a bracket contest. The first round (matchups A-D) consists of: #8 seed vs. #9 seed (A) #5 seed vs. #12 seed (B), #6 seed vs. #11 seed (C) and #7 seed vs. #10 (D). The second round of matchups consists of: winner A vs. #1 seed, winner B vs. #4 seed, winner C vs. #3 seed and winner D vs. #2 seed.
- For each matchup, a question is read and projected, and students are given 45 seconds to solve the problem. A student may buzz in at any time, and if they answer correctly, a point is scored. If a student answers incorrectly, the other student has the remainder of the 45 seconds to answer. Once a student presses their buzzer and is called on to answer the question, they must complete their response within 3 seconds of being recognized by the moderator.
- A total of 3 questions are read to the pair of students, 1 question at a time, and the student who scores the higher number of points (not necessarily 2 out of 3) progresses to the next round.
- If students are tied in their matchup after 3 questions (at 1 1 or 0 0), questions should continue to be read until one is successfully answered. The first student who answers an additional question correctly progresses to the next round.
- This procedure continues. For the final 4 matchups, the first student to correctly answer 3 questions advances.
- The Countdown Round proceeds until the National Champion is identified.
- Ties between individuals: The student with the higher Sprint Round score will receive the higher rank. If a tie remains after this comparison, specific groups of questions from the Sprint and Target Rounds are compared.
- Ties between teams: The team with the higher Team Round score, and then the higher sum of the team members’ Sprint Round scores, receives the higher rank. If a tie remains after these comparisons, specific questions from the Team Round will be compared.
All answers must be typed into the Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) Contest Platform at the Chapter, Chapter Invitational and State Competitions. At the National Competition, all answers must be legible. The Forms of Answers guidelines (below) specify how students must enter answers on the AoPS Contest Platform.
Mathletes are responsible for providing their own pencils, pens, erasers and scratch paper.
Use of notes or other reference materials (including dictionaries and translation dictionaries) is prohibited.
Specific instructions stated in a given problem take precedence over any general rule or procedure.
Communication of any kind with coaches, students or other individuals is prohibited during online testing. At the National Competition, communication between teammates is permitted only during breaks and the Team Round.Calculators are not permitted in the Sprint and Countdown Rounds, but they are permitted in the Target, Team and Tiebreaker (if needed) Rounds. When calculators are permitted:
- Students may use any calculator (including programmable and graphing calculators) that does not contain a QWERTY (typewriter like) keypad.
- Calculators that have the ability to enter letters of the alphabet but do not have a keypad in a standard typewriter arrangement are acceptable.
- Wireless adapters or any other devices that enable calculators to connect to Wi-Fi are not acceptable. Calculators that have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity (rather than an external adapter) are not acceptable.
- Smart phones, laptops, tablets, iPods® and other digital music players, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and any other “smart” devices are not considered to be calculators and may not be used as calculators during competitions.
- Students may not use calculators to exchange information with another person or device during the competition.
Coaches are responsible for ensuring their students use acceptable calculators, and students are responsible for providing their own calculators. MATHCOUNTS is not responsible for providing Mathletes with calculators or batteries before or during MATHCOUNTS competitions. Participants are strongly advised to have backup calculators and spare batteries nearby in case of a malfunctioning calculator or weak or dead batteries. The MATHCOUNTS Foundation shall not be responsible for the consequences of a calculator’s malfunctioning.
The only Internet-connected device that may be used during online competitions is the computer or tablet a student is using to take the competition on the AoPS Contest Platform. No other devices (such as, but not limited to, cell phones, smartphones and tablets) may be used to receive, share or distribute information to others. The only permissible communication is between the competitor and the AoPS Contest Platform. Internet-connected devices are not permitted at the National Competition. Failure to comply could result in dismissal from the competition.
No part of any MATHCOUNTS competition—including problems, figures, answers and written solutions—should be copied, photographed, shared or distributed by coaches, students or other individuals. MATHCOUNTS releases one year of past competitions online, and will post the 2021 Chapter, Chapter Invitational and State Competitions on its website after each level’s competitions have finished. No other individuals or organizations can share or distribute MATHCOUNTS competition content without expressed permission from the MATHCOUNTS Foundation.
Should there be a rule violation or suspicion of irregularities, the MATHCOUNTS competition official has the obligation and authority to exercise their judgment regarding the situation and take appropriate action, which might include disqualification of the suspected student(s) from the competition.