OFFICIAL RULES + PROCEDURES
Coaches are responsible for being familiar with the 2021-2022 Official Rules + Procedures outlined below.
The following rules and procedures govern all MATHCOUNTS competitions.
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 immediate attention of the appropriate chapter, state or national official. Students violating any rules may be subject to immediate disqualification.
Please contact the national office with any questions!
The Competition Series is a school-based program. However, 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).
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- A maximum of 12 NSCs from the same school may register for the Competition Series. Registration eligibility will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
- NSC registrations are processed through a different registration portal than school registrations. Please be sure to register through the NSC portal.
- School-based registrations: A school can register a maximum of 1 team of 4 students and 8 individuals; these 1-12 student(s) will represent the school at the Chapter Competition. Any number of students can participate at the school level. Prior to the Chapter Competition, coaches must notify their chapter coordinator of which students will be team members and which students will compete as individuals.
- 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).
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.
Members of a school team will participate in the Target, Sprint and Team Rounds. Members of a school team also will be eligible to qualify for the Countdown Round (where conducted). Team members will be eligible for team awards, individual awards and progression to the state and national levels based on their individual and/or team performance. It is recommended that your strongest 4 Mathletes form your school team. Teams of fewer than 4 will be allowed to compete; however, the team score will be computed by dividing the sum of the team members’ scores by 4 (see Scoring below), meaning, teams of fewer than 4 students will be at a disadvantage. Only 1 team (of up to 4 students) per school is eligible to compete.
NSCs are not eligible to register or compete as team members.
Students registered as individuals will participate in the Target and Sprint Rounds, but not the Team Round. Individuals will be eligible to qualify for the Countdown Round (where conducted). Individuals also will be eligible for individual awards and progression to the state and national levels. A student registered as an “individual” may not help his/her school’s team advance to the next level of competition. Up to 8 students may be registered in addition to or in lieu of a school team.
- 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.
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.
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 2021-2022 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. The Home School Participation Form must be submitted to the MATHCOUNTS national office by December 31, 2021.
The fastest and easiest way to register for the MATHCOUNTS Competition Series is online. If you're having trouble with the online registration process, refer to our online registration guide.
Students can participate in the 2021-2022 Competition Series as school-based competitors or non-school competitors (NSCs).
- 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. A maximum of 12 NSCs from the same school may register for the Competition Series. Registration eligibility will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Find out more about registering a non-school competitor.
Registration in the Competition Series entitles a school to:
- Send 1-12 student(s)—depending on number registered—to the Chapter Competition. Students can advance beyond the chapter level, but this is determined by their performance at the competition.
- Receive the mailed School Competition Kit, which includes the 2021-2022 MATHCOUNTS School Handbook, recognition ribbons and participation certificates. Mailings of School Competition Kits will occur on a rolling basis from mid-August, 2021 through January 31, 2022.
- Receive online access to the 2022 School Competition, along with electronic versions of other competition materials at www.mathcounts.org/coaches. Coaches will receive an email notification no later than November 1, 2021 when the 2022 School Competition is available online.
Each NSC will be considered 1 registered student and will receive the same registration benefits outlined above, including a mailed kit. 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: November 12, 2021 (Online registrations submitted by 11:59pm PT; emailed forms received by 11:59pm PT; mailed forms postmarked by November 12, 2021)
- Regular Registration Deadline: December 17, 2021 (Online registrations submitted by 11:59pm PT; emailed forms received by 11:59pm PT; mailed forms postmarked by December 17, 2021)
- Late Registration: After December 17, 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 12.
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.
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 November 12, 2021): $30 per school competitor (max 12 students); $60 per NSC (max 1 student)
- Regular Registration (by December 17, 2021): $35 per school competitor (max 12 students); $65 per NSC (max 1 student)
- Late Registration (after December 17, 2021): $40 per school competitor (max 12 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.
Registered schools that need to cancel their Competition Series registration must notify the MATHCOUNTS national office in writing via email or mail. Schools may request and receive a full refund minus a $30 non-refundable cancellation fee to cover refund processing and the cost of materials shipped to the school. MATHCOUNTS will verify a school’s non-participation with local coordinators and reserves the right to refuse a refund request. No cancellations or refund requests will be processed after February 1, 2022. This fee does not apply to schools that reduce their number of registered students but remain registered with at least one student.
Refunds requests will not be granted for NSC registrations for 2021-2022.
Reasonable accommodations may be made for student substitutions, religious observances and for students with special needs.
Coaches determine which students will represent the school at the Chapter Competition. Coaches cannot substitute team members for the State Competition unless a student voluntarily releases his/her position on the school team. Additional requirements and documentation for substitutions (such as requiring parental release or requiring the substitution request be submitted in writing) are at the discretion of the State Coordinator. A student being added to a team need not be a student who was registered for the Chapter Competition as an individual. Coaches cannot make substitutions for students progressing to the State Competition as individuals. At all levels of competition, student substitutions are not permitted after on-site competition registration has been completed.
A student who is unable to attend a competition due to religious observances may take the written portion of the competition up to one week in advance of the scheduled competition. In addition, all competitors from that student’s school must take the Sprint and Target Rounds at the same earlier time. If the student who is unable to attend the competition due to a religious observance: (1) is a member of the school team, then the team must take the Team Round at the same earlier time; (2) is not part of the school team, then the team has the option of taking the Team Round during this advance testing or on the regularly scheduled day of the competition with the other school teams. The coordinator must be made aware of the team’s decision before the advance testing takes place. Advance testing will be done at the discretion of the chapter and state coordinators. If advance testing is deemed possible, it will be conducted under proctored conditions. Students who qualify for an official Countdown Round but are unable to attend will automatically forfeit one place standing.
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 or Countdown Rounds. A request for accommodation of special needs must be directed to chapter or state coordinators in writing at least 3 weeks in advance of the Chapter or State Competition. This written request should thoroughly explain a student’s special need, as well as what the desired accommodation would entail. In conjunction with the MATHCOUNTS Foundation, coordinators 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.
There are 4 levels in the MATHCOUNTS Competition Series: school, chapter (local), state and national. Competition questions are written for students in grades 6-8. The competitions can be quite challenging, particularly for students who have not been coached using MATHCOUNTS materials. All competition materials are prepared by the national office.
The Chapter Competition consists of the Sprint, Target and Team Rounds. The Countdown Round (official or just for fun) may or may not be conducted. The chapter and state coordinators determine the date and location of the Chapter Competition in accordance with established national procedures and rules. Winning teams and students will receive recognition. The winning team will advance to the State Competition. Additionally, the 2 highest-ranking competitors not on the winning team (who may be registered as individuals or as members of a team) will advance to the State Competition. This is a minimum of 6 advancing Mathletes (assuming the winning team has 4 members). Additional teams and/or individuals also may progress at the discretion of the state coordinator, but the policy for progression must be consistent for all chapters within a state.
The State Competition consists of the Sprint, Target and Team Rounds. The Countdown Round (official or just for fun) may or may not be included. The state coordinator determines the date and location of the State Competition in accordance with established national procedures and rules. Winning teams and students will receive recognition. The 4 highest-ranked Mathletes and the coach of the winning team from each State Competition will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the National Competition.
The National Competition consists of the Sprint, Target, Team and Countdown Rounds (conducted officially). Expenses of the state team and coach to travel to the National Competition will be paid by MATHCOUNTS. The national program does not make provisions for the attendance of additional students or coaches. All national competitors will receive a plaque and other items in recognition of their achievements. Winning teams and individuals also will receive medals, trophies and college scholarships.
The 4 rounds of a MATHCOUNTS competition, each described below, are designed to be completed in approximately 3 hours. Note: The order in which the written rounds (Target, Sprint and Team) are administered is at the discretion of the competition coordinator.
Consisting of 30 problems, this round tests accuracy, with the time period allowing only the most capable students to complete all of the problems. Calculators are not permitted.
In this round 8 problems are presented to competitors in 4 pairs (6 minutes per pair). The multi-step problems featured in this round engage Mathletes in mathematical reasoning and problem-solving processes. Problems assume the use of calculators.
In this round, interaction among team members is permitted and encouraged as they work together to solve 10 problems. Problems assume the use of calculators.
A fast-paced oral competition for top-scoring individuals (based on scores on the Target and Sprint Rounds), this round allows pairs of Mathletes to compete against each other and the clock to solve problems. Calculators are not permitted.
At Chapter and State Competitions, a Countdown Round (1) may be conducted officially, (2) may be conducted unofficially (for fun) or (3) may be omitted. However, the use of an official Countdown Round must be consistent for all chapters within a state. In other words, all chapters within a state must use the round officially in order for any chapter within a state to use it officially. All students, whether registered as part of a school team or as individual competitors, are eligible to qualify for the Countdown Round.
An official Countdown Round determines an individual’s final overall rank in the competition. If a Countdown Round is used officially, the official procedures as established by the MATHCOUNTS Foundation must be followed, as described below.*
- The top 25% of students, up to a maximum of 10, are selected to compete. These students are chosen based on their Individual Scores.
- The 2 lowest‑ranked students are paired; 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 s/he answers correctly, a point is scored. If a student answers incorrectly, the other student has the remainder of the 45 seconds to answer.
- 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 and challenges the next-higher‑ranked student.
- 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 until the 4th-ranked Mathlete and his/her opponent compete. For the final 4 matchups, the first student to correctly answer 3 questions advances.
- The Countdown Round proceeds until a 1st place individual is identified. More details about Countdown Round procedures are included in the 2022 School Competition.
*Rules for the Countdown Round change for the National Competition.An unofficial Countdown Round does not determine an individual’s final overall rank in the competition but is done for practice or for fun. The official procedures do not have to be followed. Chapters and states choosing not to conduct the round officially must determine individual winners solely on the basis of students’ scores in the Target and Sprint Rounds of the competition.
MATHCOUNTS Competition Series scores do not conform to traditional grading scales. Coaches and students should view an Individual Score of 23 (out of a possible 46) as highly commendable.
Calculated by taking the sum of the number of Sprint Round questions answered correctly and twice the number of Target Round questions answered correctly. There are 30 questions in the Sprint Round and 8 questions in the Target Round, so the maximum possible Individual Score is 30 + 2(8) = 46. If used officially, the Countdown Round yields final individual standings.
Calculated by dividing the sum of the team members’ Individual Scores by 4 (even if the team has fewer than 4 members) and adding twice the number of Team Round questions answered correctly. The highest possible Individual Score is 46. Four students may compete on a team, and there are 10 questions in the Team Round. Therefore, the maximum possible Team Score is ((46 + 46 + 46 + 46) ÷ 4) + 2(10) = 66.
Used to determine individual ranks at any level, and to determine team ranks, individual ranks and Countdown Round qualifiers at the National Competition. In general, questions in the Sprint, Target and Team Rounds increase in difficulty so that the most difficult questions occur near the end of each round. In a comparison of questions to break ties, generally those who correctly answer the more difficult questions receive the higher rank. The guidelines provided below are very general; competition officials receive more detailed procedures.
- 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 legible.
Pencils and paper will be provided for Mathletes by competition organizers. However, students may bring their own pencils, pens and erasers if they wish. They may not use their own scratch paper or graph 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 with coaches is prohibited during rounds but is permitted during breaks. All communication between guests and Mathletes is prohibited during competition rounds. Communication between teammates is permitted only during the Team Round.
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®, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and any other “smart” devices are not considered to be calculators and may not be used 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. Coordinators are not responsible for providing Mathletes with calculators or batteries before or during MATHCOUNTS competitions. Coaches are strongly advised to bring backup calculators and spare batteries to the competition for their team members in case of a malfunctioning calculator or weak or dead batteries. Neither the MATHCOUNTS Foundation nor coordinators shall be responsible for the consequences of a calculator’s malfunctioning.
Pagers, cell phones, tablets, iPods® and other MP3 players should not be brought into the competition room. Failure to comply could result in dismissal from the competition.
Should there be a rule violation or suspicion of irregularities, the MATHCOUNTS coordinator or competition official has the obligation and authority to exercise his/her judgment regarding the situation and take appropriate action, which might include disqualification of the suspected student(s) from the competition.
Rules that explain acceptable forms for answers can be downloaded here. Coaches should ensure that Mathletes are familiar with these rules prior to participating at any level of competition. Competition answers will be scored in compliance with these rules for forms of answers.