Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register my students for the Contest?

The only person that needs to have an account on the platform is the coach. The registration of students comes when a coach submit the submission spreadsheet with their Challenge 1 answers/entries in December. We recommend that the coach access the PDF's of the Challenge 1 problems and distribute them to students outside of the platform - only the coach (ie, teacher/parent) should be registered on the platform. Columns A-D in the Submission Spreadsheet is where a coach enters student information. A video outlining this process is available after registration.

Are students required to submit their work or written explanations for Challenge 1?

No, only the numerical answer will be scored for Challenge 1. Students are encouraged to write up their solutions as a skill-building exercise but are not required to submit.

Are students required to submit their work or written explanations for Challenge 2?

Yes, see the Judging Criteria for Challenge 2 in the HMP Rules. Students who do not submit a written solution will not score high enough to be considered a winner for the HMP.

Do student solutions in Challenge 2 have to be typed to submit?

No, students may handwrite their solutions and a picture or scanned PDF of their work submitted online. Coaches experiencing difficulties with submission of files on the ICS Dashboard should reach out to for assistance.

Can a student who did not participate in Challenge 1 participate in Challenge 2?

No, only students who submitted correct solutions to Challenge 1 are invited to submit answers for Challenge 2.

Is the HMP available for international students?

No, students must be attending school or equivalent in 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th grade in the United States and its territories.

Can students work collaboratively on teams when creating solutions?

No, a “team” in the Hardest Math Problem Contest is composed of 1 coach and 1 student; the work submitted must be the original work of that student alone. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively on practice problems in preparation and develop familiarity with the style of questions prior to individually attempting the official contest problems.

Who can be a coach for a student?

A coach can be any adult age 18 or older, including parents/guardians or adult siblings. Every team must have a coach in order to register on the ICS Dashboard, access contest problems, and submit solutions.

How many solutions can a student submit?

Answer: A student can submit ONE solution at their grade level and ONE solution at each grade above their level. It is not required that students submit solutions above their grade level. For example:

  • A 5th grade student can submit THREE total solutions (one each in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade contests)
  • A 6th grade student can submit THREE total solutions (one each in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade contests)
  • A 7th grade student can submit TWO total solutions (one each in the 7th and 8th grade contests)
  • An 8th grade student can submit ONE solution (in the 8th grade contest)

  • Are students allowed to use a calculator when solving the contest problems?

    Yes, calculators and equivalent devices can be used. The work should be the student’s own, original work but calculators are permitted for computations.

    Do students need to conduct outside research or use the internet when solving contest problems?

    No, the contest problems are self contained and require no outside data or research to solve the problem.

    Are there any fees to register?

    No, registration and submission are free! The HMP is a program of The Actuarial Foundation and sponsored by New York Life to ensure that the program is accessible.

    Is there a limit to the number of students (ie, teams) a coach can register?

    No, a coach can register as many students as they need! Some coaches are teachers and register every student in their classes (upwards of 80-100!). Some coaches are parents/guardians and register just 1 student.

    How much help can a coach/teacher provide to their students?

    A coach can teach concepts for any past problems or concept for a current problem before students attempt the current year’s problem, but it cannot be using the actual 2023-24 problem itself.

    Can students work together?

    The work on individual problems needs to be the work of the student alone. So, we would encourage them to practice collaborating on past problems but they cannot work on/discuss this year's problems together.

    Can a coach/teacher offer feedback on a student’s final answer before submission?

    A coach could offer feedback in the form of a class-wide reminder (e.g. “Make sure you reread the question statement and that your answer actually is a dollar amount"). However, in terms of offering them feedback on the actual answer, that would violate How to Enter Challenge 1, #6: Unique Submissions, which states:" Each entry to the Hardest Math Problem must be the student’s own original work." The Code of Conduct section of the HMP Rules also addresses work. In short, feedback on their work on past problems is perfectly acceptable but current year problems would need to be very "hands off."

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