Students hit record high in math contest


TAIPEI, Taiwan — A total of 124 Taiwanese students clinched perfect scores in the American Mathematics Contest 8 (AMC 8), one of the best results on record since Taiwan was invited to join the international competition a decade ago, the organizer said yesterday at an award presentation ceremony.

The 2010 AMC 8, a 25-question, 40-minute multiple choice examination designed mostly for junior high school students, was taken by over 152,900 participants from over 20 countries, including the United States, Canada, Singapore, China and Taiwan.

The Taiwan section of the AMC 8 was held Nov. 21, with a record high 9,593 participants who averaged 15.7 in the contest, higher than the global average of 9.98, according to a statement from the organizer, the Nine-Nine Cultural and Educational Foundation.

The 124 Taiwanese students, ranging from 11 to 15 years of age, accounted for nearly 25 percent of the competition’s 499 perfect score students, the statement said.

“This is because the Taiwanese participants are good at solving most types of this year’s questions such as proportions, quadrature and number theory,” said Ho Yang-ming, president of the foundation, at the award ceremony.

Taiwan set the record of 124 perfect score students in 2008 among 9,012 local participants, Ho added. The local part of the competition has been running since 1999.

Hsu Min-heng, an 11-year-old elementary student who entered the contest for the first time this year, was the youngest participant among the local perfect scorers.

The child first showed an interest in math at kindergarten age and then spent most of his time reading math by himself instead of going to cram school, his father Hsu Wen-jong told CNA on the sidelines of the ceremony. “When he was seven, my wife and I found one day that he had been trying to read his older sister’s mathematics junior high school textbook. He really enjoys thinking about mathematical questions,” said Hsu’s father, who is dean of academic affairs at a senior high school in Taichung, central Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Ho also noted that the foundation subsidizes the application fees for more than 300 students from low-income families to encourage their participation in the competition.

“We will continue our subsidies for those children who have few opportunities to take part in international events and we hope the contest will become another credible channel for talent selection in addition to the basic competence test held by the government,” he said.