Frequently Asked Questions About Texas ARML


How do I get invited to join the team?

AMC and other contest results (e.g. Rice, Mandelbrot) are used to identify talented mathletes around the state. Members of the team who stay active in math contests will generally be invited back the following year. As space becomes available due to schedule conflicts, new prospects are invited. Most of the new invitations go to 8-10th graders since they will be eligible to return to the team for multiple future years. A few 7th graders who have done well at MATHCOUNTS may also be invited. There should be a link to an interest form on the main page that will let you express your interest and put your contact info into our files. The first invitations are usually sent via email around the start of April with new team members being invited throughout the month.

Note that since we are looking for 45 students from a state that typically has over 250 AIME qualifiers, qualifying for the AIME is an almost necessary but not nearly sufficient condition. AMC 10/12 scores above 130 are typically noticed, though the AMC seems intent to make it more difficult each year to obtain score information. They stopped sending reports by state to ARML coaches a few years ago, and now there appears to be no easy way to extract just the Texas scores from their website.

How do we get there?

On what is likely to be the longest and most interesting bus ride of your life. Fortunately, it is a charter bus, so it has comfortable seats and a restroom. We try to stop every few hours so everyone can stretch their legs and use a stationary restroom if desired.

How much does the trip cost?

The invitation letter will include the cost of the trip, which varies from year to year but is generally around $400 per student. The bus is the largest expense, but ARML registration fees are also rising, and the exact cost cannot be known until after the trip since it depends on the number of students and incidental expenses.

Some schools will pay part or all of the cost for their students, so it may not hurt to ask your math team coach and/or parents to lobby the principal for funding.

What should I bring on the trip?

Details of what to bring will be sent via email to team members a couple of weeks before the trip. You will want to have a suitcase with the stuff you need in Iowa, which will stay in the luggage compartment, and a carry-on bag with the things you need in transit. You will not need to remove your shoes nor separate your liquid carry-ons to board the bus.

The dorm provides a bed with two sheets, a blanket (extra blankets available on request), pillow and pillowcase, a plastic cup, a (small) towel, washcloth, and (small) bar of soap.

What's up with the team selection test on Friday?

Since we cannot meet as a team prior to the trip like those teams from tiny geographic areas do, it is not until we get to Iowa that we can figure out who will be on the Gold, Silver, and Titanium teams. Thus we have a test on Friday morning, the results of which are combined with past ARML results and a healthy amount of deliberation to assign teams. Not everyone will be happy with their assignment, but such is life. Everyone is competing for the same individual awards and the coaches do our best to give the Gold team its best chance of winning a team award. The greatest captain the Gold team has ever known competed as an alternate her first year, so there is no shame in starting at the bottom and working your way up over the years.

Generally speaking, the top 10 or so scores on the Friday test will make the Gold team. A proprietary "selection index" is used to assign a few more spots, and the last 2-3 selections are made by consensus among the coaches. The Titanium team comprises students in 10th grade or below to be eligible for the JV award. Team captains are also designated for each team so that everyone knows who is in charge of organizing and handling the answer sheets for the team and power events. If we don't have a multiple of 15 students, then some may be registered as alternates and possibly combined with students from another team.

Why should I go to this competition when I have so many other activities already?

ARML is unique in that it brings together students from all over the country to compete in person. It is the closest thing to MATHCOUNTS for high school students but with one big national competition instead of a series of regional competitions leading up to it. You will meet new people, make new friends, and have an experience that no other math competition can match. Universities around the country are familiar with ARML, so saying you competed there carries a lot more weight than saying you competed at the Rice Math Tournament (no offense to Rice!). Some companies also look for ARML alumni when hiring new employees.

Is there any way I can do ARML and take my SAT II's?

In many years, there is a conflict with the June SAT test date. While not well-publicized, ETS will allow your school to administer the test on another day so you can compete at ARML (see here). The catch is that a school official has to be willing to set up that alternate date, which generally involves him/her or a teacher giving up a Saturday with no additional pay. If one school in your area is willing to make these arrangements, then others can take the test there. Your best bet, however, is to just avoid the June SAT test date.

What about final exams?

Here again, it is up to your school whether they will excuse your absences. Most districts have been very accommodating. Some students choose to fly to Iowa a day later, arriving the same day as the bus.

Will we be back in time for the Texas Mathworks Residential Junior Summer Math Camp?

Yes. Texas State University is less than 40 miles from our Austin stop. We have a good working relationship with Texas Mathworks, so they are well aware of the ARML trip.