MathCounts — Ready or Not, Here It Comes

[Feature photo above “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch” from]

Okay, kids, I know you’re on break, but Mr. Grinch would tell you that’s no excuse to laze around playing games and eating cookies. There is only a month until our school MathCounts competition, which doesn’t give you much time to prepare. I’ve collected several resources to build up your mental muscle-power before the test…

Step 1: Check Off the Basics

Begin by taking inventory. Have you mastered the basic math facts? I don’t mean your multiplication tables — although those are important, too. Do you know the square numbers and primes? How about the area and volume formulas for basic geometric shapes?

Print out one (or both!) of the following review lists. Go through each page, checking off all the things you know. Then try to learn at least one new math fact per week between now and test time.

[See my comment below for more links about basic math.]

Step 2: Master Simple Probability

If you have been practicing our math club worksheets, you know that MathCounts loves to ask probability questions. Unfortunately, you may not have studied probability in your regular school work — but fortunately, it isn’t hard to learn. So take advantage of your vacation from textbooks and master the topic now. Check out these websites:

Step 3: Try Your Hand at Triangular Numbers

It’s amazing how many puzzles involve the triangular numbers pattern. For instance, have you heard of the handshake problem? If you learn to recognize these numbers, you will have a head start on many MathCounts questions.

Step 4: Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to prepare for any math test is to work lots and lots of problems.

Step 5: Take Time Out for a Laugh

CREDITS: Thank you to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for keeping old websites alive!

13 thoughts on “MathCounts — Ready or Not, Here It Comes

  1. I dashed this post off and published it in the same day — something I almost never do, but I wanted to make the most of limited computer time. Working too fast, I missed a few things:

    * factoring and the LCM and GCF
    * rates, ratios, proportions, and percents
    * simple algebra (especially those confusing “define a function” problems, which can be really easy once you get the hang of them)

    Most of these are basic school math, but since many of you are in 6th grade, you probably haven’t studied them in much depth. You may want to spend an afternoon exploring each of these topics, and then keep an eye out for them as you work your practice problems.

    You can find some great information at the Purplemath site, or browse through some of the other helpful websites on my Free Resources page.

  2. Thanks for all these wonderful math links! I hope your competition is successful. I remember in high school being a mathlete so I hope the students who compete continue into high school with this.

  3. Wow! I love your site. My dd loves math and I felt that I wasn’t doing her any justice. This is my first year homeschooling my 4 kiddos. I’m okay at math having myself gone through trig/analyt in high school, it takes a minute for the cobwebs to sort out though! But I wasn’t sure what curriculum to use to help her advance to her potential, she wants to be a veterinarian. Right now we are using Horizons math. Next year she is in 6th grade and that is the last in their series. They said she should be able to go straight to algebra after their program. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks in advance, Vicki B.

  4. Hi, vickilynn! I’m sorry for not responding sooner, but you caught me at a super-busy time. Have you heard of the Art of Problem Solving website? Their “Introduction to …” books are really good, and the solutions manuals are quite thorough. You might give them a look. (You and your dd may not understand all the starred challenge problems, but there are plenty of great things to learn even without those.)

    For more advice, I suggest you ask at a homeschooling forum. If you don’t have one already, you could try The Homeschool Library.

  5. My dad recently found this site and emailed it to me so I could brush up on my mathcounts skills. This site is great!!!!!! It’s really great how there’s so much information and links in just one website……

  6. Hey Denise… The Math Goodies website doesn’t let me do anything. I have to buy it if I want to do anything. By the way, awesome website. It’s really helped my kid. (He made it to the state Mathcounts competition. Thanks!

  7. Austin, several pages on the Math Goodies site are free — including the forums where you can ask math questions — but those are a “hook” to get you interested in the many, many more things she has on her lesson CD. Like everyone on the internet, she has to make a living. πŸ™‚

    If you had trouble opening the free pages that I linked to in the article above, perhaps the site was down for maintenance or something like that. They are working fine for me today.

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