Mathcamp Math Jam

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Marisa Debowsky, Canada/USA Mathcamp's Executive Director, describes the Mathcamp summer program for high school math students.

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Facilitator: Marisa Debowsky

LauraZed 2017-02-15 19:30:10
Hello and welcome to the Canada/USA Mathcamp Math Jam!
LauraZed 2017-02-15 19:30:16
Before I introduce our guests, let me briefly explain how our online classroom works.
LauraZed 2017-02-15 19:30:21
This room is moderated, which means that all your questions and comments come to the moderators. We may share your comments with the whole room if we so choose.
LauraZed 2017-02-15 19:30:28
Also, you'll find that you can adjust the classroom windows in a variety of ways, and can adjust the font size by clicking the A icons atop the main window.
LauraZed 2017-02-15 19:30:36
Canada/USA Mathcamp is an intensive five-week-long summer program for high-school students interested in mathematics, designed to expose students to the beauty of advanced mathematical ideas and to new ways of thinking. You can learn more about Canada/USA Mathcamp at
LauraZed 2017-02-15 19:30:45
In this Math Jam, Canada/USA Mathcamp staff will lead a discussion about their outstanding program. Many AoPS instructors, assistants, and students are alumni of Mathcamp, including me! (I went to Mathcamp three times, from 2007 to 2009 )
LauraZed 2017-02-15 19:30:54
For now, please hold your questions – they'll let you know when you can start asking questions. Also, due to the number of people attending tonight, they may not be able to get to every question.
LauraZed 2017-02-15 19:31:05
And now let me introduce our guests!
LauraZed 2017-02-15 19:31:13
Marisa Debowsky (MarisaD) is the Executive Director of Mathcamp. She's been teaching Topological Graph Theory and singing pop songs at Mathcamp every summer since 2006.
LauraZed 2017-02-15 19:31:17
Kevin Carde (KevinCarde) is the Assistant Director and CTO of Mathcamp. He's been teaching Algebraic Combinatorics and playing piano at Mathcamp every summer since 2011.
LauraZed 2017-02-15 19:31:25
I'll turn the room over to Marisa now!
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:31:29
Hi, everybody, and welcome to this Mathcamp Q&A! Thanks as always to @LauraZed, @rrusczyk, and the AoPS team for hosting us.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:31:37
Kevin and I are here to talk about Mathcamp 2017, both the program and the application process. (You’ve got a captive audience with some admissions officers, so this is a great chance to get ready for application season.)
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:31:48
First, I’ll say in a few short sentences what Mathcamp is. Then we’ll spend about 30 minutes discussing the program, and 30 minutes discussing the application process, and then we’ll wrap up around 9pm ET.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:32:03
So, Mathcamp: as Laura said, it’s a 5-week residential math summer program. This year, it runs Sunday, July 2 through Sunday, August 6th, and it takes place at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:32:15
Really really frequently asked questions, to get them out of the way:
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:32:24
Who comes to Mathcamp? We have 120 students per year, from all over the world. It?s about 65-75 new campers and 45-55 returning alumni per year. Last year was 40% girls, 60% boys (and we're hoping to get to gender parity this year!).
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:32:35
What kind of math? All kinds. A cool thing about Mathcamp is that our course catalog has about 150 classes per summer, and you have complete freedom to design your own curriculum.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:32:45
What else happens? There are a zillion (ish) activities happening during the evenings and on weekends, and you choose how to spend your time.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:32:56
How do I get in? Admission is competitive. (We admitted about 15% of the applicants last year.) The central components are the Qualifying Quiz ( ) and a personal essay ( ). We hope you've been enjoying the Quiz problems!
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:33:06
When do I apply? The deadline to apply is March 10th, 2017. (It's not rolling - all applications received by the deadline get equal consideration.)
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:33:19
Scholarships Yes! We have them. We offer tons of need-based financial aid, and about 25% of our students received full scholarships last year. Every student (US, Canadian, & International; new and returning) is eligible for financial aid.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:33:36
Okay, I think it's time for me to stop talking: we want to get to as many of your questions as possible.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:33:40
We'd like to meet *you* along with your question, so here’s a suggested format:
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:33:44
Name / Age / State-or-Country: Question
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:33:51

Vivian / 16 / Ithaca: What is the official song of Mathcamp?


Ali / Parent / TX: What are the cooking facilities like?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:33:59
(But that format is not mandatory - in keeping with the spirit of Mathcamp, just about everything is optional, and we’ll address you any way you like.)
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:34:22
Okay, ready? Let’s spend about 7:35 - 8:15 on questions about the program itself: mathematical and residential life at Mathcamp; the people; the campus; the "during" and "after" of Mathcamp. (And then we’ll switch over to discussing the "before": the application process and financial aid.)
Ashton 2017-02-15 19:34:46
What if you live on the East Coast? Would you fly over there just for camp?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:34:55
Yes! Students fly in from all over the world.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:35:13
The airport this year is SEA (Sea-Tac), and we'll pick students up at the airport on arrivals day and drop them off again on departures day.
Rachel0905 2017-02-15 19:35:23
Rachel/11/Singapore- Do you also anything similar online
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:35:34
Sorry, no - the program is only residential.
jack74 2017-02-15 19:35:58
Wait, where is mathcamp again?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:36:03
It's in Tacoma, Washington this year.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:36:16
(We move around each year. Last year, it was in Maine.)
gymnast9261 2017-02-15 19:36:22
Jetta/15/Connecticut/What arrangements are made for students flying in? Are we picked up by staff, or do we need a taxi?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:36:30
You'll be picked up by staff.
Pestertennis 2017-02-15 19:36:37
How does rooming work, how are roommates selected?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:36:44
First, you're matched by age and gender. Then we use a questionnaire for admitted students to give us information about second-order considerations: how neat do you like to keep your room? Do you like to have friends hang out in your room in the evenings, or use your room as quiet study space? What time do you like to go to bed and get up? You also have the option to request to have specific roommates (which we'll honor if they request you in return!) or to avoid specific roommates (which we'll always honor).
Rampoy 2017-02-15 19:36:49
About what percent of the people who are attending have roommates?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:37:07
This year, almost all students will have roommates - most of the rooms at UPS (the University of Puget Sound) are doubles.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:37:22
We'll have a handful of singles, and you can request a single if you specifically need one (e.g. for medical reasons).
Ashton 2017-02-15 19:37:40
Ashton / 14 / DC : Would you always do math or are there other activities like hiking, etc. ?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:38:18
There are so many things at camp, both mathematical and non-mathematical! And we'll definitely be going hiking, for those interested in getting outside.
The20thDuck 2017-02-15 19:38:50
How does MathCamp differ from other popular summer camps for mathematics?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:39:06
In a way, all of the summer math enrichment programs ( are places where you get to dive into interesting math and meet like-minded peers. You might think of these programs as sorting into three categories -- competition programs (like AwesomeMath), single-focus programs (like PROMYS and Ross, which have a Number Theory curriculum), and broader programs (like HCSSiM and MathILy and us).
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:39:49
What makes Mathcamp unusual is the amount of personal and academic freedom that students have: it's a "choose your own adventure" program in a lot of way. You decide what courses to take (from a big course catalogue); you decide how to spend your time.
bypang 2017-02-15 19:39:59
How much freedom do you have? Can you leave campus to buy food, supplies, etc?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:40:21
You can indeed leave campus, with a group of fellow campers or with staff.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:40:41
(People often make off-campus excursions for snacks, and there's a lot in walking distance of campus.)
Pestertennis 2017-02-15 19:40:45
Peter/16/Toronto: Do you have to pay to use the tennis courts?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:40:53
No, campus resources are free for us to use.
Jellybeaner 2017-02-15 19:40:58
Jelly/14/NJ: What is the average age of the students who attend MathCamp?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:41:09
The mean, median and mode of age at camp are all 16.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:41:18
(But we'll have students ages 13 - 18.)
bingxue1975 2017-02-15 19:41:25
Iris / 13 / Maryland - Can I apply if I'm in seventh grade?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:41:48
Yes: the eligibility restrictions are by age (starting at age 13), not by grade. More info:
something_boring 2017-02-15 19:42:11
Alex Zhang / 13 / PA: what is the ratio of boys to girls?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:42:21
The overall student body in 2016 was 40% girls, 60% boys. Interestingly, 2016 was the first year we admitted more new girls than new boys, so overall, the demographic is shifting towards gender parity.
Rachel0905 2017-02-15 19:42:41
What is the cost of the camp
something_boring 2017-02-15 19:42:41
Alex Zhang / 13 / PA: I'm planning on attending awesomemath summer program and I'm comparing prices. how much does this cost?
Ani10 2017-02-15 19:42:41
Ian / 13 / NJ What is the tuition?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:43:10
The full cost for Mathcamp 2017 will be 4,500 USD. We offer LOTS of need-based financial aid: Mathcamp is completely free for US and Canadian families with household incomes of 65,000 and below, and tuition is on a sliding scale for middle-income and international families. For lots of details about scholarships, see: . The bottom line: don't let money prevent you from applying.
Ashton 2017-02-15 19:43:19
What dates does the program start and end
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:43:35
It starts July 2 and ends August 6.
Math-101 2017-02-15 19:43:42
Badar/15/NC: IF you get a full scholarship, are you reimbursed for travel fees?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:43:47
We do offer travel grants, yes.
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 19:43:53
i have an international friend who wants to come, do international kids get scholarship?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:44:03
Yes, international students are eligible for financial aid, too!
skipiano 2017-02-15 19:44:17
what is the ratio of canadian to american?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:44:33
About 75-80% of our students are from the U.S.; 5-10% from Canada; and 15% from everywhere else. (There's a big list of our students' home countries here: .)
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:44:47
(In terms of U.S. states, California sends us the most students, but we've had campers from every state except South Dakota.)
dantaxyz 2017-02-15 19:44:54
Daniel / 13 / WA: If we live in Washington is it necessary to meet at Sea-Tac Airport?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:45:01
No, you can also come to campus by car.
Rampoy 2017-02-15 19:45:44
How many people are there in each RA group?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:45:53
It's about 6 - 8 students per RA group.
something_boring 2017-02-15 19:46:16
Alex Zhang / 13 / PA: Can we request people to be in our RA group?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:46:32
Yes: you can request roommates and neighbors on the registration form. (We honor mutual requests!)
gymnast9261 2017-02-15 19:46:45
How are RA groups assigned?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:47:07
By a Mathcamp staff member manually working through a massive spreadsheet to satisfy impossible constraints.
something_boring 2017-02-15 19:47:11
Alex Zhang/13/PA: Are electronics allowed? I went to mathpath where electronics were banned.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:47:36
Yes, students can bring electronics to camp. (In fact, we suggest bringing a laptop if you have one, although there are also computer labs in the dorm for doing math / emailing your parents.)
wangying1973 2017-02-15 19:47:42
What is RA group mean
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:48:13
Ah, sorry: you and the students near you on your hall in the dorm will be grouped with the same "Residential Advisor", a counselor who's looking out for you.
Rampoy 2017-02-15 19:48:20
Is there a store where you can buy food for yourself.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:48:21
Rampoy 2017-02-15 19:48:24
How old are the RA's
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:48:30
College and grad students.
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 19:48:34
when is curfew?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:49:02
There's no official curfew in the sense of bed checks / lights out, but students have to be in the dorm by 10pm and the lounges close at midnight.
Ashton 2017-02-15 19:49:07
What's the average sleep and waking up time
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:49:30
Most students go to sleep around midnight and get up around 8am for the 9am classes, but you can set your own schedule.
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 19:49:40
is there a shop on campus?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:49:43
skipiano 2017-02-15 19:49:51
How do we choose our courses?
something_boring 2017-02-15 19:49:51
Alex Zhang/13/PA: do we get to choose math classes of our interest?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:50:44
First, you get to look at the course catalogue. Then you sit down with an academic advisor (you have two advisors at camp! this one is math-related, as opposed to dorm-related) and talk about what courses you'd like to take this summer.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:51:01
You don't have to register for classes, though, so you can make adjustments along the way.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:51:09
Each week, you check in with your academic advisor about how it's going.
happypiano222 2017-02-15 19:51:13
Sarah/15/AZ What is the average class size?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:51:37
Typical classes are 12 - 20, but there are some very small classes (~5 students) and some very big ones (~60 students).
bypang 2017-02-15 19:51:57
Is there an old course catalogue online?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:52:22
Yes! Here's last year's:
WasabiChip 2017-02-15 19:52:27
Kaili / 15 / TN: What number theory classes are offered? (ie what sorts of number theory topics might be covered?)
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:52:54
We won't finalize the 2017 class schedule until shortly before camp, but we do often teach number theory courses (and you can see what was offered last year at the link above).
something_boring 2017-02-15 19:52:59
Alex Zhang/13/PA: What if your advisor and you disagree?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:53:11
You're in charge. Your advisor is there to provide guidance.
nobodycares 2017-02-15 19:53:14
What level of math do the courses go up to?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:53:26
All the way up through graduate-level courses.
duruphi 2017-02-15 19:53:33
Junha Lee/15/ WA How many courses can you take in the 5 weeks?
Rampoy 2017-02-15 19:53:40
Mukil Rangaraman/13/MA: How many classes will we be attending
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:53:53
Most students attend 2-3 classes per day.
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 19:54:02
how many days do each of these classes last?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:54:32
Most classes are 5 days (one academic week), but some are 10 days (two weeks) and others are even longer (sometimes all five weeks!) or shorter (just one-time, one-day workshops).
zhao123 2017-02-15 19:54:35
Are there tests for our classes?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:54:43
something_boring 2017-02-15 19:54:48
Alex Zhang/13/PA: what is the lowest level class there is, and highest level class?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:55:42
All the classes assume Precalculus as a background, but besides that: there will be classes with no prerequisites at all (like Voting Theory), and others with very sophisticated prereqs (e.g. expecting a solid background in Group Theory, Ring Theory, and Linear Algebra).
checkmatetang 2017-02-15 19:55:50
Audric Lebovitz / 14 / VA: what level of math (AMC/AIME wise) do you have to reach to make Mathcamp approximately?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:56:00
There's no direct correlation to competitions.
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 19:56:18
are we allowed to switch out of a class if we want?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:56:20
bypang 2017-02-15 19:56:26
How long (like 1 hr, 2hrs) are the classes?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:56:32
Most are 1 hour, but some are 2-3.
The20thDuck 2017-02-15 19:57:01
What is the schedule of an average day like?
bypang 2017-02-15 19:57:01
Are there certain time frames when classes are offered, or do they vary (kind of like college classes)?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:57:26
Here's the schedule of a typical day:
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:57:44
Most classes do fall into the standard schedule (e.g. 9am - 9:50am, and then 10am - 10:50am, so forth).
happypiano222 2017-02-15 19:57:47
Sarah/15/AZ Are the classes different every day?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:58:15
Most classes last a full week. Here's an example of a week's schedule:
bypang 2017-02-15 19:58:20
How long are each clsses?
Rampoy 2017-02-15 19:58:20
How long are each classes
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:58:23
Typically 50 minutes.
PiDude314 2017-02-15 19:58:33
Michael Hahn/14/Zimbabwe: Is there a schedule online?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:59:12
Yes! (See above.) And we will continue to update it through the summer, so students can access the online course catalogue at camp.
happypiano222 2017-02-15 19:59:18
What do the peppers on the schedules mean?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:59:30
Good question. It's spiciness: the pace/difficulty of the course.
AmazingMonkey 2017-02-15 19:59:36
About how much homework do you get every day? Or it there no homework?
RichardMaS 2017-02-15 19:59:36
Richard Luo/15/TX: How do the classes assign homework?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 19:59:52
Most instructors do hand out problem sets. Each class will advertise in advance how crucial the homework is: for some classes, it's purely optional, and for others, it's absolutely necessary to understanding the next day's material. (And balancing your homework load is one thing to keep in mind when choosing your classes each week.)
Ashton 2017-02-15 20:00:09
Ashton / 14 / DC : How many different classes are there?
ProMathdunk123 2017-02-15 20:00:09
David/14/WA How many classes are there?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:00:18
Usually 5 classes per hour, 4 hours per day.
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 20:00:21
are there tests?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:00:24
PiDude314 2017-02-15 20:00:32
Michael Hahn / 14 / Zimbabwe: Are there breaks in classes?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:00:41
The schedule is back-to-back, but you can take a break any time!
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:00:51
In fact, we encourage students to take a break at some point so you don't get overloaded.
happypiano222 2017-02-15 20:01:10
Are classes chosen before camp starts?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:01:15
No, you choose when you arrive.
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 20:01:21
are there any courses that are focused on contest math?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:01:28
A few, yes. (Usually one per day.)
gymnast9261 2017-02-15 20:01:33
What is the "average' level of math students have taken prior to math camp? I'm currently in pre-calculus and teaching myself calculus, will I be behind?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:01:57
Precalculus is our benchmark for the high school math you'll need. Many, but not all, of our students have studied Calculus.
lala2003 2017-02-15 20:02:10
Angela Liu/13/TX:what if you feel like you can't keep up with the class?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:02:56
Great question. You can always drop a class, and the instructor won't be offended - that's something students do a lot. But you can also talk to the instructor during office hours or in the evenings so that you have a chance to catch up on anything you missed.
something_boring 2017-02-15 20:03:05
Alex Zhang/13/PA: what are the credentials for teachers?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:03:33
Teachers at Mathcamp are graduate students and professors/professionals in math. There's a rigorous application process for instructors, and they're all really good!
Rachel0905 2017-02-15 20:03:42
Can we do the course selection from the course catalogue before joining I mean is the old course catalogue same as new one
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:03:48
No, the classes change every summer.
skipiano 2017-02-15 20:03:55
Is there like special events in the weekend for math
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:04:29
There are sometimes mathy activities on the weekends, yes! But the formal math is all scheduled for the academic week (which, for us, is Tuesday through Saturday). The weekends have lots of field trips and other fun activities.
skipiano 2017-02-15 20:04:42
How many staffs are there?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:04:50
About 30 staff (and 120 students).
artheart321 2017-02-15 20:04:56
is math camp just math, or are there other things as well?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:05:16
All sorts of things in addition to math! Singing, dancing, baking, hiking, games, frisbee...
lala2003 2017-02-15 20:05:20
Angela Liu/13/TX: are we allowed to bring instruments?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:05:22
RichardMaS 2017-02-15 20:05:28
Richard Luo/15/TX: How often do students and staff interact outside of classes?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:05:35
All the time. Really, seriously, all the time.
ythomashu 2017-02-15 20:05:44
is there a piano there
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:05:47
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:06:07
There is a piano for fun playing in the dorm, and there are practice rooms for serious drilling in the music building.
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 20:06:19
jason tang/14/massachusetts do we get as many servings of food as we want?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:06:22
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:06:31
Here's our dining hall: The food is indeed unlimited.
Sid101 2017-02-15 20:06:45
are vegetarian options available?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:06:47
The20thDuck 2017-02-15 20:06:53
Will there be a place to run or a gym with a treadmill?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:06:55
WinMaC 2017-02-15 20:07:03
Visma Sharagupta/15/India: is there chess boards?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:07:05
happypiano222 2017-02-15 20:07:08
Sarah/15/AZ Are we allowed to bring our own instruments, then?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:07:10
Ashton 2017-02-15 20:07:36
How big is the campus
math1108 2017-02-15 20:07:36
what is the location of the camp
pifinity 2017-02-15 20:07:36
Cameron White/ 11/ Folsom, Cal- How big are the buildings?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:08:16
Here's a campus map, which I think answers most of this (joint) question:
happypiano222 2017-02-15 20:08:26
How big are the dorms?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:08:31
The dorms will hold all 150 of us.
wangying1973 2017-02-15 20:08:34
Is there a clinic /hospital nearby for emergency?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:08:54
Yes! Very near by. (Details: )
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 20:09:02
are there vegan options
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:09:04
skipiano 2017-02-15 20:09:10
Is there a talent show?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:09:12
The20thDuck 2017-02-15 20:09:17
Do we have to pay for the food, or is it included with the tuition?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:09:24
Room and board are included.
happypiano222 2017-02-15 20:09:26
How big are the dorm rooms? And would we have multiple roommates, or just one?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:09:53
Most students are in doubles. Dorm rooms are... not that big. 14'x18', maybe?
somename 2017-02-15 20:10:04
Is there a gym with barbells and weights?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:10:07
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 20:10:10
jason tang/14/massachusetts im a competitive swimmer, is there a pool where i can practice?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:11:03
Yes and no: the pool on campus will be open until July 17, and then they're doing renovations. If you needed to practice in the second half of July, we would arrange transportation to a nearby pool off-campus.
pifinity 2017-02-15 20:11:34
What will the whether be like
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:11:47
The weather in Tacoma is very pleasant over the summer: . A typical day has a high of 25 C / 77 F. It gets hot (say, up to 35 C / 95 F) on rare occasion, but it's not humid. (For the hot days, we recommend having a fan in your room: the dorms are not air-conditioned.) It's not buggy at all.
kkz 2017-02-15 20:12:12
What do the dorms look like?
skipiano 2017-02-15 20:12:18
Is there a common area
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:12:31
Yes! Most students spend a lot of time in the main lounge. It's the default place to hang out.
janabel 2017-02-15 20:12:34
Janabel/14/MA: Are there "office hours" every day at camp? Or only certain days of the week?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:12:49
Officially, Tuesday through Friday, but we're always around to talk math.
Sid101 2017-02-15 20:13:24
are there classes in the evening also
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:13:45
Just daytime, generally, but there are informal math activities in the evening (along with lots of other things!).
katzswimmer1 2017-02-15 20:13:50
Katarina Chen/13/MA I heard from someone you can choose the classes you show up to, and just not go to others is that true?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:14:02
That's right: you don't have to register for classes, you just go.
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 20:14:07
how many hikes do we go on?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:14:23
We'll offer a bunch, and you can go to zero, some, or all of them
wangying1973 2017-02-15 20:14:31
is there a parent/family visit day during camp?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:14:40
Not officially, but families are welcome to visit.
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 20:14:52
i have heard about math relays, what exactly are these?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:15:18
Hard to describe quickly, but there's a short blurb at .
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 20:15:48
if i have a conflict with something else, then can i leave camp early and get a partial refund?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:16:15
This brings up another question that was submitted in advance by email:

Can I attend only 2 weeks or 3 weeks of camp? I have a schedule conflict.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:16:25
Our policy is that students can miss up to a week of Mathcamp for a pre-approved reason, but not more than a week. The program is really designed to be a full five-week experience, and you'd really miss out if you only came for part of it. (And our rationale is that there are lots of students who would be able to come and participate fully in the program, and so from an admissions committee perspective, we'd rather make that spot available to the student who can benefit the most.)
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:16:41
Okay! Those were great questions about the program.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:16:52
Let’s spend about 8:15 - 8:45 on questions about applications and financial aid: eligibility, the application process, scholarships. (And then we’ll open up to any kinds of questions before we wrap up.)
zephyrcrush78 2017-02-15 20:17:24
How many people apply every year?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:17:37
It varies from year to year, but in the 400s.
wangying1973 2017-02-15 20:17:39
is the admission need blind
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:18:16
For US and Canadian students, yes! For international students, we award financial aid at the same time as offers of admission. (More info: )
Ashton 2017-02-15 20:18:21
Ashton / 14 / DC : One of my friends is on a planned trip until the 12th. Can he still apply?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:18:39
Maybe; have your friend to us about it.
lala2003 2017-02-15 20:19:05
Anegla Liu/13/TX:are teacher recommendations needed?
checkmatetang 2017-02-15 20:19:05
Robert Sheng/13/MA do we need recommendation papers
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:19:25
Yes, we ask for two recommendation letters: one about math, and one personal recommendation. More info:
wangying1973 2017-02-15 20:20:21
are you more in favor of older students compared with 13/14 yeas' old younger students for admissions
checkmatetang 2017-02-15 20:20:21
Robert Sheng/13/MA is people getting in based solely on math skill
Pestertennis 2017-02-15 20:20:21
Is everyone graded the same way for applications? For example, is there different criteria for 13 year olds versus 18 year olds?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:20:42
We're grading everyone on the same curve, so to speak.
katzswimmer1 2017-02-15 20:20:55
Katarina Chen/13/MA If one of my friends is turning 13 on 7/5, can he still apply?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:20:59
Have them talk to us.
lcalvert99 2017-02-15 20:21:16
How long do the questions take the average applicant to complete?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:21:30
This was also a question that was submitted in advance by email:

How much time do you recommend setting aside for doing the Qualifying Quiz? I've been at it for a few hours and I've gained a few insights into the easiest problems but am not close to solving them at this point.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:21:38
We've asked students sometimes (on surveys at camp) how much time they spent on the Quiz, and the responses vary from "4 hours" to "40 hours." The majority of students reported spending 10 - 20 hours on the Quiz. (We hope that you'll be having so much fun thinking about the problems that you won't want to stop!)
kkz 2017-02-15 20:21:45
I am 10 years old and not turning 11 until July. Can I still apply?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:22:03
Not yet! You have to be 13. Hang tight a few more years (and consider a program like MathPath in the meantime!).
lcalvert99 2017-02-15 20:22:23
Does attending camps for younger students (e.g., MathPath and Epsilon) help?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:22:48
There are lots of ways to develop mathematical sophistication, and that's one of them.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:23:00
In terms of preparing for the academic curriculum at camp, here's a list of resources that might be helpful: . If you live near a Math Circle ( ), that's a great way to be exposed to the kind of mathematical thinking that we do at camp, so that's another avenue you might consider.
bypang 2017-02-15 20:23:30
What is the average amount of questions on the QT answered by accepted applicants?
The20thDuck 2017-02-15 20:23:30
How are the qualifying tests graded? How many questions do accepted applicants usually get correct?
happypiano222 2017-02-15 20:23:30
What is the average number of questions solved?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:23:58
In broad strokes: most successful applicants try every or almost every question, and make significant progress on several. But you'll find anecdotal evidence on all of the extremes: we have admitted students who solved only a few Quiz problems, and not admitted students with very strong Quizzes.
Sid101 2017-02-15 20:24:16
recommendation letters have to be from two different teachers?
checkmatetang 2017-02-15 20:24:16
Robert Sheng/13/MA so do I have to get my recommendation from my math teacher? what if i'm taking 9th grade math in 8th grade?
jyoon2 2017-02-15 20:24:16
Joshua Yoon/17/IL. Is it okay to also have a teacher that knows you through math team write your personal recommendation?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:24:58
So, lots of the details are on , but briefly: one recommendation should speak to your mathematical strength, and the other to personal qualities.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:25:31
It doesn't have to be your math teacher who writes the math rec - pick someone who knows you mathematically.
katzswimmer1 2017-02-15 20:25:35
Katarina Chen/13/MA how much do the recommendations matter when an applicant is being considered?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:25:41
Everything counts!
OK_then... 2017-02-15 20:25:50
Can a piano teacher write the personal recommendation letter?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:25:52
OK_then... 2017-02-15 20:26:12
What do you look for in the solutions of the Qualifying Quiz?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:26:32
When we look at an individual Quiz problem, we're looking for a solution that is complete, correctly, and clearly communicated.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:26:49
What we're trying to read out of the Quiz is a little bit between the lines of the actual solutions: it's an understanding of the author's mathematical maturity.
Makorn 2017-02-15 20:26:54
Coby Tran/13/OR: Do you give returning applicants special consideration if they didn't go?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:27:04
Yes, that's something we'll keep in mind.
wangying1973 2017-02-15 20:27:07
Do you have admission rate boys vs girls
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:27:15
They're just about equal.
katzswimmer1 2017-02-15 20:27:35
Katarina Chen/13/MA Do returnees get special consideration?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:27:53
Returning applicants? Yes. Returning campers, as in students who have attended before? If you've attended before, you don't have to reapply.
gymnast9261 2017-02-15 20:28:03
Are we required to show proof with questions that don't specifically ask for it? Will admissions officers want my work/notes along with my "official" answers? For example, for question 7 part b, do I need to show how I found the method, or just how Carmen would guess?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:28:30
Personally, as a grader, I like to see a clean solution at the start: write up what you think is the elegant/interesting approach. (As opposed to "First, I tried this. It didn't work. Then I took a walk. Then, I did this six-page calculation. Then...")
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:28:38
On the other hand, if you're too concise and you've made an error along the way, then it's hard for us to give you partial credit.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:29:10
We like to see people thinking deeply about the problems, and "how I got here" helps to give us insight into your mathematical and creative mind. (But 27 pages of detailed scratchwork that led to the solution? That's not fun to wade through...)
shreyans 2017-02-15 20:29:16
Should I write the proofs in th art of problem solving methods only
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:29:28
As long as you're communicating the math clearly, that's what matters!
bzeeshan33 2017-02-15 20:30:03
what are the qualifications to be in this program?
checkmatetang 2017-02-15 20:30:03
Robert Sheng/13/MA how difficult is the application test?
MathMania11 2017-02-15 20:30:03
Are there any prerequisite math courses you need before going to this camp?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:31:02
In terms of content, we only expect you to use the math you learned in high school (up through Precalculus). But we're looking for students who are really excited about math, and have spent lots of time thinking about math outside of class, too!
OK_then... 2017-02-15 20:31:06
Do you admit by zone? i.e, if I am from a city with lots of applicants, is it harder for me to get admitted?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:31:12
ram1948 2017-02-15 20:31:34
robert/parent/maryland Can three recommendation letters be submitted instead of two (two academic, one personal)
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:31:59
Yes; if you would like to submit a supplemental recommendation, contact us by email ( ) to discuss.
kkz 2017-02-15 20:32:04
I am from china. Is there any translator for me?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:32:27
We do have students from all over the world, but the program is conducted in English, so you should be comfortable both doing math and socializing in English (all day!).
lcalvert99 2017-02-15 20:32:46
What % are accepted?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:32:57
It varies from year to year. In 2016, it was about 15%.
AmazingMonkey 2017-02-15 20:33:06
Is the more recommendation letters the better?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:33:31
No: we are only expecting two letters each (no more, no less). If there's a specific reason for you to submit more, that's fine, but it's not standard.
OK_then... 2017-02-15 20:33:40
If your solution is really long but it still makes sense, will marks be taken off?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:33:58
It's okay for your solutions to be long. But try hard to make them easy for us to read and understand, please!
bypang 2017-02-15 20:34:05
What percent of applicants from California are accepted? (is it significantly lower than other states)
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:34:28
I don't know off the top of my head, but given the large number of Californian students enrolled at camp, my guess is that the admissions rate there is consistent with the rest of the country.
SmartGuy101 2017-02-15 20:34:40
13/Ibrahim Mohammed/CO Does state matter? Is there a bigger acceptance in one state?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:34:44
Not really, no.
pifinity 2017-02-15 20:34:47
Is it harder for people in great plain states to get accepted?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:34:55
Nope. We like the great plain states.
gymnast9261 2017-02-15 20:35:00
Is there anything in an application that would result in an applicant immediately being turned down?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:35:16
Well, don't be mean to us! That would do it.
Pestertennis 2017-02-15 20:35:36
How much do competition scores iprove your chance of acceptance?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:35:53
Since we're not a competition-focused program, scores on competitions don't have much impact for us.
skipiano 2017-02-15 20:36:20
What kind of scholarships are there for math competitions
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:36:47
We do offer one (small) merit-based scholarship, and it's for top scorers on the Math Prize for Girls competition. Otherwise, all scholarships are need-based.
shreyans 2017-02-15 20:36:58
If I submit my application late would it affect my chances of getting admitted
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:37:05
Yes. You should definitely apply on time.
DrunkenNinja 2017-02-15 20:37:33
What kinds of students are you hoping to admit?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:38:26
This is such a good question, and so hard to answer. We're looking for students who are creative, excited, and engaged. Kids who will really thrive in this environment, and for whom Mathcamp would be a great fit, inside and outside the classroom.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:38:28
Does that help?
math4success 2017-02-15 20:38:32
Teacher recommendation have to be in your office on time (on 3/10/2017)?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:38:45
Yes, that's right. More about dates and deadlines:
shreyans 2017-02-15 20:38:54
Is it necessary to solve every question in the quiz to get into the math camp
daniellionyang 2017-02-15 20:38:54
Do you need close to a perfect score on the QQ to get admitted?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:39:21
The Quiz is intentionally hard! We don't expect to see perfect scores.
shreyans 2017-02-15 20:39:26
Do you have only a specific number of seats
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:39:51
Yes: there are 120 total places at camp, and we reserve up to 55 for alumni, so there are always at least 65 places for new campers. (Sometimes a few more.)
kephas331 2017-02-15 20:40:00
what is the cost of the program?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:40:19
The full cost is 4,500 USD. More details about tuition:
DrunkenNinja 2017-02-15 20:40:43
i want to apply, but I'm afraid i may not make it. What do you recommend for me to do to prepare?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:41:02
I think your best preparation is to take a look at past Qualifying Quizzes ( ). We've discussed the solutions to many of the problems in previous Math Jams, so you can get some insight into the kinds of solutions that we're looking for.
RYang 2017-02-15 20:41:36
Is there financial aid?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:41:53
Yes! Details here:
The20thDuck 2017-02-15 20:42:00
Is there a template or are there requirements for the teacher recommendations?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:42:33
There are suggested writing prompts, yes. (See the instructions at the bottom of the page on for more details.)
shreyans 2017-02-15 20:42:44
How many students apply for the camp in a year
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:43:15
It's usually in the 400s, but it varies from year to year. We'll see if you folks all apply!
EulerMacaroni 2017-02-15 20:43:21
what about usamts
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:43:34
We no longer offer merit awards specifically for USAMTS top-scorers – but of course, it's a great competition and lots of our students really enjoy participating!
MathMania11 2017-02-15 20:43:38
How many campers are in each dorm? Are they separated by age or something else?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:43:55
We're all in one dorm, and arranged on halls approximately by age.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:44:28
Okay! Thanks for all the great questions about the application process. Seems like a lot of questions coming in now are about the program, so let's open the floor to all topics for the last 15 minutes.
SmartGuy101 2017-02-15 20:44:32
Will Mathcamp ever come to Colorado?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:44:43
We'll see. We were in Colorado in 2012.
RYang 2017-02-15 20:44:49
How is the food?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:44:57
It's actually not that bad. (And I'm fussy.)
SmartGuy101 2017-02-15 20:45:12
happypiano222 2017-02-15 20:45:12
What sort of food is offered?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:45:46
They have menus online here:
wangying1973 2017-02-15 20:45:49
If student have special athletic training needs, such as fencing or tennis, can it be accommodated?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:46:00
Most likely; email us if you have specific needs.
shreyans 2017-02-15 20:46:03
Do you guys keep vegetarian food
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:46:04
doitsudoitsu 2017-02-15 20:46:20
do you know when the camp will be in 2018?
OK_then... 2017-02-15 20:46:20
Where is MathCamp going to be in the future? (plz let it be near Vancouver, bc)
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:46:27
Future summers TBA, sorry!
Makorn 2017-02-15 20:46:52
Coby Tran/13/OR: How are weekends spent?
AmazingMonkey 2017-02-15 20:46:52
So, Monday is part of the weekend?
chocopuff 2017-02-15 20:46:52
Ethan: What do people usually do on the off-days? (Sat-Mon)
MathMania11 2017-02-15 20:46:52
Are there any camp field trips?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:47:36
So! Sundays and Mondays are the Mathcamp "weekend", and we run field trips both days. (They're optional, like everything at camp.) More info:
happypiano222 2017-02-15 20:47:51
Will there be other unrelated camps going on at the same time at the location?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:48:17
Yes, actually: UPS hosts lots of summer programs. There's usually yearbook camp and football camp in addition to Mathcamp.
checkmatetang 2017-02-15 20:48:21
Robert Sheng/13/MA are we allowed to run on campus like morning jog
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:48:23
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:48:31
Sometimes there's a morning running group, or you can go on your own.
kokocrater 2017-02-15 20:48:37
I have a severe peanut allergy, and I was wondering how you accommodate for people with food allergies. Would I have to worry about cross-contamination?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:48:51
The dining hall at Puget Sound is conscientious about allergies: . We've been able to accommodate students with strict allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, gluten ? even strictly kosher and halal.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:49:04
There are allergen-free fridges to handle cross-contamination.
MathMania11 2017-02-15 20:49:08
Is there some amount of free time each day for campers to do whatever they want, like practice an instrument or read or some other hobby?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:49:11
Dilemma_23 2017-02-15 20:49:15
If you want to go on a field trip, does it have to be preapproved by parents or can you just go?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:49:37
Your parents will have the opportunity to give blanket permission during the registration process.
happypiano222 2017-02-15 20:49:40
UPS, as in the university, not the mail service, right?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:49:42
AmazingMonkey 2017-02-15 20:49:47
Do we choose our dorm room mate?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:50:03
You can put in a roommate request. (If both roommates request one another, then we'll honor it!)
skipiano 2017-02-15 20:50:57
Is there a vending machine in the campus
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:51:00
wangying1973 2017-02-15 20:51:03
Do you offer math research project?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:51:12
Yes! Many students at camp do research projects.
WinMaC 2017-02-15 20:51:33
Visma Sharagupta/15/India: are there any handout that we will get throughout course
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:51:45
Some instructors do provide handouts; others don't.
OK_then... 2017-02-15 20:51:50
Jeff Superman/14/Canada what is the average amount of time that people do math homework for every week??
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:52:16
Ooh, that really varies. Most students do 1-2 hours of math outside of class each day.
ProMathdunk123 2017-02-15 20:52:31
David/14/WA What are the maximum people in a class.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:52:46
I think the biggest class we'll see is about 60 (and those are quite rare).
The20thDuck 2017-02-15 20:53:03
What is the affiliation between MathCamp and MathPath? How similar are they?
alpha46 2017-02-15 20:53:03
How different is this math camp compared to others such as PROMYS or Awesome Math?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:53:28
So, let's see. MathPath and Mathcamp were founded by the same mathematician, and are similar in spirit in some ways: we're introducing students to a broad range of topics.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:53:46
By contrast: PROMYS is specifically focused on Number Theory, and AwesomeMath is specifically focused on competitions.
WinMaC 2017-02-15 20:53:58
vismay sharagupta/15/india: are there TAs?
Flash12 2017-02-15 20:53:58
In the case of a large class such as that, are there multiple instructors?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:54:04
For a very big class, there will be TAs.
zhiMN 2017-02-15 20:54:11
Are laundry costs paid with tuition?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:54:15
Yes, laundry is free.
AmazingMonkey 2017-02-15 20:54:17
Can we use our devices during class? i.e texting someone back, etc.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:54:30
I would consider that rude, but if it's an emergency, okay.
SmartGuy101 2017-02-15 20:54:47
So this isn't competition based right?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:54:49
Dilemma_23 2017-02-15 20:54:52
Do you receive official grades in these classes?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:55:00
No, we don't grade you.
MathMania11 2017-02-15 20:55:07
If someone were on the borderline between the ages of campers at MathPath and the campers at Mathcamp, which camp would be better for that camper to go to?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:55:28
It really depends on the student! MathPath has a lot more structure; Mathcamp has more flexibility.
AmazingMonkey 2017-02-15 20:55:31
Does the campus offer wifi? or do I have to use cellular.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:55:35
There's wifi.
Royalreter1 2017-02-15 20:55:39
How much extra spending money would you recommend us to bring?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:56:07
Most students bring about $100 of spending money for incidentals.
MathMania11 2017-02-15 20:56:15
How many campers are there per room?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:56:22
Typically, two.
lala2003 2017-02-15 20:56:25
Angela Liu/13/TX: What's the approximate ratio of younger students to older students?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:56:40
On the first day of Mathcamp 2016, there were:

5 campers age 13

5 campers age 14

27 campers age 15

33 campers age 16

31 campers age 17

16 campers age 18

3 campers age 19
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:56:44
That's pretty typical for us.
The20thDuck 2017-02-15 20:56:53
Are math research projects lead by teachers?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:56:56
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:57:16
You can learn more about projects here:
WasabiChip 2017-02-15 20:57:57
Kaili / 15 / TN: Does Mathcamp offer any computational classes related to computer science?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:58:28
Yes! We offer some CS classes (theoretical and programming) each summer.
zhao123 2017-02-15 20:58:38
Are there lockers to keep valuables
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:59:02
We can keep things locked up for you at the office (e.g. passports, spending money) if you need.
AlcumusGuy 2017-02-15 20:59:05
Are current high school graduating seniors eligible?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 20:59:08
mathchampion1 2017-02-15 20:59:44
Does this involve graph theory?
AmazingMonkey 2017-02-15 20:59:44
Are a lot of students named Brandon
MarisaD 2017-02-15 21:00:04
There's always Graph Theory at camp! I teach some every year.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 21:00:09
There are sometimes Brandons, too.
sonicmouse37 2017-02-15 21:00:49
nathan rosenberg/14/massachusetts do you do math there
MarisaD 2017-02-15 21:00:53
We sure do.
MathMania11 2017-02-15 21:01:06
Are you allowed to send and receive mail at mathcamp?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 21:01:10
RYang 2017-02-15 21:01:15
What do students gain from attending Mathcamp?
MarisaD 2017-02-15 21:01:33
We hope: a wonderful academic and social experience, and lots of new ideas, and lots of new friends.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 21:01:39
Okay, everybody - time to wrap up. Thanks for spending your evening with us! Lots of great questions, as always.
MarisaD 2017-02-15 21:01:52
If we didn't get to your question, feel free to email and we'll be happy to continue the conversation. (You can also post questions in the Mathcamp forum here on AoPS, at - the Mathcamp staff will post replies, and you'll get student opinions, too!)
MarisaD 2017-02-15 21:02:41
Thanks, everybody!
lala2003 2017-02-15 21:03:29
thank you very much
MarisaD 2017-02-15 21:03:31
LauraZed 2017-02-15 21:04:20
Thank you all for joining us, and a big thanks to Marisa and Kevin!
LauraZed 2017-02-15 21:04:41
Again, if you're interested in applying for Mathcamp, the qualifying quiz for Mathcamp is posted at

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