Alabama Council of Teachers of Mathematics

State Written & Ciphering Contests

In the first round, students take written tests at one of eight regional sites. Based on the results of the written Comprehensive test from the first round, selected schools are invited to participate in a second round ciphering tournament at a university campus in Alabama - details about each year's location can be found at the math contest's website (link below).

Copies of previous written tests and ciphering questions can be obtained  from the contest web site,

All dates for the contest annually will be updated on the host website link above.  Questions should be directed to the contest director's email:


In 1979, ACTM and AACTM recommended that a mathematics activity be designed to appeal to a wider segment of good mathematics students than the existing competitions. The two organizations agreed to jointly sponsor a statewide contest each year as one of their major projects.  In the last two decades, Universities around the state have assumed leadership and organization of the contest.  The Universities of Alabama Tuscaloosa & Birmingham have led, Auburn University, and currently The University of North Alabama.

The major purposes of the contest are to stimulate interest in mathematics among all students and to recognize the achievements of outstanding mathematics programs and students.


There are three written tests: Comprehensive, Geometry, and Algebra II with Trigonometry. Any student may take the Comprehensive test, but the test is most appropriate for students who will have completed both Algebra II with Trigonometry and Geometry by the end of the school year. To take the Geometry or Algebra II with Trigonometry tests, students must be currently enrolled in the appropriate classes.

Special Rule for block-scheduled schools:  Students who are currently enrolled in mathematics courses must follow the rules given above. Students who are not currently enrolled in mathematics courses may compete as if they were currently enrolled in their most recent mathematics course, provided they took that class during the current academic year.   

Schools are classified according to enrollment and compete in one of three divisions. All Academic Magnet Schools must compete in Division I. Homeschooling groups will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Division 1: 7A, Magnet Schools, Private Schools offering a Math Team course or any course beyond calculus

Division 2: 5A and 6A, All other Private Schools, Middle Schools averaging 225 students or more per grade level

Division 3: 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A, Middle Schools averaging less than 225  students per grade level

A school may field teams for one, two, or all three tests. There is no minimum number of students required to field a team for a test. For each test, a school's team score is the sum of its four highest individual scores.


Each school desiring to enter students in the contest should designate one person as the official Team Sponsor. This Team Sponsor shall be responsible for emailing in the registration for the contest, arranging payment for the test, and conducting all necessary correspondence. 

Registration will begin near the end of November.  On the registration form, the Team Sponsor will have the option to choose for their school to test at another district's Testing Site, but each school will still be competing within its traditional district.  Each school's students must test at the site chosen on the registration form.


A school fee of $10.00 plus $5.00 per student will be charged to each participating school.  Math Team Sponsors are urged to seek payment from school funds. Please make checks payable to: ALABAMA COUNCIL OF TEACHERS OF MATHEMATICS.


On the day of the written test (usually the last Saturday in February), each student will report to their school's registered Testing Site  to take one of the three written tests. Each test begins at 9:00 AM and ends at 11:00 AM. The testing sites will open at 8:00 AM, and students should arrive by 8:30 AM so that the tests may start and end on time.

  • Each student should bring at least two (2) sharpened No. 2 pencils. Calculators are NOT allowed. Smart watches MUST be removed.
  • Each student will be allowed to keep his or her copy of the test without charge. An additional copy of the test will be provided for each Team Sponsor.

The test will consist of problems or questions to which five multiple choice answers are given. In most cases, (E) will be none of these, and should be considered a possible answer choice. Proctors at each Testing Site will provide an answer sheet for each student. The student should bubble the Student ID code given to them by their.  The answer sheets will be computer scored during the following week at The University of Alabama at Birmingham.


Second round competition will be held in April. All teams which are District winners* in the first round Comprehensive competition will be invited to a second round ciphering tournament. Additional high-scoring comprehensive teams will be invited ``at large" to complete a field of up to 16 teams in each Division.  While only teams competing in the Comprehensive competition in the first round can qualify for the ciphering tournament, qualifying schools can bring any students to ciphering, regardless of whether they took the comprehensive exam or not.  For further information about the second round, contact the contest director at or see the contest web site ( for a copy of the ciphering rules.


For the first round, any school that is unable to travel to their first-round testing site because of inclement weather may withdraw all participating students and request a full refund.  That school would not be eligible to compete in the ciphering round.  If the school district cancels school activities for that day due to inclement weather, but some students still attend, that school can request a partial refund for those students who did not participate, not including the school fee, and would be eligible to attend ciphering should they qualify.

If inclement weather affects a large portion of the state on the day of the first round, the first round will be moved to the second round date, and take place at the location of the ciphering tournament.  This decision will be made by the tournament director with advice from the ACTM Executive Board.  All schools who registered will be invited to participate, or can request a refund if they cannot attend.  The written test will take place in the morning, and everyone who registered a comprehensive team will be invited to stay in the afternoon for the ciphering tournament. 

No refunds will be issued for weather affecting the ciphering tournament, and the ciphering tournament cannot be rescheduled.  If the weather outlook is particularly bad for the location of the ciphering tournament, it may be cancelled.  Otherwise, it will go on as schedule with whichever teams are able to safely travel to it.


Detailed results of the contest will be compiled and emailed to each participating school following each round of the competition. A summary of the results will be on the contest web site.


For outstanding performance in the contest, awards will be given in each Division as follows:

  • In both the first and second round: trophies to the top four teams, plaques to the next four teams, and certificates to other teams in the top 50% statewide.
  • Trophies to all District winners.*
  • Certificates to all teams participating in the second round.
  • Trophies to the individuals who place first, second, and third in the state in the first round.
  • In each District, certificates to individuals finishing first, second, or third and to individuals finishing in the top 25% statewide.


For outstanding performance in the contest, awards will be given in each Division as follows:

  • Trophies to the top three teams, plaques to the next three teams, and certificates to other teams in the top 50% statewide.
  • Trophies to all District winners.*
  • Trophies to the individuals who place first, second, and third in the state.
  • In each District, certificates to individuals finishing first, second, or third and to individuals finishing in the top 25\% statewide.

*A team which is the only team in its Division and District must be in the top half of its Division to be declared the District winner.


See the contest web site ( ) or email your question to

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