The top priority of the league is to encourage the involvement of as many students as possible in a challenging mathematics experience while ensuring that everyone is treated fairly. Whenever it becomes necessary to make a decision not covered in these rules, use this philosophy to arrive at a decision.

Written Events

  1. Each school may enter a maximum of five contestants at each event during league contests. Five contestants are allowed at the conference meet. The top three scores will count. Each team may designate additional students as alternates to take the test for the experience, except at the conference meet. Host schools will accommodate at least five alternates per team per event. Alternates' scores will not be counted towards the team's total, but an alternate with a perfect score will receive a ribbon, and their scores will be recorded and reported for individual records. A school may bring more than five alternates if permission is granted by the host school. Requests should be made at least two days in advance of the meet.

  2. There will be four written tests at each meet, one at each grade level. Each test will consist of five questions, worth a total of 25 points. Questions 1 and 2 will each be worth 4 points, question 3 will be worth 5 points, and questions 4 and 5 will be worth 6 points each. No partial credit will be given. See the Answer Forms section of the rules (below).

  3. Each test will be exactly thirty minutes in length. Tests will be passed out face down. The person in charge will tell the contestants to turn their papers over and write their name and school on top. The person in charge will tell the contestants to begin and will announce when five minutes remain. If no clock is visible, an announcement will also be made when fifteen minutes remain. If a student arrives late, the student is not given extra time at the end.

  4. The only materials students may use during the contest are: pens or pencils, erasers, calculators, and extra batteries. A student may use at most three calculators. Any battery (or solar) powered calculator that does not do symbolic manipulation is allowed. Freshmen and sophomores may not use an HP48 series calculator. In some cases, symbolic manipulators may be expected. These contests will be designated as CAS topics. Likewise, some contests may be designated as no calculator contests. Contests with special calculator exceptions will be identified as such on the schedule and on the topics list. Scratch paper will be provided. A student may use a foreign language dictionary. If desired, the host school may examine the dictionary to ensure that it is just a dictionary and does not contain formulas or other content that would give the student an unfair advantage. "All electronic devices except for contest-approved calculators must be turned off and out of sight during contests." We will disqualify the scores of students violating this rule.

  5. Once a test has begun, no problems will be altered and no questions will be answered. If a problem is impossible because it is underdetermined or overdetermined, the correct answer is "the problem is impossible." If a problem is ambiguous, the contestant should select what seems to be the best interpretation and solve it.

  6. The official designation of students as contestants or alternates will be determined by the official online roster sheet submitted before the meet by the coach. A coach may not change the designation of a student on the team roster after the first five minutes of the respective event.

  7. Coaches should keep all tests for two weeks after the contests in case of appeal. Appeals should be submitted according to the following procedure: inform the chairperson of the appeals committee by phone of your intent to appeal the day after the meet. You should explain the general nature of your appeal at this time. Within TWO SCHOOL DAYS of the meet, using the “Make Appeal” link on the NSML web site, you need to send a written appeal to the appeals chairperson along with supportive information (a copy of the test, for example). The committee will render a decision as soon as possible after receiving the written appeal. In the event that the coach is not satisfied with this decision, an appeal may be made to the league board of appeals, which consists of one representative from each of the host schools at the contested meet. Their decision will be final. Appeals will not affect the outcome of a particular meet, but will affect league standings. Ribbons will be awarded to reflect the corrected scores, if necessary, but none will ever be called back.

    Appeals will be considered for the following reasons:

    • (a) A grading error. The coach will be required to email the test or a copy of the test to the statistician within two school days of the meet. A phone call informing the statistician that a correction is forthcoming would be appreciated.
    • (b) Incorrect official answer. If the appeal is granted, all coaches will be notified within two weeks of the meet and all scores for all schools will be altered to reflect the corrected answer.
    • (c) Reasonable alternate solution. If the appeal is granted, only the students who filed appeals will receive credit for a correct answer. No other scores will be changed. A coach may submit one appeal on behalf of many students, but their papers must all be submitted. Scores of students who did not file an appeal will not be changed, even if they have the same answer as the student who appealed.
    • (d) Correct alternate form. If the appeal is granted, the score of the contestant who appealed will be changed. No other scores will be changed. A coach may submit one appeal on behalf of many students, but their papers must all be submitted. Scores of students who did not file an appeal will not be changed, even if they have the same answer as the student who appealed.

    A list of appeals of type b, c, and d will be sent to coaches as soon as possible after a meet. The precedents established on this list will be used to decide future appeals.

  8. Ribbons will be awarded at each contest. Blue ribbons will be awarded to all five members of the winning school at each grade level. Red ribbons will be awarded to all five members of the second place team at each grade level. A gold ribbon will be awarded to each student with a perfect score. In case of ties, duplicate ribbons should be awarded.

  9. Plaques will be awarded at the end of each season to the top three schools at each division at each level, as determined by total points at that level. No grade level trophies will be awarded.

  10. Students may compete in more than one event at each meet. They may compete above their grade level but not below it. The freshman and junior competitions begin at 6:15; the sophomore and senior competitions begin at 7:00. No one may compete as a contestant in both the oral and written events at a given meet.

Oral Events

  1. At the beginning of the contest, all oral contestants will be sequestered. Contestants may not leave the sequester room without permission from the host school. Fifteen minutes prior to the presentation, the contestant will be instructed to report to the oral preparation room and will be given a copy of the questions. There will be three questions, each on a different sheet of paper. Fifteen minutes are allowed for preparation. During the preparation, the contestant may use any print or written materials. A calculator of any type may be allowed, depending on the contest. Laptops, phones, and other electronic devices may not be used at any time. Notes should be made on the question sheets, as only the question sheets may be used in the presentation room. The contestant may not use a calculator during the presentation. When the contestant enters the presentation room, the timer will read the instructions aloud and ask if the contestant has any questions about the instructions. The timer will answer any questions about the instructions, but may not answer any questions about the material. The timer will then ask the contestant if he or she wants a verbal or a silent warning about how much time remains. The contestant will choose a verbal or silent warning, write his or her name and the school name on the board, and begin. Timing will start when the contestant begins to answer the questions. The contestant will have ten minutes of uninterrupted time to answer the questions. After eight minutes, the timer will hold up two fingers to indicate that two minutes remain or will announce "two minutes remain," according to the contestant’s preference. After nine minutes, the timer will hold up one finger, or announce "one minute remains." At the end of ten minutes, the timer will allow the contestant to complete his or her last sentence and will then ask the contestant to stop.

  2. For Meets 1 and 2, the oral contest is an individual event. Each oral contestant must prepare and present alone. For Meets 3 and 4, a school may enter a single contestant or an oral team of two students. Each member of an oral team may, but is not required to, participate in all parts of the presentation. The students may decide how to allocate their presentation time. For example, they may “trade off” questions they answer or one student may take the lead while the other student adds information or clarification as needed. Only one student at a time may be active, either speaking or writing, during the presentation time. The other student must sit quietly and may not write (on paper or on the board). Neither member of an oral team at a meet may participate as a contestant in a written contest as the same meet.

  3. Scoring: Each judge will award points as follows: Question #1: 0-10 points for correctness; Question #2: 0-12 points for correctness; Question #3: 0-13 points for correctness; Presentation: 0-15 points. Correctness includes accuracy and completeness. Judges should follow the scoring rubric given with the contest. Presentation includes organization, clarity, use of visual aids, use of correct notation and correct vocabulary, articulation and poise. Presentation does not include dress or appearance; under no circumstances should an oral contestant gain or lose points for his or her attire. The school’s score for the event will be the average of the two judge's scores, rounded up to the nearest whole number, if necessary.

  4. Students and their coaches are encouraged to attend oral presentations, as long as space permits. Spectators should be seated in the room before the presentation begins and should remain quietly seated until it is completed. It is expected that an observer will obtain permission from the oral contestant or the oral contestant’s coach before observing an oral presentation.

  5. A green ribbon will be given to the top individual or team at each meet. A white ribbon will be given to the individual or team with the second highest score. An additional gold ribbon will be awarded to any individual or oral team with a score of 50. At the end of each season, plaques will be awarded to the top three schools in each division, as determined by total oral event points from Meets 1-4.

Conference Meet

The format of events at the conference meet is different from other meets. In particular:

  • No alternates are allowed.
  • No orals occur at the conference meet.

Answer Forms

All written answers must meet the following specifications unless instructions state otherwise.

  1. Answers must be clearly written in the answer blank provided.
  2. All fractions must be completely simplified in proper, improper or mixed form. (No common factors in the numerator and denominator, numerators and denominators will be integers.)
  3. Decimal approximations are not acceptable unless specifically requested.
  4. All radicals must be completely "simplified", including no perfect square factors under the radicand and no radicals in the denominator.
  5. Answers must be in generally accepted mathematical form. If an answer is ambiguous, it will be marked wrong.
  6. Answers like (±3,±4) are ambiguous and are always wrong, regardless of what the correct answer is.
  7. Proper set notation, proper interval notation, or careful use of the words "or" or "and" must be used when dealing with inequalities.
  8. Any answer expressed with a fractional exponent must be in simple form, as if it were rewritten in radical form. For example 2^(7/5) must be written as 2*2^(2/5).

General Rules

  1. No team may compete in a contest if their school is on strike.

  2. A student who is not yet in the ninth grade may not compete as a contestant. Any student may compete as an alternate.

  3. In the event of a situation not covered by the rules, the head coach of the host school should make a decision. Consult with the president of the organization if time allows.

  4. Variations of rules requiring president or board approval must be requested ahead of time. No post-hoc approvals may be granted.

  5. The question writer may include specific instructions regarding the form of an answer, overriding the league rules. This is particularly appropriate when the problem naturally involves calculator usage and round off.

  6. At the conclusion of the season, trophies will be awarded to the top N schools as determined by total points, where N is the number of schools in the top division. Ties will be broken by considering the score at the conference meet. Other tiebreakers will be added as needed. Duplicate awards will be presented only for orals. Plaques will be awarded to the top three schools in each division.

  7. An Improvement trophy will be awarded to the three schools that improve in places the most. In case of a tie, the team whose total score improved the most from the previous year will receive the award.

  8. Twelve certificates will be included in the Conference meet packet of each grade level team (4 for orals) that finishes in the top 5 in overall league standings. These should be completed by the coach and distributed to deserving team members.

  9. It has generally been the philosophy of the league that our top priority is to encourage the involvement of as many students as possible in a challenging mathematics experience while ensuring that everyone is treated fairly. Whenever it becomes necessary to make a decision not covered in these rules, this philosophy will be used to arrive at a decision.

  10. In the event that a school's administration calls off all after school activities on the day of a meet, the school will have the obligation to take the written events on the first full school day after school resumes. The questions will be emailed to the school and will be administered by the coach under contest rules. The oralist can be accommodated by video recording. The details will be decided by the president.

    See also the Policy for Inclement Weather and Other Emergencies.

  11. If a meet is canceled due to a decision by a school's administration, schools scheduled to compete at that site have an obligation to attempt to find an alternate site. The school will make every reasonable effort to compete on the night of the meet, either at an alternative host school or remotely at their own school. If they demonstrate that they have tried to reschedule, in good faith, but have failed, they will be given the opportunity to administer the contest the next school day at their school, questions to be emailed to them, and administered, proctored and graded by the coach. If a school is unable to demonstrate a reasonable attempt to reschedule the night of the meet, they lose the right to make up the meet. The president will decide what is reasonable, the school having the option of appealing that decision to the board. The oralist should be accommodated by video recording with as little delay as possible. The details will be decided by the president.

    See also the Policy for Inclement Weather and Other Emergencies.

Precedent-Setting Appeals

  1. The committee decided categorically that it could not deal with an appeal having to do with an oral. To change a score, either by overriding a judge or by contacting the judge is a remedy worse than the problem. It is the function of the judge to make the best decision possible. We realize that there is inequity built in to the oral event, but have decided that the experience for the students is worth any problems it causes.
  2. The common mathematical definition of "between" excludes the boundaries. If the boundaries are to be included, the word "inclusive" must be used.
  3. A recursively defined function equivalent to the correct closed form function is an acceptable answer, but the initial condition must be given, even if it is stated in the problem. That is, the contestant must tell us what f(1) is as well as how to get from f(n) to f(n+1).