Stuyvesant Cancels Administration of the AMC 10A and AMC 12A

Students and faculty react to the cancellation of the AMC 10A and AMC 12A exam.

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On November 8, Stuyvesant canceled the administration of the AMC (American Mathematics Competition) 10A and AMC 12A exams due to major material leaks that had been made public through discussions on the Art of Problem Solving (AOPS) forum. It has not been confirmed how the material was originally leaked, but rumors have speculated that the PDF of the exam was shared by a previous proctor or competition manager. Since the leak, screenshots of the material have been posted and spread over various social media sites, such as a Chinese social media site and the Discord OMMC Community.

Parents and educators alike voiced their concerns about the impact of the leak on a petition posted on November 4. The petition urged the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Board of Directors to counter the leak’s effects, such as by redistributing revised test materials. The petition garnered much support and currently has 4,473 signatures. Many have also called for an investigation and for the MAA to implement stricter testing regulations to avoid future leaks. While there have been smaller leaks in the past, none has compared to the magnitude of this recent exam leak—the leaked questions and answers exactly matched the material on the exam that proctors handed out on test day.

However, the MAA did not immediately respond to the leak, which prompted teachers and competition managers to consider next steps. “I had been texting with other competition managers at some of the other big schools in the city, like Bronx Science and Hunter, as well as staff at other schools,” mathematics teacher and math team faculty advisor Brian Sterr said. “On Tuesday, I called them back and said, ‘Okay, we haven’t heard anything right, so what’s going on?’ [...] I need to know if we have to print [exams, since] I haven’t made my copies [of the exam] yet.” While the MAA ultimately decided that individual schools would be able to determine whether or not to administer the exam, the delay in their response had a huge impact on administrators.

Even when schools personally contacted the MAA, the organization did not guide teachers on the next steps. “I called them, but they wouldn’t really give me an answer,” Sterr said. “The person on the phone [said], ‘I don’t really know the answer to that, I’m going to have my supervisor call you back,’ and of course, the supervisor never called me back, so there’s no further information on Tuesday.”

In addition to parents and teachers, some students also believe that the MAA could have done more to control the damage caused by the leakage. “The leaks happened on their forum and weren’t taken down for a while,” senior and math team member Charles Tang said. “The [MAA’s] decision on what to do was made last-minute.”

One solution students have advocated for is the cancellation of the exam. As a result, most approved of Stuyvesant’s decision to cancel. “This has never happened in the 75 years that [the AMC] has been administered,” senior and math team member Ryan Peng said. “It is really sad, because you would expect the most math- and [logic]-based organization to at least cancel the exam for all schools, or postpone the exam to prepare a new one.”

Individual schools have responded differently to the exam; some have canceled it entirely, others have offered the test as a practice, and many have administered it as normal. “At Hunter, they said they already made a copy [of the test], so they were going to give it as a practice exam,” Sterr said. “My Bronx Science colleagues were later persuaded by their assistant principal to actually give the exam instead of giving it as a practice like they said they were going to [...] but [...] we came to an agreement that we thought was the right thing to do.”

While Stuyvesant’s decision to cancel ensures that Stuyvesant students will not receive an unfair advantage, students have expressed fears that the leak could take opportunities away from deserving students. The AMC 12 tests have long been used as a way to determine entry into various prestigious math contests and competitions. “Last year, I was able to attend Math Prize for Girls, a contest held at MIT that invites the top 300 female scorers on the AMC,” sophomore and math team member Audrey Jing said. “Even a small-scale leak can steal spots from people who deserve to be able to attend, and a leak of this proportion will definitely affect opportunities like this.”

However, Sterr has affirmed that students will likely not be penalized by the leaks, as AMC 10A and AMC 12A scores will likely face harsher scrutiny. “These scores on the A exam [don’t really] mean anything, because there’s just gonna be a big question mark about if these are legitimate scores or if you’re someone that had access to the leaked questions,” Sterr said. 

Nevertheless, many students have lost a chance to demonstrate their mathematical ability. Consequently, some decided to take the exam anyway. “Sometimes one exam doesn’t play to your strengths, or maybe you just don’t feel your best that day,” Jing said. “It feels much safer knowing that you have another shot and performing your best, which is why I did end up traveling to another testing center to take the 10A.”

For the future, the MAA has launched investigations, and they hope to strengthen their security protocols to ensure that this does not happen again.