Elementary School TMSCA
TMSCA is one of the most popular elementary school math contests in Texas especially in the Houston Metro Area. There are 4 tests in the TMSCA contest and the contests are usually taking place in the local middle schools or high schools from October/November to February/March in the following year.
The students are ranked based on grades (4th and 5th grades) and individual scores. The sweepstake is determined by the overall school ranking. Trophies and ribbins will be given to the top 10-20 individuals in each test for each grade.
The Number Sense test is a 10 minute, 80-question mental math test. Shortcuts need to be developed and practiced in order to compete and finish the test. There are tricks that exist to solve most of the problems that would normally seem preposterous to calculate mentally. Number Sense teaches a great sense of mathematical intuition and reflex. Speed, techniques, and the ability to work effectively under a time crunch are added to the student's repertoire of mathematical tools.
A pen must be used to solve the problems and absolutely no scratch work, overwrites, or crossing out is permitted. The score will be determined by the last problem attempted times 5 minus 9 times each problem skipped, missed, crossed out, or overwritten before it. Thus, it is not always the best idea to skip around the test or start from the back. Each answer can be expressed as a non-repeating rational number. There are a few problems on each test that call for a complex calculation to be approximated as an integer with 5% or less error from the actual value.
The Calculator Applications test includes calculations involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, roots, powers, exponential, logarithms, trigonometric functions and inverse trigonometric functions. In addition to straightforward calculation problems, the contest includes geometric and stated problems similar to those found in algebra, geometry and trigonometry textbooks, previous contests and League materials related to the contest. (Problems are adjusted for middle school competition.
Calculator Applications is a 30 minute short-answer test which, as evident in its name, requires a calculator. Calculator Applications teaches usage of effective problem solving skills under stressful scenarios and tests mechanical aptitude, similar to the Slide Rule contest which preceded it.
The first 5 questions on a page will be "number crunchers," or algebraic expressions consisting of multiple operators that require speed typing into the calculator. The next three problems are stated problems, or word problems. These problems present textual scenarios that require computation of a certain quantity. Last, but not least, the remaining problems on the page are geometry problems, which depict a geometric arrangement of shapes or graphs and require the calculation of an unknown quantity when certain quantities, such as side length or volume, are given. Unlike Number Sense, work can be shown and write-overs and scratch-outs are acceptable.
The scoring is the same as number sense. There are 80 questions and the same rules hold as far as the point system.
The Mathematics test is designed to test knowledge and understanding in the areas of algebra I and algebra II, geometry, trigonometry, math analysis, analytic geometry, pre-calculus and elementary calculus. (Content is adjusted for middle school competition and elementary school competition.)
Mathematics is a multiple choice exam that tests the student's knowledge of problem-solving skills and, as the name suggests, general mathematical knowledge and methods. The Mathematics exam instills an arsenal of mathematical knowledge and problem solving ability in the student.
No calculator is permitted. The test is 40 minutes long, has 50 questions, and, unlike Number Sense and Calculator Applications, permits skipping around. Five points are awarded per correct answer, and 2 points deducted for each wrong answer. No points are subtracted or added for questions omitted.
The Science test challenges students to do a wide range of reading in biology, chemistry, and physics, to gain an understanding of the significance of experiments rather than to recall details, to be alert to new discoveries and information in the areas of science, to gain an understanding of the basic principles as well as knowledge of the history and philosophy of science, and to foster a sense of enthusiasm about how science affects our lives. (The middle school science test covers earth science and life science.)
Science is a multiple choice test and is considerably slower-paced than the other three. This is because it is mainly an exam of knowledge rather than ability. Practicing and studying for the science competition inspires a thirst for knowledge in the students which can be seen through success in school science courses. There are 50 questions and 5 points per correct answer with a 2 point guessing penalty and a 40 minute time limit. Since this is the last exam of the competition, students may leave after 20 minutes. Calculators are not allowed nor are they by any means required.