Carmel Valley Middle School first in national math contest

San Diego’s Carmel Valley Middle School has some of the best middle-school mathematicians in the country, as demonstrated by its first-place finish in the 2014 Fall Startup Event, a national mathematics contest administered by National Assessment & Testing.

Coach David Vaughn prepared students for the first major competition of the academic year, in which students worked furiously for 30 minutes, racing to answer 100 problems in a variety of mathematical topics.

According to Tom Clymer, director of the competition, “It’s similar to a musician practicing scales; many of these skills can become almost instinctual.”

With so many questions and so little time, competitors must not only have strong mathematical skills, but also be able to quickly decide which problems to solve and which to skip.

After results from students around the country were processed, several Carmel Valley Middle School students received individual awards, helping their team to place first in the nation.

Tristan Shin placed first, Andy Zhu was fourth, Ananth Rao placed sixth, Adam Zheng was 10th, and Emily Zhang and Jerry Huang tied for 23rd place.

Carmel Valley Middle School will be participating in all four NA&T contests this year, including the 2014 Team Scramble on Nov. 6 and the 2014 Ciphering Time Trials on Dec. 11.

Schools can consider participating in several other national math contests: The United States of America Mathematical Talent Search ( is under way, and the first round will conclude on Nov. 5; The American Mathematics Competitions ( have a middle-school contest on Nov. 18, and high school contests on Feb. 3 or 25; MathCounts ( is a middle-school contest with local competitions taking place in February.

National Assessment & Testing ( administers high-quality mathematics competitions that high schools can participate in through the mail. Their contests cover a variety of formats, including individual and team tests, as well as different levels of difficulty, from 100 easy problems in 30 minutes to 15 complex problems in one week.