Western PA Math Circle and ARML Team


Joining the Team

  • Who may join the team?
    Any Pittsburgh-area student in 6th-12th grade.
  • My child is in elementary school but is taking middle school or high school math. May he/she join?
  • Is there a tryout?
    There is no tryout to to join the team and come to practice. There is a selection process to form the teams for non-local competitions (ARML, HMMT, PUMaC, and/or JHMT).
  • How do I register?
    Normally all you need to do is sign up for the mailing list and bring a release form to your first practice. Both can be found on the ‘join the team’ page.
  • Is there a fee to participate?
    No, thanks to our generous sponsor, Jump Trading!
    There only costs for team-organized activities are (1) dinner at the ARML competition and (2) travel and food for other non-local competitions (HMMT, PUMaC, and/or JHMT) (travel is heavily subsidized, though may not be completely covered).
    There may be costs for other competitions which are not team-organized, such as CMIMC.

JV vs. Varsity

  • What is the difference between JV and Varsity practice?
    JV focuses on the most common and important topics for competition math, and assumes no particular background with competition math. Varsity practice
  • How do I know which practice to go to?
    Normally, we assign practices. Most new students start in JV, unless they have extensive experience with competition math (e.g. AIME qualification). For returning students, we’ll let you know when we think you’re ready to move from JV to Varsity. We base this on a number of factors, such as completition scores, attendance, length of time on the team, maturity, and so on. There’s not a simple formula.
  • I’ve never done math competitions but I’m taking [math class X]. Should I start in Varsity?
    Probably not, for two reasons. Firstly, competition math requires a much higher level of problem-solving skills than a typical math class, even a high-level one. Secondly, competition math at all levels covers many topics that are never covered in grade school.
  • I feel like I’m ready for Varsity. Should I move?
    Maybe! Come talk to Zoe. We usually have some idea of who’s ready to move and will make recommendations accordingly, but we don’t know everything. Please reach out and we can discuss what’s best for you.


  • What should I bring to practice?
    All you need is something to write with, and if you’d like, something to write on. We provide scrap paper as well. Calculators are not necessary and are highly discouraged (and prohibited at almost every competition we know of).
  • Can a parent be present at practice?
    No. This is for safety reasons.
  • What can parents do during practice?
    Due to the ongoing pandemic and CMU policy, we unfortunately do not provide a space for parents to wait on campus. However, we can recommend nearby coffee shops, museums, and parks to visit if that would be helpful.


  • When is practice?
    3:30-6:00pm on Sundays during the CMU school year and in May. For a full listing of the current semester’s practice dates, see the Calendar page.
  • Where is practice?
    On CMU’s Campus. Due to CMU’s room-booking process, the rooms change semester-to-semester and sometimes week-to-week. The exact practice location is always in the week’s information email, sent out via the mailing list.
  • What is the difference between JV and Varsity practice?
    Firstly, varsity practice covers more difficult problems. Each week, the two practices focus on a similar (if not the same) topic. JV practice assumes less background knowledge, especially on topics that are usually covered in Algebra 2 or Precalculus.
  • How do I switch from JV to Varsity?
    Each semester, the head coaches discuss who should be moved up (if anyone). If we feel you are ready, we will invite you.
    If you feel ready to switch and have not yet been invited to do so, talk to Zoe. We’ll make the final call, but it’s certainly helpful to know your feelings and concerns.
  • Is there food provided in practice?
    Yes. We usually get pizza, with a few exceptions.
  • I have a dietary restriction and cannot eat the pizza. Is there food for me?
    You’re in good company! Let us know what your needs are and we’ll figure something out.
  • Are there practices in the summer?
    Not typically, but there may be occasional get-togethers.

Additional Resources

  • I’m looking ways to practice on my own time. What can I do?
    The biggest resource out there for competition-style math is Art of Problem Solving. It has a massive database of previous competitions, many with solutions. It also has many pages explaining techniques or theorems that come up a lot in competition math, and these pages usually have a few links to relevant problems.
    If you are very committed and looking for guided practice with a teacher, Art of Problem Solving also offers online classes.
    If you are very committed and are looking for something to do over the summer, there are math summer camps for students of any age, and you can ask Zoe for more details.