Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middles Schools (MOEMS) is one of the most popular math contests for students between fourth and eighth grades. In 2016, nearly 170,000 students took part.

MOEMS is offered in two divisions: Division E targets students in grades 4-6, while Division M targets students in grades 6-8. All students in one division compete together, regardless of their grades. The level of difficulty for the younger students in each division is impossible to overstate, since the problems are designed to challenge the top 6th and 8th graders. However, it is recommended that students start participating in MOEMS early so they get practice and can track improvement year-to-year.

Each year, students compete in five meets between November and March. During each meet, students are asked to solve 5 problems of varying difficulty in 30 minutes. A student’s individual score is the total number of problems they solve over the five meets. The team score is the sum of top 10 individual scores. This makes MOEMS a quintessential team contest – having 3-4 exceptionally talented students does not make a successful MOEMS team. Rather, it is often the score of the 9th and 10th student on the team that makes the difference!

The biggest team award in MOEMS is called Team Highest Achievement Award and is given to top 10% of teams in each division. The top 20% of teams made entirely of younger students (such as fourth and fifth graders in Division E, or seventh graders in Division M) get Meritorious Achievement Award.

In addition, top students on each team and nationally get individual awards. Those with a perfect score earn Dr. George Lenchner Medal, the top 2% of scorers get a Gold Pin, the top 10% of scorers get a Silver Pin, and the top 50% of scorers get a Felt Patch. Those awards are especially impressive for younger students. For example, a fourth grader who gets a Felt Patch in Division E, or a sixth grader who earns it in Division M, scored among the top half of the kids 1-2 years older. When such a student earns a Silver or Gold Pin it is a tremendous achievement!