The Hardest Math Problem Student Contest


An Annual Math Competition for Grades 6-8

The Hardest Math Problem Student Contest is an annual competition presented by The Actuarial Foundation, the Institute of Competition Sciences and the New York Life Foundation that challenges grades 6-8 students to solve multistep, grade-specific math problems with real-world situations and engaging characters. Plus, 5th graders are eligible to participate by reaching to a higher grade level!

Energize students’ perceptions of math with fun, challenging story problems that combine math reasoning skills with writing.


Try Math Problem Student Contest

This annual competition gives middle school students a chance to show off their math and writing skills and gives them exposure to real-world math problems.

lesson and activity

Practice Math Arguments

Sharpen students’ skills with resources about writing clear, concise explanations of math reasoning. Access free lessons and activities to help prepare your middle schoolers for the contest.

Digital Math Tool

Your students can practice percentages, decimals, area and equations with our Ecosystem Emergency digital tool in Scholastic's Math Workshop.

Puzzle It Out

The Hardest Math Problem Student Contest Winners

Past Questions and Answer Keys

Check your students’ work from this year’s contest or assign past contest questions to practice for the future!

Hardest Math Problem Challange 2020 Challenge 1

Hardest Math Challenge 2020 Challenge 1

Vishal loves to eat! He wants to know which foods are pollinated by bees. He found out that the honeybee, one of 20,000 different bee species, makes honey and provides most of the pollination for blueberries, broccoli, cherries, and many other foods. (Yum!) The honeybee provides 100 percent of the pollination for almonds. But, honeybees are dying from habitat loss, the varroa mite, pesticides, and climate change. Below are approximate rates of honeybee loss in the U.S. for nine consecutive years.

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Hardest Match Challenge 2020 Challenge 2

Hardest Math Challenge 2020 Challenge 2

The sixth graders are making posters about Bee Colony Collapse, the mysterious disappearance of bees from their hives. Data shows that pesticides, especially chemically made neonicotinoids may play a part. Uh-oh! Someone just spilled paint on one of their posters and they’ll have to recreate it.

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Hardest Math Challenge 2021 Challenge 1

Hardest Math Challenge 2021 Challenge 1

At Sunny Middle School, Ms. Addison’s class is investigating how greenhouse gases (GHGs) contribute to global climate change.

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Hardest Math Problem Challenge 2021 Challenge 2

Hardest Math Challenge 2021 Challenge 2

While researching, Liam found a graph that shows the annual pounds of CO2 emissions of four different types of vehicles. Liam connected this information with the chart Mia gave him, showing sources of CO2 emissions for a typical household. He wondered what this information meant for his family specifically.

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Get Involved with the Hardest Math Problem Student Contest



The 2022-2023 contest is now open! This year’s theme is food access. Learn more and submit your entries to Challenge 1 by December 5.



Visit the contest site to download the entry packet for the 2022-2023 contest. Use the free practice questions and answers to prepare your class. 


Actuaries | Volunteers

While there are no current opportunities for the middle school contest, the Modeling the Future Challenge for high school students is in need of judges and mentors. Sign up today!


Partners | Donors

If your organization is interested in partnering with us on The Hardest Math Problem Student Contest, contact us today.


The Hardest Math Problem Student Contest Is Presented By