The Moody's Foundation SIAM
Moody's Mega Math Challenge
M3 Challenge
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Official Rules & Guidelines—2014 Challenge

This competition is void where prohibited by law. All decisions by M3 Challenge judges are final.


High schools located in the following states are eligible to participate in M3 Challenge 2014: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Teams must consist of three (3) to five (5) students and one (1) teacher-coach from the same high school. A maximum of two (2) teams per school may register for the M3 Challenge. For M3 purposes, your high school is the school name that will appear on your diploma. Dual enrollment programs, magnet programs, and other academic or training programs that draw in students from more than one high school for a subset of classes are only eligible to form teams if they comprise a separate high school from which the student will graduate.

Teams must be comprised of high school juniors and seniors only; absolutely no exceptions will be made.

Both home schooled and cyber schooled students may compete in the Challenge, as follows:

Home schooled students and students attending cyber schools in eligible states who wish to participate may contact the public school district that they reside in, determine if the public high school has or plans to organize a M3 Challenge Team, and request to participate on their local public high school M3 Challenge Team.

Alternatively, the home schooled student or student attending a cyber school may attempt to participate in the M3 Math Challenge as follows:

Homeschooled students in eligible states may form their own teams of three (3) to five (5) students. Participants must be in eleventh or twelfth grade and between the ages of 16 and 18. They must also verify that they are in compliance with all home school laws in their state of residence. All students forming a home schooled team must reside in the same county. Each home schooled student may participate in the Challenge for a maximum of two years. There is no limit on the number of unique home school teams in a county. A signed Homeschool Affidavit Form [PDF, 40KB] is required for each home schooled student participating in the Challenge.

Students attending a cyber school in eligible states may form their own teams of three (3) to five (5) students. Participants must be in eleventh or twelfth grade and between the ages of 16 and 18. They must also verify that, are enrolled in a cyber school and are in compliance with all cyber school laws in their state of residence. All students forming a cyber school team must reside in the same county and attend the same cuber school. Each cyber schooled student may participate in the Challenge for a maximum of two years. There is no limit on the number of cyber schooled teams in a county. A signed Cyber School Affidavit Form [PDF, 40KB] is required for each cyber schooled student participating in the Challenge.

All efforts in making connections with the public school district in which they reside is up to the home- or cyber schooled student.

International and exchange students may participate in the Challenge provided they are officially enrolled in an eligible team’s high school at the time of registration and through completion of the Challenge.

Children, grandchildren, and siblings of employees, officers, directors, or trustees of SIAM or The Moody's Foundation are not eligible to participate in Moody's Mega Math Challenge.


On their selected Challenge day, team members may not discuss any aspect of the problem with, or seek help, via any media, from the coach or anyone other than their teammates. A team may use computers, software packages, books, reference works, or any other inanimate sources that are free and publicly available, all of which must be properly referenced within the solution paper. Microsoft Office Suite is permitted due to its almost universal availability in the US.  Any software that is freely available, with no cost to the user (e.g., Open Office, other open source tools ), is also OK to use. Programs that are purchased/leased are not allowed, even if your access is free through a library, school, or trial use. Any attempts to get help from animate/human sources–in person or via any medium–will result in disqualification. This includes attempts to seek direction or any type of assistance through “help” websites. Monitoring of such sites is continual and violators will be disqualified. Seeking assistance outside of the team grossly violates the spirit of the Challenge.

Teacher-coaches must impress upon all team members the need for honesty and integrity. In addition to disqualification, a letter of admonition will be sent to the principal and the coach of any school whose students are involved in unethical or disrespectful submissions.

Teams can work from any location they choose.

There is no passing score and numerical scores will not be assigned. All decisions made by the judges are final and are not subject to challenge or appeal.

It is the sole responsibility of the individual schools to (a) provide any specialized staff or assistance for team members with special needs to participate as required by law and (b) provide and be responsible for any transportation of the team members to Challenge events. Neither SIAM nor Moody's is responsible for any risk, injury, or damage related in any way to any student's or team's participation in the Challenge.

Submission: Solution Paper Guidelines and Considerations  

No identifying marks

Do NOT include any names or other identifying information in your solution paper - only provide your team ID #.


  • Solution papers must be typed and in English.
  • Papers must be in standard 8½ x 11 document format, no longer than 20 single-sided pages in length. Please use a minimum font size (12) and minimum margins (1 inch all around).
  • Each page of the solution paper must contain the team's ID # and page number in the header at the top of the page. For example: Team # 005, page 1 of 15.
  • A solution paper must be contained in a single file upload and must be formatted as a PDF. No other file types will be accepted.
  • Multiple files contained in a ZIP file or other compressed file format will not be accepted. No supplemental files should be uploaded with your solution paper.
  • Charts, tables, and other graphics must be embedded into the PDF document.


A solution paper should answer all questions posed and have the following elements:

  1. SUMMARY of results, clearly identified and not more than one page in length, must be the first page of your solution paper.  It should be a concise, straightforward explanation of the main results and answer the questions posed, written with minimal use of technical language.  Judges will not read past a poorly written summary.
  2. RESTATEMENT of the problem, and JUSTIFICATION of all assumptions.
  3. ANALYSIS of the problem, DESIGN of the model, and JUSTIFICATION of the modeling used.
  4. DISCUSSION of how the model can be tested for accuracy, stability and sensitivity to assumptions.

Citations: Teams are required to provide citations to original source materials whenever they make use of a direct quote, an image or figure, basic fact, or an idea from a source. Each reference should have a citation within the solution paper where that information is used.  No particular citation style is required, but citations should be consistent throughout.

Code: If you write code as part of your solution paper or an appendix (not required), you should explain the methodology, but do not include the code in the solution paper. Judges will not spend time reading and interpreting code submissions.

Organization, conciseness, and clarity of the solution paper are critical.

Submission of Record

You may upload your solution paper at any time from the start of the Challenge until the 9:00 p.m. (local time) deadline. Each time you upload, your most recent paper will entirely replace your previous upload. Your last upload prior to the deadline will be your entire submission of record; it must be in the form and contain all aspects of your paper – this is the submission on which you will be judged.

Partial solutions are acceptable. The judges are particularly interested in each team’s approach and methods.

No supplemental materials will be accepted once you have submitted your final solution paper before the deadline.

As a last resort, if your upload attempts are problematic, you may email your submission prior to the deadline as an attached PDF file.

By uploading a solution paper during Challenge weekend, you are guaranteeing that the work is wholly your own. All suspected instances of plagiarism will be taken seriously and investigated. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. The M3 Challenge uses to vet submissions for possible plagiarism.

Teacher-coach Guidelines  

Teacher-coaches may be part-time or full-time teachers or administrators employed by the team's high school or by the district in which the high school is located. Under certain unique situations, exceptions may be made and a part-time or retired teacher or administrator who is still affiliated with the team’s high school may serve as coach. In the case of two teams from one school, the same teacher may coach both teams or each team may choose to have different teacher-coaches from the same school.

The teacher-coach is responsible for registering the team correctly and for ensuring that all parts of the registration process are accurate and complete. If possible, teacher-coaches should help prepare the teams for the Challenge using previous problems, winning solutions, and insights from judge’s perspectives – all available online in the M3 Challenge archives.

The teacher-coach is responsible for certifying and submitting the Authenticity Certification Form during the week following the Challenge. The teacher-coach will be notified via email that the form is available on the Monday following Challenge weekend.

Teacher-coaches are not required to be physically with or near the team on Challenge day. If you do not plan to be with or near your students on Challenge day, please be sure they have their team ID # and password readily available so they are able to download the problem and upload their solution paper.

Once the problem has been downloaded, teacher-coaches are prohibited from providing assistance to any team member regarding the Challenge until the Challenge is over. Students must troubleshoot problems on their own; they may not discuss any aspect of the problem, or seek help from anyone other than their teammates. Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in disqualification.

The teacher-coach of every team that submits a viable solution paper on time and in the proper format will receive an appreciation gift for his or her efforts in helping the team participate, regardless of the team's final standing in the competition. Check out the Advice for Coaches flyer for great suggestions from past coaches on selecting a team, preparing students, and other tips for a successful Challenge day.

Winning Teams  

The top six teams in the Challenge will be invited to Moody’s Corporation headquarters in Manhattan to present their papers to a panel of professional applied mathematicians in the final confirmation phase of judging. Presentations by entire teams are a requirement for winning one of the top six prizes. Teams that are unable to present their papers or are unable to have all members present for the final event, are not eligible for one of the top six prizes. Exceptions may be made for medically-documented reasons, but are at the discretion of the organizers. An awards ceremony will immediately follow the presentations. Typically this will be on a Monday in late April (check Important Dates and Forms page).

The top six teams will receive funds to help pay for travel and related expenses incurred to get to and from the final event. The amount is dependent upon their distance from NYC. For more information, see the M3 Challenge Team Travel and Expense Reimbursements Guidelines.

The 2012 champions from High Technology High School hold up their winning check at the award ceremony.

2012 panel judges presentations from top teams.

The 2012 fifth place team from Staples High School enjoying the view.