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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Mathletes go head to head at yearly competition

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October 16, 2019 | Jill Bold | managing editor

Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of scholarships and prizes are up for grabs in this year’s TCC Jim Bolen math competition held district-wide on Nov. 1.

Jim Bolen, former NE Campus math department chair and brother of former Fort Worth mayor Bob Bolen, developed the math competition.

For the last several years in a row, partnering universities have handsomely rewarded top-achieving students in this competition, said NE math instructor Grant Griffin.

The TCC Foundation partners with local four-year universities to make these scholarships, last year totaling over $350,000, available to qualified students. According to Griffin, when considering scholarship candidates, schools like the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas Christian University look for STEM majors and high-performing students.

Students are currently preparing for the math competition’s annual fall test. The students complete exams in the fall and spring semesters, and these scores are combined to determine the students’ final scores.

The one-hour test will be held simultaneously on all five TCC campuses on Nov. 1. Test-takers do not need to do anything to qualify before the test, but they must be enrolled at TCC for a minimum of 6 hours at the time of the exam. Registration is free.

“When students arrive at the test site, we have registration tables set up to sign students in and to check calculators, clear the memory, and students can borrow graphing calculators from us,” said NE assistant professor of math Cathryn Miller, the district coordinator for this event.

Free workshops are offered for students to practice before the competition. Math Infinity Club president Horacio Aguilera took the test last year and said he felt prepared after participating in the workshops.

“They are meant to simulate the test and give you a feel for what it is like with previous versions of the test,” Aguilera said.

NE Campus math and physics lab instructional associate Phuc Ta was a 2012 competition champion and earned a full scholarship of $34,500 per year for two years to TCU. His advice to students who want to compete is to practice taking past years’ exams as much as possible.

“If you practice enough of them, and you familiarize yourself with the kinds of questions and the way they are asking you, it really helps you,” Ta said. “You only have one hour for the test and 20 questions.”

Ta said he found confidence in himself by participating in the competition and it spurred his continued success in the years that followed.

“It’s the key that can open a new door of opportunity for you,”  Ta said.

Aguilera said competing was a positive experience for him.

“Participating in the Jim Bolen Math Competition has allowed me to experience a new and deeper perspective of mathematics, not like your traditional math class,” Aguilera said. “It has allowed and excited me about pushing my limits beyond what is expected of me from my degree.”

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