For most students, a score of three out of a possible 120 points on an exam isn’t a reason for exuberance. However, for Jamie Woodworth ’22, a score like that on the prestigious William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Examination (also known as the Putnam exam) is worthy of celebration. The test—considered the leading mathematics competition for undergraduate students in the United States and Canada—is so difficult that most students earn zero points.

“Everyone thinks they’re bad at math, even people who love doing it and are actually kind of good at it. Going into the test, I told myself that I would be happy with getting any score, but taking this exam and scoring three points helped me to realize that maybe I know more than I thought I did.”

The Putnam exam consists of two three-hour sessions, each consisting of six problems, which are scored from 0 to 10 points.

This year, students at 488 institutions took part in the exam. Ithaca College’s total score of 13 points ranked in the top half of competing schools.

According to Professor David Brown, the chair of the college’s mathematics department, the scores showcase not only the natural talent of IC students but also the strengths of Ithaca’s math department. 

“We give them the opportunity to flourish, and that makes me feel good,” Brown says.