It’s not often a student will be excited after earning three out of a possible 120 points on an exam.
But sophomore Jamie Woodworth’s exuberance upon learning of their score on the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, better known as the Putnam Exam, is a bit more understandable when you realize the Mathematical Association of America considers the exam, first administered in 1938, to be the “preeminent mathematics competition for undergraduate college students in the United States and Canada.”
It’s so difficult, in fact, that many students earn zero points. Which is why Woodworth was so excited to see how much their hard work paid off.
“Everyone thinks they’re bad at math, even people who love doing it and are actually kind of good at it,” they said. “Going into it, 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 do know math 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. In addition to individual scores, schools are ranked according to the sum of the scores of their three highest-scoring participants.