UMTYMP

For nearly 40 years, the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP, pronounced "um-tee-ump") has been one of the nation's premier accelerated programs for students who are highly talented in mathematics. Students spend up to five years taking UMTYMP courses on the University campus, starting with algebra and continuing through linear algebra and vector analysis.  UMTYMP is unique in terms of the number of students, length of the program, scope of the curriculum, and the number of University of Minnesota credits granted to students in middle school and high school.

On this page:

There are also pages with information for current students and alumni of the program.

General Information about UMTYMP

When and where are the courses taught?

UMTYMP courses are taught at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus. They meet from 4:00pm-6:00pm, typically once per week throughout the University's fall and spring semesters. You can get more information about schedules on this page or by contacting our office.

What are the UMTYMP Courses?

The program has two components.

  • High School Component. In the first two years of UMTYMP students cover all four years of the "traditional" high school curriculum: Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Math Analysis (PreCalculus). The courses are taught by excellent secondary teachers from throughout the metro area, and Minnesota state law ensures that public schools count them as satisfying high school graduation requirements.
  • Calculus Component. During the final three years of the program, students earn up to 12 University credits in a sequence of Calculus courses. UMTYMP Calculus I covers single variable calculus.  Students in UMTYMP Calculus II and III learn linear algebra, differential equations, set theory, methods of proof, and multivariable calculus.  Calculus component courses are taught by University faculty members with a great deal of experience teaching students of this age. 

How are UMTYMP courses different than regular offerings?

In the high school component, the most notable difference is in the pace. We frequently cover a chapter of a textbook per week.  Teachers discuss the main concepts and examples in class, but students are expected to work through a great deal of material on their own.  Rather than memorizing formulas to solve every type of problem, UMTYMP students should learn the over-arching concepts so they can apply them in any given situation.

In the calculus component, problem solving, collaboration, and communication of mathematics are emphasized.  Half of each class is spent with students working together in small groups, and each homework assignment includes a problem graded for both mathematical correctness and mathematical writing.

Who should take UMTYMP?

We are not a program for students who are very good at math and can be accelerated to take Calculus as a senior or even a junior in high school. Rather, we are a program for students who can succeed in Calculus as a ninth or tenth grader (or earlier!) and are mathematically advanced enough to handle a more rigorous Calculus course than the normal offering.

The typical successful UMTYMP student likes math, wants a challenge, and is willing to work hard to learn new material.  They generally don't need as much repetition of each new concept as students in standard math courses.  However, beyond this aptitutde for mathematics, there is no defining characteristic of UMTYMP students.  Our classrooms are microcosms of a typical middle- or high-school class.  We have students who are entirely focused on math and science, but our students are also involved in sports, theater, and every other activity you can think of.

See Admissions and Eligibility below for more information about identifying UMTYMP students.

What do UMTYMP students do for math at their regular school?

Minnesota Statute 120B.14 ensures that students at public schools receive credit towards high school graduation for successful completion of UMTYMP courses.  Hence there is no need for them to take math courses at their school, although many are involved in math clubs or math teams at their schools.

Our office is happy to talk to any school or district about how to handle UMTYMP students, but ultimately the decision is up to them.  Most schools replace the math courses in UMTYMP students' schedules with an hour in the media center (or other room) where they can work on their UMTYMP homework.  Some of our older students take an additional class instead, and complete their UMTYMP assignments at home.  

Schools and districts can also choose how to record or weight UMTYMP courses on a student's transcript.  In our experience, this varies widely by district.

The state statue above does not apply to private schools, but most of them take the same approach as public schools.  Some may require their students to take additional mathematics electives at their own school; in general, however, an UMTYMP student should never have to re-take Calculus or any other course taken through the program.

How much homework is there?

In the past, UMTYMP was known for weekly assignments with 80-120 written problems, which required 12-15 hours to complete.  We now use a combination of online homework (which students should repeat until it is correct) and written homework.  Current UMTYMP students self-report that they spend 6-8 hours on homework each week, and all measures of student learning have remained consistent.  If students get time during their regular school day to work on UMTYMP homework (see above), they might only need a few hours at home to complete their assignment.

What happens after UMTYMP?

Students who complete the entire UMTYMP sequence typically move on to take advanced undergraduate level courses at the University or another college; at the University of Minnesota, UMTYMP graduates can proceed directly to 4000- or 5000-level courses as undergraduates or, if still in high school, through the Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program.  UMTYMP alumni in high school can also take UMTYMP Advanced Topics courses with other UMTYMP graduates; these are typically offered once per year.  


Admissions and Eligibility

How can a student enroll in UMTYMP?

Students can either begin in Algebra or Calculus.

Students currently in grades 5-7 who wish to enter UMTYMP at the Algebra level (High School Component) must take the UMTYMP Algebra Qualifying Exam.  Click here for information and registration materials.

Occasionally students in grades 7-10 who are not enrolled in the UMTYMP High School component are able to test directly into the Calculus component.  They must have completed Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, PreCalculus with Trigonometry, or equivalent courses. Contact our office for details on this qualifying exam.

How do we make admissions decisions?

Although the Qualifying Exam score is important, contrary to popular opinion there is no set passing line to qualify for UMTYMP.  We use a holistic admissions process and make decisions on the Qualifying Exam score and other information from student applications, including answers to the essay questions.

In particular, it is possible for one student to be admitted while another student with the same score (or even higher) is not.

What do we look for in the essay responses?

The essay responses should be thoughtful, honest, and written by the student, not parents.

Who is eligible for the UMTYMP Algebra Qualifying Exam?

Any student in a public or private school who is currently in grades 5-7 and either (a) has scored at or above the 95th percentile on a standardized mathematics achievement test in the past two years or (b) has been recommended by a school teacher or counselor to take the UMTYMP exam. Students who have already taken a course in Algebra I are still eligible to take the exam.

Can my third or fourth grade student take the Qualifying Exam?

Unfortunately, no. Our testing age requirements are based on actual grade level, not the grade level of mathematics your student is currently doing. Students in UMTYMP must not only be ready for advanced mathematics courses, but also be mature enough to sit in a two-hour long class, staying focused and taking notes. Experience has taught us that this is very difficult for students younger than sixth grade.

What if a student does not speak English fluently?

Many students new to the United States have taken the UMTYMP qualifying exam without problems. With prior permission, students may use selected dictionaries.


Information for Schools and Teachers

Doesn’t UMTYMP just deplete us of our good students?

UMTYMP is not in competition with schools! A better way to think about UMTYMP is that we offer a service: we can provide the mathematical education for students for whom you might otherwise run out of resources. We rarely draw more than one or two students per school and therefore have very little effect on what mathematics courses you schedule.

UMTYMP students take their math courses at the University but are very active in their own school community, including participating in math clubs and math teams; many of the top students in the Minnesota State Math League are UMTYMP students, for example. Hence UMTYMP students themselves can become resources for their fellow students and schools.

Which students should be recommended for UMTYMP?

Students whose grades in mathematics are far above their peers or who have scored exceptionally high on standardized exams are certainly good candidates for UMTYMP.

Please also keep an eye out for students who have a natural flair for mathematics, regardless of their in-class scores. Sometimes they are easy to spot, such as the student who both anticipates and answers your questions before you even ask them. Sometimes they are more difficult to spot; for example, our past experience indicates many highly mathematically talented female students are reticent to speak up in class and may not demonstrate their full abilities. Once in UMTYMP, these students are often among the most successful.

How should we handle UMTYMP students' schedules / grades / transcripts / etc.?

Ultimately this is up to each school, but we're happy to talk to you about common practices throughout other schools and districts.  Feel free to contact us at 612-625-2861 or mathcep@umn.edu.

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