Energize students’ perceptions of math with fun, challenging story problems that combine math reasoning skills with writing.

Grades 6–8


The Hardest Math Problem Student Contest is an annual competition presented by Scholastic, The Actuarial Foundation, and the New York Life Foundation that challenges grades 6–8 students to solve multistep, grade-appropriate math problems with real-world situations and engaging characters. Plus, 5th graders are eligible to participate by reaching to a higher grade level!


The 2022–23 contest has closed! We applaud all students’ efforts. Here are the Challenge 2 winners:


Grade 6 Lillian M., Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Grade 7 Christina P., Rosemead, CA
Grade 8 Lucia K., Bethesda, MD


Grade 6 Callen P., Cashmere, WA
Grade 7 Xavier C., Los Angeles, CA
Grade 8 Andrew C., Fayetteville, GA

Have students continue to practice explaining their math reasoning and prepare for the contest next year with the Puzzle It Out digital tool!

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$5,000 for
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Challenge 1 Complete

Challenge 1

Open to All

September 15 – December 5

The teacher of every student who provides a mathematically correct answer to Challenge 1 will receive an invitation to compete in Challenge 2 with an even more difficult problem.

Optional: Entries may include a written argument as practice for the math reasoning and writing that is required for Challenge 2!

Teacher Prizes:

Teachers who submit at least 3 eligible entries will be entered into a random drawing for the chance to win one of three $500 gift cards!

can win
$5,000 for
Challenge 2 Complete

Challenge 2

By Invitation to Challenge 1 Winners

January 27 – March 20

Entries must contain a mathematically correct answer and a compelling written explanation of their reasoning to be eligible for the Grand Prize!

Correct entries are judged by a panel of teachers and actuaries to determine the strongest written argument and award prizes.

3 Grand Prize Winners (one per question) Student: $5,000 for a 529 college savings plan, plus a laptop!

Teacher: $500 gift card
3 Runner-Up Winners (one per question) Student: A tablet computer!

An Extra Challenge Reach Above Grade Level!

Teachers may invite their students to take an extra challenge and complete problems at either their current grade level or above. Teachers may submit one entry per question that their students are grade-eligible to answer. For example, a 5th grader may complete up to three problems, one each at the grade 6, 7, and 8 levels.

Past Questions and Answer Keys

Check your students’ work from this year’s contest or assign past contest questions to practice for the future!

To receive more information and updates about the contest, please register at the link below.

SIGN UP for Updates

Have a question?


Chance to Win a $50 Gift Card!

Tell us what you think of the Hardest Math Problem Student Contest.


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Fully completed surveys must be received by 6/1/23 in order to be eligible to receive $50 worth of American Express gift cards. Five (5) winners will be selected at random from among all eligible surveys received. Promotion is open only to survey recipients age 18 or older who teach grades 5–8 or are the parent or legal guardian of a child in grades 5–8, who are residents of the United States (one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia), and who have reviewed the Hardest Math Problem program. See Official Rules:

Explore more free educational resources at Scholastic’s Extra Credit.