How we choose Teaching Assistants


We consider many factors

Many parents and students inquire about Teaching Assistant positions and every year, we have many aspiring TA's. There are many factors involved, and we take a holistic approach to how we select them.

Math contests

At a minimum, the student must have scored at least 90th percentile on the Math Olympiads
contests in Division E (to TA that division) or Division M (to TA that division). Students who surpass 90th
percentile in both divisions are the strongest candidates because they can TA both sections, allowing us -- and
themselves -- maximum flexibility and teaching opportunities.

Homework and general work habits

Even more important than contest performance is homework quality. The most important role
of a Teaching Assistant is the thoughtful, careful correction of homework submitted by students. If a student is
a wizard at math but does not turn in homework consistently or finishes homework in a haphazard way, they will
not be considered for the position. We are looking for students whose homework quality is not merely good, but

Strong TA candidates understand the importance of the process: listening during discussions,
taking excellent notes when problems are explained, and completing homework problems using the methods
taught in class. We rely heavily on the opinions of our current Teaching Assistants to provide insight on all candidates we
are considering, particularly when it comes to their work habits.


Ideally, a TA will have completed at least two years of Division E and two years of Division
M. High school students are preferable to students who have not yet graduated from middle school. In rare
cases, we can allow an extremely qualified student to TA before high school, but our strong preference is for
current high school students.

Focus and maturity

TA's must be able to assist with keeping students on task during class. To do this, their own
personal focus must be sharp.

Students look to their TA as a role model. TA's must illustrate a maturity beyond their years so
that they can successfully assist a student when challenges arise.

Ability to work with other students

The best Teaching Assistants can provide guidance to a broad range of
students: new and experienced, elementary and middle school, boys and girls, meticulous and sloppy, excited
and in need of motivation. The common denominator in all cases is that the TA is willing to meet the student
where they are and encourage them to achieve their maximum potential regardless of math ability. Because the
TA is the most important building block to an individual student's success, we select candidates with great care to
ensure they can work with any type of student.


Parents may have noticed – and students certainly have noticed – that our instructors have an energetic teaching style which keeps our students on their toes and makes class time fly by. Students really like it this way. That said, it is important for students to have another advocate in the classroom who can be calm and reassuring. Our TA's often fit this personality trait nicely. Every TA has their unique personality that makes them exceptional fits for the classroom. It does not matter if the candidate is an introvert or an extrovert; what matters is that they are positive and have a good attitude.


Math Olympiads is not a class: it is an experience. We don't do things the way everyone else does.
We play games, act out math problems, bake brownies during class, and organize special events. TA's
understand intuitively that math is much more FUN when everyone is enjoying themselves, and we expect them
to exhibit this same spirit during class as well as on homework corrections.

One last note...

Finally, we should point out that students do not apply for the position: they are selected based on their years of
performance in the classroom. We keep our eyes open for excellent candidates from the moment a student walks
into the classroom.

It is a rare combination of outstanding skills that prompts us to consider a candidate for a TA-ship. There are
many more interested students than positions available. It is the highest honor we can bestow on a student: the
practical experience gained is invaluable, and sets them up very favorably for college and real life.