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UMTYMP Test Tips for Parents and Students

UMTYMP is a math program in MinnesotaThe University of Minnesota Talented Youth Math Program (UMTYMP) is one of the most coveted programs for Minnesota kids who are interested in math and parents who really, really want their kids to be good at math. UMTYMP has a notoriously difficult entrance exam, and the better prepared your kid is, the better chance they have to pass.

The UMTYMP test has an odd format. There are two columns, A and B. Every question on the test is simply a test of which is greater. The answers also include C, which indicates that A and B are equal, or D, which is the “not enough information” answer.

So, if I said:

A=The number of pencils I sent with my kid
B=The number of pencils he returned with

Then your answer would obviously be B. They say to show up with two pencils. He had those, plus an extra backup pencil. Right before he went in, we asked where they were, and he couldn’t find them. They were in his pocket, but, hey, I didn’t know that at the time. I gave him three more pencils.

He came back with SEVEN PENCILS.

Easy, right? Well, apparently they can write some pretty tricky questions in this simple format. Here are some tips to help your kid succeed.

UMTYMP Tips for Parents

  1. Acknowledge right now that your child is probably smarter than you. Look, maybe the kid doesn’t know as many THINGS, but that’s not really a measure of intelligence. She can pick up new information way faster than your old brain and you’re just going to have to live with that.
  2. In the UMTYMP test, points are scored for successful answers, but nothing is taken away for wrong answers. Therefore GUESSES ARE GOOD. Practice by asking your kid impossible questions and praise them for giving up quickly and guessing.
  3. Teach your kid what an absolute value symbol looks like. Hard to get those right if you’ve never seen |-5|. Bombard her with every math symbol you can think of in the week preceding the exam.
  4. Don’t let your kid see how freaked out you are about this test. Kids can sense fear. Don’t worry, though. They can only see movement, so if you think they’re on to you, just hold perfectly still.
  5. If your kid fails the test, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean she’s stupid. She’s probably just smart enough to have figured out that passing the test means more homework. Also, taking the test multiple times is allowed (even encouraged).

UMTYMP Tips for Students

  1. The test is only 25 minutes. During this time, NEVER STOP WORKING. Go back and check your work, over and over again if you need to.
  2. Even if you fail horribly, YOUR PARENT STILL LOVES YOU. Probably. I mean, I guess I don’t know your specific situation. But, you know. Probably.
  3. This test is packed with trickery. Their goal is to BOG YOU DOWN IN CRAP MATH so that only the kids who figure out shortcuts are allowed to pass. So:
    A=(456 * 1240 * 85) + 934543
    B=(756 * 9421 * 0 * 45) + 7
    You know the answer is A because you are clever and noticed that anything times 0 is 0. Those chumps stuck working all that multiplication for A are going to waste their time and possibly fail to complete the test.
  4. COMPLETE THE TEST. Really. Go quickly through it. If you hit a problem that seems like a TON of work, just guess. Come back to it later. It helps to write down a list of hard questions so that they’re easy to find.
  5. If you tried your best on this test, YOU DESERVE ICE CREAM. Don’t let anyone cheat you out of that. This is a big deal.

That’s all I have for you. Good luck on the test.

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UPDATE: My son got into the UMTYMP program. I’m excited to get him something of a challenge in school and he’s excited to get that extra study hall every day. We’ll see how this works out. I think the keys to him passing were the work we did on pacing and some general terminology review. The sample tests found online were also very helpful, mostly because I could give him small timed tests and work on his technique for getting every question answered.

UPDATE: I used to have more videos and links here, but they’ve all moved and I can’t keep up. I find Googling ‘UMTYMP Practice Test’ sometimes gets good results, but those tend to disappear pretty quickly, so I’m not going to link them again. Good luck.

UPDATE: My kid is doing well in Geometry, somehow figuring out how to do those awful proofs. This is officially a math that I didn’t master, so he’s making good use of the homework help sessions. I don’t know if he’ll continue on to Calculus, but UMTYMP has provided a great challenge for him.

Update (07/20/2021): It’s been a while, so I wanted to post an update. My first son ended up dropping out of Calculus (it wasn’t the math that was hard, but the writing requirements of the assignments). Even though he’s not completing the whole thing, the program has definitely been worth it. He finished high school math before starting high school, freeing up time to work on other skills and just have a little bit more space during the day. My second son started UMTYMP and struggled due to the virtual classes during Covid. He’ll continue, and probably see better results with in-person classes. As before, I’m a huge fan of this program. It’s doing wonderful things for our kids and for certain children this kind of challenge can really make them thrive.

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Atomic Robo RPG

One of them was a traveling computer programmer specialized in dino video games. The other was a geologist who thinks he’s unlucky. They’re Action Scientists and just started jobs at Tesladyne. They faced off against genetically engineered miniature dinosaurs and eventually Dr. Dinosaur himself.

The best thing about the Atomic Robo Role Playing Game is that it encourages storytelling and creativity from everybody at the table. When I ran a game with my two boys they got to go crazy with the details of their characters, the scenario, and even the ultimate solution to the little mystery. It was great fun and I’m really looking forward to playing again. Continue reading Atomic Robo RPG

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Calvin and Hobbes

Isaac has decided our Halloween costumes already.

It started when he picked up his first Calvin and Hobbes book.  He loved it.  This crazy kid has all sorts of crazy stuff happen and then he gets in trouble and stuff?

It’s good stuff.

He also made the connection that he is a blonde kid, who sometimes has spiky hair.

Isaac wants to be Calvin.

Of course, this means he needs a Hobbes.

This leads to the logical conclusion.  We talked about it, we considered all of the options.  We made a decision.

Gabe is going to be…


This could get interesting.

It gets better, though.

There needs to be a Dad.  He’s a major player in the comic in general.  Dad is the guy who does all the yelling and rides his bike and things like that.

So it was decided.  I’m not sure how.

Isaac knows how it’s going to be.

He wants me to be….

Susie Derkins.

It’s early, still.  Halloween decisions are mutable until the day itself.

I don’t know who Carol is supposed to be.

I suppose we still need a Hobbes.

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Holding Pattern

Carol and I had another appointment with our midwife this morning. We got to experience a Non-Stress Test, which basically involves Carol sitting in a comfortable chair for half of an hour. Monitors told us that Tony, Son of Tony’s heartbeat is normal and that he is reacting appropriately to contractions. His heartrate increases a bit, showing that he has plenty of oxygen. Also, Carol’s blood pressure has come down, showing that she is responding appropriately to Bed Rest. Even after attending two parties this weekend her stress levels have dropped considerably. She so far is having no trouble with the prescribed treatments.

The next appointment will be Friday morning. We are expected to go in twice a week now.

One benefit to the Non-Stress Test is that they do an ultrasound. We haven’t had one of these since week 18 or so. Back then I remember I could see a head, face, hands, liver, and various other recognizable body parts. It was very exciting. This time was also exciting, but he’s kinda big for the whole baby shot.

Img:  A blurry ultrasound

Is that.. a foot?

Img:  Carol Resting

Proof that she takes her Bed Rest seriously

Img:  Jenny and Carol

Proof that she still gets to have fun

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Fred Ate the Baby

That’s right, Fred’s gone and done it. The hunger cravings have taken control. He finally snapped and.. wait.. the baby hasn’t been born yet.. Fred actually ate the substitute baby.

See, as a joke when I set up the carseat in Carol’s car I went through the trouble of strapping in a bag of flour. I figure, hey, we’ll have that there until the real baby shows up and then maybe we’ll bake some bread. Well, last week Carol decided to take Fredly to her parent’s house. He seemed to be well behaved, until she happened to glance in the back seat do discover that Oh My Gosh Fred Was Eating the Baby!

Fred With Flour on his Face

Does he look guilty to you?

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The Shower

This past weekend our friends were kind enough to throw us a Baby Celebration. This was very similar to a Baby Shower, but didn’t have any silly games and was actually a lot of fun. It was really great to get all of our friends together for a party. It’s been far too long.

People gave us all sorts of wonderful gifts, a dragon’s hoard of toys for Tony, Son of Tony. A train set, building block, leggos, and plastic keychain shaped nylabones were among the favorites. There were also more practical gifts, which Tony, Son of Tony may not appreciate, but that Tony, Father of Tony, Son of Tony will defintely use.

Of course, then there were the other presents like the bottle of wine for Son of Tony’s 21st birthday and God of War. The wine I’ll be sure to keep stored for 21 years, but I don’t think God of War can wait until he’s old enough to play it. Maybe I’ll write more about that one once I’ve had some time to clock some real video game hours against it. Preliminary experiments indicate high levels of both violence and fun, so I’m looking forward to the Video Game Weekend coming up.

We got to play Kube. I don’t know if I spelled that correctly. It’s a Swedish lawn game. It involves throwing sticks to knock down wooden blocks. It really is a lot of fun. My team lost, but we put up a pretty good fight.

Thanks to Mike and Kim for throwing the party. I hope that Carol and I can return the favor sometime soon. Next year maybe? Eh?

Yeah, so I took a few pictures. I didn’t really get a shot of the whole crowd, but trust me, there were a lot of people there.

Img:  The Aftermath of Kube

Wrath of Kube

Img:  Lots of Loot


Img:  The Happy Couple

The Two Who Shall Soon Be Three