PRIMES-USA: How to Apply
This page provides instructions for applying to PRIMES-USA, a nationwide research program for high school juniors and sophomores living outside Greater Boston. To apply to MIT PRIMES, a research program for students living within driving distance from Boston, see How to Apply to MIT PRIMES. To apply to PRIMES Circle, a math enrichment program for local students from urban public high schools, see How to Apply to PRIMES Circle page.
PRIMES-USA opened applications for the 2022 cycle on September 30, 2022. The applications and letters of recommendation must be received by 11:59 pm EST on November 30, 2022. Admission decisions will be made by early January 2023. Download PRIMES-USA flyer
High school juniors and sophomores (including home schooled) residing in the United States are eligible, if they live no closer than 50 miles from Boston. Starting this year, PRIMES-USA will accept a small number of exceptionally well prepared sophomores who will work on group projects. Students residing within driving distance from Boston should apply to the MIT section of PRIMES.
It is not required but preferable that the applicant meets one of these criteria:
- USAMO or USAJMO qualifier;
- grade A for a college-level proof-based math course (online courses included);
- participation in Canada/USA MathCamp, AwesomeMath, HCSSiM, MathILy, PROMYS, Ross Program, or SUMaC with a letter of recommendation from a counselor;
- a letter of recommendation from a college professor of mathematics.
Your application process includes four steps:
1. Open your application
Open your application online. Start by filling out your profile and background questions and naming your recommenders. The system will automatically send them requests for letters of recommendation. Do this as early as possible to give them ample time to submit the letters.
2. Ask for letters of recommendation
Ask for two to three letters of recommendation from people who know you well, preferably from those familiar with advanced mathematics, such as math teachers, counselors at math camps, or college professors.
3. Solve the entrance problem set
Solve the PRIMES 2023 Math Problem Set, including both General and Advanced Math problems. We encourage you to apply if you can solve at least 50% of the problems.
It is strongly recommended to write the solutions using LaTeX.
Upload your solutions. The name of the file must start with your last name, for example, "smith-math-solutions"
You are allowed to use any resources to solve these problems, except other people's help. This means that you can use calculators, computers, books, and the Internet. However, if you consult books or Internet sites, please give us a reference.
WARNING: Posting these problems on problem-solving websites is strictly forbidden. Applicants who do so will be disqualified, and their parents and recommenders will be notified.
In fairness to all applicants, we ask general public not to post these problems until January 1, 2023, and to notify us of any violation of these rules.
4. Complete your application
Fill out all remaining parts of the application and add a personal statement. In a free-format statement (1-2 pages), discuss some of your most memorable/enjoyable math experiences. What type of problems do you like to work on? Explain why you want to participate in PRIMES, what makes you a good candidate, and what are your plans for the future. Feel free to provide any additional information you think might help us get to know you better as a young mathematician. Make sure to submit your application well ahead of the deadline to avoid any last-minute technical glitches.
The deadline for applications and letters of recommendation is 11:59 pm EST on November 30, 2022.
The admission decision will be based on the consideration of all components of your application. Admission decisions will be made by early January 2022.
If you are admitted, you will be asked to provide a written permission from your parent/guardian to participate in PRIMES-USA.
There is no application fee.
We suggest a list of recommended readings as a preparation for entering PRIMES-USA and as a background for further research. You may find it useful to consult previous years' problem sets and solutions:
- 2013 problems and solutions
- 2014 problems and solutions
- 2015 problems and solutions
- 2016 problems and solutions
- 2017 problems and solutions Note: See the summary of student answers to the 2017 open-ended question. That problem gave rise to the 2017 CrowdMath project
- 2018 problems and solutions
- 2019 problems and solutions
- 2020 problems and solutions
- 2021 problems and solutions
- 2022 problems and solutions
Why It Makes No Sense to Cheat
PRIMES expects its participants to adhere to MIT rules and standards for honesty and integrity in academic studies. As a result, any cases of plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, cheating, or facilitating academic dishonesty during the application process or during the work at PRIMES may result in immediate disqualification from the program, at the sole discretion of PRIMES. In addition, PRIMES reserves the right to notify a participant's parents, schools, and/or recommenders in the event it determines that a participant did not adhere to these expectations. For explanation of these expectations, see What is Academic Integrity?
Moreover, even if someone gets into PRIMES by cheating, it would immediately become apparent that their background is weaker than expected, and they are not ready for research. This would prompt an additional investigation with serious consequences. By trying to get into PRIMES by cheating, students run very serious risks of exposing their weak background and damaging their college admissions prospects.
With questions, contact PRIMES Admissions Assistant André Dixon at email@example.com