What is the general philosophy behind these exams?

Writing an admissions examination is a different matter than writing a test at school. Here we are attempting to measure typically a very able group of students. If many students were to get close to 100%, for example, it would produce a result that is meaningless. How would we decide which student’s 100% is more impressive?

Rather, we create a test that is in sum much harder than a standard school test that will ‘challenge’ even the best applicants. This then gives us a much better sense of the preparation and abilities of the applicant pool. Given the acceleration in mathematics that occurs in the TOPS program, it is essential that we make a fairly rigorous evaluation of a candidate’s mathematical literacy. Candidates whose current preparation is advanced (either in competence or content) for their grade will be thus rewarded.

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