Game On! Math Contest Preparation Tips

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Game On! Math Contest Preparation Tips

Get your game face on!


Kicking off on Feb. 25, Spirit of Math Schools is gearing up for our annual math contests for students in Grades 1-4. Through a series of problem solving questions, our contests give students a chance to put their skills on display, take home a medal, and get their name listed on the Spirit of Math national honour roll!


Held throughout the world, math contests and competitions give students of all ages the opportunity to prepare, apply and showcase their knowledge on a grand stage. From our contests here at Spirit of Math to the renowned International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), be sure you’re ready to tackle any contest or competition with these handy tips.


Practice Makes Perfect 

What better way to practice for a math contest then to answer some real-life competition questions? The IMO is regarded as the world championship of mathematics competition for high-school students. The competition’s archive contains questions and solutions to every IMO event that’s taken place from 1959 to present. Get your friends together and hold your very own contest at home to get you prepped for the real thing!


For younger contest hopefuls, Grade 3 students are invited to take on the Thales Contest held by Mathematica. Since 1990, more than 1,000,000 students from across Canada and the United States have competed in Mathematica contests, which are held annually at different Spirit of Math Schools campuses. Prepare for the Spirit of Math contest by taking the Thales prep test here, and see how you did by checking out the solutions here. Many math competitions and contests make their results available online. Stay sharp and simulate the contest experience by trying out questions from different competitions on your own.


Practicing a specific contest helps you to understand the expectations of the contest and how to succeed. For example, some contests have only multiple choice answers but there are some contests that require to write the full solution or to write the final answer. The approach to tackle these different contests can be different.


Treat it like a Sport

Toronto Raptors guard Demar DeRozan probably isn’t eating junk food and staying up late the night before a big game! Competing in a math contest should be no different. The night before the big day, prepare your supplies, get to bed early and eat a hearty breakfast in the morning.  When it’s time to write the contest, remember these handy tips:

  • If you have trouble with a problem, do not be afraid to skip it. Make sure you note that you have not done this problem so you can come back to it later.
  • Read each question slowly and carefully. Don’t be afraid to spend a few extra seconds to read the question in detail, especially, if you see a “long” question. It does not mean that this question is a difficult one just because of the length.
  • If the contest includes a separate response form, make sure you give yourself enough time to fill in your answers before the time runs out.
  • If you finish the contest early, go back and check your answers. The best way to check your answer without making the same mistakes is to cover your original answer/solution so that you are not following the same thinking.

Get Motivated!

See how far participating in a math competition can take you! At our Spirit of Math contests, medals are awarded for 1st place in each grade and a certificate of distinction is given to all students who achieve honour roll status. Our contests are a great way for younger students to prepare for tougher competitions down the road, in which valuable scholarships are on the line. Take the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) contest for example. Held by the University of Waterloo, these various contests are open to students in Grades 7-12 and are written through their day-school. Students who write the Euclid Contest are eligible for scholarship consideration for U of W’s Faculty of Mathematics. Keep scholarships and other accolades in mind to motive yourself to stick with it and do your best!


How do you get ready for the Spirit of Math contests? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!



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