University Of Otago Junior Maths Competition

This mathematics competition is for students in years 9 to 11 (forms 3 to 5), although younger students may also take part. Every student throughout New Zealand sits the competition on exactly the same day, usually a Wednesday in late March or early April.

The competition lasts for one hour and in this time students answer up to six questions. The emphasis is on problem solving, so expect surprises!

Mathematical skills are important, but so is careful reading. Students who read the questions carefully and work out exactly what is being asked generally do better than those who jump in and write down the first thing that springs to mind.

Although many of the same questions are asked for each year level, students only compete against students at the same level as themselves. (However students in years 7 or 8 are regarded as being in year 9 for the purposes of the competition.)

Full details of the competition may be found here, with a note on who can enter here.

Note: This competition should not be confused with Problem Challenge, which is run by a separate unit within the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Otago. For Problem Challenge enquires please contact the Problem Challenge organisers directly.

Competition Date

The competition day for 2020 is a Wednesday in early May (actual date pending).

If possible, all students at a school should sit the competition concurrently.

Should a school fail to organise the competition until a later day (it happens!) then the students from that school may still be eligible for Merit Certificates (and above), but not for monetary prizes.

Other Important Dates

Information on How to Enter

Information on how to enter will be emailed to every secondary school in the country during late January or early February.

Entry Dead-Line (for 2020)

Digital entries should be in by Thursday April 30. Entries should be submitted on-line as soon as possible.

Late entries are virtually impossible to cater for.

Return of Papers to the Organisers (2020)

Time is of the essence. Grading for the competition begins during the University mid-semester break. We cannot guarantee grading if papers have not arrived by Friday May 29.

Announcement of Results

Results should be available by early August. Unfortunately this cannot be guaranteed as accurate lists of student names are needed from every school before results can be finalised. (It often takes twice as long to obtain correct names from some schools as it does to mark the actual papers. Every year at least one student seems to miss out on a prize because the school did not send in the name and the student didn’t write their name onto the Answer Booklet.)

Prize Winners

Prizes and Prize Certificates will be sent out to schools along with the official results. This should happen some time during Semester Three.

Competition Rules

The following rules and instructions appeared on the front page of the Competition Question Booklet for 2018.

General rules

  • The time allowed is one hour.

There are eight questions. All students answer six questions.

Years 9 and below answer Questions 1 to 6.

Year 10 students answer Questions 2 to 7.

Year 11 students answer Questions 3 to 8.

You may attempt other questions if you like but they will not be marked.

The questions are designed to test ability to analyse a problem and to express a solution clearly and accurately.

Instructions to candidates

  1. Do as much as you can. You are not expected to complete the entire paper. In the past, full answers to three full (20 mark) questions have represented an excellent effort.
  2. You must explain your reasoning as clearly as possible, with a careful statement of the main points in the argument or the main steps in the calculation. Generally, even a correct answer without any explanation will not receive more than half credit. Likewise, clear and complete solutions to two problems will generally gain more credit than sketchy work on four.
  3. Credit will be given for partial solutions and evidence of a serious attempt to tackle a problem.
  4. Textbooks are NOT allowed. Calculators may be used and students who do not have one may be disadvantaged. Otherwise normal examination conditions apply.
  5. Diagrams are a guide only and are not necessarily drawn to scale.
  6. We recommend black or blue pens. Dark pencil is acceptable if you have nothing else. Do NOT use red or green pens, or light pencil that we cannot read.
  7. We will penalise inappropriate rounding and incorrect or absent units.

Notes for Teachers

  • If there are Form 2 (Year 8) or Form 1 (Year 7) students sitting the competition, please tell them that they are allowed to attempt Question 1. In past years some younger students did not attempt this question because they thought it was for Year 9 only.
  • Students should read the instructions on the cover of the competition paper very carefully. (Teachers may wish to read them aloud before the competition.)
  • Students should take particular note of item (2). It is quite distressing, but necessary, to penalise students for sloppy or inaccurate presentation. Teachers should stress that Answers Only receive little credit, even if they are correct. This is especially important in logic questions where it is possible to score less than 50% for correct answers which don’t have any working or explanation.
  • Note that item (4) has changed recently — calculators are now a more integral part of the curriculum.
  • Item (6) was added in 2013. The use of red and/or green pens makes grading papers more difficult, especially since the top papers are re-marked. Light pencil can be illegible, and can cost the pupil in question valuable marks.
  • Item (7) was added in 2014. This is an attempt to stop ridiculous rounding (stating an area quoted in square metres to 9 decimal places, for instance), and to encourage units to be written where necessary.