Singapore International Mathematical Olympiad (SIMO) Home Page



About SIMO

The pinnacle of all the mathematical competitions open to school students is the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). The first IMO was held in Brasov, Romania in July, 1959. Seven countries participated in this olympiad: Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. Each country sent a team of 8 contestants, except the Soviet Union which sent only four. The second IMO was held in the following year again in Romania. The participating countries were again from Eastern Europe. Since then the number of participating countries as well as that of contestants have increased steadily and it has become the most prestigious international mathematical competition. In recent years, there are more than 80 participating countries and regions and close to 500 contestants at each IMO.

Aim of the IMO

  • The discovering, encouraging and challenging of mathematically gifted school students;
  • the fostering of friendly international relations between students and their teachers;
  • the sharing of information on educational systems, mathematical syllabi and pedagogy throughout the world.

The Competition

Participation in the IMO is by invitation from the host country. Each participating country may send a delegation consisting of a leader, a deputy leader and six contestants. The contestants must be students under 20 years of age and who must not have studied at a tertiary institution. They have to write two examinations held in two consecutive days. Each examination consists of 3 problems and the time allowed is 4.5 hours. The problems are contributed by the participating countries. The host then compile a short list of 30 to 40 problems. The Jury, formed by the team leaders, then consider the problems and decide on the final six problems for the competition. The official versions in English, French, Spanish and Russian are then formulated and adopted. After that the team leaders will translate the problems into their own languages. All these are done in two to three days before the deputy leaders arrive with the contestants. The team leaders will meet other members of the team only after the second day of competition. The answer scripts of each team will be marked by the team leader and the deputy leader. There is a team of coordinators for each question. At an appointed time, the team leader will present the scripts of their contestants to the coordinators for assessment. The leader and the coordinators will then agree on the marks to be awarded. If there is any dispute, the matter will be settled by the Jury. At the final Jury meeting, the cut off points for the medals are decided. The guideline is that at most half of the contestants will be awarded medals. The number of gold, silver and bronze medals awarded are in the ratio 1:2:3 approximately. Contestants who have a complete solution to one problem and who have not been awarded a medal are awarded honourable mentions. At the 38th IMO in 1997, the number of gold, silver and bronze medals awarded was 39, 70 and 122 respectively.

Singapore's participation.

Singapore began to participate in 1986. The selection and training of the Singapore team is the responsibility of Singapore. International Mathematical Olympiad Committee (SIMO). Members of the committee are from the Department of Mathematics, National University of Singapore, some officials from the Ministry of Education and teachers from the Junior Colleges.

The Junior Group, Senior Group and National Team

To prepare students for these competitions, the committee runs two training courses: Junior and Senior. Students for the Junior group are selected based on the performance in round 2 of the Junior section of the Singapore Secondary School Mathematical Olympiad (SMO Junior round 2). Training is conducted in July and August each year. The senior group members are selected based on the result of round 2 of the senior section of the same competition (SMO Senior round 2). Training is conducted from January to April. The national team training group is selected based on the result of round 2 of the Open section of SMO. Finally, the six team members representating Singapore are selected based on a series of National Team Selection Tests (NTST) among the students in the national team training group held in April and May.

The National Team Selection Test (NTST) and National Team Training

As mentioned, the national team is selected through a series of National Team Selection Tests (NTST) organized by SIMO. Since these tests are used to select the final six candidates for the national team, they are comparable in difficulty to the IMO and are fashioned after the IMO. Upon selected, these six team members will continue to undergo training until they leave for the IMO in July.

Training Camp

SIMO also organizes a one-week training camp during the June school holidays for the national team as well as students in the Senior Group. The programme comprises three main parts. A typical day begins with lectures and problem solving sessions after breakfast. These will continue after lunch.In the evening campers take part in various sports activities. After dinner, there are also talks and other organized activities.

The camp provides a chance for the various groups of trainees to get together. This is also a homecoming occasion for the "x-men", a term used to describe the SIMO alumni. Through various interactions, the trainees can learn from the x-men their past experience at the IMO, national service, application of university, scholarships and so on.