Which “Mathematical Olympiad” should I begin with?

In India, Mathematical Olympiads are conducted in various formats. Almost all of them select the best students by eliminating others through multiple stages. Such competitions are either restricted to a city or to a zone, to begin with. Hence students who get eliminated in the first few rounds do not get to know what could have prevented their elimination (ie unforced errors they had committed while solving the test paper). Moreover they never get an opportunity to figure out where they stand vis-à-vis other students on a larger competitive landscape.
It is this experience that fuels a general perception amongst students and their parents that the Mathematical Olympiads are difficult and it is also different from what is being taught in schools. Hence they believe that the decision to appear in an Olympiad could be counterproductive and may severely affect their morale. With limited and/or no exposure to Mathematical Olympiad, these thoughts and general myths are natural and it influences the mindset of the students and their parents.
A realistic approach is to ask :
- Which Mathematical Olympiad should I begin with?
- Will it help me in any way?
- Will I be able to learn anything from it or will it just erode my confidence & morale?
An answer to these questions is simple…Choose ONE that motivates you to learn and discover yourself. And the one which does so is the South East Asian Mathematical Olympiad (SEAMO). SEAMO is conducted by Terry Chew Institute of Mathematical Olympiads (TCIMO) PTE LTD, Singapore. This year, SEAMO is being conducted in 13 Countries - India, Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Romania, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, USA & Vietnam.
Let us understand, how does SEAMO help?
SEAMO is not merely a competition rather it is aimed at bringing the most creative and youngest minds in a friendly competition at the highest level.
Experts at TCIMO minutely researches each & every question such that all categories of students can be assessed and not just the good students. As it is a single stage exam, there is no rejection process hence students can participate and compete without the fear of failure.
Students will be able to benchmark their performance w.r.t. others, Nationally (across 60+ cities in India) and Internationally (across 13 countries). Hence each student will get 2 ranks (National and International) – so through SEAMO they get to know their standing on a larger competitive landscape.
It provides a realistic & neutral perspective to each student on their ability & skills; aims at promoting excellence in every sphere of school learning.
It presents a common platform which assesses the problem solving ability of a student by compelling them to think deeply. Encourages students to develop Logical & Analytical Thinking ability.
In SEAMO, a student will get around 5 minutes to solve a question (total 25 questions in 120 minutes). So, it’s not a test of knowledge or speed but to check a child’s high order thinking ability & whether they can apply a learned concept while solving a problem.
A personalised report card will help a student to work on their weaknesses and improve upon them.
Based on the experience in SEAMO, a student will be able to develop a learning style for effective understanding which will eventually help in performing better in scholastic and competitive exams.
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Mathematical Olympiad – Enables Early Stage Assessment of “POTENTIAL” among school students

As a common practice, a student studying in school goes through an academic schedule and appears in scheduled tests which are scholastic and mostly non-application driven. Later on when these students are exposed to competitive exams (at the time of pursuing a career option) they find it intimidating. Fundamentally speaking, competitive exams are not difficult. Rather they are application oriented, based on learned concepts which requires high order thinking level approach while drawing up a solution approach to a problem.
In a competitive exam, a student is required to think holistically while learning a concept and ask questions like “why?” and “why not ?”. By doing so a child learns and develops the fundamental blocks to inculcate logical and analytical thinking ability. After all, the main driving force behind any academic success leading to achievement of a career goal is “learning” and off-course the various skills acquired during learning. The best way to initiate such a learning approach is to expose oneself to competitive exams at a time when they become eligible during schooling days. It has been observed that the skills required for a competitive exam can be developed quite early within a student.
Amongst all the competitive exams, undoubtedly Olympiads are the best way to begin. And out of that, Mathematical Olympiad forms the cornerstone for a long term successful career.
Why Mathematical Olympiad?
Mathematics as a subject encourages a “child to think” on the solution approach to a problem. It is the main subject which measures the Aptitude of a child in a particular field, checks Intelligence Quotient (IQ), and evaluates Mental Ability & Analytical Thinking skills. It also helps in assessing the quantum of raw potential/talent within a child which could be nurtured over a period of time. Let us look at the various other aspects:
Early Exposure to Competitive Examination Model
It enables a student to understand the examination structure, marking system, difficulty level and competitive mindset required to do well. Ideally to begin with, a student should appear in an Olympiad that does not reject students through various levels/stages. So the entire focus is on experiencing and learning from it rather than thinking about fear of failure.
Effective Learning in Every Class
A student develops an effective way of learning on “how learned concepts are applied to solve a question” thus helping in building a new perspective to question solving method.
Skill Development : Logical & Analytical Thinking & IQ
The questions asked in Mathematical Olympiad are designed in such a way that it not only tests the student’s conceptual skills but also their ability to apply them logically & analytically. Preparatory tools and methods help to develop and nurture IQ. Constant practice helps to sharpen the skills and develop the ability to solve questions.
Helps the students Stay Academically ahead of others
The learning technique and skills acquired enables a student to solve difficult and tricky questions asked in Mathematical Olympiad. As a result performance in school automatically improves and is likely that a student might move ahead of their peers in school.
Increase Problem Solving Dexterity
In a Mathematical Olympiad (rather in all competitive exams) it necessitates one to have a balance between speed and accuracy. To develop that ability a student needs to sharpen his/ her problem solving dexterity. This can only be achieved if the student prepares well and starts appearing in different competitive exams.
Profile Building
With a reasonable performance in a Mathematical Olympiad, a student could be conferred with certificates, medals and lots of recognition (even worldwide) which helps to build and strengthen their academic profile. National & International recognition through such Olympiads can help in benchmarking performances with others within and outside the country.
Confidence Building
Appearing in a Mathematical Olympiad and subsequently clearing them will boost the confidence of the students immensely. They will start believing that they can do well later in larger competitive exams like the JEE Advanced and JEE Main.
So, go ahead and experience Mathematical Olympiad and unlock your potential.
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