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Math Olympiad

Dos and Donts

Questions & Concerns

Not sure how to prepare for Olympiad.
My daughter practiced all questions from
textbook. Still did not do well in Olympiad.
IMO follows same curriculum, still
Olympiad questions looks so different.

Olympiad : What is different?

Mixing of skills
Higher grade questions
Questions intentionally created to confuse

Mixing of skills
Tap A, which has a circular opening of 1 cm radius, fills a tank in 40
minute. There is another tap which has an circular opening of 2 cm
radius. If both taps are opened together find the time taken to fill
the tank.

Hard for a middle grade student

If you observe carefully it has following parts
Find the time taken by second tap to fill the tank
Required skill : Area of circle, concept of proportions

Given the two times, find total time when both are
Required skill : Inverse proportions

Higher grade questions

Find the area

This may be asked in a grade where

You are taught only the area of rectangles
Area of such complex shapes is not covered

But if you think (or have seen such questions during practice)
Are of shape = Area of rectangle + Area of triangle
Area of triangle = Area of rectangle

Even if the skill used in the question looks unknown

Can still solve it using a known skill + common sense

Of-course it is easier said than done.

It is important to practice as many questions as you can.

Confusing questions
Sulekha has 8 pair of red socks and 8 pair of purple socks. All the
socks are in a bag, if Sulekha picks the socks without looking at
them, how many socks she has to remove from the bag before she
can be sure that she has a pair of a single color ?

Kids have a tendency to think,

To find answer, all the numbers given in question need to
be used somehow (It may sound odd but studies show that
this is true).

The answer is three,

In three socks you are guaranteed to have two socks of
same color
Many kids answer as 17

Point here is to remain focused on the question and

not to get confused.

Structured Learning
Understand the difference between topic
and skills
Example skills for Quadratic equations
solve quadratic equations using factorization
conditions for unique/real solution to exist
Representing real life problems using Quadratic
Application in word problems

Regular Exam




Regular exam (application of concepts)



~500 type of questions per grade











Application of mixed concepts

Extended concepts (existing + common-sense)
Confusing elements
>50,000 type of questions per grade

What to do : Before Exam

Identify all the skills of a topic
Make sure to understand all of them.

Understand the concept of skills

Use theory from NCERT books
If doubt, consult with your teacher or you can also ask
experts in some online forum (e.g. Edugain Q&A).

Practice as much as you can.

Regular books may not provide variety of questions.
Consider using online resources (e.g. to practice unlimited variety of

What to do : During Exam

Do not panic and read the complete question carefully.
Important for exam like Olympiad where questions are confusing
It is ok to spend some extra seconds to understand the question
Rather than doing it incorrectly and again spending extra time, when
your answer does not matches any of the given choices.

If question looks tough, try to break the problem into parts.

However hard the question might look, it is almost sure
that all the skills used in the question are taught you in
your class.
You just need to identify and apply the correct skill.
You may have to apply combination of skills.
Sometime you may have to extend the concepts

What to do : After exam

Relax and stop worrying about how you

Dont think too much about the silly mistakes

that you might have made.
Everyone make them so no need to loose your
sleep over it.

Take break for couple of days, and start

preparing for next year exam.

Remember practice is the key, so practice as

much as you can.

Thank you