A programme to help students prepare for competitions

We believe that competitions can be a valuable experience for many young mathematicians, especially when framed in a broad context with appropriate preparation.

Many students who would benefit from our competitions, especially the British Mathematical Olympiad Rounds 1 and 2, might not be sure how to start preparing. The Olympiad Mentoring Scheme is designed to help such students, while teaching some general mathematical skills, either with support from school when appropriate or from one of our volunteer mentors.

Many of our mentors are recent olympiad participants, experienced teachers or academics, and can provide valuable guidance on developing ideas and writing mathematics clearly. Of course, one-on-one correspondence with a mentor can offer a fresh perspective on many other things. Many mentors studied or are studying mathematics at university, before pursuing a range of directions, and can offer advice and act as role models more broadly than just through competition expertise.

How does the Olympiad Mentoring Scheme work?

Each month, mentees receive a problem sheet and are encouraged to discuss their attempts at the problems and with their mentor, as well as to ask for hints or help understanding the theory. Solutions, which include background material and discussions of general methods and topics of related interest, are provided to mentors at the start of each month, and students at the end.

For the first five months of the year, the sheets aim towards BMO1 and then BMO2, guiding students through relevant theory and highlights among recent problems. The final three sheets are more topic-based, prompting students to explore slightly beyond the realm of the competition syllabus, and hopefully leaving some thought-provoking material for the summer.

The Olympiad Mentoring Scheme runs on a two-year cycle, so please do not publish the problems or solutions on the internet; see our policy on the use of intellectual property.

New for 2019-20

This Olympiad Mentoring Scheme is running for the first time in the academic year 2019-20 as a trial run with a small number of students and mentors. We hope to broaden availability from 2020-21 onwards.

Who is the Olympiad Mentoring Scheme for?

The Olympiad mentoring scheme is suitable for:

  • students who are comfortable with and enjoyed the questions on MOG or earlier questions on BMO1 and are looking to improve at harder problems;
  • students who enthusiastic to learn some extra-curricular theory which is interesting in its own right, and is sometimes useful for more advanced competitions.

Note that the Olympiad Mentoring Scheme is run separately from the main Mentoring Scheme, which has a similar structure, but a broader mathematical focus with less emphasis on competition preparation. Students are not allowed to have a volunteer mentor on both schemes simultaneously.

Advanced Olympiad Mentoring Scheme

The Advanced Olympiad Mentoring Scheme operates in a similar way to the Olympiad Mentoring Scheme and is for students working at or towards the level of international competitions, such as the International Mathematical Olympiad and European Girls' Mathematical Olympiad. Participation in the Advanced Olympiad Mentoring Scheme is by invitation.

Acknowledgements

The Olympiad Mentoring Scheme material was written by Freddie Illingworth (DPMMS, Cambridge) and Sam Bealing (Trinity College, Cambridge).

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