Though the Math olympiad might be seen as a daunting test, it’s quite easy to crack it with the right tools and a properly constructed plan. In this article, we discuss a few tips to follow to prepare ourselves for the exam. Be very thorough with the current class syllabus, as 60% of the questions will be asked from the current syllabus, and 40% from the previous class syllabus, i.e, 60% of questions from class 7 and 40% from class. Apart from the school syllabus, get yourselves used to the IMO syllabus as well. Attempt a lot of the SOF IMO practice tests available on the internet for free. These give you a fair idea about the type of questions asked. Make yourselves a schedule surrounding the time allocated for school studies, and stick to it consistently. Avoid overstraining yourself with constant study pressure. Take short breaks when needed. Studying for short periods consistently is better than pushing yourself hard for a long time.
Be strong with Geometry, Fractions and decimals, integers, exponents perimeters and area, basic linear equations, simple algebra, and so on. The more practice you do, the easier it would be for you to solve the problems efficiently and quickly, saving you valuable time in the exam. Simulate an exam environment at your house while attempting practice tests, with all the elements of the main examination starting from the time limit, ambiance, and no external help.
Practice time management. Distribute the time given for each portion of the exam based on its difficulty level, approximate time taken for completion, and points provided. Prioritize the higher scoring portions of the examination first, and finish the parts that are easier for you beforehand, leaving you with more time for the complex parts of the exam. Practice math puzzles and mathematical aptitude tests in your free time, which provide you with an additional edge in the exam. Utilize the SOF IMO workbooks to your advantage and revise the workbooks when completed. Start preparing for the examination well ahead of the exam date, as you’ll be able to study at a comfortable pace and cover much more ground, compared to last-minute preparations. Work the sums in your school syllabus often, as it is the basis for the Olympiad. Use the math Olympiad as a platform for improving your mathematical skills, rather than thinking of it as just an exam.
Once you have completed the workbook for your grade and are confident with the syllabus, try attempting small portions of the next grade syllabus. (If you’re attempting the 7th-grade olympiad, try working out sums from the 8th-grade syllabus after completion of the 7th-grade syllabus. Insert 2-3 critical thinking questions per study session to enhance your problem-solving ability. This can go a long way concerning your answering abilities. Get strong with your basic arithmetics (Addition, subtraction, division, multiplication), as this will reduce the time spent on a rough calculation, ultimately allowing you to perform faster in the exam. Do not force yourself to study concepts that you don’t understand at the last minute. As math can be a subject that requires lots of work from your mind, make sure you’re getting lots of fresh air and exercise to keep your mind healthy and fresh. Prioritize proper rest and nutrition to ensure that you’re fully functional every day, as you can’t put in your best efforts if you aren’t feeling your best too. Apart from the sums given in the reader of your current syllabus, try working out sums of the same concept with different values. You can find these online, or change the values yourself. Get yourself thorough with the important formulae used through constant repetition.
If studying math becomes too monotonous at one point for you, try applying mathematics to real-world problems. This can change your perspective of math as a subject and will also keep you consistent with your studies. Do not try to cram too much of portions into one day, as it is not a sustainable method to study or even understand the concepts. NEVER compare with your friends the amount of portion covered, as there is a chance you might get discouraged if they have covered more than you. On the day before the examination, make sure you have all the necessary materials required (HB pencil, ballpoint pen, eraser, filled water bottle, and so on). This will make sure you get ready comfortably on exam day without any urgency and frantic last-minute searching.
Do a final revision on the day before the main exam. Go over the sums in the syllabus concerning again, write a practice exam, and go over your workbook. If you need to go over any problems once more, solve them PHYSICALLY on paper, rather than looking at the solution provided.
During the day of the exam, avoid any last-minute studies. Acknowledge whatever you have studied so far, and get ready comfortably for the exam without haste. You can also refer to IMO Sample Papers for Class 7. Have a wholesome and nutritious breakfast, as this will be your fuel for the examination. A proper and healthy breakfast will ensure that you have enough energy to feed your brain and body throughout the examination. When given the question booklet, skim through the whole booklet for 5-10 mins (or the time provided accordingly), and have a rough plan on how to divide your time for each segment of the exam. Take a mental note of which questions are easy for you. Finishing the easy questions earlier on will set you up for a more successful examination as it provides confidence.
Organize the rough paper sheets by drawing the margins and writing formulae for reference during the exam. Take sips of water now and then to avoid dehydration, this will keep your mind fresh and active. If you’re unable to solve certain questions completely but know the steps to them, just write the steps on rough paper. When you’ve completed all the other questions, come back to the incomplete question, and have another go at it with reference to the pre-written steps. Don’t spend loads of time on problems you find very difficult, as it would take away your time to solve the sums you are confident with.
Always allow a reasonable period for the “Achievers section” of the exam, as it is worth more marks than the rest of the segments. The marks secured in the Achievers section can often be a make-or-break element in the overall standings of the exam. Good Luck!