United Kingdom Mathematics Trust

United Kingdom Mathematics Trust

The United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT) was founded in 1996 to help with the education of children in mathematics within the UK.



The national mathematics competitions existed prior to the formation of the UKMT, but the foundation of the UKMT in the summer of 1996 enabled them to be run collectively. The Senior Mathematical Challenge was formerly the National Mathematics Contest. Founded in 1961, it was run by the Mathematical Association from 1975 until its adoption by the UKMT in 1996. The Junior and Intermediate Mathematical Challenges were the initiative of Dr Tony Gardiner in 1987 and were run by him under the name of the United Kingdom Mathematics Foundation until 1996. The popularity of the UK national mathematics competitions is largely due to the publicising efforts of Dr Gardiner in the years 1987-1995. Hence, in 1995, he advertised for the formation of a committee and for a host institution that would lead to the establishment of the UKMT, enabling the challenges to be run effectively together under one organisation.

Mathematical Challenges

The UKMT run a series of mathematics challenges to encourage children's interest in mathematics and develop their skills:

  • Junior Mathematical Challenge (UK year 8/S2 and below)
  • Intermediate Mathematical Challenge (UK year 11/S4 and below)
  • Senior Mathematical Challenge (UK year 13/S6 and below)


The top scoring 40% of the entrants receive bronze, silver or gold certificates based on their mark in the paper.

  • The Gold award is achieved by the top 6-7% of the entrants.
  • The Silver award is achieved by 13-14% of the entrants.
  • The Bronze award is achieved by 21% of the entrants.

Junior Mathematical Challenge

The Junior Mathematical Challenge (JMC) is an introductory challenge for pupils in Years 8 (aged 13) or below. This takes the form of twenty-five multiple choice questions to be sat in exam conditions, to be completed within one hour. The paper is divided into two sections. The first fifteen questions are designed to be easier, and a pupil will gain 5 marks for getting a question in this section correct. The last ten questions are more difficult, and are worth 6 marks, but a penalty of 1 or 2 points for a wrong answer tries to prevent pupils guessing.

Q1 - 15 5marks (-0 if incorrect) Q16- 20 6marks (-1 if incorrect) Q21-25 6marks (-2 if incorrect).

Junior Mathematical Olympiad

The top 40% of students get a certificate of varying levels (Gold, Silver or Bronze) based on their score. The highest scorers are also invited to take part in the Junior Mathematical Olympiad (JMO). This is also divided into two sections. Part A is composed of ten questions in which the candidate gives just the answer (not multiple choice), worth 10 marks (each question 1 mark). Part B consists of 6 questions and encourages students to write out full solutions. Each B question is marked out of 10 and students are encouraged to write complete answers to 2-4 questions rather than hurry through incomplete answers to all 6. If the solution is judged to be incomplete, it is marked on a 0+ basis, maximum 3 marks. If it has an evident logical strategy, it is marked on a 10- basis. The total mark is out of 70. Everyone who participates in this challenge will gain a certificate (Participation 75%, Distinction 25%); the top 200 or so gaining medals (Gold, Silver, Bronze); with the top fifty winning a book prize.

Intermediate Mathematical Challenge

The Intermediate Mathematical Challenge (IMC) is aimed at school years equivalent to English Years 9-11. Following the same structure as the JMC, this paper presents the student with twenty-five multiple choice questions, divided into two sections. The first 15 questions carry 5 marks for a correct solution. The second 10 questions carry 6 marks, but a penalty for incorrect answers of either 1 or 2 marks.

Again, the top 40% of students taking this challenge get a certificate. There are two follow-on rounds to this competition: The European Kangaroo and the Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad.

European Kangaroo

The European Kangaroo is a competition which follows the same structure as the AMC (Australian Mathematics Competition). There are twenty-five multiple questions and no penalty marking. This paper is taken throughout Europe by over 3 million pupils from more than 37 countries.

Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad

To prevent this getting confused with International Mathematical Olympiad, this is often abbreviated to the IMOK Olympiad (IMOK = Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad and Kangaroo).

The IMOK consists of three papers,'Cayley', 'Maclaurin' and 'Hamilton' named after famous mathematicians. The paper the student will undertake depends on the year group that student is in. Each paper contains six questions. Each solution is marked out of 10 on a 0+ and 10- scale; that is to say, if an answer is judged incomplete or unfinished, it is awarded a few marks for progress and relevant observations, whereas if it is presented as complete and correct, marks are deducted for faults, poor reasoning, or unproven assumptions. As a result, it is quite uncommon for an answer to score a middling mark (e.g. 4–6). This makes the maximum mark out of 60. For a student to get two questions fully correct is considered "very good". All people taking part in this challenge will get a certificate, either of Participation, Merit or Distinction. The mark boundaries for these certificates change every year, but normally around 30 marks will gain a Distinction. Those scoring highly (the top 50) will gain a book prize; again, this changes every year, with 44 marks required in the Maclaurin paper in 2006. Also, the top 100 candidates will receive a medal; Bronze for Cayley, Silver for Hamilton and Gold for Maclaurin.

In addition to the book prize, each year approximately two x forty students are chosen to go to The Queen's College, Edgbaston for a National Mathematics Summer School in July (two separate summer schools each of 1 week). At this summer school the students are stretched, with daily lectures going beyond the normal GCSE syllabus and exploring some of the wider (and more appealing) aspects of mathematics.

Senior Mathematical Challenge

The Senior Mathematical Challenge (SMC) is open to students who are in Year 13 (aged 18) or below. The paper has twenty-five multiple choice questions. A correct answer is worth 4 marks, while 1 mark is deducted from a starting total of 25 for an incorrect answer. This gives a score between 0 and 125 marks.

As for the JMC and IMC, the top 40% get a certificate, and the 800 (approx.) highest scorers are invited to compete in the British Mathematical Olympiad. Mathematics teachers may also, on payment of a fee, enter students who did not score quite well enough in the SMC, but who might cope well in the next round.

British Mathematical Olympiad

Round 1 of the Olympiad is a three-and-a-half hour examination including six more difficult, long answer questions, which serve to test entrants' puzzle-solving skills. As of 2005, a more accessible first question was added to the paper; before this, it only consisted of 5 questions. Around one hundred high scoring entrants from BMO1 are invited to sit the second round, with the same time limit, in which 4 questions are posed. The twenty top scoring students from the second round are subsequently invited to a training camp at Trinity College, Cambridge for the first stage of the International Mathematical Olympiad UK team selection.

Team Challenge

The UKMT Team Maths Challenge is an annual event. One team from each participating school, comprising four pupils selected from year 8 and 9 (ages 12–14), competes in a regional round. No more than 2 pupils on a team may be from Year 9. There are 46 regional competitions in the UK, held between February and May. The winning team in each regional round, as well as a few high-scoring runners-up from throughout the country, are then invited to the National Final in London, usually in late June.[1]

There are 4 rounds:

  • Group Questions
  • Cross-Numbers
  • Head-to-Head (NB: The previous Head-to-Head Round has been replaced with another, similar to the Mini-Relay used in the 2007 and 2008 National Finals.)
  • Relay

In the National Final however an additional 'Poster Round' is added at the beginning. The poster round is a separate competition, and does not count towards the main event.

Year 2010 2011
Winner Magdalen College School, Oxford St Paul's Girls' School
2nd Place Queen Elizabeth School Magdalen College School, Oxford
3rd Place Clifton College City of London School

Senior Team Challenge

A pilot event for a competition similar to the Team Challenge, aimed at 16-18 year olds, was launched in the Autumn of 2007. The format is much the same, with a limitation of 2 year 13 (upper sixth-form) pupils per team. There were 19 regional heats held in November, with the winning team from each heat going to a national final held in London on 7 February 2008, with the winners being Torquay Boys' Grammar School. The 2009 final was held in February, with the winners this time being Westminster School. The 2010 final was held in February, and Westminster School retained their title.

On February 2, 2011, the Harrow School team consisting of Kirby Lam (captain), Takehiro Fujita, Clement Woo and Richard Chen won the 2011 final, after scoring 178/180 in the main competition itself.

See also

External links

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