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How To Prepare For Class 6 Maths Olympiad

Usually, seeing a mathematics book from afar is enough to send the kids running in the opposite direction. It is partially because of the perpetually propagated stereotype that the subject is tough (without even trying to understand it first), and partially due to the demotivation that occurs at the first sign of failure in being unable to solve the questions.

And as if that is not enough, the school has announced conducting the International Mathematics Olympiad(IMO) in a few months. So how exactly does one get their child to prepare for a mathematics exam held worldwide when they are struggling to do well in the ones conducted by their educational institution?


International Mathematics Olympiad(IMO) is one of the various tests held by the Science Olympiad Foundation (SOF), founded in 1999. It is located in Delhi, India. SOF organises this evaluation on behalf of the International Science Olympiad(ISO), which is responsible for arranging this evaluation for students all over the world.

It has been conducted annually since its origin in 1959 and consists of two levels that need to be cleared by the student to ace this competition.

Some other subjects that are assessed through Olympiads are :

  • Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology)
  • General Knowledge (GK)
  • English
  • Commerce 
  • Computer Science

Duration: It is held for 3 days (not necessarily on consecutive ones) throughout the country. Schools can choose any of the slots to conduct exams on their premises.

Eligibility Criteria: 

This assessment can be taken by any of the classes from 1-12. Level 1 of this exam is conducted for classes 1-12, whereas Level 2 is only meant for classes 3-12. Whoever clears Level 1 goes on to compete on an international stage for Level 2.


The first top 26 students receive:

  • Awards.
  • Scholarships from IMO.
  • Medals.
  • Merit award certificate.

Every participant is awarded a participation certificate as well.

Question Paper Pattern:

The Mathematics Olympiad for classes 5-12 consists of 4 sections, namely –

  • Logical Reasoning
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Everyday Mathematics
  • Achievers section

Logical Reasoning – Each question has a different and unique logic to be applied to it in this section. 

Mathematical Reasoning – This section involves both reasoning as well as mathematical calculation.

Everyday Mathematics – This is probably the most familiar section to be attempted by students as it consists of school level questions from the book.

Achievers’ Section – It is one of the most important sections that checks a student’s capability to interpret a problem and provide a logical solution.

The total number of questions and mark distribution for each section is mentioned in the table given below –

SectionNumber of questionsMarks per questionTotal Marks
Logical Reasoning15115
Mathematical Reasoning20120
Everyday Mathematics10110
Achievers’ Section5315
Total Questions – 50Total Marks – 60

Now that we have a better idea of what the paper structure looks like, we can start to ponder the main question: How to prepare for the Olympiad?

Here are some ways to keep up the children with the preparation for this prestigious exam-

  1. Visit the official website for more information: After the registration, it is essential to visit the official website of the conducting body for more details about the examination, such as :
  • Date(s) of the examination.
  • Exam Timing.
  • Release of admit card.
  • Paper pattern(i.e. the number of sections, the total number of questions, total marks etc).
  • Announcement of result(for both levels 1 and 2).

2.   Study material: For a class 6 student, revising the concepts from their school books should be more than enough. Although, it is recommended that they acquire a few more additional tips and tricks in the form of Vedic Maths, a branch of the mainstream subject that offers to enhance one’s mental calculation abilities greatly.

       3.   Guidance from a tutor: A little help from a good tutor will help a student navigate through a question paper effectively and efficiently. It should be someone who has a natural aptitude for maths and has, preferably, taken the exam at least once themselves.

4.    Make a study chart: Draw out a study chart which consists of all the sections and topics to be covered, how much time is to be given to a particular section, sorting out the strong and weak topics separately etc. This will help the student see the overall picture of his/her preparation and work on improving themselves.

5.   Practice, as much as you can: One cannot emphasize enough the importance of practising after studying a particular concept thoroughly. It ensures that no matter how a question is presented to you, you will be able to recognize the concept behind it and reach a solution somehow. 

6.    Mock tests: A sure-shot way of finding out whether or not the student has grasped the basics is to take mock tests from time to time, possibly up until 2-3 days before the exam. It not only solidifies the method of solving a question firmly in their heads but also helps in increasing the calculation speed. It is a must since the time duration of this exam is only one hour.

7.   Looking into Previous Year Questions: If you want to have an idea about how the questions would be asked i.e. the tone of questions, it is highly suggested that you look through the previous year papers at least once. IMO Sample Papers for Class 6 gives an idea of how to better understand what the question is trying to say and whether the information provided in it, hidden or otherwise, is sufficient enough to solve it.

8.   Stay motivated: One of the most important factors in a student’s preparation for any exam is motivation. Certain failures now and then can discourage students from pursuing their goals, while other times, it can just be the children getting distracted. Hence, it is necessary to remind them from time to time why they chose this path. Also, maths can be dull at times. So make sure to have fun while learning to encourage students.

Lastly, everyone needs to remember that this is just another exam. At this stage, it is just a foundation that helps set up a base for an aptitude for upcoming competitive exams ahead. Even if a child does not perform satisfactorily enough, it does not mean the end of the world. Tell them not to be disheartened by these failures, for these are the hurdles that make you challenge yourself and accomplish even better results in the future. 

All the best, kiddos!

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