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How can I compete in the IMO exam

IMO previous years' question papers

IMO stands for International Maths Olympiad. It is one of the most reputed exams all around the world. This exam is conducted by a foundation called Science Olympiad Foundation (SOF) since 1996. This exam aims to find the best future scientist, technologists, and IT talent at the school level. It helps to nurture those extremely talented kids suitably.

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Students need to start early as possible if they are at all interested in this exam. Students need to check IMO previous years’ question papers of their respective classes. IMO have two levels to test the candidates or students. The first level is for students of classes 1 to 12, and this part of the exam focuses on students’ previous and current classes’ conceptual knowledge.

The second level is for students of classes 3 to 12, and also for those students who have cleared the first level of exam. (Only the top 5% of students who cleared the first level are eligible for the second round from around the world).

The Second level exam focuses on students checking their current class conceptual knowledge as well as their logical reasoning ability, critical thinking, analytical skills, etc.

Importance of Mindset

Students need to make up their minds first before even start preparing for this exam. For students, this preparation journey is full of ups and downs. Students must take some time and try to think about the reasons, they would like to participate in this exam. It could be anything like 

  • Students want to participate because it is a tough exam.
  • They would like to participate because of the benefits associated with this exam.
  • They have a keen interest in Maths subject and need to check their knowledge. 
  • They always dream to participate in this exam.
  • Students just like to participate and don’t have any specific reasons.

The reason could be anything, but the crucial thing is to stick with it. After students have made their minds and they would like to know how to move ahead. Well, move ahead in this article, and students get the idea.

How to Start

Students usually come across many questions when they have decided to prepare for this esteem exam. It is easy to get confused or get overwhelmed with all those questions. Some of those questions could be

  • How to begin their preparation?
  • Do they need extra resources to prepare?
  • How to move ahead in their journey, so they don’t lose track?
  • How to get their desired result?

Students need to take a structured approach for this exam. They need to have a clear understanding of the exam syllabus and each topic. After that, students need to assess their knowledge of each topic that include in the syllabus. Random guess doesn’t work here, every student needs to have a clear idea.

For this, students can solve some mock test question papers and previous years’ question papers for clear ideas. It helps students to understand their strengths and weaknesses. And also, give an understanding of the exam patterns and the type of questions asked in the exam.

Students are aware of many integral and crucial things related to the preparation for this exam, after following all the above instructions.

Now it’s time to use all this information and create a well-structured strategy to move ahead.

Is Strategy Important

The strategy helps to be aware of the current situation whether or not any individual achieving their goals, and have an understanding of the next steps. It also reduces some stress to think regularly about the exam.

Students need to spend time creating a well-defined strategy. 

Students need to allocate suitable time to each topic according to their above assessment. They also need to give sufficient time to practice mock test question papers and previous years’ question papers regularly. Students can increase their knowledge on each topic with continuous assessment of their efforts.

The reason for assessment again & again is, Students need to check that they are studying as required for the exam. Because, many candidates spend hours learning any concept solve questions on that concept, and in the end don’t able to get their desired results.

Students don’t need to wait for the IMO exam to tell that their preparation is not correct. Assess your situation and make the necessary changes.

Time Table or Schedule

Students must understand the importance of a timetable in their preparation journey. Students need to create a timetable for them and make sure they stick with it. Students need to keep in mind that creating a timetable is an iterative process, making necessary changes but making sure those changes improve it, not destroy it.

Students need to divide their time in such a way that they maximum output. They need to allocate time to learn and practice when they are comfortable doing those. 

Students must include sufficient breaks while they study. Regular short breaks not only help them to stay fresh and active but also improve their overall efficiency. These breaks could be for only a few minutes, and students must try to move their bodies in those breaks. Some kind of stretching or cardio could be fun.

Students must include proper sleep hours as well. Most of the time, one thing with which people tradeoff is sleep. But in reality, it rarely helps.

Be Motivated

Students need to stay motivated for this exam along their preparation journey. Students need to understand that their positive nature and the right attitude can beat many odds in the preparation for this exam. Whereas if they don’t maintain it, then they lose those chances that they already have. No doubt, students face a lot of pressure and struggle a lot while preparing and sometimes all of this becomes a little overwhelming.

Everyone has that phase, and that’s okay. Just don’t stop there.


IMO exam tests students in many aspects. Students need to keep those in mind and prepare accordingly. Remember with the right mindset and the right attitude, they can achieve their desired results.

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