International Mathematics Olympiad for Class 6: preparation tips

Mathematics Olympiad

Conducted by Science Olympiad Foundation, IMO or International Mathematics Olympiad is a pre-university level competition that evaluates the mathematical skills of students of grades 1 to 12. It is held annually and is open to all students who wish to assess their potential in mathematics. Through this exam, potential scientists and experts in this subject are identified and supported in their careers. In India, students can compete with their peers at various levels such as school, zonal and international levels. Hence, the exam witnesses a huge number of participants every year making it one of the most popular high school level competitions held internationally. Students from more than 100 countries appear for this exam. Attractive cash prizes, medals, and certificates are awarded to top performers of each level. In addition, all students are given a detailed analysis of their performance helping them in knowing their strengths and areas of improvement. 

Application Process 

The application for IMO can be made only through respective schools. Schools that are registered with the SFO will be sent IMO prospects along with registration forms that are to be filled by interested candidates. After filling the forms, they need to be submitted to respective schools along with the registration fee. 

Exam Structure 

The exam is conducted in two levels- level 1 and level 2 for grades 3-12. Level 1 is held during November-December and the application deadline for the same is at least 30 days before the exam dates. Level 1 is open to all students of classes 1-12 to encourage maximum participation. It is conducted during the school hours itself and is a 60-minute test with English as the sole medium.

The paper contains multiple-choice questions and students of class 6 need to attempt 50 questions in total. Logical reasoning, mathematical reasoning, everyday mathematics and achievers’ section are the four sections of the paper. Each section is given a different weightage and marks of each section are taken into account in case of a tie of marks. The syllabus of the exam is based on CBSE, ICSE/ISC and State Boards and the paper is designed according to the curriculum decided for each grade. 

For level 2, only students who qualify a minimum performance criterion Level 1 are eligible. SOF has decided following criteria to select candidates for level 2-

  • Top 5%students from each class are eligible to sit for the Next Level
  • Top 25 students according to zone and class-wise ranking will also be eligible 
  • From each participating school where at least 10 students from each class have appeared for Level 1 and have scored 50% qualifying marks, students who have topped the class are also qualified to sit for Level 2
  • Top rank holders in case of section-wise registration for each class will be qualified as well for Level 2.

Exam Results 

IMO results are generally declared within 6-8 weeks of the exam. Students can contact their respective schools for the same or can visit SOF’s official website. The exact dates for result declaration depend on the discretion of the organizing entity i.e. SOF but tentatively, for Level 1 results are out by December-January and for Level 2 by March-April. 

As already mentioned above, a detailed analysis of the candidate’s performance is provided in the form of the Student’s Performance Report (SPR) that includes 

  • Rank achieved at school/city/zone/international Level
  • Student’s performance in each section of the paper
  • Answer marked by the student along with correct answers for each question 
  • Percentile analysis at school/city/zone/international level
  • Average marks analysis in comparison to school, city, zone and international level
  • Student’s performance in last eight years’ Olympiad exams.

Preparation tips for the exam 

  • Begin with deciding on study material. NCERTs are a very good source to create a solid foundation. After going through textbooks of their own grade and previous grade, gradually students can move on to NCERTs of higher grades according to their capabilities. Generally, IMO papers include questions that are a little bit complex and tougher when compared to school-level exams. The questions are based on the curriculum itself but they are not direct and call for advanced application of concepts. For this, referring to quality sources is important. There are several guiding books and question compilations available in the market which are specifically designed for IMOs that students can refer to. However, make sure to keep the list of sources short yet diverse and keep on going through them for important theorems and formulas. Remember, strengthening concepts is the only key to success. 
  • Make use of online resources such as short term courses provided by platforms. In addition, refer to online video explainers and practice websites like Olympiad Genius for a better understanding of concepts. 
  • Achieving success in IMO is definitely not a one-day affair and thus, students should dedicate a few hours every day towards the preparation of this exam. This regular exercise should begin at least 5-6 months before the exam date. Trying to mug up everything last minute is futile and senseless.
  • Practice is the key in an exam like IMO which is known for its quality questions. Students must look beyond basic problems given in their textbooks and refer to high-level problems compiled in any of the IMO reference books. In addition, it is a must to solve the Previous Year Paper for IMO Class 6 Maths 2013 for a better understanding of the paper pattern and level of the questions asked. 
  • Time management is a crucial factor in this exam because of the vastness of the syllabus and the variety of questions. Decide on a timetable for regular students and stick to it. Go through topics that you feel are important based on the analysis of past years’ papers. After going through each topic theoretically, dedicate enough time to solving questions and try brainstorming on ways in which it can be solved quickly. 


Olympiads are one of the best ways to sharpen the mathematical skills of students right from a young age. It allows them to prepare and perform in a competitive environment that will push them to excellence. Keep in mind the above-mentioned for enhanced performance in the exam. In the end, it is all about consistent efforts and dedication which brings home a sure shot success. 

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