North American Math Competitions Part 2

October 12, 2020

In our last post, we discussed 2 super popular math competitions: the AMC (American Math Competition) and AIME (American Invitational Mathematics Examination). Today, we'll continue our series on North American Math Competitions by taking on two of the most universal math competitions: the Waterloo Series Math Competitions (CEMC) and the Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge (COMC).

*Note: Significance/difficulty rankings are out of 5, where 5 is the most weighted/difficult.

3. Waterloo Series Math Competitions (CEMC)

Significance: 4/5

Difficulty: GAUSS is the easiest, mainly for grades 7-8. The difficulty increases with grade level, up to EUCLID for grade 12.

Prerequisites: None

Test dates: GAUSS in May, PASCAL/CAYLEY/FERMAT in February, EUCLID in April.

Who can participate:

Gauss: Anyone in 8th grade or below

Pascal: Anyone in 9th grade or below

Cayley: Anyone in 10th grade or below

Fermat: Anyone in 11th grade or below

Euclid: Anyone in 12th grade or below

The CEMC (Centre Education of Mathematics and Computing) series is an entire set of math competitions covering grades 7-12. It's like the Canadian version of the AMC (read more about the AMC test here), and is the official, legit, Canadian mathematics competition. Outside of Canada, it is known as the "TOEFL in Mathematics" (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and is open to students across the globe. If you live in France, you're covered.

A high score from this competition is a strong advantage if you plan to apply to elite Canadian or American colleges, just like the AMC and AIME tests. It also carries immense weight when applying to the Waterloo School of Mathematics (and their Software Engineering major). In general, though, the Waterloo series has become a very well-known competition and will help your college application shine.

Waterloo University is located in Ontario, Canada and it's School of Mathematics is top-notch, boasting the highest job placement rate in North America. The average sophomore is already hired by the world's leading companies, such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Each test level is named after a scientist: the 7-8th grade test is called the Gauss competition, 9th grade is the Pascal competition, 10th is Cayley, 11th is Fermat, and 12th is Euclid. The Gauss, Pascal, Cayley, and Fermat tests each contain 25 multiple choice questions and are 1 hour long. The Euclid competition, on the other hand, is 2.5 hours long and has only 10 open-ended questions. Euclid participants are also judged on their form and presentation style; a poorly presented paper will result in points docked, so brush up on your handwriting.

4. Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge (COMC)

Significance: 3/5

Difficulty: 3/5

Prerequisites: None

Test dates: November

Who can participate: Students not participating in the Putnam Competition and under 19 years old.

The Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge, or COMC, is a competition designed to intrigue students' interest in math and develop their problem-solving skills. If you do well, you can advance to the CMO, or the Canadian National Mathematical Olympiad (similar to USAMO). Students from other countries are allowed to participate, and they can win gold, silver, or bronze medals, or various honorable mentions within the international division. However, they are ineligible to become a member of Math Team Canada, the Canadian IMO (International Mathematical Olympiad) team. Sorry, France.

The COMC has 3 sections: Part A, Part B, and Part C. They increase in difficulty, with Part A being the easiest and Part C being the hardest. The test is 2.5 hours long, and the highest score you can get is 80 points.

Like in AIME, only the best mathematicians are allowed to compete in CMO, the next level. The top 50 students from COMC, top 15-20 students from the CMO Qualifying Repêchage (CMOQR), and top 3 students from the Alberta High School Mathematics Competition Part II and le Concours de l’Association Mathématique du Québec are invited to participate. The top COMC female participants are selected to be a member of Girls' Math Team Canada, which will compete in the European Girls' Mathematical Olympiad (EGMO).

With that, we'll wrap up today's blog on our math competition series. If you want to check out the first post in the series, click here! There's more to come, so stay tuned!

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