This page contains lots of information about the UKMT Junior Mathematical Challenge, including answers to the most common questions I am asked about it and lots of advice on how to prepare!
What is the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge?
The UKMT Junior Mathematical Challenge is a multiple choice maths competition. There are 25 questions, each with 5 options labelled A, B, C, D and E. Students who do well in the challenge are awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates and the best performing students are invited to take the follow-on Kangaroo and Olympiad rounds. Watch the video below to learn more!
Or watch this video to learn how the Junior Maths Challenge sits within all of the different UK maths challenges:
Who takes the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge?
The UKMT Junior Mathematical Challenge is usually taken by students in Years 7 and 8 in England and Wales, which corresponds to Years 8 and 9 in Northern Ireland or S1 and S2 in Scotland, but younger students can also take the challenge. Students in equivalent year groups around the world also take the Junior Maths Challenge. These year groups usually correspond to students aged between 11 and 13, but there is no lower limit on the age students can participate.
The UKMT Junior Maths Challenge is is usually considered an ‘enrichment’ activity and schools often offer the competition to their more enthusiastic or high-performing students. A range of students can benefit from taking the challenge, and the earlier questions are always made to be more accessible so that it is not just the top students who will enjoy the Junior Maths Challenge!
How can I register for the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge?
Entries for the UKMT Junior Mathematical Challenge are always made through registered UKMT centres. Usually that means the student’s school, so if you have questions about taking the challenge, either as a student or a parent/guardian you should contact either your child’s maths teacher, or the school’s Head of Mathematics or Director of Studies who will be able to tell you who has responsibility for entering students.
How is the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge marked?
The UKMT Junior Maths Challenge is marked automatically. Paper entries are passed through a machine that scans the papers and checks students multiple choice answers so it is very important that students follow the instructions on the answer paper carefully and only enter one answer for each question. Students often keep a note of their answers on rough paper and enter their answers on the answer sheet at the end as it can be hard to erase answers fully if they want to change their answers. Students taking the challenge online do not have this problem of course where the marking is fully automated and answers are chosen on the screen.
What score gets you Gold, Silver and Bronze in the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge?
The exact boundaries vary from year to year, but you can see a page with all the past UKMT Junior Maths Challenge Certificate Boundaries here and this video talks a lot more about the scoring and roughly where the boundaries usually are. The number of people who get certificates each year has increased slightly since I made this video (50% instead of 40%) and there are now no penalties for guessing answers in the Junior Challenge – there’s another video further down the page that discusses these changes in detail.
When is the date of the next Junior Maths Challenge?
The Junior Mathematical Challenge usually takes place in April, a couple of weeks after the Easter holidays. The exact date varies from year to year. I keep a list of upcoming maths challenge dates here or you can also see the date of the next JMC at the UKMT website here.
How can I prepare for the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge?
There are many good ways to prepare for the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge. You can practice past paper questions for free with hints and solutions from an expert teacher and maths challenge tutor in the free Mathsaurus course ‘Get Ready for the Junior Maths Challenge’. Students who want to learn more thoroughly about the topics that come up on the Junior Maths Challenge can also first take the course ‘Go for Gold in Maths Challenges (ages 10-13)‘ where there are also lots of original practice questions designed specifically to help you do well in the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge .]
What follow on rounds are there for the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge?
Students who do very well in the Junior Maths Challenge can go on to take either the Junior Kangaroo or Junior Mathematical Olympiad follow-on rounds. You can find more information about these competitions on the page here.
Can I enter the follow on rounds if I don’t meet the qualification threshold or missed the JMC?
What’s the best way to get a Gold certificate in the Junior Maths Challenge and qualify for the follow on rounds?
The course ‘Go for Gold in Maths Challenges (ages 10-13)‘ will help you do just that – covering all of the important topics for the Junior Maths Challenge it will put you in the best possible position to do well. You can also watch the video below to learn more about how to get a Gold certificate and qualify for the follow on rounds.
Do you offer any classes to prepare for the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge?
Yes! As well as making the courses here I often teach small group lessons via Zoom to prepare for maths challenges at all levels, including the Junior Maths Challenge. If you would prefer to work with me 1-1 you can see more information and book here.
Where can I find past grade boundaries for the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge?
There is a list of all past grade boundaries for the Junior Mathematical Challenge from 1997 to present on the page here. You can also watch the video below to learn more about how the grade boundaries are set and how this has changed in recent years.
Where can I find past papers for the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge?
The free Mathsaurus course ‘Get Ready for the Junior Maths Challenge’ contains many years of past Junior Maths Challenge questions, each with video hints and solutions to help you practise and prepare. Further past papers can be found at the UKMT website here.
I’m a teacher – how can I help my students prepare for the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge?
If you’re a teacher it can be challenging to find time to prepare students for the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge alongside all of the other work you have to do with them. But there are lots of ways you can help them! depending how much time you have spare!
- Incorporate past UKMT Junior Maths Challenge questions into your ordinary lessons. Challenge questions are great for stretching your most able students – if you make your own worksheets you can add a few relevant challenge questions to the end, or have a few past papers printed out that students can try if they finish their main work in a lesson.
- Take your students to a computer room for a lesson (or a few lessons!) and let them try questions from the free Mathsaurus course ‘Get Ready for the Junior Maths Challenge’ – there are 125+ questions from recent UKMT Junior Maths Challenge papers, and each question has a video hint and solution. There are no ads or distractions in the course and the course player also works well on iPads or even on smartphones!
- E-mail students and parents a link to the course ‘Get Ready for the Junior Maths Challenge’ , or send them past JMC papers to try on their own at home. Many students and parents are enthusiastic about trying the challenges and if you send them a few links will end up doing a lot of work on their own. They will get ready for the challenges and improve their maths and your results with very little effort needed on your part.
- Set up a lunchtime or after school club or society. This is a great way to encourage students to work on UKMT Junior Maths Challenge problems together and schools that do this often see great results in the challenges! Of course it is extra work for you, so if you’re very busy perhaps ask your Head of Department or other manager if you can set this up in exchange for some of your other duties or activities. Perhaps you will find yourself enjoying spending extra time solving puzzles with your best students rather than supervising detention or the lunch queue!
Is the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge similar to any other maths challenges?
Yes, there are many other maths challenges around the world that cover similar content to the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge. For example, the Australian Maths Trust organise a similar annual competition and there is the AMC 8 in the United States of America that is aimed at students one year older – so students aged 12-13 are included in both competitions. So AMC8 has a lot of overlap with the JMC, especially the first half of the AMC8 paper. It can also be great practice for students transitioning from the Junior to Intermediate Maths Challenges.