The Junior Maths Challenge in 2021 will take place between 26th and 29th April 2021. Students usually take this paper in years 7 and 8 in England, S1 or S2 in Scotland or Years 8 and 9 in Northern Ireland, but the competition is open to entrants from younger year groups too. Many schools overseas also enter students, but entrants must be of an equivalent age and be students at official UKMT test centres – applications from private individuals or tutors is not allowed.
A question I get asked all the time is ‘How can you take the challenge if your are home schooled or not at a UKMT test centre?’ Read on below and I will suggest some options that could let you take these challenges in these situations.
Also, if you’re preparing for the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge, or know a student who is, take a look at my free preparation course. It’s a great introduction to and practice for the challenge, or also just excellent extension material for students of a similar age.
My advice is written below, or I’ve also made a video here talking through the same conent:
So how can you take the UKMT maths challenges if you are not at a registered UKMT test centre? Here are your options:
- If you attend a school that is not currently a UKMT test centre and does not offer the maths challenges, you could ask them if they would be willing to become one. Write a polite e-mail to the school, explaining that:
- You understand they are very busy and what a demanding job teaching can be, but…
- You or your child are very keen to take the maths challenges (and if applicable that you would be willing to cover the costs of entry (only currently £13 for 10 students for the JMC).
- The Maths Challenges are designed to support mathematical development and a love of problem solving for all students involved and could be of wider benefit to other students at the school too.
- Certificates achieved in the maths challenges are looked on favourably by universities and employers and could be of benefit to students.
- Strong performance in maths challenges is a sign of a healthy maths department with engaged students and can look good for OFSTED inspection and other evaluations.
- If you are contacting a school I would suggest that you write to staff in the following order (going further down the line if you do not receive a response):
- Head of Mathematics
- Director of Studies/Deputy Head (Academic), usually the line-manager of the Head of Mathematics
- School Governors (School governors often have at least one parent governor – often a more approachable person who could champion your cause. You could even apply to be the parent governor yourself!)
- If you are not currently attached to a UKMT test centre, for example because you are home educated or your school does not want to become one you could approach a local school who is a UKMT test centre and ask them if they would be willing to let you sit the challenge with their own students. I would suggest writing in a very similar way as suggested in section 1.
- If you are unable to find a centre to sit the test, then you could replicate the exam at home. The past papers are available soon after the challenges at the official UKMT website, and the grade boundaries are also made available on the website soon after. I also collect the past grade boundaries here. So a student could sit the competition unofficially at home by printing out the paper (you could use a past paper if you wanted to sit on the same day as everyone else), and supervising them in test conditions.
The maths challenges are very easy to mark as all of the questions are multiple choice – so you can mark these easily without any specialist maths skills. Either 5 or 6 marks is awarded for each question and marks are deducted for wrong answers in some questions – this is very clearly explained on the front of the paper and it is very easy to calculate a student’s score. You can then check the mark against the grade boundaries and make a certificate at home.
I hope this information is useful to you. Whether you take the challenge officially or not, don’t miss out on trying these interesting and challenging problems that can help you develop a love of problem solving. And don’t forget to check out my free maths challenge preparation course here that will introduce you to these problems and put you in a great position to do well in the challenges!