Frequently Asked Questions

What changes are being made to the 2020–2021 ICMC?

Due to the covid-19 situation, the following changes will be made:

What are the changes for partner universities?

In previous years, partner universities had to arrange invigilation for round one, and to send us the scripts by post. Since the competition is online this year, partner universities need only help us spread word of the competition. If you would like a digital copy of this year's poster, please contact our liaison officer.

How does the Imperial College Mathematics Competition work?

Note: the following information is inaccurate due to the covid-19 situation. Please see the above question addressing this year's changes.

The ICMC consists of both an Individual Competition and a Team Competition.

The Individual Competition has two rounds: Round One takes place in late November and Round Two, the final round, is in late February or early March. The Round One question paper consists of six problems, and will be held simultaneously at multiple universities, so that most contestants will not have to travel afar. The second round consists of four harder problems and is by invitation only — generally we invite the 50 highest-scoring contestants from Round One. This will be held at Imperial College London but we may be able to partially reimburse travel expenses for UK contestants.

On the same day as Round Two, we will run our Team Competition event at Imperial College London, with a separate sign-up process. Contestants for the final round are welcome to join the team competition. More information will be published later.

How difficult are the problems?

You can have a look at our past papers and the problems in the Putnam Archive. The problems will be of a very similar difficulty range and scope.

What is the scope of the problems?

The problems will be selected from calculus and analysis (e.g. limits, summations, and integrals), abstract algebra, combinatorics, geometry (including discrete and combinatorial geometry), number theory, probability, game theory, and so on. The problems will only assume knowledge from a typical first year undergraduate course in mathematics.

Am I eligible to take part?

To take part in the Competition, you must be an undergraduate or master's student currently enrolled at a UK university who has completed less than four years of university education. Students from all subject areas are welcome to take part.

What if my university is not in the UK?

To control our year to year growth and to manage the marking process, we only allow students from the following list of Univerisites situated outside the UK (but inside Europe) to participate in our competition:

This list will expand each year to include more universities. If you are a student at a European university not on the list, you are more than welcome to send us an email and we'll see what we can do.

What if my university is not in Europe?

Unfortunately we do not plan to expand to universities outside Europe. If you are in the United States or Canada, you may be interested in the Putnam competition. If you are in the Asia-Pacific region, you may be interested in the Simon Marais Mathematics Competition.

How is the competition similar/different when compared to the Putnam competition?

If you're familiar with the Putnam competition, then the difficulty and style of the problems will be very similar — the major differences are in the format of the competition. Whereas Putnam has two papers on two consecutive days, our two papers are around four months apart to allow time for the marking of Round One and invitations to the final round.