How to prepare for IMO Maths Olympiad?

by Anusha Lal, May 14, 2020

Maths as a subject itself tend to send jitters to the students. It is a known fact that the SOF Olympiads feels like a pandora’s box. Qualifying in the IMO requires a lot of hard work, innumerable hours of effort and disciplined study pattern to achieve the top rank. This is mainly because a student needs to invest a lot of time and energy to understand and solve the olympiad maths problems. Students are often seen worried about how to start preparing for the IMO exam. The primary requirement to always be ready is the right mindset and attitude. Also, along with hard work, a good amount of smart work is necessary to make it to the top. In this article we will share with you top ten tricks to excel in the international maths olympiad: 


Maths Olympiad Tips And Tricks

  1. Know the correct syllabus: The olympiads exams curate their question paper based on the respective classes school curriculum. This is the biggest advantage the students have while preparing for the exams. They know the area of expertise from where they can expect to be questioned. Therefore it is very important that the students know the complete syllabus in detail of their current curriculum.

  2. Get the right book: Once you are through with what is the syllabus, the next step would be to choose the right material. Unlike the regular school exams, the Olympiads do not expect you to cram all the study material, even though they have the same syllabus playing. Identify the right kind of book based on your comprehension style. The books you choose must cover all the content and topics relevant to IMO syllabus. It must also cover all the important math olympiad questions for practice to help you to up your game.  The study material you choose must offer you Previous years papers, Workbooks, Olympiad Skill Development System, Mock Test Series to prepare for SOF IEO Olympiads.

  3. Strategic Planning - As the saying goes ‘ if you fail to plan, then your planning to fail’, having a strong study plan is one of the most important aspects of
    Prepare a time-table or study schedule for your IMO preparation. Also, this does not mean you cram your study session with non-stop hours filled with mathematical olympiad challenges. Ensure you are giving enough time for regular academics as well as the math olympiad practice problems along with enough resting time to calm your mind for better concentration. However, this can only work if you stick to your schedule and planning with utmost discipline. 


  1. Practise makes a man perfect - There is no shortcut when it comes to this aspect of exam preparation. The only way to obtain the top rank is to work hard and pour a large amount of time into practice sessions. Ensure you put yourself in a place that is calm and quiet and practise with as many problems as possible. This will allow you to concentrate on your problems and to think outside the box for obtaining the most accurate answers.

  2. Understand the concepts - The olympiads exams have only concept-oriented objective type questions. As mathematics, itself is an application subject, cramming the concepts of the problem-solving methods is of no use to the students. Students should learn to strengthen their mathematical concepts by revising everything they had even learnt in their previous years. They can also visit various math olympiad question sites to obtain different kinds of questions that might be asked in the exam and solve the same.

  3. Mock tests and Practise paper - once you understand the concepts and learn to solve different problems, the next most obvious step is to take up the mock papers. Practice as many IMO exam sample papers and Previous Years’ Olympiad question papers you can get hold of. Practising these will improve your problem-solving skills, analytical skills along with accuracy and speed. It also boosts your confidence in order to take up the actual exam. Also, these tests and practice sessions are great for self-assessment. It will help you to identify your preparation levels of the entire syllabus along with analyzing your strong and weak points. Knowing them will be of great help too for your revision session. Knowing your weak areas will help you to concentrate more on them allowing you to convert them to your strength for better performance.


  1. Have the right attitude - As much as the preparation, having the right attitude is extremely important when taking up these competitive exams. You might be taking it up for the first time or you would have taken it before, having the right amount of confidence is very important for better performance in the exam. You should neither be overconfident or be terrified by the exam, as this would directly affect your answering abilities in the exam. Read blogs on tips and tricks for the exam, be positive, practise meditation. Do not revise unnecessary and push yourself into a zone of panic. Instead, be confident in your preparation method and attend the exam with a positive mindset.

  2. A healthy lifestyle with plenty of sleep - do not indulge yourself in the late-night study as much as possible. A good amount of about 6 - 7 hours of sleep is very much necessary in order to have a clear mind. Also, having good sleep boosts your brain to retain new information along with improving your memory. Also, sleeping at night is the best way to relieve your body of physical as well as mental stress. Especially the week leading up to the exam, students are strictly forbidden to study at night and get a good proper amount of sleep. Also, as much as you would love to feast on junk food, it is advisable to avoid them all before the exam. Eating healthy along with a little exercise in your daily routine will keep you fresh and energetic physically as well as mentally. A good diet, proper study planning with plenty of sleep will no doubt be your secret to obtaining the top rank in the competition. 

General tips for the Olympiad exams : 

  • Irrespective of whether you are a first-timer or a regular, a complete understanding of the olympiads preparation is a must. 

  • Questions in the Olympiad exams are trickier than in normal school exams. They test your concepts. Practise thinking outside the box. 

  • The olympiad ranks will also add a boost to your profile allowing you direct admission to many top universities in the world. Therefore do not take them lightly.

How to prepare for IMO Maths Olympiad?