Canadian Mathematical Society
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The 2017 Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge -- Nov 2/3

The 2017 Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge — Nov 2/3

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility and Registration Inquiries

Exam Format and Procedures

  • How do schools receive students' participation and award certificates?
    When the final results are announced, teachers/organizers will be able to log in to their accounts to download and print participation certificates for all of their students.
    Awards certificates are only provided for official participants who achieve a high ranking, which are also available for teachers/organizers to download and print. For students in Canada, award certificate plaques are mailed to their schools.
  • What is the date and location for the COMC?
    The 2017 COMC will be held on Thursday, November 2nd in Canada and the Americas (anywhere in North/South American time zones), and on Friday, November 3rd elsewhere in the world.
    The exam is held locally (usually in your school) at a location arranged by the teacher or organizer coordinating the competition.
  • Is the COMC an online or paper-based exam?
    It is a paper-based exam.
  • How long is the exam?
    The competition is 2.5 hours.
  • Are calculators permitted?
    No. Calculators and mobile phones are not permitted.
  • Are dictionaries allowed?
    Yes, dictionaries are allowed during the exam.
  • I have a special needs student. Do you provide the exam in special formats?
    The CMS will try to accommodate students who require an alternative exam format. Please notify the CMS office as soon as possible if you are supervising a student who needs a special exam format.
  • How can students prepare for the exam?
    The CMS will post a sample practice problem each week, starting the first week of September. Solutions are posted the following week when the next problem is posted.

    Please see the Problem of the Week page.

    Students can also practice using an archive of past exams and the official solutions.
  • What is the exam format?
    The COMC exam is the same for students at all grade levels and consists of three sections:
    1. Four introductory questions worth 4 marks each. Partial marks may be awarded for work shown.
    2. Four more challenging questions worth 6 marks each. Partial marks may be awarded for work shown.
    3. Four long-form proof problems worth 10 marks each. Complete work must be shown. Partial marks may be awarded.

    There are 80 marks overall.

  • Do students have to write the COMC at a particular time?
    The exam must be held on the date specified. Teachers/proctors will choose the time at each school, although the CMS recommends it be done during school hours if possible.
  • Where are the exams sent for marking?
    Schools in Canada: a courier will arrive at each school on the day after the exam (Friday, November 3) to pick up the package of exams. Each school will have a sufficient number of pre-paid courier envelopes, which are pre-addressed to one of the COMC marking partner institutions.

    Schools outside Canada: the CMS will provide you with a Canadian address where you will need to send the exams by courier at your own cost.

    Important: Only exams arriving by the deadline of Monday, November 13th will be eligible for awards.

  • Is the exam available in French?
    Yes. Teachers can specify how many exams in English and/or French are required when placing the order.

Payment and Shipment Inquiries

Login and account inquiries

The Results

  • How do schools obtain the students’ participation and award certificates?
    When the final results are announced, teachers/organizers can log in to their accounts to download and print the certificates for all students. The top students in a region or province also receive plaques mailed to their schools.
  • How do I get my score?
    Teachers can access all their students' scores online using their school account once marking is complete. Individual scores are not shown publicly for privacy reasons.

    If one or more students' scores are unavailable, please contact the CMS office by email at

  • What is an 'official paper'?
    To be considered official and to qualify for awards or prizes, participants and schools must meet the following requirements:

    Students or their teachers must assert (e.g. on the exam cover sheet), prior to the release of official results, that each of the following is true. Once the official results are released and announced in January, they are immutable.

    1. The participant must be under 19 years of age as of June 30, 2017 and
    2. The participant must be attending school full-time (elementary, secondary, Cégep, or home-schooled) at least since Sept 15, 2017 and
    3. The participant must not have written the Putnam competition.

    Additionally, the participation is only considered official if it is proctored and offered under these rules:

    1. In North America, South America, Central America or in time zones covering these areas, the 2½ hour writing period must begin and end on Thursday, November 2nd, between 8a.m. and 8p.m. local time.
    2. Elsewhere in the world, the 2½ hour writing period must begin and end on Friday, November 3rd, between 8a.m. and 8p.m. local time.
    3. All exams must be proctored by officials who are not family-related to any of the participants they are supervising.
  • Will I get a certificate?
    When the final results are announced, teachers/organizers will be able to log into their accounts to download and print the certificates for all students. For those students who have earned award(s), the certificate lists all the awards the student earned. For students who did not earn specific awards, the certificate is based on which quartile their scores fall into:
    1st quartile = Performance with Distinction
    2nd quartile = Performance with Honours
    3rd or 4th quartile = Certificate of Participation
  • Will I get a plaque?

    The CMS no longer issues student plaques. Students now receive a student portfolio (certificate in a commemorative folder). All students who earn a Gold, Silver or Bronze in non-grade specific categories at the regional or provincial level are eligible to receive a portfolio. All students who receive a Gold, Silver, Bronze or Honourable Mention on any of the Canada lists including grade-specific lists will also receive a portfolio.

    School plaques are only given to schools where at least one student is being sent a student portfolio.

  • Will I receive a prize?

    Anyone writing the COMC in Canada is also eligible for random draw participation prizes. Approximately 160 prizes will be distributed to participants nationally.

  • Are there cash prizes too?
    Yes. A total cash prize pool of $2000 will be divided among the top students in Canada.

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