The 2019 Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge
— Nov 7/8
Frequently Asked Questions
Eligibility and Registration Inquiries
Can home schools or tutoring and coaching organizations participate?
Yes. The COMC is Canada's premier national mathematics competition that is open to any student with an interest in and grasp of high school math. All exams are marked and final scores are returned to the teacher.
To qualify as official participants, students must meet the official Eligibility requirements, which includes writing the exam in a pre-approved location. Most conventional schools are pre-approved Official Competition Writing Centres. Those which have not qualified are identified as "Unofficial-only".
Any location not pre-approved can still participate unofficially. In such cases, the students are not eligible for merit-based prizes or recognition. If your location doesn't qualify but you want to ensure your students participate officially and do qualify for recognition and prizes, please contact us. We will try to match you up with a school that we’ve designated as an Official Competition Writing Center. If that school is willing, your students could join theirs for the actual writing of the exam.
For more information, read this page.
What does “Unofficial-only” mean? What does “Official Competition Writing Centre” mean?
Beginning in 2018, we have strengthened our requirements for where students can write the COMC exam and have the results considered “official” for merit-based prizes and recognition. Almost any school can order exams and host the exams and get them marked as unofficial participants. All schools are assessed to see if we can approve them as an Official Competition Writing Centre (OCWC). Most conventional schools are already approved so returning schools will normally see no difference. Schools that don’t meet our needs can either run the exam unofficially (but receive their exams digitally, rather than as hard copies) or we can help them to send their students to a nearby OCWC school where they can write alongside others at that school.
For more information, read this page.
How do I get around the “Unofficial-only” restriction for my students?
You can contact us
. We’ll do our best to find a nearby school that we’ve certified as an Official Competition Writing Center. If that school is willing, your students could join theirs for the actual writing of the exam.
For more information, read this page.
My school is not registering for the COMC. What are other options to register for the competition?
All registrations for the COMC must come from schools, through teachers or proctors. Individual students (and their parents) may ask any nearby school if they are participating in the COMC and if they are willing to add an exam in order to have the student participate at the school on exam day.
What grade levels can write the COMC?
There are no grade eligibility requirements for the COMC. However, the difficulty level of questions is based on the mathematics curriculum taught in senior secondary grades and CÉGEPs. Some questions require a degree of understanding beyond the curriculum. To see potential topics and past exam questions, visit the Getting Ready
What are the registration steps?
What is the minimum number of students that a school can register?
A minimum of 2 exams per school in Canada, or 4 exams per school internationally, is required to cover exam material and shipping costs.
Is it possible to enter the competition without entering as a school?
Not at this time, however you are welcome to contact the CMS office
and request to write at a University writing centre or another school which may be writing the competition.
What is the deadline for registration?
Registration closes at 11:59 PST on
Sunday, October 27th.
Exam Format and Procedures
What is the date and location for the COMC?
The 2019 COMC will be held on
Thursday, November 7th
in Canada and the Americas (anywhere in North/South American time zones), and on
Friday, November 8th 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 -- under supervision.
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:
- Four introductory questions worth 4 marks each. Partial marks may be awarded for work shown.
- Four more challenging questions worth 6 marks each. Partial marks may be awarded for work shown.
- 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 8) 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 18th 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
How much does the exam cost?
Within Canada: CA$25.00 per exam (minimum order of 2 exams).
International: US$30.00 per exam (minimum order of 4 exams).
If you have any questions or concerns please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our school ordered a number of exams but find that we need more, but fewer than the minimum order size. Can we avoid the minimum order size somehow in this case? Will both orders be shipped together?
Yes, if your previous order is paid, we can accommodate you. Phone us at +1 (613) 733-2662 ext. 785. All orders for a given school are shipped together.
How do I pay for the registration?
Online payment is preferred. Online credit card purchases are processed using Paypal (a Paypal account is not required, but can also be used). Payments can also be made by cheque or money order received by the deadline.
What is the deadline for the payment?
All orders have to be paid by
Thursday, October 24, 2019.
The CMS reserves the right to cancel any order which remains unpaid after the payment deadline.
How do I know that the payment cheque was received?
Once payment is received, a receipt is automatically emailed to you. You can also log into your school account
and see the order status, and reprint an invoice or receipt.
Can I change my mind and pay online for my order even if I originally said I'd pay by cheque?
When are the exams shipped to the teachers/organizers?
All exams are shipped at the end of October.
The school paid for the exams, but some students will not write the exam. Can we decrease the order and get a refund?
If the order size is reduced prior to printing and shipment of the exams, we will refund the cost of the canceled exams, less a 10% administration fee. If you wish to reduce your number of exams after they have been shipped, we will not issue a refund.
Can I cancel ordered exams?
You can cancel an order up until
Can we get the shipment tracking number to estimate the arrival time for the exams?
All exams should arrive by
Tuesday, November 5th
at the latest. Please contact the CMS office at +1 613-733-2662 ext. 785 if you have not received your exams by then.
If I register by the deadline will that leave enough time for shipping the exam internationally?
Yes, the exam will be sent by international courier service and will arrive on time.
Login and account inquiries
How do schools obtain the 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, and are available for teachers/organizers to download and print. For students in Canada, award certificate plaques or portfolios are 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 email@example.com.
What is an 'official paper'?
To be considered official
and thereby qualify for awards or prizes, participants and schools must meet the requirements as described on our Eligibility page
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 in Canada where at least one student is being sent a student portfolio.
Will I receive a prize?
Anyone writing the COMC in Canada is eligible for a random draw participation prize.
Did we answer your question?
If not, please email us
If you have a suggestion for a question you think should be on this page, tell us that too!
To report errors or omissions for this page, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.