FAQs for Students – COMC 2023


  • Anyone who hasn’t finished secondary school can write the COMC.  In the North American education system, that means K-12.  In Québec, this also includes Cégep.
  • The questions however are based on the standard Canadian mathematics curriculum for senior secondary grades and Cégeps
  • Participating in nationally-recognized mathematics competitions is a fantastic item to add to your portfolio if you are hoping for entrance scholarships in university.
  • Top Canadian COMC participants earn invitations to the Canadian Math Olympiad (CMO) , the Junior Olympiad (CJMO) and potentially to represent Canada internationally at the International level.
  • Gain new experience in problem solving that lets you measure yourself against some of Canada’s keenest math students.
  • We issue official certificates to you and recognize the top achievers publicly on our website.
  • Top Canadians earn cash awards.  All students in Canada are included in a random prize draw.
  • The CMS sends special recommendations to our Canadian university partners for the top Canadian participants who are graduating.  We encourage them to recruit and offer scholarships to these top students.
  • It’s normally at your own school in a room arranged by the teacher or organizer.
  • In a few cases, students may be able to come to the campus of one of our partner universities who are hosting Official Writing Centres and write it there.
  • Date: For schools in Canada, or anywhere in the time zones covering North/South America, it’s on Thursday October 26th. Elsewhere in the world, it is held on Friday, October 27th.
  • Time: For those writing on Thursday, we ask everyone in the Central (North America) time zone to write it it in morning, and those east of there to write it in the afternoon.  For Friday writers, the proctor/teacher can decide any time that day.
  • 2.5 hours.
  • Paper
  • Your proctor/teacher will give you a competition booklet with your name and school pre-printed on it.  The booklet, with bar codes pre-registered to you, has all the questions and lots of blank areas to do your work and write your solutions.

The set of questions is the same for all students of all grades.   There are:

  • Four introductory questions, worth 4 points each;
  • Four intermediate questions, worth 6 points each; and
  • Four advanced questions, worth 10 points each.
  • Maximum score: 80 points.

The first two sections (introductory and intermediate) are scored as follows:

  • If you write the correct answer in the answer box, you get full marks, regardless of showing any work.
  • If you don't give the right answer but you show at least some good work, you may get partial marks.
  • Therefore you don't have to show your work, but if you don't and you make a small mistake in your answer you'll get zero points.

The advanced questions require fully-worked solutions (you must show all your work).

  • No, we also offer it in French
  • Please make sure your teacher knows which language you want.
  • No. 
  • We have a network of universities across Canada who have teams of markers.  Your teacher sends it to them for marking and we give your teacher the results when they're ready.
  • Top-scoring submissions are reviewed by at least one senior mathematician (i.e. professor or grad student) to make sure all partial marks are awarded evenly.


  • Usually, yes.  That is the normal situation.
  • For students who want to participate whose school cannot or will not participate as a group, we have limited space at our Open Writing Centres. See the Independent Students section below for details about this.
  • No
  • While the vast majority of our competitors are in Canada, we also have some students around the world competing. 
  • Students outside Canada compete in the “International” division instead of the “Canadian” division. 

See our Prizes and Awards page for more information.

  • You can contact other schools in your area to see if they are participating and are willing to accept students from other schools.
  • You may also be able to participate as an “Independent Student” through one of our Open Writing Centres. See the Independent Students section below for details about this.
  • Yes, you are eligible to register for more than one competition each year.

Independent Students

  • It’s usually a room on the campus of one of our partner universities.  They have arranged to have a proctor/instructor available to administer the competition.  Not all universities have this, and for those that do, space is limited. If there are any OWCs with space available, these will be listed on our competition’s home page once registration opens.
  • If your school is unable or unwilling to run the competition itself, you should check the OWC list to see if there is one that you are able to get to.
  • Please note that you have to pay online for your registration in order to secure a spot.
  • Almost all are in-person.
  • We aim to offer one or two OWCs that can proctor you remotely (e.g. through Zoom).  If you see an option in the list of available OWCs that indicates it is “Remote” instead of “in person”, then you could sign up for that one.
  • For remote proctoring, you will require a reliable internet connection, web browser, web cam, and software like Zoom.  All IDs are carefully checked.  You should be prepared to arrive on zoom and check in with the proctor there at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time.
  1. First thing is to make sure there is an OWC that has space for you that you can attend.  There is a list of available OWCs on the competition home page (click View Availability) once registration opens.
  2. Click Register Now.  This takes you to a login page for our Competition Portal.  If you don’t have an account already, you need to create one.  Enter your email address when prompted.  Then wait for an email to arrive in your inbox (check your Junk/Spam folders too, in case they get sent there).  It should arrive in a few minutes.
  3. Open the verification email we sent you and click the link inside.  Then you can set a password for your portal account and enter your name.  Then log into your account using your email address and the password you just set.
  4. You’ll get the choice of creating a Student account or an account for a School.  Choose Student.
  5. Provide your address.  Our award divisions are based on geographic locations, and we also may need to mail you a physical prize or portfolio (or even a cheque) later.
  6. Now click to register for COMC.  Choose an OWC with space available that you want from the list and provide the rest of your information, then confirm.  This creates an “unpaid order” which does not guarantee you a spot, so you next need to pay for it.
  7. Pay online using Paypal.  You don’t need your own Paypal account if you are just paying with a credit card, but you can use your Paypal account if you have one.
  8. If you wish, you can click “Receipt” when you’ve finished paying to print or save it.

At any time thereafter, you can log into your Portal account using the email address and password you set.  In your Portal, you'll see the details for the OWC you registered for (special instructions, specific location, etc.)

  • Yes.
  • Log into your Portal account and click on the competition you have created an order for.
  • Next, under “Orders”, click Details. This will bring you to a new page.
  • Click Details again and you will have the option to print a receipt for your order.
  • Did you pay?  If so, then please contact our office.
  • If you didn’t pay, our system automatically erased abandoned registrations, so you will need to re-register.  We don't hold spots for unpaid registrations.
  • You’ll need to contact our office for this.
  • Generally, we permit cancellations up until the registration deadline (October 13th for shipped exams, October 20th for PDF delivery), but there is a 10% service charge we retain.
  • Check the instructions for your Open Writing Centre through your Portal account.  If there are special requirements or instructions (e.g. parking, masks, etc.) they will appear there.
  • Bring your official government issued photo ID.
  • Bring two or more pencils (preferably dark, such as 2B) and a good eraser.
  • You won’t be allowed to use electronics such as a phone or calculator.
  • The proctor will greet you, check your ID and mark you on the attendance sheet.
  • The proctor will go over the basic rules and give you a competition booklet, which has your name on the front and which you must keep closed until told to begin.
  • When the proctor says “Begin”, you can open your booklet and start.
  • You get up to 2.5 hours to complete your work and hand it in to the proctor at the end.
  • If you finish early, raise your hand and tell the proctor and then you can leave.
  • We email you as soon as the unofficial scores are ready.  This is normally in December.
  • We email you again in January, when we release the official results, award winners, prize winners, statistics and public announcements.
  • Your score and results will be detailed on your Portal account.  That’s also where you can get your official certificate.
  • Yes. All official competitors will be issued a certificate.  If your results are strong and you earn an award, you will get an award certificate, otherwise you will receive a quartile-based certificate.  See our Prizes and Awards page for more information.

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