Search

FAQs for Teachers / Organizers – COMC 2023

Overviews

  • 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.
  • Participating in nationally-recognized mathematics competitions is a fantastic item to add to their portfolios if they want to seek an entrance scholarship in university.
  • Gain new experience in problem solving that lets them measure themselves against some of Canada’s keenest math students.
  • We issue official certificates to all competitors and recognize the top achievers publicly on our web site and with some small cash awards.
  • Top performers have a chance of being invited to the CMO (Canadian Mathematical Olympiad)
  • Teachers/Organizers hold the competition at their own school.
  • 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.
  • 150 minutes to complete a total of 12 questions.

Paper

  • A few days before the competition, we upload PDFs directly to your Portal Account (or ship you printed material by courier) for the question booklets and individual (named) Student Answer Sheets for you to distribute.  For PDF delivery, you print these and the students do their work on paper like a traditional test.

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).

  • Teachers (or organizers).
  • Minimal student information is indeed required, but students engage with the competition through the teacher, so the teacher provides a list of competitor names, etc.
  • It is important to fill in Student Roster information within the portal prior to the deadline, as the exams will be tailored to have student information on them.
  • No.
  • You collect the work booklets from the students and courier them to one of our partner universities for marking.  We include pre-paid, pre-scheduled courier pickup on Friday for all Canadian schools.
    For international schools, you must courier the exams to the partnered university as shown on your Proctor's Instructions at your own expense.
  • We email you when the exams are marked and scores are available.
  • No, we also offer it in French.  
  • When you have placed an order with us, you have a "Student Roster" in which to indicate the names of the students and the language of the exam for each.

Schools and Other Organizations

  • Yes. We have an International Division (see our Prizes and Awards page) that your students could compete in.
  • Generally, we ask that schools that are in time zones outside North/South America write the competition the day after those in Canada write it.
  • In some countries, we also have International Partner organizations that help to coordinate students writing the competition in those countries.  You are welcome to click their links on our International Competition Partner page for contact information or more details.
  • Yes. The COMC is a competition that is open to any student with an interest in and grasp of mathematics.
  • However, in order for the students to write the competition as official competitors, there are eligibility requirements.  In particular, the exams and the proctoring must be handled by a Qualified Proctor, who has a current, provincially-recognized teaching certificate and is not family-related to any of the students. An organization such as one of these would normally either write the exam unofficially, or they would contact a suitable teacher to agree to be the person to receive and/or print the materials, invigilate the students, and send their work back to us for official processing and marking.  All such nominated proctors need to be vetted by the CMS to ensure the integrity of the competition. The organizer would still be the one with access to the orders and all the results, of course.
  • More information about this is on our Eligibility page.

Registering (Ordering)

  • If you want us to pre-print the materials for you and courier them to you, the deadline is October 13th.
  • If you are willing to download the materials in PDF form and print them yourself for your students, the deadline is October 20th.
  • Please see the information on our competition’s home page, under Rates and Delivery Methods.
  • Please see our Inclusion Initiative page.  In short, it is a small number of free registrations we offer to increase the rates of participation of traditionally under-represented groups.
  • This only applies to schools in Canada that we have assessed as Official.
  • Schools with students who qualify for the Inclusion Initiative must email us before they place their orders:
    • Tell us the number of students that you are applying to have covered by the Initiative and the number of exams overall that you intend to order.
    • We will then email you specialized instructions for how to place your order such that the amount due is reduced accordingly.
    • Be aware that there is a maximum of 5 free exams per school.
  • Note that the CMS does not ask for the actual identities of the students designated in this way.

When registration is open, you will see a big Register Now button on the competition’s Home Page. This will take you to the Competitions Portal.

  1. Create a new account  (if you don’t already have one on our new Portal).  Choose “Create Account” and provide your email address.  Then find a verification email message we send to you in the following few minutes. Click the link in the email message and then provide your name and set your password.  Then log in and choose “School/Organization” as your account type (rather than “Student”).  Last, provide the name and address of your school.  This sets up your Portal account.
  2. Register for COMC. It will be listed as one of the choices of competitions open for registration.  Select the number of exams you want to order and confirm it.  This creates an unpaid order on our system.
  3. Payment.  If you can pay online using a credit card or Paypal account, you are encouraged to do that.  Some schools still require hardcopy invoices and need to mail us paper cheques.  This is also acceptable, as long as you can meet the payment deadline.  You can print the invoice for any unpaid order you make.
  4. Receipt.  Once payment is made, a receipt is available on your Portal.
  5. Identify your students.  This is new for 2023. Use the Student Roster function in your Portal to tell us who your students are.  All competition papers come prepared with pre-printed student information on them.  The information we need is fairly minimal and should likely be close.  This is an important new addition, please be sure to have this done before the registration deadline.
  • Please refer to the Eligibility page.
  • If you just newly created your Portal account, we need a day or two to make sure your information isn’t from a spam bot or someone trying to get advance access to the questions for cheating. When we do our assessment, we email you to notify you of the result.
  • Even if after assessment, your organization is still flagged as Unofficial, you can make special arrangements with a qualified proctor so that your students can indeed participate as Official Competitors.
  • Note that this doesn’t prevent you from ordering exams and doesn’t affect the prices.
  • You just add an extra order.  The minimum order size is waived in this situation.
  • Until October 20th: Yes, with restrictions. You have to email us to do this.  You can’t reduce your total ordered exams below the minimum order size. We also charge a 10% administration fee. The rest we will refund to you.  We may end up canceling your original order and creating a new (paid) order in its place with the revised size.
  • After October 20th: No. However, if you find someone else who wants to write the competition in place of the original student, you can do that.  Just change the information in your Student Roster and, if needed, cross out the old student information on the exam booklet and write in the replacement student’s information.  It would also help if you emailed us to alert us to this change.

Student Roster

  • Yes this is a new requirement for 2023.
  • The Exam Booklets come pre-printed now with the student information on them.  You just give each booklet to the designated student.  We use this to expedite the marking and processing.
  • The information we need for each student is kept fairly minimal:
    • First and Last Name
    • Grade (based on the North American K-12 system, plus Cégep for Quebec)
    • Full time student (yes/no)
    • School name (this defaults to your own school name and appears on the certificate – it is here to allow for the situation where a guest student from another school is joining your group just for the competition).
    • Gender identity (optional)
  • It’s optional. Teachers are welcome to select “Prefer not to say”.
  • The reason is twofold. First, we are involved in some invitational competitions, for example the European Girls Mathematical Olympiad (EGMO) which restricts participation to female-identifying students. When we are considering who to invite for training these students and sending a Canadian team to Europe, we need to include that restriction. Second, we want to encourage greater participation in our competitions from girls and want to track how well we are doing.
  • If the student does very well and earns one of the Gold/Silver/Bronze or Honourable Mention awards in one of our divisions (see the Prizes and Awards page), then we only identify the student by name and school on our website.
  • Unless someone scores “perfect”, we don’t mention their actual score publicly.  Of course, the teacher has access to all the scores of their own students.

Payments

  • Online payment is preferred. We use Paypal to handle our online payments. If you have a Paypal account, you can certainly use it, but you do not require one if all you want to do is process your credit card for our exams.
  • Paper cheques are still accepted. Some schools still require the use of traditional invoices and send cheques to us by mail. This is also acceptable, but it remains the responsibility of the school to get us the payment by the due date.
  • Friday, October 20th, 2023.

The CMS reserves the right to cancel any order which remains unpaid after the payment deadline. If you anticipate your payment to be late, please contact us at competitions@cms.math.ca.

  • Log into your portal and choose the competition involved.  
  • You will see a link for each of your orders (if you have more than one).  If you choose an order that is unpaid, you will see the invoice and you can print it if you wish.
  • Once payment is received, we update your portal order history and status.
    We also send you an email to notify you of this.
  • Log into your portal and choose the competition involved.  
  • You will see a link for each of your orders (if you have more than one).  If you choose an order that is paid, you will see the receipt and you can print it if you wish.
  • If you have paid for an order and want to cancel it, you need to contact us.
  • Until the payment deadline (October 13th for shipped exams, October 20th for PDF delivery), we issue refunds less a 10% administrative fee.  After this date, we do not issue refunds.
  • If your order isn’t marked Paid, you can cancel it yourself using your Portal.
  • Yes.
  • Just log into your Portal account, find the order and click "Pay Now".  We also recommend you email us to let us know you did this.

Materials and Proctoring

  • If you ordered Print and Ship exams, then we pre-print them and courier them to you and you should receive them by Tuesday prior to the competition.
  • If you ordered PDF exams, we will put them in your portal for you on Wednesday to download.  Look for the link "Download" on your portal.

    In special cases where the organization is using a specially-arranged proctor, we send the PDF materials to the proctor by email rather than posting them to the Portal.

    If you do not have what you expect by early that Tuesday, or Wednesday for PDF orders, please email us or phone us (613-733-2662) for help.
  1. Immediately after the students leave, make sure you have all your students’ booklets and count them to be sure.
  2. Insert them in a courier envelope (or another sturdy envelope) and attach the courier pre-paid waybill.  Do not include unused/blank exams.  It will have the address of one of our partner universities on it.
  3. Give this to your main school office by/before early Friday morning.  The courier is scheduled to come pick up the package sometime on Friday. 
  4. Please ensure the Proctor Declaration is in the envelope along with the exams to be shipped.

Note: if you are not located in Canada, you will need to courier the materials back to us at your expense.  The address to use will be in your Instructions.

If you have technical or logistical problems, please email us.

  • Calculators, phones and other electronic devices are not permitted. Dictionaries, if needed, can be used if the Proctor/Teacher monitors their use.

Exceptions: If one or more of your students requires accommodation for special, documented needs, the teacher/organizer must advise us of that by email in advance and will require our written permission for exceptions.

Please allow this if you can.

  1.  Find the (otherwise unused) Bookletfor the missing student.  Cross out the student information on the sheet.  Write the name, and grade of the replacement student on the cover page and let the replacement student use that booklet for the competition.
  2. Please email us to alert us which student you are replacing with which student, so we can adjust our files.
  • If you have any exams you ordered but didn’t give us the name of the student in your Student Roster, you can use these.   These should have blanks where the name and grade would normally appear.
  • Do not photocopy the booklets - each one is coded for a particular student for automated processing and you could end up with both students' exams (the original and the photocopy) being disqualified.
  • If you did not order any extra exams, then you are limited to those you have.

Results

  • All the exams are marked by hand by trained university marking teams.  Therefore the process takes a few weeks.
  • We aim to have the unofficial scores for all students available before the December school break.  We will email you when that is available through your portal.
  • We aim to have the final scores, award winner lists, certificates and so on by mid-January.  We will email you again when this is ready.
  • At that time, anyone can go to the main COMC page to see the overall results both in Canada and Foreign divisions, breakdowns by grade, and by province or region.  There are no public results comparing schools to one another.
  • All students who write as Official Participants get certificates of one kind or another to add to their math portfolios, or to frame as they see fit. 
  • We create earned Award Certificates for those with high scores and quartile-based Certificates for those who didn’t earn specific awards.
  • All the certificates are accessed through the Competitions Portal.

Please see our Prizes and Awards page for the details.

  • Prize draw: Anyone writing the COMC in Canada is eligible for a participation prize from the CMS which is drawn randomly. The chances of winning depend on the number of prizes and the number of students writing the COMC.
  • For top competitors in Canada:
    • Cash Awards: We have a cash prize pool we divide among the top students and send them a cheque.
    • Portfolios: Top students may also be sent a printed copy of their Award Certificate in a portfolio.
    • Plaques: We may also produce plaques for the school that has these top students, to display on a wall or trophy case as an encouragement for future students.
  • For all of the physical material, we send a package in care of the teacher/organizer to pass along to their students as appropriate.
  • We aim to send these packages out by post during January/February.

Account System

  • Yes. It is new as of September 2023.
  • All schools/organizations need to create a new account on the new system.  It uses the email address you provide for logging in, rather than the school’s ID code.
  • Prior to 2023, we had an older system.  It’s still online so schools wanting to access their historical information still can.
  • No.  Only the teachers (or organizers) have a Portal account.  They manage their students using their teacher account.
  • First please note that we have a new (2023) Portal system and it requires new accounts for all schools.
  • The new Portal system is based on the unique email addresses of the organizers/teachers.
  • There is a Forgotten Password link on the login page that will send an email verification code to you so you can reset your password.  It should arrive within a few minutes.  Check your Inbox and your Junk/Spam mailbox and click the link you find there.
  • If you are still struggling to get into what you are certain is your account, you can contact our office, but we will require extra steps to ensure your identity and it may require a few days to do this.
  • Please email the CMS office to change a school address. In your email, please include: your current school address, the new school address, your email address and your school ID.
  • To minimize the potential for cheating, we have to manually inspect and verify these changes.
  • This is possible, but we have to take steps to ensure this isn’t abused or used as a way to cheat. Please email us the details of your situation, including old and new address, your name and your school’s name.
  • Detail the situation in an email to us. 
  • If you have a contact at the old school who can “take over” the old school’s information (and possibly will be the competition coordinator there now that you’ve left), please include their name and email as well. 
  • Be sure to include a full mailing address for your new school as well. We may require extra steps to ensure all changes are properly authorized.
  • No. You just need one
  • Your portal will have all your history organized by competition and year.
  • The new Portal system doesn’t have the old years’ data on it, but the old system is still running.  You can access the old portal here.
  • Remember: Teachers log into the old portal using their old school ID codes and their old passwords.  
  • One cannot register for new competitions using the old system.

Did we answer your question?

If not please use this contact form to route your question to the right person.

It can take up to 2-3 business days for us to reply.  In the past, many people sent us emails for questions that were already answered in the FAQs above, so your fastest route to an answer is to look for the information above first.