A programme to help students prepare for competitions
We believe that competitions can be a valuable experience for many young mathematicians, especially when accompanied with appropriate preparation.
Many students who would benefit from our harder competitions, especially the British Mathematical Olympiad Round 2, might not be sure how to start preparing. The Olympiad Mentoring Scheme (OMS) is designed to help such students, while teaching some general mathematical skills. Some students may be supported by one of our volunteer mentors.
How does the OMS work?
Each month, students will receive a problem sheet. A discussion of the problems, which include background material and discussions of general methods and topics of related interest as well as solutions, are issued to students at the end of the month. Students with mentors are encouraged to discuss their attempts at the problems and with their mentor during the month, as well as to ask for hints or help understanding the theory.
For the first five months of the year, the sheets aim towards BMO1 and then BMO2, guiding students through relevant theory and highlighting recent problems. The final sheets are more topic-based, prompting students to explore slightly beyond the realm of the competition syllabus, and hopefully leaving some thought-provoking material for the summer.
Please Note: The Olympiad Mentoring Scheme is running on a two-year cycle. Please do not publish the problems or solutions on the internet; Please see our policy on the use of intellectual property.
Who is the OMS For?
OMS is intended for students who already have some familiarity with Olympiads, and are aiming to commit to some work and improve towards BMO2 level. Students will likely be suitably prepared if they are motivated by this and keen to work for ~10 hours per month, and any of the following apply:
- They can make good progress on questions 1-4 from BMO1
- They can make good progress on most questions from MOG or the Hamilton and (especially) Maclaurin Olympiad papers.
Note that the OMS is run separately from the main Mentoring Scheme, which has a similar structure, but a broader mathematical focus with less emphasis on competition preparation. Students are not allowed to have a volunteer mentor on both schemes simultaneously.
How to join
The OMS is aimed at students based in the UK. Teachers from registered UKMT centres may request that their student receive the material: Click here to register for 2023/24 OMS
OMS Sample Sheet
The Olympiad Mentoring Scheme material was written by Sam Bealing, Thomas Hillman, and Freddie Illingworth.
Advanced Olympiad Mentoring Scheme
The Advanced Olympiad Mentoring Scheme (AOMS) operates in a similar way to OMS and is designed for students working at or towards the level of international competitions, such as the International Mathematical Olympiad and European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad. Participation in AOMS is by invitation based on scores in BMO and the resulting follow-on events.
The Advanced Olympiad Mentoring Scheme material was written by Richard Freeland, Aron Thomas, and Dominic Yeo.
What does “mentor” and “mentoring” mean?
Our mentors are adult mathematicians from a range of backgrounds. Mentors will be available to discuss the problem, including giving feedback on any written work, and offering hints and general tips.
How do I know if I should sign up?
If you have enjoyed maths olympiads so far, and i) are hoping to improve towards BMO2 and upper-BMO1 level over the academic year; ii) are motivated to do eg 5-15 hours work each month on a varied set of problems, you should consider signing up. If your school has limited experience of these competitions, you are particularly encouraged to sign up.
How do I join the Olympiad Mentoring Scheme?
Can I sign up without a mentor?
Yes, many students will take part in OMS without a mentor. If this is your preference, please add this to the comment section when signing up.
Is it ok if I haven’t taken BMO before?
Yes, many students on OMS are hoping to take part in BMO for the first time.
What other resources are available to prepare for BMO?
UKMT publishes a number of problem-solving books. Among them are A Mathematical Olympiad Primer (which covers past BMO1 problems) and A Mathematical Olympiad Companion (which covers past BMO2) problems. These are available for sale in UKMT Shop. Motivated students are encouraged to explore other structured textbooks that cover individual topics in more depth.
How do I join the Advanced Olympiad Mentoring Scheme?
AOMS is by invitation only. Invites are issued to students who attended one of the main IMO programme training camps in the previous year, or scored very highly on BMO.
What are the rules about reposting the problems?
You should not post material from OMS and AOMS on the internet, including online forums and apps. If discussing individual problems with a friend, be mindful not to spoil the solution for them!
My mentor is not responding!
If your mentor has not responded to messages over several weeks, please tell us and we will investigate.
My child is homeschooled - what arrangements are in place for this?
BMO papers must be sat at a UKMT test centre. Our preference is for homeschooled students to be registered through the school where they expect to sit BMO. Please write to us if this is impossible.
What are the safeguarding arrangements for the mentoring scheme?
Both OMS and AOMS are conducted through Google Classroom. Both mentors and students will use a UKMT email address, and sharing other personal contact details is not permitted. All mentors have taken an accredited safeguarding course.
View UKMT’s Safeguarding Policy and the Designated Safeguarding Lead can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My child is in Year 7 and loves maths! Is this suitable for them?
OMS will normally not be suitable for a child in Year 7 or 8, unless they have already excelled at competitions aimed at Year 10+. If this is the case, the teacher should make this extremely clear when signing up. Information about UKMT’s competitions for younger pupils can be found on our Junior Challenges pages.
Can I register my entire class?
It is very unlikely that OMS would be suitable for a whole class, and this is not the intended purpose of the scheme. Mass registrations will not in general be prioritised for mentor access.
Can I have access to the material to use with my class or for personal interest?
This is not prohibited, but is not the core purpose of OMS. Experienced teachers will likely find UKMT textbooks a better resource for classroom teaching. That said, it is perfectly fine for OMS students to share the material with their teacher, and we encourage teachers with a particular interest in the material to sign up as a mentor.
How is OMS related to UKMT’s other mentoring schemes?
OMS targets the two rounds of the British Mathematical Olympiad, and the sheets are timed specifically around these dates. Mentors’ feedback will include advice on writing up solutions to score maximum credit. OMS and AOMS are organised by the British Mathematical Olympiad.
UKMT’s Enrichment Executive Committee oversee a separate set of mentoring schemes with broader scope beyond competitions, including levels for younger or less experienced students, and more options for inclusion in classroom teaching.
For Prospective Volunteers
I am interested in being a mentor for OMS. What should I do?
Please contact the Volunteering Manager email@example.com and/or the IMO Programme Director for further information. If you are not already a UKMT volunteer, you will need to go through the process to register, which can take a few weeks.
Does it matter if I can’t always solve BMO problems?
Mentors are provided with solutions and commentary at the start of the month. Offering warm and relevant feedback and advice is considerably more important than the ability to solve every question yourself.
Does it matter if I can only spare an hour per month?
For most mentors and mentees, an hour per month is enough time to review the month’s written work and give useful feedback. Some mentors choose to engage for longer, or more frequently, but this is not required.
Does it matter if I lack confidence at geometry?
No. It is common that each mentor will have favourite and less favourite subjects.
I’ve just left school. Can I be a mentor next year?
We are very glad to have recent olympiad students involved as mentors, whether or not they took part in training camps or international competitions. However, we recommend they wait for a year before starting mentoring, for several reasons, including to ensure they are confident about time availability (Other BMO activities such as marking weekends do not carry this recommendation).
Beyond OMS and AOMS
Is progress on OMS or AOMS considered in camp selection or international team selection?
No. The mentoring schemes are entirely for individual students’ education, not for selection.
Can I put the mentoring scheme on my UCAS form?
Neither OMS nor AOMS (nor BMO results) are a formal qualification and do not carry UCAS points. However, some students may choose to discuss aspects of their mentoring experience as part of their personal statement.
Can I talk to my mentor about eg applications and studying maths at university?
For everyone’s safety, mentors and mentees should not discuss personal details, or arrange contact outside of Google Classroom. However, if your mentor is willing, it is fine to discuss other mathematical matters briefly.