It is that time of the year again. The International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) is just around the corner. Everybody knows the IMO is a real tough nut to crack. Like all other competitive exams this one is also going to hit you hard but with the right methods and attitude you will be able to crack this nut with ease. Here is a checklist that will help you through preparing for the Olympiad.
You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”― Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
- Get a head start – An early start is an absolute must for not just this but any competitive Mathematics exam of this intensity. We are not just talking about waking up early in the morning but to start studying atleast two months in advance. This will allow you to create a time table that is not crammed with just back to back studying the whole day. You will be able to fit in a good amount of breaks and reserve a large portion of time for revisions and mock tests. Remember that the Math Olympiad Exam is taken by millions of students from around the world. This is an indicator that the questions are going to be trickier than what you are used to. So you will need enough time to delve into every concept.
- Gather your materials – Go through the IMO syllabus several times and get all the materials required for your preparation. Call some friends who are taking the same test to ensure that you have not overlooked any key aspects of the syllabus. There are also reliable online sources that can do the required research and present you with the entire syllabus in an easy format for you to grasp.
- Find the right tutor – As your tutor will play a key role in your learning process, ensure that you select someone who is good and at par with your comfort level. If you are unable to find a good IMO tutor near your house, sign up for online tutoring. It not only gives you easy access to a wider pool of well-established tutors, it also reduces the stress of travelling. Check out Vedantu’s IMO courses here
- Check your progress – Revision is an extremely important part of studying for the Math Olympiad. As you study, take notes or create cue cards for yourself. When you commence with revision, the pointers in your notes will help you refresh your memory of all that you have learned. The cue cards are another way of revising what you have studied. They need not be as elaborate as the notes but should have enough points to help you recall topics in case you get stuck somewhere. But always remember that these revisions are indicators of your progress. If there are certain topics that need you to go back to the notes too often, then go back to the books and focus on those topics a little longer. Also watch out for common mistakes that you are making including usage of positive/negative signs, brackets, moving decimal points etc. Even the greatest of mathematicians tend to make these mistakes that change the course of the sums. Just be extra careful with these tiny symbols.
- Study Smart– As part of your schedule, set aside time to go through sample papers and attempt those questions. Also, line up mock tests that will help you assess your progress. Practice, practice and more practice will only perfect you. But smart studying is just as important as studying hard. Spot patterns in the sample papers and use that to your best advantage. Also, try to find easier ways to solve problems rather than take the real long path leading to several pages of calculations.
- Love thy enemy – It is important to identify your strengths and weaknesses. If you find certain topics more difficult, then spend more time on those topics. Very often students tend to get scared of topics that they are not comfortable with and treat it with aversion. The best methodology to embrace here is – love thy enemy.
- Pick the right spot – Pick a quiet spot to study so you are not distracted by the daily happenings of the household. Transform that space in to the perfect den with good lighting, good ventilation and all the required study materials. You can also decorate the space with quotes and posters of people who inspire you to go forward. Inspire yourself silly because it can lift you from the deepest pits.
- Relax and Rest – It is essential to also walk away from your den frequently and take a break from studying. This is extremely important as it is easy to burn out. While from your external appearance it may not show, internal burnout is quite expected from such situations. A routine of good exercise, healthy food and occasional breaks will not just reduce the risk of burning out, it will also help you concentrate and focus better. During your breaks avoid talking to friends who are also preparing for the test and avoid addictive recreation like video games, TV series marathons etc. It is natural to get carried away with these fun activities and hence, breaking away from the set schedule. Push yourself because no one is going to do that for you.
- Build that attitude – The most important part is to not just be prepared academically but to also be prepared with the right attitude. An optimistic approach will build that fire in you to win. But it is equally important to keep that fire contained within a thin layer of realistic behavior. Solving problems at the IMO level needs a different mindset. Give yourself time and work up that killer attitude.
- Don’t stress out – The day before the Math Olympiad will be the toughest as the built up tension will surface. Accept that you are tense but do not stress out. There are two reasons why your stress needs to be controlled. Firstly, the stress will make you forget what you have studied. Secondly, the stress can result in a break down. Do not let your fear destroy all the awesome work you have done. So do what it takes to control yourself and do not cram anymore studying into the last 24 hours. Use your cue cards to just revise key topics that you know will appear in the IMO.
CONCLUSION – The whole process of preparing for the International Math Olympiad is an experience rather than an outcome. Acceptance of this as an experience and a dash of realistic behavior will reduce the intensity of the outcome. Some of the greatest leaders we look up to today did not need a certificate to be a winner. Winners were born from the experience of learning. Study hard, have an optimistic attitude and believe that you have what it takes to be a winner, no matter what.
Remember, our tutors are there to help you! So do check out our focused IMO courses here