Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Selection and Training of SIMO Junior, Senior and National Teams


Singapore first participated in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) in 1988. To date, Singapore has participated in IMO 27 times and won 10 Gold medals, 41 Silver medals, 65 Bronze medals and 20 Honourable Mentions. (For details, check Singapore's Team Results, Individual Results and Hall of Fame)

The selection and training of the Singapore IMO team is the responsibility of Singapore International Mathematical Olympiad (SIMO) Committee. Members of the SIMO are the NUS Department of Mathematics professors, Ministry of Education (MOE) officials and high schools/Junior Colleges teachers (currently, we have teachers from RI, HCI and NUS High in SIMO). To prepare students for the IMO, SIMO runs 3 training teams: Junior Training Team, Senior Training Team and National Training Team. Only Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents are eligible to be selected into the training teams.

Junior Training Team

The SIMO Junior Training Team members are selected based on students' performance in the SMO (Junior) competition held in May/June each year. Most of the students selected are Sec 1 and 2 students. The SIMO Junior team takes in about 50 students each year. As each student can be trained in the Junior Training Team only once, and non-SC and non-PR students are not considered, I would reckon that those eligible and who are ranked among the top 100 or thereabout in SMO (Junior) should be able to make it into the team. The training is focussed mainly on basic Geometry concepts.  As more primary school students are taking part in SMO (Junior), we do have a few primary school students (typically P6 students, this year we even have a P5 student) who manage to get selected into the Junior Training Team every year. Training is conducted on Saturday mornings, from July to August/September. There are about 5-6 training sessions, and a test will be conducted on the last session; those who do well and who display good attitude during the training (e.g. make effort to complete homework and take home test) may be invited to join the Senior Training Team.

Senior Training Team

Besides getting members from the Junior Training Team (as mentioned above, from the SIMO Junior team selection test), the SIMO Senior Training Team also selects its members from those who did well in the SMO (Senior) and SMO (Junior) competitions (for those who had attended Junior training team before). The SIMO Senior team takes in about 30 students each year. Preference is given to the younger students who have the potential to be selected into the National Training Team in Year 5 and below. For instance, if we have one Sec 3 and one Sec 4 student who just meet the COP for the Senior Training Team, the former and not the latter may be selected. Students may join the Senior Training Team more than once.  The training will be held in January to April in the following year. Sometimes the training may commence earlier, in October/November.

National Team Selection and Training

The main selection test for the SIMO National Training Team is the SMO (Open) Round 2 competition (note: Round 1 marks are not considered). Besides those who did well in SMO (Open) Round 1 and qualified to take Round 2 by their own merit, all students from the SIMO Senior Team will be invited to SMO (Open) Round 2. Strong candidates who have neither attended SIMO Senior Team training nor participated in SMO (Open) Round 1 may be recommended by their teachers to take SMO (Open) Round 2, which decides whether they can qualify for the SIMO National Team. Students who did not perform satisfactorily in SMO (Open) Round 2 but who display a lot of potential (e.g. represented Singapore in overseas competition and did extremely well, top in SMO competitions) may be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and still get selected into the SIMO National Team. Each year, less than 20 students will form the National Team. Training will start in October the same year and ends in April the following year. The two main trainers for the National Team are usually x-men (a term used to describe SIMO alumni, students who had gone IMO in the past) or y-men (a term used to describe SIMO alumni who had undergone National Team Training but had not gone IMO before) who had just completed their National Service obligation. These trainers will accompany the 6-delegate IMO team as Observers.

Currently, the 6-member IMO Team is selected through two National Team Selection Tests (NTST) organised by SIMO. In the first NTST held in April, students have to solve 4 problems in 4 hours. In the second NTST held in end April or early May, it is comparable in difficulty to the IMO and are fashioned after the IMO - the test consists of two 4.5-hr papers in 2 days, with 3 problems in each paper. The top 6 scorers will be announced 1 week after the second NTST, and they will represent Singapore in the same year's IMO. These students will undergo further rigorous daily training until they leave for the IMO in July.

Flowchart for Selection of Singapore IMO Team


SIMO also organises an all-expenses-paid one-week residential training camp during the June school holidays for the National Team as well as the Senior Team. Accommodation in hostel and all meals (up to 5 times a day) are provided. A typical day begins with lectures and problem solving sessions after breakfast. These will continue after lunch. In the evening campers take part in various sports activities. After dinner, there are also talks and other organised activities. The camp provides a chance for the various groups of trainees to get together. This is also a homecoming occasion for the x-men. Through various interactions, the trainees can learn from the x-men their past experience at the IMO, national service, application of university, scholarships and so on.

Reference: SIMO Home Page


Anonymous said...

hi LJM, thanks for your time and effort to the post.

Anonymous said...

@LJM, thk you for posting. I think it may not be the top 100 for the junior section selection. Your post is very detailed and well explained.

Anonymous said...

Hi LJM, thank you for sharing.
As you can see, it is not true that one can run out of ideas,there is a lot to blog about :)