Frequently Asked Questions
What is PAMO?
PAMO = Pan-African Mathematics Olympiad, a prestigious annual mathematics competition for African youth. It is like the Olympics for mathematics. Each year it is hosted by a different African country, in 2023, it is hosted by Rwanda.
Who can take part in PAMO?
All countries in Africa are allowed to take part in PAMO. Each country may send a national team made up of at most 3 girl contestants and at most 3 boy contestants.
All contestants should not be enrolled at a third level institution. All contestants should be less than 20 years old on Thursday May 18th 2023.
Countries may send an additional 6 unofficial contestants (3 girl, 3 boy), but they will cover the local costs of these unofficial contestants.
When is it?
PAMO 2023 will take place 13th-22nd May 2023, in Kigali. Team Leaders (who should be teachers of mathematics at secondary or tertiary level) will arrive on 13th May. Team members and a Deputy Leader (who is responsible for the welfare of the team) will arrive on 15th May. Departure is 22nd May.
What is the cost to take part?
The host country – i.e. Rwanda, will cover all local costs for the team (team = Team Leader, Deputy Leader & 6 contestants). Local costs are accommodation, food, and travel within the country. Each country will be responsible for getting to Rwanda (i.e. flights and visa costs.) Note that Rwanda has e-visa & visa on arrival for all countries, and for many African countries, the fees are waived.
The local costs of unofficial contestants and any additional observers will be covered by the team sending extra people.
What is the language of PAMO?
The languages of PAMO are English or French. All team members need a working knowledge of at least one of these.
The paper is available in English or French. And solutions need to be written in English or French.
What do contestants do? How is the winner decided?
There will be 2 days of exams, 17th & 18th of May. All contestants will sit these exams, each of 4.5 hours length. The exams require problem solving skills, and the questions are very difficult. Each question is worth 7 marks, and each day there are 3 questions. The total number of points is thus 42.
Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded in a ratio of 1:2:3, such that approximately 50% of contestants will receive a medal. Contestants who get 1 question perfectly correct without achieving a medal will be awarded an Honorable Mention.
How do I take part?
Countries may show their interest in taking part in PAMO2023, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and to the executive chairperson of the AMUPAMOC Prof. El Yacoubi on email@example.com. Individual schools or students may not take part.
Official letters of invitation will be sent to all interested countries by February 15th. They will be given a link of where to register, registration of countries must be done by February 28th. The final team members must be confirmed by March 31st.
How can contestants prepare?
There is no official syllabus for PAMO and similar events. All questions can be solved using only high school mathematics. However, useful approaches, tips and tricks can be learnt. The PAMO2023 website will soon have a page with some resources to help you start to prepare.
Otherwise, doing problems is the best way to prepare – you may search on the internet for previous PAMO exams via AMUPAMO website
For lower-level preparation, you can search the CEMC UWaterloo webpage – their contests with full solutions are at a pre-olympiad level, and doing them as practice will help you to improve your general problem-solving.
British Maths Olympiad website (BMO1 and BMO2) are good introductions to harder problems. The best way to prepare is to spend time doing problems. Watching video solutions after spending time on a problem can help you to expand your knowledge.
For past papers of PAMO, and some solutions, you can check the Art of Problem Solving PAMO resource page.
Why should a country take part?
PAMO is a chance for countries to showcase the mathematical talent of their students. For contestants, it motivates them to improve, and doing well at PAMO is a well recognised achievement that will help them to apply to universities etc.
In addition, attending an international competition will expand their horizons, and foster a strong sense of Pan-Africanism, one of the core values of AIMS.
Mathematical Olympiads are like the Olympics for mathematics, and many countries have intensive training programs in order to do well. Taking part in PAMO can be the first step towards taking part in the International Mathematics Olympiad, the most prestigious mathematics competition in the world.
Can I attend online?
As a trial, PAMO2023 will have an option for countries to attend PAMO online. This is for countries who can not raise the funds to cover flights. There are strict guidelines on how to set up and run a national exam center, where the contestants of that country will sit the exam.
You must show that you have tried to find money to cover flights, and give a plan on how you intend to find the funding for 2024.
The exam will be monitored by an in person PAMO-Commissioner and also via webcam by the invigilators in Rwanda. Student papers will be uploaded to the coordinators, and marked. The closing ceremony will be streamed online, and countries attending remotely will arrange for the team to watch the stream together. Any medals will be shipped to the country.
How are problems selected?
Each problem at PAMO is brand new, never seen before. Each country submits 6 new questions, made by mathematicians in their country. There is a Problem Selection Committee who then shortlists the questions. The Team Leaders arriving on 13th of May, will spend several days trying the shortlisted questions, and will vote on the problems to select what appears on the final exam. This process is strictly confidential, and Team Leaders stay at a different venue to the contestants, and no contact should be made between Team Leaders and Contestants.
How does marking work?
The students scripts are marked by 2 people: their team leader, and a coordinator responsible for that problem. Once both parties have marked the script (according to the marking scheme), they meet and discuss/compare their proposed marks. Usually both parties propose the same mark. Sometimes they propose different marks, and after comparing the script and the marking scheme, they may come to a better agreement. Occasionally they do not agree, and the matter is brought to the mediator, who has the final say.
For new countries, we will assign you an experienced marker who will support you.