Two nation-wide mathematics competitions have been taking place in Germany since reunification: the German National Mathematics Competition, which was launched in the Federal Republic of Germany by the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany in 1970, and the Mathematics Olympiad in Germany, which was established in 1961 as the Olympiad of Young Mathematicians in the GDR. The BMBF-funded competitions are united under the umbrella organization National Mathematics Competitions together with the Selection Contest for the International Mathematical Olympiad.
In addition to a good command of school mathematics, candidates must demonstrate perseverance in order to succeed in the German National Mathematics Competition. The competition is held every December in all German schools which offer courses leading to general higher education entrance qualifications. Although the requirements of the competition are aimed at Years 9 to 12/13, school students in all grades are eligible to take part.
The German National Mathematics Competition consists of three rounds. The first two rounds each involve four problems in different areas of elementary mathematics. These have to be solved independently as homework and formulated in writing. The third round, the colloquium, consists of a one-hour discussion with a university mathematician and a school mathematician. The German National Mathematics Competition is not a competitive competition. The performance of the individual is assessed according to absolute criteria. The number of prize-winners per round is not limited or determined in advance and can vary significantly from year to year.
In the first two rounds, certificates are awarded for the first, second and third places. Candidates in the second round can also look forward to cash prizes. The winners of the final round are also eligible to funding from the German National Academic Foundation.
The Mathematical Olympiad in Germany offers all interested school students the opportunity to demonstrate their special abilities in the field of mathematics. The competition demands logical thinking, powers of deduction, and creativeness in applying mathematical methods. Participation in the competition often encourages school students to devote themselves to mathematics above and beyond the topics taught in school. Lower age-groups are often motivated by a pleasure in rational and logical thinking. Older students, on the other hand, are more interested in testing, consolidating and developing their own mathematical abilities by working on complex problems.
The Mathematical Olympiad in Germany is aimed at school students in Years 3 to 12/13. It consists of four rounds. The first is a homework competition at the schools. This is followed by a regional round involving an examination. Students who are successful in the regional round then take part in a two-day examination contest at Länder level. The national winners are selected in the fourth round at federal level. Apart from certificates and material prizes, candidates can also win cash prizes.
The Selection Contest for the International Mathematical Olympiad serves to select and prepare the German team for the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). The Selection Contest for the IMO is open to anyone who is still attending school at the beginning of the contest, has successfully taken part in the second round of the German National Mathematics Competition or the federal round of the Mathematical Olympiad, or has won the Young Researchers competition in the field of mathematics at Länder level. Furthermore, candidates must also meet the age criteria for participation in the IMO (be under twenty years of age on the second examination day of the IMO).
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