Maths Challenge Report

Senior School Mathematics

Two of our Maths Challenge team, Third year pupils Alex Hyde and Kogulan Vipulan, wrote this report about their experience earlier this year:

"Upon arrival at Rugby High School for the 2016 Junior Maths Team Challenge, our team, which included Second year pupils Dominic Reeves and Harry White, began some early practice questions whilst awaiting the arrival of 20 other schools.  

Once the competition began, we faced the ‘Group Round’, consisting of 10 six-mark questions, all of different difficulty levels. Before we started these questions however, we were assigned a teacher from another school, in this case, a teacher from Stratford School. This therefore meant that we had to part with our teacher, Dr Archer. The ‘Group Round’ rules allowed our entire team to communicate and work with one another to achieve the correct answers, and it was clear we worked well together as our team only got one question out of the ten wrong, although we only just finished them in time! 

The second round involved our team working in pairs to complete a cross-number puzzle (as opposed to a cross-word). One pair was given all of the clues to the across answers and the other pair given the down clues. For some of the questions, we would need an answer from another pair, however, neither pair was allowed to communicate with each other to help with the other pair’s questions. The only communication allowed was to ask for the other pair to work on a specific question or to show the other pair one of your answers. Our team achieved a fairly high mark for this round, as we only lost marks from getting three digits wrong, one of which was an accidental error where we wrote down the incorrect number by mistake.  

After lunch, it was the ‘Shuttle’ round. Again this was in pairs and consisted of four questions which needed to be answered within eight minutes; it was three marks for each but a bonus three if all four were answered within six minutes. The first pair receives questions A1 and A3 and the second pair questions A2 and A4. However the catch is that pair 2 require the answer from A1 to complete A2 and similarly for A3 and A4. Our allocated teacher will only mark the answer grid once all 4 answers are submitted. If question A1 is incorrect, then it has a knock on effect meaning all the rest are wrong as well.  

We started very strongly, with the first set of four questions answered correctly in under six minutes. The co-ordinator even said she had never seen anyone complete it as fast as we did. We did not do so well on question set B, though recovered well on C, with once again all 4 questions being answered within six minutes. A misunderstanding on set D meant we lost valuable time and so did not perform as well on it.  

The final round, to sum up what had been an already engaging day, was the ‘Relay’ round. This time both sets of pairs were on different tables in the hall rather than everyone on one table. All the teachers were lined on the western side. We had 45 minutes to complete a series of 30 questions. The first pair had 15 ‘A’ questions and the second pair had 15 ‘B’ questions. Once pair 1 had completed question A1, one of the pair would hurry to our allocated teacher. If correct, the teacher would hand them question B1, which they would give to the pair 2, who were somewhere else in the hall. If incorrect, they could have another attempt but no more subsequent attempts after attempt number 2. Each question was worth 2 marks, so the maximum possible was 60 marks.  

We began slower this time, but the pace picked up and we were on track by the time we reached question five with 30 minutes remaining. The questions were really testing our ability of quick and careful thinking, but also how fast we could run to the teacher and then give the new question to the other pair. Some were easier than others, and we were urging the other pair to do the questions faster. It was not our best round, but we finished it with the respectable score of 42. 

After 10 minutes of adding the totals, the results were ready to be announced. ‘3rd place, Lawrence Sheriff’ announced the co-ordinator. We had mixed emotions at that stage, because we didn’t know whether we were outside the top three or within the top two. ‘2nd place, Bablake School,’ she said, and, after the applause, we received the coveted prize of a deck of Maths Challenge cards and certificates to recognise our place. We were proud of our achievement."    

We thank Alex and Kogulan for their excellent, thorough account, and congratulate the whole team on an excellent performance!

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