Frequently Asked Questions
Is the competition open for home schooled students?
Yes. The COMC is Canada's premier national mathematics competition that is open to any student with an interest in and grasp of high school math. To be considered official participants and to qualify for awards or prizes, students must meet the official eligibility criteria. The competition must be supervised by someone who is not family-related to any of the students. Local home-schooling organizations can often help provide an appropriate proctor.
My school is not registering for the COMC. What are other options to register for the competition?
All registrations for the COMC must come from schools, through teachers or proctors. Individual students (and their parents) may ask any nearby school if they are participating in the COMC and if they are willing to add an exam in order to have the student participate at the school on exam day.
What grade levels can write the COMC?
There are no grade eligibility requirements for the COMC. However, the difficulty level of questions is based on the mathematics curriculum taught in senior secondary grades and CÉGEPs. Some questions require a degree of understanding beyond the curriculum. To see potential topics and past exam questions, visit the Getting Started page.
- What are the registration steps?
What is the minimum number of students that a school can register?
A minimum of 3 exams per school in Canada, or 5 exams per school internationally, is required to cover exam material and shipping costs.
Is it possible to enter the competition without entering as a school?
Not at this time. Please see home schooling provisions above if this applies to you.
How do schools receive students' participation and award certificates?
When the final results are announced, teachers/organizers will be able to log in to their accounts to download and print participation certificates for all of their students.
Awards certificates are only provided for official participants who achieve a high ranking, which are also available for teachers/organizers to download and print. For students in Canada, award certificate plaques are mailed to their schools.
What is the date and location for the COMC?
The 2016 COMC will be held on Thursday, November 3rd in Canada and the Americas (anywhere in North/South American time zones), and on Friday, November 4th elsewhere in the world.
The exam is held locally (usually in your school) at a location arranged by the teacher or organizer coordinating the competition.
Is the COMC an online or paper-based exam?
It is a paper-based exam.
How long is the exam?
The competition is 2.5 hours.
Are calculators permitted?
No. Calculators and mobile phones are not permitted.
Are dictionaries allowed?
Yes, dictionaries are allowed during the exam.
I have a special needs student. Do you provide the exam in special formats?
The CMS will try to accommodate students who require an alternative exam format. Please notify the CMS office as soon as possible if you are supervising a student who needs a special exam format.
- How can students prepare for the exam?
What is the exam format?
The COMC exam is the same for students at all grade levels and consists of three sections:
- Four introductory questions worth 4 marks each. Partial marks may be awarded for work shown.
- Four more challenging questions worth 6 marks each. Partial marks may be awarded for work shown.
- Four long-form proof problems worth 10 marks each. Complete work must be shown. Partial marks may be awarded.
There are 80 marks overall.
Do students have to write the COMC at a particular time?
The exam must be held on the date specified. Teachers/proctors will choose the time at each school, although the CMS recommends it be done during school hours if possible.
Where are the exams sent for marking?
Schools in Canada: a courier will arrive at each school on the day after the exam (Friday, November 4) to pick up the package of exams. Each school will have a sufficient number of pre-paid courier envelopes, which are pre-addressed to one of the COMC marking partner institutions.
Schools outside Canada: the CMS will provide you with a Canadian address where you will need to send the exams by courier at your own cost.
Important: Only exams arriving by the deadline of Wednesday, November 16th will be eligible for awards.
Is the exam available in French?
Yes. Teachers can specify how many exams in English and/or French are required when placing the order.
How much does the exam cost?
Within Canada: CA$13.00 per exam (minimum order of 3 exams).
International: US$17.00 per exam (minimum order of 5 exams).
Our school ordered a number of exams but find that we need more, but fewer than the minimum order size. Can we avoid the minimum order size somehow in this case? Will both orders be shipped together?
Yes, if your previous order is paid, we can accommodate you. Phone us at +1 (613) 733-2662. All orders for a given school are shipped together.
How do I pay for the registration?
Online payment is preferred. Online credit card purchases are processed using Paypal (a Paypal account is not required, but can also be used). Payments can also be made by cheque or money order received by the deadline.
What is the deadline for the payment?
All orders have to be paid by Thursday, October 20, 2016. The CMS reserves the right to cancel any order which remains unpaid after the payment deadline.
How do I know that the payment cheque was received?
Once payments are received, a receipt is automatically emailed to you. You can also log into your school account and see the order status, and reprint an invoice or receipt.
Can I change my mind and pay online for my order even if I originally said I'd pay by cheque?
Yes. Log into your school account, find the order and click “Details / Pay Now”.
When are the exams shipped to the teachers/organizers?
All exams are shipped at the end of October.
The school paid for the exams, but some students will not write the exam. Can we decrease the order and get a refund?
No, due to the low cost of the exam and the non-profit nature of the COMC, there are production costs that preclude issuing refunds once the exams have been shipped.
Can I cancel ordered exams?
You can cancel an order up until October 20th.
Can we get the shipment tracking number to estimate the arrival time for the exams?
All exams should arrive by Tuesday, November 1st at the latest. Please contact the CMS office at +1 613-733-2662 if you have not received your exams by then.
If I register by the deadline will that leave enough time for shipping the exam internationally?
Yes, the exam will be sent by international courier service and will arrive on time.
I am sure my school has a school id and password but no one here seems to know it or we have forgotten it.
School accounts are associated with the email addresses of the past organizer and/or the department head. If one of those email addresses is known to you, you can trigger a password reset email message to that email address by using the "Forgot your log-in information" function on the log in page.
If no one has access to either of those email accounts, or you do not know what they are, then please contact the CMS office by telephone at +1 (613) 733-2662. Please be prepared to provide information that will assist in confirming your identity.
I am a teacher for a new school. How can I register the school and the students?
Click on "new school" on the login page.
How do I update the school's address information?
Please email the CMS office to change a school address. Log into your school account and click on “Review school information” to see what is on file. Include your school ID in your email.
May I change the address after I submitted the payment?
No. For security purposes, the CMS will only ship to addresses that have been confirmed from authenticated schools.
Is it possible to adjust/change the contact information for the school?
Once you log into your school account, click on “edit contact information”.
I moved to a different school, how can I remove my name from the previous school’s profile?
Email the CMS office and include the previous school name, location, your email address and the school ID.
I am a new school administrator who would like to register for the competition. Could you tell me if the school already has an account?
Please email or phone the CMS office and we will be happy to assist you.
The school registered in previous years. Do we use the same login information?
How do schools obtain the students’ participation and award certificates?
When the final results are announced, teachers/organizers can log in to their accounts to download and print the certificates for all students. The top students in a region or province also receive plaques mailed to their schools.
How do I get my score?
Teachers can access all their students' scores online using their school account once marking is complete. Individual scores are not shown publicly for privacy reasons.
If one or more students' scores are unavailable, please contact the CMS office by email at email@example.com.
What is an 'official paper'?
To be considered official and to qualify for awards or prizes, participants and schools must meet the following requirements:
Students or their teachers must assert (e.g. on the exam cover sheet), prior to the release of official results, that each of the following is true. Once the official results are released and announced in January, they are immutable.
- The participant must be under 19 years of age as of June 30, 2016 and
- The participant must be attending school full-time (elementary, secondary, Cégep, or home-schooled) at least since Sept 15, 2016 and
- The participant must not have written the Putnam competition.
Additionally, the participation is only considered official if it is proctored and offered under these rules:
- In North America, South America, Central America or in time zones covering these areas, the 2½ hour writing period must begin and end on Thursday, November 3rd, between 8a.m. and 8p.m. local time.
- Elsewhere in the world, the 2½ hour writing period must begin and end on Friday, November 4th, between 8a.m. and 8p.m. local time.
- All exams must be proctored by officials who are not family-related to any of the participants they are supervising.
Will I get a certificate?
When the final results are announced, teachers/organizers will be able to log into their accounts to download and print the certificates for all students. For those students who have earned award(s), the certificate lists all the awards the student earned. For students who did not earn specific awards, the certificate is based on which quartile their scores fall into:
1st quartile = Performance with Distinction
2nd quartile = Performance with Honours
3rd or 4th quartile = Certificate of Participation
Will I receive a prize?
Anyone writing the COMC in Canada is also eligible for participation prizes (e.g. T-shirt, USB thumb drive, gift card, etc.). Approximately 160 prizes will be distributed to participants nationally.
Are there cash prizes too?
Yes. In former years, our cash prizes were given out randomly to participants in Canada. Now those prizes are given to the top performers in Canada instead.
To report errors or omissions for this page, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.