IOQM: A Problem Collection Saga

16 June 20234 minutesviews

I learned about PRMO in 8th grade from my math teacher. It was a great challenge and made me excited about doing math beyond the school curriculum. With rigorous preparation and help from my teacher, I cleared the exam, bolstering confidence in myself.

When I came to 9th grade, the intermediate stage RMO between PRMO and INMO was removed (PRMO's name was changed to IOQM). This made qualifying for INMO much more difficult. I didn't take into consideration the higher difficulty of IOQM that year. So I reassessed my strategy to determine what could be changed. Among other things, I discerned that I had a lack of practice-- effective practice of difficult problems.

Mocks are a must-have in one's preparation. I definitely needed those. Searching on the internet was in vain. The mocks that I could find were not of the best quality. Most of them were too easy, or at times had problems completely irrelevant to IOQM.

On the other hand, I've always aspired to make my own tests. So I started making mocks for myself using the past year's AMCs and AIMEs. At this point, a genuine question arose: How can I mock the test that I make myself? I admit that I have skimmed over the problems before I mock them. But while creating the mock, I judge the difficulty by their positions on the tests from which I collect them. In other words I do not read the problems. In addition to that, I keep a sufficient gap between making the mock and attempting it, which helps greatly. After weighing all the options, I believe that making my own mocks is the best choice.

Coming into eleventh grade, JEE diverted my attention from math. It is a 'safe' option when compared to Math Olympiads. So it was a Plan B against the possibility of me not doing well in IOQM. Despite performing well in tests, the JEE grind did not appeal to me. Hence came a do-or-die situation. Either I clear both IOQM and INMO now, or I half-heartedly prepare for JEE next year in twelfth grade.

Determined and motivated, I had a fresh look at making mock tests. I critically analysed the difficulty of the real IOQM and compared it to my previous mocks. Having run out of AMCs and AIMEs, I decided to diversify the sources for my mocks. After thorough research and comparison, the best sources for IOQM Mocks and preparation in my opinion are: HMMT November and February Round, ARML, CMC-CIME, CMIMC, PuMAC, CHMMC (now called CMM), and BMT.

I thought it would be really cool if my friends also tried the same mock tests. So I established an IOQM Mocks Discord server named Math Olympiad Mock Club (MOMC) in June, 2022. It was not only a way of giving back to the community, but I found it to be quite helpful for myself as well. When more people attempt the same mock, it helps me gauge its difficulty more accurately. It allows me to compare my performance to others. Socialising with the community made my preparation more enjoyable. The server grew over time, peaking in the weeks before IOQM 2022.

I was fortunate that my own school was my exam centre, which is at a walking distance from my home. All my hard work finally paid off as I scored 32 in IOQM and 20 in INMO, clearing both.

It was a fantastic experience hosting the first season of PGTM. October was the most memorable and eventful being the last month of the first cohort. I really loved the atmosphere.

After the first season, I decided it would be proper to open the mocks to the public. Therefore I am going to post the mocks here as articles and share the key ideas of my favourite problems in them. Although that doesn't mean that this blog is limited to just mocks. In addition to that, the MOMC Discord server isn't going to be replaced by this website. It serves a unique function as a hub of IOQM preparation where people can discuss and collaborate.