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What is Math Kangaroo - 10 Tips to Help You Win

If you enjoy brain-teasers, logic puzzles, and all things Math, then you should definitely look into Math Kangaroo, an International Math Competition for children in grades 1 to 12! As an internationally recognized competition, participation in Math Kangaroo helps students gain recognition for their mathematical abilities and deepen their understanding of the subject, allowing them to showcase their passion for math on applications and resumes.

In this blog, we have covered the Math Kangaroo contest, its format, eligibility, prizes, and any other details you may want to know. Additionally, we have also covered 10 tips that can help you win!

What is the Math Kangaroo contest?

Math Kangaroo is an international mathematics competition that engages students from grades 1 to 12 in solving thought-provoking math problems. Started in 1991 in France and now held in over 92 countries, Math Kangaroo offers participants a diverse range of age-appropriate mathematical challenges, encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It was created in 1991 by André Deledicq, a mathematician from France, who incorporated ‘Kangaroo’ into its name to pay tribute to Peter O'Halloran, an Australian math teacher who started the original ideas for this competition. This timed exam not only celebrates mathematical achievement with certificates, medals, and trophies but also allows students to compare their performance on a global scale.

Who is eligible to participate in Math Kangaroo?

All students in grades 1-12 qualify for participation in Math Kangaroo. Each student takes the exam at the level that corresponds with their school grade level

  • 1st Grade — Level 1

  • 2nd Grade — Level 2

  • 3rd Grade — Level 3

  • 4th Grade — Level 4

  • 5th Grade — Level 5

  • 6th Grade — Level 6

  • 7th Grade — Level 7

  • 8th Grade — Level 8

  • 9th Grade — Level 9

  • 10th Grade — Level 10

  • 11th Grade — Level 11

  • 12th Grade — Level 12

Application deadline and other important dates

For individual registration, regular registration runs from September 15 to December 15 at $21 per student for the 2024 competition year. Late Registration ( $35 per student) runs from December 16th to December 31st.

For school registration, the deadline is December 1st. The School Rate is $21 per student. For Title I Schools, the rate is $11 per student. There are no restrictions on participation eligibility besides the ability to read and answer questions independently. A minimum of 10 students enrolled is required for school registration.

The next competition date is Thursday, March 21, 2024.

How does Math Kangaroo work?

  1. Registration: Students sign up for the competition through their schools or local organizing centers. However, schools interested in participating in the Mathematical Kangaroo Competition can apply through both offline and online modes. For candidates who registered offline, the exam will be held by the designated contact person at the student's school. Participants are then placed in specific levels corresponding to their age or grade. Here are the registration instructions!

  2. Format: The exam lasts for 90 minutes. On the day of the competition, students are presented with a booklet containing a series of challenging yet solvable math problems spanning diverse mathematical topics, such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and number theory. These problems must be solved within a set time frame, usually 90 minutes. There are 24 questions worth 96 points for students in grades 1 through 4 and 30 questions worth 120 points for students in grades 5 through 12. The questions are multiple-choice. For students who are taking the exam online, it is necessary to have a quiet testing room and ensure 100% integrity with independent test taking. Math Kangaroo will send an email with a test login (but no password) prior to the exam. Students can access the test ONLY on the date and time shown in the competition registration record. At least 15 minutes before the scheduled test time a student joins an online meeting through a link provided by a manager. Students should have their cameras on, and the microphone muted so the proctor can see the student during the testing time. They will be given the password and can access the test through the link provided earlier by email. It is recommended to close all other tabs to avoid interruptions in the testing progress on the proctoring platform.

  3. Scoring: 1 point is deducted for each incorrect answer, but you are welcome to skip questions for an additional penalty. Questions are scored on pre-assigned difficulty levels. For grades 5 to 12, here’s how questions are scored:

  4. Easy: 3 points for each correct answer.

  5. Medium: 4 points for each correct answer.

  6. Hard: 5 points for each correct answer.

  7. Maximum Score: 120 points.

Note: Calculators and other gadgets are not allowed!

After the competition, the problems are graded, and participants receive scores based on their responses. Math Kangaroo also ranks participants both locally and internationally, allowing students to gauge their performance not just against regional peers but also against students from all over the world.

Prizes at Math Kangaroo

High-achieving participants are often awarded certificates, medals, or trophies as recognition for their mathematical accomplishments. This unique competition serves as a platform that not only makes math enjoyable but also encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills while fostering a positive attitude toward mathematics.

Competition Winners Receive:

  • Top 3 in country/state: Medal and ribbon

  • Top 10 in the country/Top 3 in the state: Educational in-kind gifts

  • Top 10 middle and high school students:

  • Invitation to educational seminars

  • Consideration for scholarships

  • Consideration for national/international all-expense paid math camps

  • Top 20 in the country: Winner magnet

How prestigious is Math Kangaroo?

Math Kangaroo, while certainly respected and celebrated in many educational communities, is not typically considered one of the most prestigious mathematics competitions on a global scale. Unlike competitions like the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) or the Putnam Competition, which are renowned for their extreme difficulty and selectivity, Math Kangaroo is designed to be more accessible and inclusive, catering to a broader range of mathematical abilities.

However, this accessibility is also what makes Math Kangaroo valuable; it encourages a wider pool of students to engage with and appreciate mathematics, fostering problem-solving skills and a love for the subject. While it may not carry the same level of prestige as some other Olympiads and competitions (AMC, ARML, and HMMT) it is still a great addition to applications and resumes as it still demonstrates your commitment to the subject.

10 Tips to Help You Win the Math Kangaroo Competition

1. Understand the Format: Familiarize yourself with the Math Kangaroo format, which consists of multiple-choice questions. Each question typically has five answer choices. The number of questions on the Math Kangaroo test also varies by grade level. Generally, there are 24 to 30 questions for lower grades and 30 to 35 questions for higher grades. Understand that the difficulty of questions varies within the test, with some being relatively easy and others more challenging. You’ll need to develop a pretty good strategic understanding of when to skip a question and when to attempt it. There is an opportunity cost of skipping a question and a penalty for the wrong answer (deduction of 1 point).

2. Diagnostic Assessment: After understanding the format, you should definitely take a diagnostic test from previous Math Kangaroo papers. This test helps you assess your current math knowledge and problem-solving abilities. Analyze your diagnostic test results to identify specific areas where you need improvement.

3. Review the Syllabus: Carefully review the Math Kangaroo syllabus for your grade level, which can be found on the official Math Kangaroo website. Ensure that you have a clear understanding of the topics and concepts listed in the syllabus. Focus your preparation on these areas. Grades 5 to 12 form a broad division for scoring, but the syllabus is divided for grades 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, and 11-12.

If you are in grades 9&10, this is the syllabus:

Syllabus for Grades 11 and 12 for Math Kangaroo
Syllabus for Grades 9 and 10

Syllabus for Grades 11 and 12
Syllabus for Grades 11 and 12

4. Create a study Schedule and keep revising it based on your progress: Develop a detailed study schedule that outlines your daily and weekly study goals. Allocate time for concept review, practice problems, and full-length mock tests. Be realistic about the time you can commit each day. Be sure to apportion time between building on your strengths and improving your areas of weakness. For instance, by spending less time on an area of strength you might be able to answer the hardest questions more easily, giving yourself the opportunity to get more points. On the other hand, by spending some time on your weaker areas, you might be able to answer medium-difficulty questions, making sure that you don’t completely skip those questions. Think through the strategy carefully.

5. Practice regularly: Consistency is key. Practice Math Kangaroo problems regularly to build your problem-solving skills. There are numerous practice problems on their website so be sure to take advantage of them. Start with easier problems and gradually work your way up to more challenging ones as your confidence grows.

6. Learn new concepts: Research and learn math concepts that are part of the Math Kangaroo syllabus but may not have been covered in your school curriculum. Utilize textbooks, and online resources, or consult with teachers or tutors to gain a deeper understanding of these concepts.

7. Work on your time management: Practice solving problems under timed conditions to improve your time management skills. Typically, younger students (lower grades) have a shorter test duration (e.g., 60 minutes), while older students (higher grades) have a longer test duration (e.g., 75 minutes). Allocate an appropriate amount of time to each question, and if you find yourself spending too long on one question, move on and come back to it later.

8. Review mistakes: After solving practice problems or taking mock tests, thoroughly review your incorrect answers. Understand the underlying concepts and strategies required for the questions you got wrong. Take notes to avoid repeating similar mistakes.

9. Mock tests: Take full-length mock tests regularly, preferably once a week during the final few weeks of your preparation. See the solutions (even video solutions) carefully, not just the ones you got wrong but also the ones you skipped and got correct. Maybe there’s a more efficient way of approaching a problem.

There are practice online exams too. Mimic test-day conditions as closely as possible, including the time limit and test environment. Analyze your performance and track your progress to identify areas that still need improvement.

Note: these resources are paid but you can find discount codes by following these instructions. They aren’t super expensive to begin with, and you can get a 50% discount on them.

10. Stay calm and confident: On the day of the competition, get a good night's sleep, and have a nutritious breakfast to ensure you're well-rested and alert. Remain calm during the test. Read each question carefully, and if you encounter a difficult one, don't panic. Make an educated guess and move on. Trust in your preparation. Keep it fun and keep taking stabs at the logic puzzles because they’ll come in handy during the exam.

Note: if you feel like a structured prep course may help you, Math Kangaroo has their own online classes, but they are not free. You can follow the instructions for the discounts and get a 15% discount on the classes.

By following these tips and incorporating them into your Math Kangaroo preparation, you can increase your chances of performing at your best during the competition. Remember that Math Kangaroo is not just about winning but also about enjoying the process of mathematical exploration and learning.

Our review of Math Kangaroo

Participating in Math Kangaroo is definitely worth it if you are looking to deepen your interest in math, enhance your problem-solving skills, and meet people with similar interests.

This competition is especially worthwhile for younger students because it allows them to build a solid understanding of the foundations and pursue it outside of the classroom. It offers a fun and challenging environment to test and improve one's mathematical abilities.

We wouldn’t recommend this competition for those who are looking for a prestigious program to list on their resume and college applications. If that’s what you are looking for, we would recommend looking into competitions like the AMC and IMO instead.

If you would like to further your journey into the math world and conduct independent research in mathematical fields, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business!

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