Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge
The Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge (COMC) is an annual mathematics competition held in Canada during the month of November. This competition is run by the Canadian Mathematical Society and sponsored by Sun Life Financial. Students who score exceptionally well on this competition are selected to participate in the Canadian Mathematical Olympiad.
The COMC is written on a select day in November each year and is proctored by teachers across Canada. In order to participate in this competition, students must register through their school’s mathematics department and pay any fees associated with the competition. Following the day of the competition, exams are returned to a network of university partners across Canada for marking.
The competition is open to any student with an interest in mathematics. However, to be eligible for awards participants in the COMC must satisfy the following criteria:
- must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is in full-time attendance at an elementary or secondary school, or CEGEP since September of the year or the COMC;
- be less than 19 years old as of June 30 of the year of the COMC; and
- must not have written the Putnam Competition.
Students writing from outside Canada are not considered for awards or CMO eligibility unless proof of citizenship (or permanent residency) is provided.
Students not meeting the qualification requirements can still participate and marks as “unofficial” competitors.
The COMC consists of three sections:
- 4 basic questions (Part A) for 4 marks each,
- 4 intermediary questions (Part B) for 6 marks each, and
- 4 advanced questions (Part C) for 10 marks each
for a total of 80 marks.
The length of the contest is 2.5 hours. Calculators are not permitted.
Awards and Prizes
There are two divisions: Canadian Awards, which is only for participants writing the exam from within Canada; and International Awards, which is only for participants writing it outside of Canada.
Canadian Award Categories
There are award categories for Best in Canada and Best in Province and Best in Region for all students as well as for students at each grade. For example:
- Best in Canada Overall: all official participants (regardless of grade) in Canada compete for this, the most prestigious category,
- Best in Canada, Grade XI: all Grade XI students in Canada compete for this,
- Best in BC (overall): all official participants (regardless of grade) in BC,
- Best in BC, Grade XII: all Grade XII students in BC,
- Best in Toronto (overall): all official participants in Toronto-area schools,
- Best in Toronto, Grade XII: All grade XII and Cégep students in Toronto compete for this category
The top six unique scores in any category earn awards: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Honourable Mention.
The top official participants from outside Canada are considered for the international awards division, which is not grade-dependent. The top three unique scores are given Gold, Silver or Bronze. Additionally, any international student who achieves at least a score as high as the lowest Best in Canada Overall Honourable Mention will receive an Honourable Mention award in the International division.
Invitational Competitions and Math Team Canada
The top students who are Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents (independent of grade or where they live or attend school) will be invited to participate in the Sun Life Financial Canadian Mathematical Olympiad (CMO) competition. Students who perform well on the CMO are selected for Math Team Canada, which represents Canada at the International Math Olympiad (IMO) the following summer.
Approximately the top 50 COMC students are invited to write the CMO. The next approximately 75 COMC students are invited to write the Sun Life Financial Qualifying Repêchage. Approximately the top 10-15 students from the Repêchage will also be invited to write the CMO.
Competition results will be shared with Canadian partner universities to help them consider offering academic scholarships to high-potential students.
Approximately 24 Canadian students in grade 8, 9 or 10 with strong performance on the COMC will be invited to the summer CMS Canada Math Camp (CMC) hosted by the University of Toronto.
Canadian students who demonstrate solid performance at their grade level in their region or province may be invited to a summer regional CMS Math Camp staged in collaboration with a CMS university partner in their province.
Participation Certificates (Quartiles) and Prizes
When the final results are announced, teachers/organizers will be able to log into their accounts to download and print the Participation certificates for all their students.
Certificate titles are based on the quartile into which the student's score falls:
- 1st quartile = Performance with Distinction
- 2nd quartile = Performance with Honours
- 3rd or 4th quartile = Certificate of Participation
- Random Prize Draw
Anyone writing the COMC in Canada is also eligible for randomly drawn prizes consisting of:
- a $500 first prize
- a $100 second prize for each provincial or regional division
- approx. two hundred provincial or regional third prizes (e.g. T-shirt, USB thumb drive, etc.)
The chance of winning a prize depends on the respective number of national, provincial, or regional participants.