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The South African Mathematics Olympiad is the biggest Olympiad in the country. Almost 100 000 learners participated in the 2017 Olympiad.
The first round is written in March. The junior division consists of separate papers for grades 8 and 9 and the senior division of one paper for grades 10 to 12. Each paper consists of 20 questions with multiple-choice answers and learners have one hour to complete the paper. Each school is provided with the solutions. For this round, the teachers mark the papers.
Learners who attain 50% or higher in the first round qualify for the second round which is written in May. There are separate papers for the juniors and seniors. This time the grade 8 and 9 learners write the same paper. Learners have two hours to complete twenty questions.
The best 100 senior and junior learners from the previous round qualify for the third round.
It is well known that mathematics competitions generate a lot of enthusiasm and curiosity for the subject. This aspect of mathematics competitions is becoming more and more important. The school subject called "Mathematics" has recently moved more and more to what could be called mechanical calculations or numeracy. It is therefore very important that we continue to emphasize that Mathematics is about thinking and the discovery, and validation, of problem solving methods.
Every participant in the SAMO papers will be challenged by at least one problem and hence his or her problem solving skills will improve. Problem solving skills can be further improved by carefully working through the solutions of these rounds. We present alternative and innovative solutions and we recommend that the problems used in our papers be used as resources for classroom discussion.
Creative problem solving skills are very necessary and very marketable in today's technically oriented market place. This market place is now global and South Africa needs to be very competitive. Hence we need expert problem solvers. Practice in problem solving will help to train our future leaders of technological development.
Educators are encouraged to enter as many learners as possible for the SAMO.