India At International Mathematical Olympiad: Interesting Facts

The International Mathematical Olympiad is acclaimed to be one of the oldest of the International Science Olympiads. It is conducted for pre-college or high school students. It was first started in Romania in the year 1959. It has been an annual event since then. Only the year 1980 did not witness an IMO taking place. There are about 100 countries and more who participate in the Olympiad every year.

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Content Of The Olympiad

Each country usually sends a team of six students along with a team leader, a deputy leader and the observers. The content of the Olympiad tests ranges from simple to comparatively complex mathematical problems. The questions come from standard mathematics as well as unconventional concepts of maths that are usually not taught in the school curriculum.

Format Of The Olympiad

The test consists of overall six problems. Participants have to solve two problems each day and the time given is four and a half hours every day. The questions are numbered from one to six, and participants are given to solve three questions each day.

Problem one to three are attempted on the first day, and four to six are attempted on the second day. Each problem is more difficult than its precursor. So, Problem number three and six are the toughest in the lot. Each question contains seven points. Hence, the total points in the test are 42.

Selection Process

Each country has its individual selection processes. Though they differ from nation to nation, the format of the selection process is quite similar. Especially in countries of East Asia, the students have to sit for several examinations and at each level the difficulty increases.

With the increase of difficulty, less and fewer students go through to the next level. China even holds camps for its students to get training and gain expertise in its approach. In the US, several stand-alone tests are organised for ultimately selecting the students for the International Mathematical Olympiad.


Though the countries participate in a team of six, the team score is not considered to be the basis of awards. The individual scores are the ones that get counted, and that matter. The number of golds, silver and bronze medals differ from year to year.

2020 IMO

Participants received gold medals if they scored equal to or more than thirty-one points. A total of forty-nine gold medals were presented in the Olympiad. The silver medal comes next as an achievement.

A total of one hundred and twelve silver medals were presented to students who scored equal to or more than twenty-four but less than thirty-one points. The next in line are the bronze medals which were presented to about one hundred and fifty-five participants.

The bronze medal was presented to those who scored equal to or more than fifteen points. Besides, these three standard achievements, the International Mathematical Olympiad also presents the participants with honourable mentions. The 2020 IMO presented one hundred and seventy-three notable mentions.

Countries with the greatest number of #1 ranks

China, as a whole country, participated for the first time in 1985. However, they gained the first rank in their maiden attempt. It is also the country which has ranked first for the greatest number of times. China has also achieved the highest team score twenty-one times in the Olympiad.

It also tops the list of rank-holders who have achieved an all-gold medal rank. China has been recorded as a team with all-gold medals for twelve times. Russia holds the second position with the highest team score sixteen times.

The list is followed by the United States who have achieved the highest score eight times in total. The United States also holds a four-time achievement of all-gold member IMO with a full member.

India’s achievement- India, on the other hand, has never achieved the first rank in IMO. They performed well in1997 and 2001 and had their best finish in the seventh position. India also ranked ninth in 2002.

The best individual participants in IMO

Among the most decorated individual participants, Zhuo Qun Song from Canada who participated six times within the time frame of 2010 2015, achieved five gold medals and a bronze medal. Teodore Von Burg from Serbia bagged four gold medals, one silver and bronze each.

Best individual participants from India

Akashnil Dutta who participated from2009 to 2011 bagged gold and two silvers. He is the best performer from India. He is followed by Nikhil Ashok Savale, who within his three years of participation, won one gold and silver each.

The Knockout

A Romanian participant named Ciprian Manolescu participated in the International Mathematical Olympiad thrice and stunned the world with a perfect score of forty-two points each time. Since 1959, Ciprian was the only participant to have achieved this title of a three-time perfect scorer.

There are also twenty-four participants so far who have scored a perfect score twice.

However, in comparison to the rest of the world, India had her best performer Akashnil Dutta score twenty-four, twenty-two and twenty-eight in his three attempts on 2009, 2010, 2011 respectively. No one other than him from India has been able to achieve this rate of performance yet.

Comparison with the US

The US left everyone stunned in 1994 when all the six participants in its team scored a perfect forty-two. India that year score one hundred and sixty-eight out if two hundred and fifty-two. However, the best performance of India was in the year 1991 when they scored one hundred and eighty-six out of two hundred and fifty-two.

Other Interesting Facts About India in IMO

Id the first participation is only taken into consideration, then the top three performances of India since 1989 would be Nikhil Ashok Savale, Rina Panigrahy and Abhay Kumar Jha. However, it can be noted that the performance analysis is not done on the score but the percentile of their performance.

Out of seventy-two attempts, no Indian participant has ever scored a full seven-point in problem number three since the year 2005. However, one Indian named Deepesh Singhal scored a full seven in problem number six in the year 2016.

However, no Indian participant has ever scored a full seven in both problem number three as well as six in the same test.

Overall Achievement Of India

India participated for the first time in IMO in the year 1989. It has bagged twelve gold medals, seventy silver medals, sixty-nine medals bronze medals and twenty-eight honourable mentions till date. India also hosted the IMO in 1996 in Mumbai.

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