Going to the HKIMO (Hong Kong International Maths Olympiad) Preliminary contest was a significant experience for me. Not only because of the prestigious event itself, but also because of the training we (Y11: Ira, Marcell, Kevin) had been doing to prepare for it. To give some background, this contest was the first step in getting onto the Hong Kong IMO team. Achieving an “honourable mention” qualified a person for intensive maths training with other possible candidates however, it’s notoriously difficult. According to Yan Yau, our friend and maths guru from Y12, the most common score is generally 0 out of 30 points, with only 6 out of 30 achieving the honourable mention. The three of us from Y11 were intimidated at first hearing about this in April. With the hope of getting above average (1 point!) while learning new maths, we started training.
Personally, the training was unlike anything I had done before, both in terms of intensity and fun. We learned about many maths concepts that weren’t covered in class from different areas of maths, including algebra, geometry, number theory, and combinatorics. The problems and concepts were difficult considering the time we had but they really opened me up to the beauty of maths in ways I’d never previously considered. This was especially true for the way the new concepts explained and generalized techniques we had already learned in class.
The competition was as daunting as we thought it would be. We each brought snacks and drinks to cope with the intensity of the three hour competition. Unfortunately, even with three hours, I only managed to solve very few questions confidently. However I realized that it didn’t matter how well I did. My passion for maths will also lead me to continue training and solving more problem, even without being a part of IMO training.
Kevin Xin, Y11