Reflections on the UCT Maths Competition 2015

Fermat2.Donut.Simpsons.jpgThe time of the year when rejoicing for Maths Enthusiasts has come around once again. On the 16 April, 8500 students filled up UCT for the UCT Maths Competition, and a huge group of 75 learners, consisting of Grade 8s to 12s from Wynberg Girls’ High School, eagerly anticipated the evening’s events.

This year was different for me; it was my last time to take part, as I am in grade 12.  I have written the UCT Maths Olympiad as an individual through all of my years at high school. Every year, it was a new adventure: for instance in Grade 10, just before we were about to start writing, I realised I was sitting with a bunch of Grade 8s and then had to sprint to another venue.   I just about made it in time, and, thankfully, I had a friend with me at the time. It helps to organise lifts with friends and stick with them for these reasons, as almost every year you go, you get lost at some point during the night.

For prospective participants, training material offered by UCT (refer to their website) is a very useful way to prepare.  Don’t go “just because”; go with the hopes of doing well, knowing that you tried your best and leave with no regrets. When doing these past papers, you can practice working in the allocated time-frame of 75 minutes and learn how to handle certain types of questions. If you really love Maths, it is something that you will enjoy doing and you’ll gain a healthy respect for the sometimes astoundingly complex processes you go through to get to answers.

The competition on a whole tries to popularize Maths, and hopes to encourage students to take Maths at UCT. Everyone who takes part, no matter what they achieve, should feel proud for taking the time and effort to attend the event. It is something that stimulates the brain, can prove that you have a knack for Maths, or in a worst-case scenario, can teach you how many ways Maths can be presented, where the questions are not predictable.  Furthermore, you can laugh about your more embarrassing mistakes later in life. The UCT Maths Olympiad is a great learning curve and fun experience. Why not try it next year?

By Layla Omar