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About Competitions in Serbia

History

Mathematical competitions needed almost half a century since their establishment in Hungary (1894) to spread over the rest of Eastern Europe, and yet another half a century to gain its full, worldwide popularity. Nevertheless, today it is hard to imagine a good educational system in mathematics without competitions. Nowadays math competitions exist in most of the countries in the world, including those that do not regularly participate at IMO. Moreover, we won’t really exaggerate if we say that competitions are one of the central things in a young mathematician’s life.

Mathematical competitions in Serbia have been held since 1956. In the first few years only republic competitions within the former Yugoslavia, which Serbia was a part of, were held. The first Federal Mathematical Competition in Yugoslavia was held in Belgrade in 1960, and since then it has been held regularly every year, skipping only 1999 due to the war flamed and maintained by NATO. The system has suffered relatively few changes. The earliest Federal Competitions were organized for 3rd and 4th grades of high school only; 2nd grade was added in 1970, and 1st grade in 1974. Since 1982, 3rd and 4th grades compose a single category. After the breakdown of the old Yugoslavia in 1991, the entire system was continued in the newly formed FR Yugoslavia, later renamed Serbia and Montenegro. The separation of Montenegro finally made the federal competition senseless as such. Thus, starting with 2007, the federal competition and selection exam are replaced by a two-day Serbian Mathematical Olympiad (SMO). Since 1998, the problems for each grade on the three preliminary rounds are divided into A category (specialized schools and classes) and B category (others). A student from B category is normally allowed to work the problems for A category.

Performance of Serbia on international competitions

Serbian high school students traditionally take part at the following three competitions:

Serbia has been participating at international competitions within former Yugoslavia until 1991, in a union with Montenegro from 1992 to 2005 (although all contestants were from Serbia), and independently since 2006. Upon joining these competitions, the only missed competitions were the IMO 1993-1994 and BMO 1999.

Organization

Today a math competition season in Serbia consists of four rounds: Municipal round, held in early February. The contest consists of 5 problems for 3 hours. Students who perform well are qualified for the next round (50-60 points are usually enough). Regional round, held in late February in the same format as the municipal round. The number of students qualified for the state round is bounded by regional quotas, but 50-60 are still normally enough. State (republic) round, held in late March in a selected town in the country. There are roughly 200 to 300 participants. The contest consists of 5 problems for 4 hours. Serbian Mathematical Olympiad, held in middle April in a selected town in the country. The participants are selected through the state round: 26 from A category (distribution among grades: 3+5+8+10), 3 from B category (0+0+1+2), plus those members of the last year’s olympic team who did not manage to qualify otherwise.

Selecting Teams for International Competitions

Serbia, formerly within Yugoslavia, has participated at IMO since 1963 and at Balkan MO since 1987. Since 2007, the team is selected directly through the SMO. The team used to be selected either directly through the federal competition, or through an additional selection exam, popularly called \“Little Olympiad\“, held the day after the federal competition. However, there were several deviations from this rule. Thus, in 1999 the regular system was broken, and the team was selected through a selection exam held during the war. In 2002, due to some mess in marking, the IMO team was selected through the Balkan MO and an ad-hoc additional examination. In 2005 there was a two-day selection exam held after the Balkan MO. The teams used to consist of 3-rd and 4-th grade high school students, although the 2-nd grade students would be given a chance as well, provided they performed well on the federal competition (which was often deliberately harder for them). Pupils from final grades of elementary school take part at JBMO since its foundation 1997. The team is selected through the SMO for elementary schools.

Team Competitions and Tournaments

Competitions traditionaly organized by KMM Arhimedes gained great popularity in Serbia. They include both individual and team tournaments. Together with Arhimedes, we are currently in the process of collecting and preparing those materials and we will soon make them available on the internet.
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