AoPS Wiki:Competition ratings
This page contains an approximate estimation of the difficulty level of various competitions. It is designed with the intention of introducing contests of similar difficulty levels (but possibly different styles of problems) that readers may like to try to gain more experience.
Each entry groups the problems into sets of similar difficulty levels and suggests an approximate difficulty rating, on a scale from 1 to 10 (from easiest to hardest). Note that many of these ratings are not directly comparable, because the actual competitions have many different rules; the ratings are generally synchronized with the amount of available time, etc. Also, due to variances within a contest, ranges shown may overlap. A sample problem is provided with each entry, with a link to a solution.
If you have some experience with mathematical competitions, we hope that you can help us make the difficulty rankings more accurate. Currently, the system is on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is the easiest level, e.g. early AMC problems and 10 is hardest level, e.g. China IMO Team Selection Test. When considering problem difficulty put more emphasis on problem-solving aspects and less so on technical skill requirements.
- 1 Scale
- 2 Competitions
- 2.1 Introductory Competitions
- 2.2 Problem Solving Books for Introductory Students
- 2.3 Intermediate Competitions
- 2.4 Problem Solving Books for Intermediate Students
- 2.5 Beginner Olympiad Competitions
- 2.6 Olympiad Competitions
- 2.7 Hard Olympiad Competitions
All levels are estimated and refer to averages. The following is a rough standard based on the USA tier system AMC 8 – AMC 10 – AMC 12 – AIME – USAMO/USAJMO - IMO, representing Middle School – Junior High – High School – Challenging High School – Olympiad levels. Other contests can be interpolated against this.
- Multiple choice tests like AMC are rated as though they are free-response. Test-takers can use the answer choices as hints, and so correctly answer more AMC questions than Mathcounts or AIME problems of similar difficulty.
- Some Olympiads are taken in 2 sessions, with 2 similarly difficult sets of questions, numbered as one set. For these the first half of the test (questions 1-3) is similar difficulty to the second half (questions 4-6).
1: Problems strictly for beginner, on the easiest elementary school or middle school levels (MOEMS, MATHCOUNTS Chapter, AMC 8 1-20, AMC 10 1-10, AMC 12 1-5, and others that involve standard techniques introduced up to the middle school level), most traditional middle/high school word problems.
2: For motivated beginners, harder questions from the previous categories (AMC 8 21-25, harder MATHCOUNTS States questions, AMC 10 11-20, AMC 12 5-15, AIME 1-3), traditional middle/high school word problems with extremely complex problem solving.
3: Advanced Beginner problems that require more creative thinking (harder MATHCOUNTS National questions, AMC 10 21-25, AMC 12 15-20, AIME 4-6).
4: Intermediate-level problems (AMC 12 21-25, AIME 7-9).
5: More difficult AIME problems (10-12), simple proof-based Olympiad-style problems (early JBMO questions, easiest USAJMO 1/4).
6: High-leveled AIME-styled questions (13-15). Introductory-leveled Olympiad-level questions (harder USAJMO 1/4 and easier USAJMO 2/5, easier USAMO and IMO 1/4).
7: Tougher Olympiad-level questions, may require more technical knowledge (harder USAJMO 2/5 and most USAJMO 3/6, extremely hard USAMO and IMO 1/4, easy-medium USAMO and IMO 2/5).
8: High-level Olympiad-level questions (medium-hard USAMO and IMO 2/5, easiest USAMO and IMO 3/6).
9: Expert Olympiad-level questions (average USAMO and IMO 3/6).
9.5: The hardest problems appearing on Olympiads which the strongest students could reasonably solve (hard USAMO and IMO 3/6).
10: Historically hard problems, generally unsuitable for very hard competitions (such as the IMO) due to being exceedingly tedious, long, and difficult (e.g. very few students are capable of solving on a worldwide basis).
For reference, here are problems from each of the difficulty levels 1-10:
<1: Jamie counted the number of edges of a cube, Jimmy counted the numbers of corners, and Judy counted the number of faces. They then added the three numbers. What was the resulting sum? (2015 AMC 8, Problem 1)
1: How many integer values of satisfy ? (2021 Spring AMC 10B, Problem 1)
1.5: A number is called flippy if its digits alternate between two distinct digits. For example, and are flippy, but and are not. How many five-digit flippy numbers are divisible by (2020 AMC 8, Problem 19)
2: A fair -sided die is repeatedly rolled until an odd number appears. What is the probability that every even number appears at least once before the first occurrence of an odd number?
(2021 Fall AMC 10B, Problem 18)
2.5: , , are three piles of rocks. The mean weight of the rocks in is pounds, the mean weight of the rocks in is pounds, the mean weight of the rocks in the combined piles and is pounds, and the mean weight of the rocks in the combined piles and is pounds. What is the greatest possible integer value for the mean in pounds of the rocks in the combined piles and ? (2013 AMC 12A, Problem 16)
3: Triangle with and has area . Let be the midpoint of , and let be the midpoint of . The angle bisector of intersects and at and , respectively. What is the area of quadrilateral ? (2018 AMC 10A, Problem 24)
3.5: Find the number of integer values of in the closed interval for which the equation has exactly one real solution. (2017 AIME II, Problem 7)
4: Define a sequence recursively by andfor all nonnegative integers Let be the least positive integer such thatIn which of the following intervals does lie?
(2019 AMC 10B, Problem 24 and 2019 AMC 12B, Problem 22)
4.5: Find, with proof, all positive integers for which is a perfect square. (USAJMO 2011/1)
5: Find all triples of real numbers such that the following system holds: (JBMO 2020/1)
5.5: Triangle has , , , and . Let , , and be the orthocenter, incenter, and circumcenter of , respectively. Assume that the area of pentagon is the maximum possible. What is ? (2011 AMC 12A, Problem 25)
6: Let be an acute triangle with circumcircle and let be the intersection of the altitudes of Suppose the tangent to the circumcircle of at intersects at points and with and The area of can be written in the form where and are positive integers, and is not divisible by the square of any prime. Find (2020 AIME I, Problem 15)
6.5: Rectangles and are erected outside an acute triangle Suppose thatProve that lines and are concurrent. (USAMO 2021/1, USAJMO 2021/2)
7: We say that a finite set in the plane is balanced if, for any two different points , in , there is a point in such that . We say that is centre-free if for any three points , , in , there is no point in such that .
- Show that for all integers , there exists a balanced set consisting of points.
- Determine all integers for which there exists a balanced centre-free set consisting of points.
7.5: Let be the set of integers. Find all functions such thatfor all with . (USAMO 2014/2)
8: For each positive integer , the Bank of Cape Town issues coins of denomination . Given a finite collection of such coins (of not necessarily different denominations) with total value at most most , prove that it is possible to split this collection into or fewer groups, such that each group has total value at most . (IMO 2014/5)
8.5: Let be the incentre of acute triangle with . The incircle of is tangent to sides , and at and , respectively. The line through perpendicular to meets at . Line meets again at . The circumcircles of triangle and meet again at .
Prove that lines and meet on the line through perpendicular to . (IMO 2019/6)
9: Let be a positive integer and let be a finite set of odd prime numbers. Prove that there is at most one way (up to rotation and reflection) to place the elements of around the circle such that the product of any two neighbors is of the form for some positive integer . (IMO 2022/3)
9.5: An anti-Pascal triangle is an equilateral triangular array of numbers such that, except for the numbers in the bottom row, each number is the absolute value of the difference of the two numbers immediately below it. For example, the following is an anti-Pascal triangle with four rows which contains every integer from to . Does there exist an anti-Pascal triangle with rows which contains every integer from to ? (IMO 2018/3)
10: Prove that there exists a positive constant such that the following statement is true: Consider an integer , and a set of points in the plane such that the distance between any two different points in is at least 1. It follows that there is a line separating such that the distance from any point of to is at least .
(A line separates a set of points S if some segment joining two points in crosses .) (IMO 2020/6)
Most middle school and first-stage high school competitions would fall under this category. Problems in these competitions are usually ranked from 1 to 3. A full list is available here.
- Division E: 1
- The whole number is divisible by . leaves a remainder of when divided by or . What is the smallest value that can be? (Solution)
- Division M: 1
- The value of a two-digit number is times more than the sum of its digits. The units digit is 1 more than twice the tens digit. Find the two-digit number. (Solution)
- Problem 1 - Problem 12: 1-1.25
- The of a set of non-zero numbers is the reciprocal of the average of the reciprocals of the numbers. What is the harmonic mean of 1, 2, and 4? (Solution)
- Problem 13 - Problem 25: 1.5-2
- How many positive factors does have? (Solution)
- Countdown: 1-2.
- Sprint: 1-1.5 (school/chapter), 1.5-2 (State), 2-2.5 (National)
- Target: 1-2 (school/chapter), 1.5-2.5 (State), 2.5-3.5 (National)
- Problem 1 - 10: 1-2
- A rectangular box has integer side lengths in the ratio . Which of the following could be the volume of the box? (Solution)
- Problem 11 - 20: 2-3
- For some positive integer , the repeating base- representation of the (base-ten) fraction is . What is ? (Solution)
- Problem 21 - 25: 3.5-4.5
- The vertices of an equilateral triangle lie on the hyperbola , and a vertex of this hyperbola is the centroid of the triangle. What is the square of the area of the triangle? (Solution)
- Isosceles trapezoid ABCD has parallel sides and , with and . There is a point P on the plane such that ,,, and . What is ? (Solution)
This covers the CEMC Gauss, Pascal, Cayley, and Fermat tests.
- Part A: 1-1.5
- How many different 3-digit whole numbers can be formed using the digits 4, 7, and 9, assuming that no digit can be repeated in a number? (2015 Gauss 7 Problem 10)
- Part B: 1-2
- Two lines with slopes and intersect at . What is the area of the triangle formed by these two lines and the vertical line ? (2017 Cayley Problem 19)
- Part C (Gauss/Pascal): 2-2.5
- Suppose that , where , , and are positive integers with in lowest terms. What is the sum of the digits of the smallest positive integer for which is a multiple of 1004? (2014 Pascal Problem 25)
- Part C (Cayley/Fermat): 2.5-3
- Wayne has 3 green buckets, 3 red buckets, 3 blue buckets, and 3 yellow buckets. He randomly distributes 4 hockey pucks among the green buckets, with each puck equally likely to be put in each bucket. Similarly, he distributes 3 pucks among the red buckets, 2 pucks among the blue buckets, and 1 puck among the yellow buckets. Once he is ﬁnished, what is the probability that a green bucket contains more pucks than each of the other 11 buckets? (2018 Fermat Problem 24)
- Problem 1-2: 1-2
- Problem 3-4 (early parts): 2-3
- Problem 3-4 (later parts): 3-5
Problem Solving Books for Introductory Students
Remark: There are many other problem books for Introductory Students that are not published by AoPS. Typically the rating on the left side is equivalent to the difficulty of the easiest review problems and the difficulty on the right side is the difficulty of the hardest challenge problems. The difficulty may vary greatly between sections of a book.
This category consists of all the non-proof math competitions for the middle stages of high school. The difficulty range would normally be from 3 to 6. A full list is available here.
- Problem 1-10: 1.5-2
- What is the value of (Solution)
- Problem 11-20: 2.5-3.5
- An object in the plane moves from one lattice point to another. At each step, the object may move one unit to the right, one unit to the left, one unit up, or one unit down. If the object starts at the origin and takes a ten-step path, how many different points could be the final point? (Solution)
- Problem 21-25: 4.5-6
- Semicircle has diameter of length . Circle lies tangent to at a point and intersects at points and . If and then the area of equals where and are relatively prime positive integers, and is a positive integer not divisible by the square of any prime. What is ? (Solution)
- Problem 1 - 5: 3-3.5
- Consider the integer Find the sum of the digits of . (Solution)
- Problem 6 - 9: 4-4.5
- An ant makes a sequence of moves on a cube where a move consists of walking from one vertex to an adjacent vertex along an edge of the cube. Initially the ant is at a vertex of the bottom face of the cube and chooses one of the three adjacent vertices to move to as its first move. For all moves after the first move, the ant does not return to its previous vertex, but chooses to move to one of the other two adjacent vertices. All choices are selected at random so that each of the possible moves is equally likely. The probability that after exactly moves that ant is at a vertex of the top face on the cube is , where and are relatively prime positive integers. Find (Solution)
- Problem 10 - 12: 5-5.5
- Triangle has side lengths and Circle passes through and is tangent to line at Circle passes through and is tangent to line at Let be the intersection of circles and not equal to Then where and are relatively prime positive integers. Find (Solution)
- Problem 13 - 15: 6-7
- Let Let be the distinct zeros of and let for where and and are real numbers. Let where and are integers and is not divisible by the square of any prime. Find . (Solution)
- Individuals, Problem 1: 2
- Individuals, Problems 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9: 3
- Individuals, Problems 6 and 8: 4
- Individuals, Problem 10: 5.5
- Team/power, Problem 1-5: 3.5
- Team/power, Problem 6-10: 5
- Individual Round, Problem 6-8: 4
- Individual Round, Problem 10: 4.5
- Team Round: 4-5
- Guts: 3.5-5.25
- Problem 1-6: 1-3
- Problem 7-10: 3-6
- Problems 1-10 (MS): 1.5-3
- Problems 11-20 (MS): 3-4.5
- Problems 18-20 (MS): 4-4.75
- Problems 1-10 (HS): 1.5-3.5
- Problems 11-20 (HS): 3.5-4.75
- Problems 21-30 (HS): 4.5-6
- Easy Problems: 1-2
- Let trapezoid be such that . Additionally, , , and . Find .
- Medium Problems: 2-4
- Let have side lengths , , and . Let the angle bisector of meet the circumcircle of at a point . Determine the area of .
- Hard Problems: 5-7
- A magic board can toggle its cells between black and white. Define a pattern to be an assignment of black or white to each of the board’s cells (so there are patterns total). Every day after Day 1, at the beginning of the day, the board gets bored with its black-white pattern and makes a new one. However, the board always wants to be unique and will die if any two of its patterns are less than cells different from each other. Furthermore, the board dies if it becomes all white. If the board begins with all cells black on Day 1, compute the maximum number of days it can stay alive.
Problem Solving Books for Intermediate Students
Remark: As stated above, there are many books for Intermediate students that have not been published by AoPS. Below is a list of intermediate books that AoPS has published and their difficulty. The left-hand number corresponds to the difficulty of the easiest review problems, while the right-hand number corresponds to the difficulty of the hardest challenge problems.
2.5-6.5/7, may vary across chapters
3.5-7.5/8, may vary across chapters
2-8, may vary across chapters
Beginner Olympiad Competitions
This category consists of beginning Olympiad math competitions. Most junior and first stage Olympiads fall under this category. The range from the difficulty scale would be around 4 to 6. A full list is available here.
USAMTS generally has a different feel to it than olympiads, and is mainly for proofwriting practice instead of olympiad practice depending on how one takes the test. USAMTS allows an entire month to solve problems, with internet resources and books being allowed. However, the ultimate gap is that it permits computer programs to be used, and that Problem 1 is not a proof problem. However, it can still be roughly put to this rating scale:
- Problem 1-2: 3-4
- Find three isosceles triangles, no two of which are congruent, with integer sides, such that each triangle’s area is numerically equal to 6 times its perimeter. (Solution)
- Problem 3-5: 4-6
- Call a positive real number groovy if it can be written in the form for some positive integer . Show that if is groovy, then for any positive integer , the number is groovy as well. (Solution)
- Problem 1/5: 3.5
- In a drawer, there are at most balls, some of them are white, the rest are blue, which are randomly distributed. If two balls were taken at the same time, then the probability that the balls are both blue or both white is . Determine the maximum amount of white balls in the drawer, such that the probability statement is true? (Solution)
- Problem 2/6: 4.5
- Find the lowest possible values from the function for any real numbers . (Solution)
- Problem 3/7: 5
- A pair of integers is called good if Given 2 positive integers which are relatively prime, prove that there exists a good pair with and , but and . (Solution)
- Problem 4/8: 6
- Given an acute triangle . The incircle of triangle touches respectively at . The angle bisector of cuts and respectively at and . Suppose is one of the altitudes of triangle , and be the midpoint of .
- (a) Prove that and are perpendicular with the angle bisector of .
- (b) Show that is a cyclic quadrilateral. (Solution)
- Problem 1: 4
- Find all three-digit numbers (with ) such that is a divisor of 26. (Solution)
- Problem 2,4,5: 5-6
- Show that the equation has no integer solutions. (Solution)
- Problem 3/6: 6.5
- Let be a convex quadrilateral. , and , , and are points on , , and respectively, such that . If , , show that . (Solution)
- Problem 1: 4
- Find all real numbers such that
- Problem 2: 4.5-5
- Let be a convex quadrilateral with , and . The diagonals intersect at point . Determine the measure of .
- Problem 3: 5
- Find all prime numbers , such that .
- Problem 4: 6
- A table is divided into white unit square cells. Two cells are called neighbors if they share a common side. A move consists in choosing a cell and changing the colors of neighbors from white to black or from black to white. After exactly moves all the cells were black. Find all possible values of .
This category consists of standard Olympiad competitions, usually ones from national Olympiads. Average difficulty is from 5 to 8. A full list is available here.
- Problem 1/4: 5
- There are bowls arranged in a row, numbered through , where and are given positive integers. Initially, each of the first bowls contains an apple, and each of the last bowls contains a pear.
- A legal move consists of moving an apple from bowl to bowl and a pear from bowl to bowl , provided that the difference is even. We permit multiple fruits in the same bowl at the same time. The goal is to end up with the first bowls each containing a pear and the last bowls each containing an apple. Show that this is possible if and only if the product is even. (Solution)
- Problem 2/5: 6-6.5
- Let be positive real numbers such that . Prove that (Solution)
- Problem 3/6: 7
- Two rational numbers and are written on a blackboard, where and are relatively prime positive integers. At any point, Evan may pick two of the numbers and written on the board and write either their arithmetic mean or their harmonic mean on the board as well. Find all pairs such that Evan can write on the board in finitely many steps. (Solution)
- Individual Round, Problem 1-5: 5
- Individual Round, Problem 6-10: 5.5-6
- Team Round: 7.5
- HMIC: 8
- Problem 1: 5.5
- Problem 2: 6
- Problem 3: 6.5
- Problem 4: 7-7.5
- Problem 5: 7.5-8
- Regional Competition for Advanced Students, Problems 1-4: 5
- Federal Competition for Advanced Students, Part 1. Problems 1-4: 6
- Federal Competition for Advanced Students, Part 2, Problems 1-6: 7
- Problem 1/4: 5.5
- Problem 2/5: 6.5
- Problem 3/6: 7.5
- Problem 1: 6
- Problem 2: 7
- Problem 3: 7
- Problem 4: 7.5
- Problem 5: 8.5
- Problem 1: 5
- Solve the equation in positive integers.
- Problem 2: 6.5
- Let be a line parallel to the side of a triangle , with on the side and on the side . The lines and meet at point . The circumcircles of triangles and meet at two distinct points and . Prove that .
- Problem 3: 7.5
- A rectangle is partitioned into unit squares. The centers of all the unit squares, except for the four corner squares and eight squares sharing a common side with one of them, are coloured red. Is it possible to label these red centres in such way that the following to conditions are both fulfilled
- the distances are all equal to
- the closed broken line has a centre of symmetry?
- Problem 4: 8
- Denote by the set of all positive integers. Find all functions such that
Hard Olympiad Competitions
This category consists of harder Olympiad contests. Difficulty is usually from 7 to 10. A full list is available here.
- Problem 1/4: 6-7
- Let be a convex polygon with sides, . Any set of diagonals of that do not intersect in the interior of the polygon determine a triangulation of into triangles. If is regular and there is a triangulation of consisting of only isosceles triangles, find all the possible values of . (Solution)
- Problem 2/5: 7-8
- Three nonnegative real numbers , , are written on a blackboard. These numbers have the property that there exist integers , , , not all zero, satisfying . We are permitted to perform the following operation: find two numbers , on the blackboard with , then erase and write in its place. Prove that after a finite number of such operations, we can end up with at least one on the blackboard. (Solution)
- Problem 3/6: 8-9
- Prove that any monic polynomial (a polynomial with leading coefficient 1) of degree with real coefficients is the average of two monic polynomials of degree with real roots. (Solution)
- Problem 1/4/7: 6.5-7
- Problem 2/5/8: 7.5-8
- Problem 3/6/9: 8.5-9
- Problem A/B,1-2: 7
- Find the least possible area of a concave set in the 7-D plane that intersects both branches of the hyperparabola and both branches of the hyperbola (A set in the plane is called convex if for any two points in the line segment connecting them is contained in ) (Solution)
- Problem A/B,3-4: 8
- Let be an matrix all of whose entries are and whose rows are mutually orthogonal. Suppose has an submatrix whose entries are all Show that . (Solution)
- Problem A/B,5-6: 9
- For any , define the set . Show that there are no three positive reals such that . (Solution)
China TST (hardest problems)
- Problem 1/4: 8-8.5
- Given an integer prove that there exist odd integers and a positive integer such that
- Problem 2/5: 9
- Given a positive integer and real numbers such that prove that for any positive real number
- Problem 3/6: 9.5-10
- Let be an integer and let be non-negative real numbers. Define for . Prove that
- Problem 1/4: 5.5-7
- Let be the circumcircle of acute triangle . Points and are on segments and respectively such that . The perpendicular bisectors of and intersect minor arcs and of at points and respectively. Prove that lines and are either parallel or they are the same line. (Solution)
- Problem 2/5: 7-8
- Let be a polynomial of degree with integer coefficients, and let be a positive integer. Consider the polynomial , where occurs times. Prove that there are at most integers such that . (Solution)
- Problem 3/6: 9-10
Let be an equilateral triangle. Let be interior points of such that , , , and Let and meet at let and meet at and let and meet at
Prove that if triangle is scalene, then the three circumcircles of triangles and all pass through two common points.
(Note: a scalene triangle is one where no two sides have equal length.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZNIpapyGJQ [Video contains solutions to all day 2 problems]
- Problem 1-2: 5.5-7
- Problem 3-4: 7-8
- Problem 5+: 9-10