Round 1 2019

  1. Notice-board for emergencies and FAQs during and after the test week
  2. Dates
  3. Test material
  4. Local arrangements
    1. Advanced level
    2. Other levels
  5. National thresholds for Gold, Silver and Bronze at each level, and some statistics
  6. Archive of messages to teachers

For ongoing information:



  • Fri 1 March: We’re aware of a problem on the portal which prevents you from recycling the names of past candidates. We’re working on the problem and hope to have it fixed by Monday. Meanwhile, we’re very sorry, especially if you have a lot of names to enter.
    • Sunday March 10: I’m very sorry for the long delay, but I think this problem has been fixed. Please let me know if it persists.
  • Mon 25 Feb: In the message that I’ve just circulated I didn’t mention the solutions to the Advanced problems. I’m afraid they’re embargoed till the end of March to prevent leakage of information across competitions. I’ll let you know when they’re free to download, along with the original test paper and a commentary on the problem and its solution. Nor did I mention two datapoints that may interest you:
    • the borderline for R2 selection was about 85%.
    • the national average total was 35%. (The totals shown on your portal account are percentages.)
  • Sat 16 Feb:
    • Problem 10 (Braille) yet again: Q.10 needs a numerical sign before the ‘3’; I’ve revised and re-uploaded.  Once again this increases by 1 the maximum number of points for this question, and therefore also for the whole problem, but once again please don’t revisit your marking.
    • Problems 6 (Cippus Abellanus) and 9 (Ndebele): I’ve added a small amount of clarification to the marking information, but I don’t think this affects the marking. The revised versions are in revised uploaded versions of the Advanced and Intermediate packages.
  • Weds 13 Feb: Problem 10 (Braille) again: two further ramifications of the missing column have come to light:
    • Q.7: a missing Braille character for ‘2’ (= ‘b’) in the last column, requiring a further space in the next row, giving a maximum of 17, not 16.
    • Q.10: the restored ‘l’ gives a maximum of 21, not 20.
    • Consequently, the maximum for the whole problem is 113, not 111. I’ve set the portal to accept up to 113 points, and once again revised the solution document and uploaded it to the portal.
    • I’m very sorry about this, but please bear in mind that the total marks (not points) for this problem is only 25, so each point is worth less than a quarter of a mark, and the only score involved is probably that for Q.7. If you’ve already marked the problem, please don’t go back over your scores. But if you are still marking, please follow the new marking scheme.
  • Sun 10 Feb: Problem 10 (Braille) again: one of the columns is missing in the solution sheet – so that explains the missing ‘l’!
    • I’ve restored the column (and the ‘l’) in the uploaded material so the solutions sheet matches the answer sheets that you’re marking.
  • Sat 9 Feb: Problem 10 (Braille): The solution needs an extra Braille ‘l’ (a column of 3 dots on the left, as in ‘London’) for ‘place’ in sentence 10. Fortunately I omitted the ‘l’ after calculating the total points, so this total is in fact correct.
  • Fri 8 Feb: End of test week. The solutions can now be downloaded via your portal page:
    • Advanced: ‘Answers released’ in the top right corner.
    • Non-Advanced: ‘Download exam solutions’ under the relevant exam.
  • Weds 6 Feb: Advanced level, Problem 10 (Braille): There’s an error in the data: an extra dot at the top of the first character of the last word in item 2 (Toronto is the largest city in Canada). I’ve now removed it in the uploaded material, so if you haven’t yet printed your test material you may like to download the new version. It should be obvious that it’s a typo, but I’ll take it into account in the marking scheme.
  • Weds 6 Feb: Advanced level: Apparently the bundle that I uploaded on Monday didn’t include the coversheet, so I’ve now added it and uploaded the new package.
  • Tues 5 Feb: Advanced level: Don’t forget to take some spare paper (preferably lined) for candidates who want to attempt the explanation question in Problem 9 (Ndebele)
  • Mon 4 Feb: Problem 6 (Cippus Abellanus): the word Abellanus only has one <l> in the title. This matters, so I’ve corrected it in the downloadable material.
  • Mon 4 Feb: Problem 7 (Harmongolian): the answer sheet gives different translations for the first three words in Q.3 from the problem sheet. The latter is correct, so they should be ‘king’, ‘lizard’, ‘store’.
    • I’ve corrected the error in the answer sheet on the portal.
  • Mon 4 Feb: Problem 1 (Ladin): the last line of the data has been omitted, so there are only 9 gaps to be filled, not 10. The last line should be like this: 10. _ | birra | beer.
    • I’ve uploaded a new (and correct) version of the two relevant papers: Breakthrough and Other.
  • Sat 2 Feb: Problem 3 (‘Jahai’: Breakthrough and  Foundation) has an error in the instructions for Q.1.
    • On your pdf: “Match six of the seven verbs above …” should be: “Match six of the nine verbs above …”
    • I’ve corrected the uploaded pdfs for Breakthrough and Foundation.
  • Thurs 31 Jan: The very first versions of Problems 8 (Gumatj) and 9 (Ndebele) included the solutions and marking scheme.
    • I removed them very soon, but if you happened to download before about 5.00 you may have the solutions. Please keep them to yourself! I’ll be issuing them officially on Friday.
  • Thurs 31 Jan: The non-Advanced papers don’t appear on your dashboard. I’m sorry about that – I have uploaded them, so I don’t know why they’re not showing (in contrast with the Advanced paper, which is showing). I’ll investigate and hope to report back soon.
    • Fri 1 Feb: We’re still working on this, but hope to get it fixed by this evening. Meanwhile, if you urgently need the material, email me and I’ll send you what you need.
    • Sat 2 Feb:It seems to be working properly now,  so you should be able to download all the papers. Please tell us if you can’t.

Dates for 2019

  • Mon Jan 28: end of period for notifying Advanced numbers.
  • Thurs Jan 31: test material released on the portal for all levels (see below).
  • Feb 4-8: test week for round 1
  • Fri Feb 8 (end): deadline for scanning and uploading Advanced scripts.
  • Feb 9: solutions for non-Advanced problems released via the portal.
  • Mon Feb 25: results announced for the Advanced competition.
  • March 11: deadline for entering non-Advanced results in the portal. Soon after that we’ll fix the national thresholds so that you can download your certificates.
  • (March 28): All-clear for releasing publicly all the test material, for all levels including Advanced, and including solutions and marking schemes.

Test material: all the material you need for the test (apart from coloured pens – highly recommended!) will be available for download from the portal at 5.00 pm on the date specified above. You’ll receive an email confirming that the material is ready.

Local arrangements

Advanced level

If you’re expecting to enter candidates for the Advanced competition,

  • please notify us of your numbers (not names) as instructed, so that we can assign you a marker. The portal won’t accept notifications  after the date given above. Late entries will not be accepted.
  • please arrange for your candidates to take the test under the conditions that you would provide for any public exam such as GCSE – i.e. a quiet room with an invigilator and no communication between candidates (or access to mobile phones or computers!).
  • please allow 2.5 hours for the test.
    • If you have candidates who are given extra time in other public exams, please make similar arrangements here.

Timing:   You can arrange your competition at any time during the competition  week specified above (or after, for non-Advanced entries), but you must make sure you have time:

  • to scan the Advanced scripts in time to send them to us by the end of Friday evening.
  • to print the test papers (at all levels) after they are released.
  • to send us your results for the Foundation and Intermediate tests that you marked by the deadline (see above).

Other levels

For levels other than Advanced, you’re welcome to make whatever arrangements you like for the competition, including:

  • allowing pupils to work in small teams.
  • allowing more or less than our recommended time: 2 hours.
  • splitting a paper into separate problems to be tackled at different times, e.g. in timetabled classes.
  • making up your own ad hoc paper by combining problems to taste, or even by just selecting one or two problems. (Our results-reporting system will allow you to enter results for individual problems, so it won’t worry if they don’t fit a standard paper.)
  • timing it beyond the official competition week.

National thresholds for award certificates

The national thresholds for Gold, Silver and Bronze awards apply to all certificates at all levels; for example, if the threshold for Bronze level at Intermediate level is 60, then any total of 60 or higher will merit a Bronze certificate (provided it is below the threshold for the Silver level). We round to one decimal point, so unfortunately 59.9 does not earn a Bronze. These thresholds are based on the total marks for each candidate calculated as a percentage of the maximum marks for the level concerned, so that the top 5% get Gold, the next 10% Silver and the next 20% Bronze.  even if a competitor does not win an award certificate, they will receive a certificate for participating.

                                    total entries       gold        silver     bronze

Breakthrough       268                      85.0             79.0            72.0

Foundation         1,000                     86.0             78.0            72.0         

Intermediate      1,116                      82.0             69.0            55.0

Advanced             1,497                      66.0             54.0           46.0