Special arrangements for the 2021 competition

The following special arrangements are needed to cope with the pandemic and the fact that UK schools will certainly be closed for Round 1, and probably for Round 2 too. This page will be updated from time to time as the situation evolves. It complements the information about 2021 and the usual general information. Where there is a conflict between this page and the latter, this page takes priority.

This page is addressed primarily to teachers, but nothing is confidential and we hope it will be helpful to competitors as well – especially the section at the foot about resources.

Round 1

Test material

  • Fortunately, the portal allows us to distribute the test material to teachers in the usual way; so we will upload the test papers as promised on Thursday 28th, and you will then be able to log in and download whatever papers you need.
  • As usual, the uploaded papers will all be PDFs containing just the problem. But unusually,
    • the spaces for answers will be writable (so a competitor can use the keyboard to enter data; we won’t ask for any symbols that aren’t on an ordinary keyboard).
    • the names of the languages will be suppressed in the Advanced papers (but not in the lower levels) to make them harder to find by Google.
    • there will be no overlap between the Advanced level and the Intermediate level, so you can arrange them as best suits you without worrying about leakage.
  • We suggest the following procedure, but of course we leave it to your professional judgement to deviate if you think fit.There is more information and advice in the Resources section at the foot of the message.
    • You distribute the PDFs directly to the competitors via your school’s usual online system.
    • They print out the problems if they’re lucky enough to have a printer; but the problems can be done online as the software recommended allows a user to add comments and highlighting.
    • They type the answers into the fillable boxes in the PDF, which they save and return to you.
  • Since a new technology is considered, it makes a lot of sense to allow or encourage pupils to get used to it before the competition.
  • Once the answers have been returned to you, you will treat them as usual:
    • lower-level answers: you will mark these yourself in the usual way.
    • Advanced answers: you will bundle these into as few files or folders as possible and upload them as usual on the portal; don’t try to combine them into a single PDF as this tends to corrupt the data, so do bundle them into a zip folder (There is a tutorial on how to combine files into a zip folder, and another on how to send the folder, in the Resources section.)
  • As usual, we will distribute the solutions  and comments at the end of the competition week. At that point we will also reveal the names of the Advanced languages.


Our general position is that you’re professionals with a great deal of experience and expertise in this area, and given that different schools will have different options we’re happy to leave you to use your own professional judgement, bearing a few general points in mind:

  • Lower levels: Here the most important consideration has always been that candidates should enjoy the competition. For instance,
    • we’re happy for competitors to work in small teams – i.e. collaboration is positively encouraged, so in remote working this might mean a bunch of pupils working together over Zoom, possibly sharing someone’s screen with the PDF on it.
    • we’re happy for teachers to use their initiative in arranging the logistics for the competition; so we’d be happy, for example, if the competition was spread across a number of timetabled lesson slots.
    • we’re aware that competitors might be tempted to find the language via Google, but even if they find the language, and maybe a grammar, they can be sure that they won’t find our problem, less still its solution; so it would be easier in the long run just to solve the problem without using Google.
  • Advanced level: Here the stakes are higher so we have to be stricter in order to keep the competition as fair as possible.
    • As usual, competitors must work on their own, without help either from other people or from Google.
    • Within a school, all competitors must sit the Advanced competition at the same time.
    • Since time is one of the main constraints, it is important to impose a limit of 2.5 hours, using whatever technology is available.