Skip Navigation

Math Olympiad for Elementary School Students

Arrow image that is used as button to enroll in courses. Enroll in this Course

Eligibility: CTY-level or Advanced CTY-level math score required

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Grade 3 Mathematics or equivalent; completion of Grade 4 Mathematics preferred

Course Format: Individually Paced

Course Length: Typically 3 months

Course Code: OL1

Course Description


This Math Olympiad course is designed to teach the major strategies of problem solving, to foster mathematical creativity, and to stimulate enthusiasm and love for the types of problems that students encounter in competitive mathematics.

This course includes notes, practice problems, assessments, and videos for each topic covered to allow students to learn and review both the material and problem-solving skills. Videos are provided by Art of Problem Solving. As students progress through the course, they will complete free response questions and timed practice exams to help them build experience using strategies that will be useful for real competitions. 

Each student is assigned to a CTY instructor to support them and give feedback during their course. Students can contact their instructor via email with any questions or concerns at any time. Live one-on-one online sessions can also be scheduled to prepare for the graded assessments, which include homework, quizzes, and a cumulative final exam. In addition, there are weekly group strategy sessions run by an instructor, where students will learn together.

The weekly strategy session will be held online every Tuesday evening from 7 - 7:50 p.m. ET. Attendance is optional and all sessions are recorded so students can watch them at a later time. Instructions and details are posted on the course website for enrolled students.

Topics include:

  • Drawing a Picture or Diagram
  • Using Deduction
  • Simplification
  • Finding a Pattern
  • Making an Organized List
  • Making a Table
  • Using Number Operations
  • Working Backwards
  • Basic Geometry
  • Estimation and Elimination

For a detailed list of topics, click the List of Topics tab.

This course has synchronous virtual class meetings, but participation is optional. Students may also schedule one-on-one virtual meetings directly with the instructor to answer questions or concerns.

Virtual classrooms, and student activities in the classroom, may be recorded and added to the course as an ongoing asset for all class students to review. Students may be invited to interact in CTY community spaces that include students and instructors and potentially specially invited guests that are not enrolled in their course. Student contributions (e.g., projects, forum posts, etc.) may remain in the course after the student completes the course. These artifacts may be preserved to showcase student work or to continue important conversations.

Math Olympiad course banner

Materials Needed

There are no required materials for this course.

List of Topics

This course is designed to teach the major strategies of problem solving, to foster mathematical creativity, and to stimulate enthusiasm and love for the types of problems that students encounter in competitive mathematics. Students explore math topics and strategies in depth, and practice non-routine contest problems. The web-based virtual classroom provides interactive experiences for students. Students and instructors meet in the virtual classroom for problem solving, clarification of concepts, and group sessions.

The following problem solving strategies will be covered in this course:

Topic 1: Drawing a Picture or Diagram

Both theoretical and applied problems will be used to show how a sketch helps to make sense of and model a problem.

Topic 2: Using Deduction

Students will apply principles of logic to solve classic riddles, such as those involving colored hats and identity of the truth-teller, in addition to non-routine math problems.

Topic 3: Simplification

Students will learn techniques for decreasing the number and complexity of calculations for simplifying problems involving whole number operations, complex fractions, factorials, and exponents.

Topic 4: Finding a Pattern

Students will investigate patterns involving time, additive number sequences, and repeated multiplication.

Topic 5: Making a List

This topic expands on strategies for making lists for counting and arrangements, along with divisibility and remainders, laying a solid foundation for later work with more formal concepts in modular arithmetic, number theory and combinatorics.

Topic 6: Making a Table

Students use tables to compare unknown quantities in an organized way to test possible solutions, which serves as a basis for more algebraic methods in subsequent coursework.

Topic 7: Using Number Operations

Students will broaden their understanding of number operations and factors as they apply methods to solve for unknown digits and complete magic squares.

Topic 8: Working Backwards

This topic exposes students to various situations for which beginning at a given result and working backwards is the best strategy.

Topic 9: Basic Geometry

Students develop their ability to change visual perspective as they consider various approaches to non-routine area and perimeter problems.

Topic 10: Estimation and Elimination

Strong estimation skills are often required in making sense of problems and checking reasonableness of solutions. In this topic, students apply their number sense to make estimates as they narrow the number of possible solutions to problems involving exponents, divisibility, and remainders.

Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

Zoom online virtual classroom
This course uses an online virtual classroom which can be used for instructor-student communication if the student has any questions about the course or curriculum. The classroom works on standard computers with the Zoom desktop client and also tablets or handhelds that support the Zoom Mobile app. Students will need a computer with the Zoom desktop client installed to watch any recorded meetings. The Zoom desktop client and Zoom Mobile App are both available for free download.