About the PMC

The Primary Mathematics Challenge (PMC) is a fun and exciting mathematical challenge aimed at pupils aged 9 - 11 years old.

Open to schools and home schooled pupils only, we regret that the PMC is not open to individuals or tutoring groups outside of school. To find out more please check our FAQs.

The PMC is not designed to be just another test in the school year.  We are of the belief that the PMC encourages enthusiasm, boosts confidence in mathematics and shows the different way questions can be asked. We believe in the importance of problem solving as a means of helping pupils develop their reasoning skills.

“A very well organised competition, easy to access and administer...a wonderful opportunity to extend and challenge our most able mathematicians.”

Designed to make pupils think outside the box, PMC questions can create a great starting point and lead to discussions later in the year. We try to make sure the questions are not heavily reliant on formal mathematical knowledge, but can be solved by logical reasoning.

The Layout

The PMC paper has 25 questions. 20 of these are multiple choice. The questions are graded; starting with easy ones and graduating to harder questions. The final five require an answer where no choices are given.

Pupils get...

  • 45 minutes to answer the questions
  • the chance to take part in a national challenge
  • 10 easy questions to start with
  • certificates presented by the school
  • high-scoring pupils will be invited to take part in the PMC Bonus Round

Teachers get...

The Primary Mathematics Challenge papers come in packs of ten, so there is enough for ten pupils. With each pack of ten papers you will receive;

  • 1 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze certificates
  • 1 'Took the Challenge' certificate
  • mark scheme/answers and notes

The online paper is sold in tens too. Teachers get access for their pupils to the Challenge. The paper is marked automatically and teachers can then access pupils answers. 

Also provided are full instructions, solutions and follow-up ideas for the classroom, feedback sheet, and an opportunity to raise the profile of mathematics in your school.

For the November paper the teachers decide how the certificates be awarded. Decisions are therefore an 'in-school' task. The spirit of the PMC is that in each school there will be a number of gold, silver and bronze pupils who deserve certificates. We know every school has pupils of varying ability so we do not want to limit the achievements of any pupils taking part. One gold, two silver and three bronze certificates are provided in each pack and a 'Took the Challenge' certificate is provided for everyone. We have listened to your feedback and we will provide a certificate of participation for every pupil.


Here is what some of our participants have to say...

"As always, the PMC was greeted with a buzz of excitement by the children and provides the staff with ideas for extension activities to use with our ablest students over the next weeks and months. Thank you!"

"Everything was perfect! I have no suggestions or improvements as this competition is very well organised, everything arrived on time and we just love it!"

"Amazing experience again, the children all enjoyed the opportunity to stretch their brain and think in different ways."

"Great to have yellow paper for our dyslexic children."

"I always like the format and question types: the challenges really make pupils think. I thought this year was particularly difficult especially compared with the previous two years. I expected more children in my school to gain higher scores."


The Bonus Round 

After the November results are collated and moderated, high scoring pupils are invited to take part in the Bonus Round. Whereas the November Challenge is an in-school challenge, the Bonus Round sees pupils competing on a worldwide level.

There is no extra charge for the pupils entering into the Bonus Round. Everything you need is sent directly to you in January. Pupils take the Challenge in school. There is one day in February allocated for this challenge and the OMR papers have to be sent back to us.

The Bonus Paper is set out in a similar format to the November challenge paper with 25 questions and 45 minutes to do them in. Pupils are required to complete an optical mark reader (OMR) form with their answers.

Pupils receive a lapel badge and a certificate. All other entrants received a certificate for taking part. Getting to the Bonus Round is a great achievement so pupils should never be disheartened if they did not receive a badge.


After the PMC…

There are many things which can be done throughout the year and the PMC papers and resources can help you with these.

PMC questions are a good basis for discussion and can be ‘unpicked’ when the subjects come up in future lessons. The methods used to answer certain questions can be discussed and children can compare their strategies. The PMC answers and notes provide some excellent ideas for discussion and investigation.

We also receive comments that the PMC paper is a good basis for use in the preparations for the 11 plus exam and also the Numerical Reasoning test in Wales.