About the PMC


The Primary Mathematics Challenge is a fun and exciting mathematical Challenge aimed at pupils in years 5 and 6 England and Wales, P6 and P7 in Scotland, and Years 6 and 7 in Northern Ireland. The PMC is 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, the tough questions went far beyond the material covered in our Maths classes but a wonderful opportunity to extend and challenge our most able mathematicians.”
"A wonderful challenge, thank you."

The PMC is designed to make pupils think outside the box. The questions asked are not necessarily subjects that have been covered in the curriculum by this time but the 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.

"All of our children really enjoyed taking part in the challenge despite it being tough. It was perhaps a step too far (for now!) for some of the Year 5 children who took part but they will probably give it another go next year.
Thank you."

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.

"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!"

There are two practice questions on the front of the paper. The purpose of these questions is to make sure all the pupils know what they doing and where the answers are going. Completing these two questions does not eat into the allocated time for the Challenge.

"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!"

Pupils can use as much note paper (provided by you) as they need for their working out.

"Amazing experience again, although many of the children found it difficult they all enjoyed the opportunity to stretch their brain and think in different ways."

Answering PMC questions does not depend on mathematical knowledge alone, but on the ability to think things through, be logical and find ways to solve problems. Pupils also need to read the questions carefully!

"I feel the test appears to be becoming a bit easier, compared to previous years, from questions 1-20, though the five final questions still included some notably tricky ones."
"Great to have yellow paper for our dyslexic children. As a non-selective school, we entered all of the children. We have a club and work with past papers and those who attend found this the hardest paper to date. Teachers who read it would agree as some wording was ambiguous."
"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."
"I love the questions. The first 10 are usually accessible to all. This year, I thought the harder questions were more difficult than in previous years. Thank you for providing such an interesting challenge."

Pupils get...

  • 45 minutes to answer the questions
  • the chance to take part in a national challenge
  • 10 easy questions to start with
  • all pupils should achieve a reasonable score
  • 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

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.

What we need from you…

      The PMC will take place within your school so all papers are to be marked by you, using the answers we supply and the easy-to-use mark scheme. We will need you to log on to the website after the challenge has taken place and submit your results on-line or, if necessary, you can submit your results using the tally form provided, including the names of any high scorers. Even if you don’t have anyone scoring above 19, we still need your scores as they help us to assess the reaction to the paper and give more accurate statistics so please take 5 minutes to log on and submit them. Thank you!

      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 to every pupil 

The Bonus Round 

The next Bonus Round will take place 3rd February 2021

     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 (we have many overseas schools taking part in PMC and we are pleased to note that the number increases year on year!)

    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.

Last year we were delighted to have awarded 195 Gold Medals, 685 Silver medals and 710  Bronze medals to the pupils achieving the highest scores in the Bonus Round. These pupils received 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.

                “…we love your question. We don’t spend enough time on this kind of mathematics…” – Teacher, Abingdon

      Why not give out daily brain teasers from the selection of over 600 questions available in the Challenge Your Pupils book series.