Competition Information

Students submit short code solutions to a range of challenges which increase in difficulty. Get a high score in Round 1 to progress to Round 2. Start and closing dates can be found on the home page.

Round 1:
40 minutes

This is for pairs (or solo, if necessary) sharing one computer.

Round 2:
60 minutes

This round is for three pupils to participate together. There is a maximum of two Years 10-11 students allowed per team.

Students sit together on up to three computers with up to three different logins per team.

All students must be in Years 7-11 (Scotland P7-S4, Northern Ireland Y8-12). International students please use the student’s age on 1 September (for example, age 14 would be in Year 10).

Register for the competition

A supervising teacher does not require any coding expertise to host this competition at their school.

All you need to do is sign up to our teacher mailing list, recruit your school teams, encourage practice with the material provided and arrange an invigilation session within the competition window. 

Coding Submissions

Submissions will be supported in a number of different languages, but these will be limited and reviewed each year based on demand from registering schools. Python, C++, C#, Java, JavaScript and Visual Basic.Net are the main languages of choice for this competition.

All questions will receive one or more lines of input and produce one or more lines of output. Each submission will be subjected to automated tests to determine the points awarded. Code submissions must complete within the specified (usually three) seconds of processing time for each test. The memory available to each submission is also limited, which may be relevant to some later problems.

The code must not generate any output other than the answer. For this reason, no prompts should be included in any code, otherwise solutions will be marked incorrect by the marking engine.

The Coding Environment

Teams can code directly into the online submission window, or use an installed development environment and copy/paste their code across. However, all submissions must be made strictly within the time allowed.

Individual question submissions will be marked online instantly with feedback given regarding the number of test cases passed or failed, although the test cases themselves are not shown.

The overall results will not be available until after the competition closes when team pair scores will be combined.


The supervising teacher will require no specialist knowledge, but will invigilate to enforce the following basic rules. Further guidance will be sent to registered teachers before the competition opens.

Students must not access any other websites/software other than the competition site, their chosen coding editor, the official language documentation and up to 20 A4 sides (10 double-sided pages) of printed or digital code snippets to assist them in Rounds 1 and 2.

We prefer that students do not use online coding editors that permit sharing / public code (such as replit) but if these are used then the teacher must be particularly alert in their invigilation and also ensure only one code file is created which is deleted afterwards. Most students submit in python and the Code Now area of our related python tutorial site is suitable because code is kept only on the local browser.


Each challenge has a pre-determined score based on its level of difficulty. A team’s score on each challenge is determined by the number of test cases a team’s code submission successfully passes.

If a team submits more than one solution per challenge, the team’s score will reflect their best code submission for that challenge.

Teams are ranked by score. If two or more teams achieve the same overall score, then the tie is broken by the number of points achieved on the Level 4 questions. If that is also equal, then it will be decided by the numbers of submissions needed to achieve those Level 4 points (less being better). The organising committee’s decision will be final.

Round 1 Format

Questions will be simple and short. Students will each work on a single computer to complete as many questions as they can in the 40 minutes allowed.

Round 1 juniors: (Years 7-9, Scotland P7-S2, NI Y8-10) This round has seven questions each worth three points. There will be a range of easy questions with most questions able to be solved in well under 10 lines of code.

Round 1 seniors: (Years 10-11, Scotland S3-S4, NI Y11-12). Questions 1-5 will be worth three points and questions 6-10 five points.

Schools can allow different classes to take part on different days within the competition date window.

The invigilating teacher is responsible for ensuring the security of the competition. This includes collecting in any rough paper and ensuring that no copies of the online questions are retained by students in any form.

Schools are permitted to create printed translations of the competition questions if helpful but these must be collected afterwards. Questions should not be printed unless required for an accessibility need.

Invigilation, for Round 1 only, can be online supervision if required, so long as the students involved are sharing their screen and webcam with the invigilating teacher throughout.

Templates and details of how to facilitate Participation, Merit and Distinction certificates will be issued to participating schools along with their results.

The top 50% of entries will be entitled to a Merit certificate with the top 25% given a Distinction certificate. Students with a Distinction in the junior or senior questions set will be able to enter Round 2 either continuing in their pair or in rearranged teams.

Round 2 Format

Questions will be more demanding and follow the four-level format outlined below.

There will be teams of up to three and they will sit together. Teams may have access to one computer each and use up to three different logins per team. A maximum of two Years 10-11 (Scotland S3-S4, NI Y11-12) students are allowed in a team of three. 

At least one of the two students who qualified from Round 1 must make up any Round 2 team, but the other two need not have sat/qualified from Round 1 or have been in the same pair initially.

Security is ‘high’ for Round 2 which means that if a school is entering multiple qualifying teams then all of those teams must sit the competition on the same date and time or in immediately contiguous times on the same date. We regret that there can be no flexibility on this rule for Round 2.

Round 2 Question Details

Students are asked several questions, most of which should be completed within the given timescale.

These problems will range in difficulty but every question is worth an equal ten points each.

This format is designed with the intention that it encourages teams to divide and conquer and includes a younger programmer to aid development, who can concentrate on the easier questions.

Level 1
These can be solved typically by under 10 lines of code, sometimes a lot less. They will typically focus on some basic text or number processing.

Level 2
These can also be solved with short programs, but will make more developed use of array processing or functions.

Level 3
These are aimed at easier versions of British Informatics Olympiad (BIO) level 1 questions and would typically involve iteration and selection. A few of the test cases might require a time-efficient solution.

Level 4
These are aimed at easier versions of BIO level 2 or level 3 questions which focus on modelling questions, e.g. of a short game simulation or some algorithmic complexity, in which tests would time out if a less efficient method is used (four seconds of processing time is allowed and this is the same for all languages).

* Students can be in teams of less than three for Round 2 if needed although this is not ideal.

The Prizes

There are prizes available at the Round 2 stage of the competition.

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