Further preparation

For simpler hackerrank starter problems, this short competition that we wrote for last year’s Science Week might be worthwhile:

For some systematic preparation, students using Python may wish to look at:

For the 20 page documentation rule (copies allowed into the competition), these useful Coding Club Code-Cards by Chris Roffey can be printed for free. They can also be purchased in pocket book format: or schools might wish to use our particular extract from these which we’ve combined with an overview for use of input(), some more helpful snippets and some blank pages at the back which should be completed before the competition if students wish to use these.

If users have any similar suggestions for other languages, please let us know.

About us

Paul Baker (Head of Computing and Digital Strategy) and Dave Gwilt (Head of Computer Science) both teach at The Perse School, Cambridge. Thanks also to Paul Walter, MCS Oxford, who is joining us in the competition planning. For general enquiries, please contact Paul Baker on, @p_d_baker

Competition topic overview

Algorithmic thinking:
The main point of the problems are to develop algorithmic / computational thinking.

  • Logical and Algorithmic Thinking
  • Decomposition and Abstraction
  • Pattern Identification
  • Debugging and continual testing

Language constructs typically used include:

  • selection
  • iteration
  • input/output*
  • type conversion (including string, integer, float, Boolean)
  • basic string processing (inc. letter by letter iteration, find/replace, reversing…)
  • arrays / lists+
  • functions

Level 4 problems may have one or two test cases which test the efficiency of the solution within the timeout allowed. * Please note that input prompts / additional output must not be included in solutions because of the auto-marking. + Nested lists, dictionaries, 2D arrays or other structure might be useful on some higher level problems.

Competition Integration

One of the aims of our competition is to help students on a journey towards sitting the superb but demanding British Informatics Olympiad:


British Informatics Olympiad

Able programmers compete to solve difficult programming problems with the ambition of representing their country in the International Informatics Olympiad. Click the logo for more details.

If you are looking for something a little more accessible than our competition to start with however then do take a look at these two fantastic national competitions that are free to enter:


The Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge

The Bebras Computing Challenge introduces computational thinking to students. It is organised in over 40 countries and designed to get students all over the world excited about computing. Click the logo for more details.


The TCS Oxford Computing Challenge

A new competition, piloting in March 2017. The top 10% achieving students in the UK Bebras Challenge will be invited to take part in a new challenge which aims to help talented computational thinkers move on to providing programmed solutions to problems. Click the logo for more details.