APLO rules and guidelines for contestants

The following are rules and guidelines for contestants of APLO. They should be delivered by the local organizers and invigilators at the testing site.

1. Working language

  • Each contestant chooses their working language from among those offered when registering for APLO. This choice cannot normally be changed less than a week before the contest day.
  • You should choose the language in which you are most comfortable. Contrary to popular opinion, there is absolutely no advantage to be gained from using any particular language: all working languages have equal status in APLO.
  • You will receive a single copy of the problem set in your working language. If the set that you receive is not in the language you requested, you must let the invigilator know immediately, before the contest starts.
  • You must write your solutions in the same working language. There is no advantage to be gained by doing otherwise, and you risk introducing mistakes and losing marks.

2. The problem set

  • The problem set consists of five separate problems which you may solve in any order.
  • No contestant may receive more than one copy of the problem set during the contest, so please do not request one.
  • The contest lasts five hours.
  • You must hand in the problem set and all the drafts or other paperwork you used during the contest.
  • The problems have all been very carefully checked to avoid mistakes, but if you suspect that there is an error, write your question (in your working language) on a piece of draft paper and hand it to an invigilator. The invigilator will contact the jury and you will receive the answer (in your working language) written on the same sheet of paper. However, you should understand that it may take some time to contact the jury and get an answer in your language, so work on something else in the meantime.
  • You may request an explanation of an unfamiliar word. The Jury may fulfil such a request at their discretion. The Jury will not fulfil such a request if doing so would give you an unfair advantage. The Jury will not normally provide a translation of an unfamiliar word into another language.

3. Rules for writing out solutions

  • Do not copy the statements of the problems.
  • Write down your solution to each problem on a separate sheet or sheets.
  • Use only the front side of the answer sheet.
  • On each sheet indicate your name, the number of the problem, and the page sequence of that sheet within the problem. Otherwise your work may be mislaid or misattributed.
  • Your answers must be well-supported by argument, unless the question explicitly instructs you otherwise. Even a perfectly correct answer will be given a low score unless accompanied by an explanation. This explanation should be a detailed and systematic summary of the facts that you have discovered, NOT a description of how you discovered them.
  • Do NOT give alternative answers (to test items) hoping that one of them will be correct (unless of course the question asks for multiple answers): you will not receive any marks for multiple answers, even if one of them is right. If you offer alternative conflicting explanations, you will also lose marks, so take care to delete (erase or cross-out) anything you do not want to include in your answer.

4. What you should bring

  • Something to write with: a pen is preferred to a pencil, but not obligatory. The use of different colours can help clarify your presentation, but you should avoid the use of red, traditionally reserved for the jury members.
  • Paper will be provided. If you need more paper, signal to the invigilator by putting up your hand.
  • Some spare pens will be available: if you need one, put up your hand to request one.

5. What you may bring

  • No food will be provided for you during the competition. You may bring your own food and drink.
  • If you bring your own food, please bring only food that can be eaten quietly and neatly and does not have a strong smell, so as not to disturb other contestants.
  • You may bring with you any medication that you may need during the contest. If you have any special needs, notify the organizers beforehand.
  • You may bring a watch or other time-keeping device as long as it (a) is quiet and (b) does not enable contact with the outside world. There will be a large clock in the room, so you should not need your own watch. 

6. What you MUST NOT bring

  • You must not bring any electronic device, including laptop, tablet, mobile phone, and smart watch, or any other device which would enable you to contact the outside world or the internet. Any contestant found with any such item in their possession during the contest will be immediately disqualified.
  • You must not bring any written matter (e.g. notes) or printed matter (e.g. dictionary), or other external sources of information.
  • You must not bring any music or other entertainment device, even if equipped with headphones.
  • Smoking, including electronic cigarettes, is not permitted. 

7. Entering and leaving the room

  • Your seat will be assigned to you, and you must sit in this seat.
  • If you are more than 30 minutes late, you will not be allowed to enter the room.
  • Should you need to leave the room temporarily, put up your hand. You will be accompanied by an invigilator. Try to avoid disturbing other contestants.
  • You may submit your solutions and leave the contest at any time after the first 30 minutes, but once you do so you will not be allowed to return.

8. Questionnaire

  • As well as the problem set, you will receive a questionnaire, which you are asked to fill in at some point during the contest. 
  • The questionnaire asks you about the problems you worked on. This information is used to help the problem committee judge the suitability of the problems. 
  • The questionnaire also asks you to vote for your favourite problem.
  • Your responses to the questionnaire will not affect your score.
  • The questionnaire will be collected separately.