MORE than 10,000 Hunter students have pushed their problem-solving skills to the limit in the 39th Newcastle Permanent Primary School Mathematics Competition.

A record number of year five and six students – 12,966 in the Hunter, which make up the majority of 19,226 participants from 334 schools in regional NSW – sat the 35-question paper on Wednesday with no calculators, rulers or other mathematical instruments.

Kotara South relieving principal Catherine Ward said the general consensus from her school’s 43 year five students and 40 year six students was that the paper was “pretty good”.

## Test yourself on questions from past competition papers

“It starts off generally fairly easy and once it moves to level two questions they have to think a little bit more,” Ms Ward said.

“When they get to level three questions there is a lot more working out and planning to answer the questions.

“They were feeling pretty good about it, especially the year six students who knew how it works. They knew it starts easy and gets progressively harder.”

Ms Ward said her school had been sitting the competition for at least 10 years but students don’t practice for it.

“It certainly isn’t NAPLAN, we don’t look at it that way,” she said.

“We see it as a one-off test that’s made available to students.

“We have sporting events and public speaking and performing arts competitions.

“This gives kids who are particularly academic the chance to show how good they are and [unlike standardised testing ] to win prizes.

“Kids who are mathematically-minded love the challenge.”

The competition awards ceremony will be held in early November.