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About

The TCS Oxford Computing Challenge has been created by TCS and Oxford University. It is an invitation event which aims to encourage students who have achieved a top 10% score in the UK Bebras Challenge to develop their skills further and produce programmed solutions to computational thinking problems. At the same time, it is hoped that the archived self-marking tasks will provide a useful resource for all school students studying Computer Science.

A pilot challenge took place in March 2017 and the next official challenge will take place in March 2019. These events are held online, in schools and are supervised by teachers. The participants' solutions are auto-marked by our system soon after.

On Wednesday 27th March 2019 (again in schools) a second round for the top 20 students in each age group will be held. Tech prizes and medals will be awarded to the top three students in each of the four age groups.

 

The TCS OCC Syllabus

Syllabus Area One:


Syllabus Area Two:

* Juniors and Intermediates will not be set problems that require an understanding of this topic.

Programming Languages

Some sections tasks will require participants to be familiar with the Blockly programming language. Other tasks will allow students to program in any programming language using any IDE available on their school computers.

Students can use documentation or tool tips that are built in to their IDE but they may not look up documentation on the internet, search the internet in any way, or use other applications whilst participating in the Challenge.

The Challenge Format

The challenges will be run in schools using the same infrastructure used in the UK Bebras Challenge but with some new task types.

Four age categories: Elite, Seniors, Intermediates and Juniors
Time allowed: 1hour
Aim: To solve as many problems as possible in the time allowed.

Each Challenge will have three sections:

Section 1
5 tasks to solve that test understanding of syllabus area one in a fairly straightforward way.
(4 points each)

Section 2
5 tasks testing understanding of more than one syllabus area one skill. These tasks may, in addition, require the application of the Computational Thinking skills outlined in syllabus area two.
(6 points each)

Section 3
(Note: This is a format change for March 2020.)

2 longer problems that test programming skills and the computational thinking skills outlined in syllabus area two. These can be solved using any programming language but for the younger age groups these will still be solvable with Blockly.
(8 points each)

Age group differences:
(Note: Some changes for March 2020.)
Juniors - All tasks will be Blockly tasks
Intermediates - All tasks in Sections 1 and 2 will be Blockly tasks and the two Section 3 problems will be solvable using Blockly.
Seniors - Some tasks in Sections 1 and 2 will be Blockly tasks
Elite - Some tasks in Section 1 may be Blockly tasks.

 

Statistics

The TCS Oxford Computing Challenge piloted in March 2017. The top 10% achieving students in the UK Bebras Challenge were invited to take part.

2019 Statistics:
The final statistics for the first round of the 2018 challenge:

Age Group Invited Participants % Top Scores Mean Distinction
(top 25%)
Merit
(top 50%)
Max*
Elite: 642 327 51 90,88,84 27 32+ 24+ 66
Seniors: 1,954 942 48 88,88,76 22 28+ 22+ 66
Intermediate: 10,134 3857 38 84,84,76 19 24+ 18+ 66
Juniors:

5980

2459 41 84,78,76 20 24+ 18+ 66
Totals 18,710 7,585 41          

* Maximum score is 66 because students were asked to do five Easy tasks (worth 4 points), five medium tasks (worth 6 points), and choose 1 or 2 from the five difficult tasks (worth 8 points). Please note that the scoring system has been changed for 2018. A very few students managed to tackle more than this and so scored above the maximum.

All students got a participation certificate which they should value as they had to qualify in the top 10% of UK Bebras students to qualify for the pilot Challenge.

Number of students achieving each award::

Age Group 90 points 66+ points Distinction Merit
Elite: 1 18 82 82
Seniors:   5 236 236
Intermediate:   12 965 965
Juniors:   4 615 615

 

2018 Statistics:
The final statistics for the first round of the 2018 challenge:

Age Group Invited Participants % Top Scores Mean Distinction
(top 25%)
Merit
(top 50%)
Max*
Elite: 517 257 50 90,78,74= 24 34+ 20+ 66
Seniors: 1,440 691 48 90,84,84 25 32+ 22+ 66
Intermediate: 7,115 2610 37 82,68,60= 17 22+ 16+ 66
Juniors: 4,137 1784 43 76,74,68= 16 22+ 14+ 66
Totals 13,209 5,342 41          

* Maximum score is 66 because students were asked to do five Easy tasks (worth 4 points), five medium tasks (worth 6 points), and choose 1 or 2 from the five difficult tasks (worth 8 points). Please note that the scoring system has been changed for 2018. A very few students managed to tackle more than this and so scored above the maximum.

All students got a participation certificate which they should value as they had to qualify in the top 10% of UK Bebras students to qualify for the pilot Challenge.

Number of students achieving each award::

Age Group 90 points 66 points Distinction Merit
Elite: 1 10 64 65
Seniors: 1 7 173 173
Intermediate:   2 653 652
Juniors:   4 446 446

 

2017 Statistics:
The final figures for entries etc:

Age Group Invited Participants % Top Scores Mean Distinction Merit (top 30%) Max
Elite: 375 161 43 62,58,58 20 50+ 28 50
Seniors: 1154 432 37 70,70,70 17 50+ 20 50
Intermediate: 4425 1326 30 80,58,56,56,56 14 50+ 18 50
Juniors: 2252 732 33 56,56,48 12 50+ 18 50
Totals 8206 2651 32          

* Maximum score is 50 because students were asked to do five Easy tasks (worth 2 points), five medium tasks (worth 4 points), and choose 1 or 2 from the five difficult tasks (worth 10 points). Please note that the scoring system has been changed for 2018. A very few students managed to tackle more than this and so scored above the maximum.

All students got a participation certificate which they should value as they had to qualify in the top 10% of UK Bebras students to qualify for the pilot Challenge.

The Distinction certificates were awarded to those that achieved the theoretical maximum (or above). This is expected to be an exclusive award that only very few will achieve but many will aspire to.

Number of students achieving each award::

Age Group 80 points Distinction Merit
Elite:   9 37
Seniors:   13 115
Intermediate: 1 4 397
Juniors:   2 211
 

Answers

Below are answer booklets for recent TCS Oxford Computing Challenges. These include answers (in Python and Blockly), explanations and information explaining how the tasks are related to Computer Science.

pdf icon tcsocc-2019-answers.pdf
Download File
pdf icon tcsocc-2018-answers.pdf
Download File
pdf icontcsocc-2017-answers.pdf
Download File
 

Student FAQs

Can anyone take part?
Only invited students can take part. (The most common route to an invitation is to achieve a score that places the student in the top 10% in the UK Bebras Challenge.)

Why didn't I get an answer to my email?
We have a policy of not collecting students' email addresses or communicating directly with students. If you wish to make an enquiry, please ask your teacher to do so on your behalf.

Are there prizes?
There is a first, second and third prize awarded to the top three finalists in each age group nationally. In 2018, these were:
    First prize: A pi-top
    Second prize: A pi-topCEED
    Third prize: A Raspberry Pi starter kit

Can anyone use or try the past challenges?
Yes. Simply head over to the archive (no login required): challenge.tcsocc.uk

Is it impossible to complete all the tasks in an hour?
Very few students manage to solve 12 tasks in the hour. Each year students are encouraged to try and beat their previous year's score.

Are the longer tasks most easily solved in Python?
The longer tasks are designed to be algorithmic problems with no specific language in mind. It should be possible to solve them in any of the major programming languages taught in UK Schools.

Are answers provided?
Yes, after each official Challenge an answer booklet is provided. These can be obtained by visiting the Prepare section of the website.

Why are answers only provided in Blockly and Python?
It is not possible to provide answers in all the languages taught in UK Schools. However, as the tasks are algorithmic problems, it should be possible to use the code provided to work out a solution in your preferred language.

Will I need to qualify each year by coming in the top 10% of Bebras?
No this is not necessary. Once you have been invited to take part in the Oxford Computing Challenge you will be invited every subsequent year while still of school age.

The area to program in Blockly is too small
The space for your blocks can be increased by collapsing the question menu:
hide menu button

Are there any debugging tools in Blockly?
By right-clicking on a block you can disable it:
hide menu button

This can be useful when trying to find out which part of your code is doing something unexpected or, in Picture module questions, if your partial solution is getting in the way of the shadow image you are trying to produce.

 

Teacher FAQs

Can anyone use the past challenges?
Yes. Simply head over to the archive (no login required): challenge.tcsocc.uk

Which of my students have been invited?
These can be obtained from the admin site by logging in with your Bebras coordinators username and password.

How do I get my usernames and passwords for my participating students?
These can be obtained from the admin site during the week before the challenge.

When does this year's challenge take place?
The first round takes place in schools during the week beginning 4th March 2019.

Are answers and the thinking behind each task provided?
Yes, after each official Challenge an answer booklet is provided. These can be obtained by visiting the Prepare section of the website.

Do I need to adjust the age groups of the students from Bebras?
No this is not normally necessary. The age groups are based on school academic years and so the students will be in the same age groups in March as they were in the previous November when they took part in the UK Bebras Challenge. The exception is for those students who are invited due to qualification in a previous year who may need to have their age group changed if they have now crossed one of our two year boundaries.

Will my students need to qualify each year by coming in the top 10% of Bebras?
No this is not necessary. Once a student has been invited to take part in the Oxford Computing Challenge they will be invited every subsequent year while still of school age.

I am not getting any emails?
Emails are only sent out when there is some news to deliver, so, it could be that we are working hard in the background but have not got anything to announce. Messages will come from info@tcsocc.uk so do make sure emails from this address will not be blocked or sent to your spam folder.

 

Contacts

For further information about this Challenge, please email: info@tcsocc.uk

 

Sponsors


Oxford Logo
Oxford University is the Organising Body of the competition. To find out more about Computer Science and courses involving Computer Science please visit their website.
www.cs.ox.ac.uk