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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 first official challenge will take place in March 2018. 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 18th April (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, and a mentoring prize will be offered to the top 10 students in the Senior and Elite 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. It is expected that students will attempt all section 1 and 2 problems and then attempt two of the section 3 problems (although credit will be given for solving more!)

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
5 longer problems that test programming skills and the computational thinking skills outlined in syllabus area two. These can be solved using any programming language. Most students will only have time to to attempt two of these, so choose wisely.
(8 points each)

Age group differences:
Juniors - All tasks will be Blockly tasks
Intermediates - All tasks in Sections 1 and 2 and at least two of Section 3 will be Blockly tasks
Seniors - All tasks in Sections 1 and 2 will be Blockly tasks
Elite - All tasks in Section 1 will be Blockly tasks



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

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

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 are:
    First prize: A pi-top
    Second prize: A pi-topCEED
    Third prize: A Raspberry Pi starter kit

In addition, we will be offering an online mentoring prize for the top 10 performers in the Senior and Elite age groups.

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

Why is it impossible to complete all the tasks in an hour?
It is intended that there will be enough time to attempt all the tasks in the first two sections and two out of five of the tasks in section C. This is so that there is a choice of longer tasks for students to choose from.

Can I do more than two tasks from section 5?
Yes, you can attempt as many or as few tasks as you have time for.

Are the longer tasks most easily solved in Python?
The longer tasks are designed to be algorithmic problems with no specific language in mind. There will be some tasks that are easier to solve in some languages than others hence a choice of tasks is provided. It should, however, 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 easily 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 TCS 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 12th March 2018.

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 TCS 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.



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



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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.


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