Computational and Algorithmic Thinking (CAT)

Tuesday 22 March 2016


No previous experience in computer programming is necessary

The Computational and Algorithmic Thinking (CAT) competition is a one-hour problem-solving competition which seeks to identify computer programming potential—something which students might not normally have an opportunity to demonstrate.

Existing AMT customers can enter the 2016 Online CAT (Computational and Algorithmic Thinking) for free! Given the growing curriculum emphasis on algorithmic thinking, this special offer provides a unique opportunity to expose students to this exciting new discipline.

The CAT is not a programming competition and no programming experience is required. Results in the CAT often enable a talent to be discovered that is not always apparent or sought in normal classroom activities. Some questions test the ability to accurately perform procedures; others require logical thought, while the more challenging problems require the identification and application of algorithms. The inclusion of digital technologies in the Australian Curriculum provides another reason why schools should consider this contest for their students.

There are four papers: Upper Primary, Years 5–6; Junior, Years 7–8; Intermediate, Years 9–10; Senior, Years 11–12. Each paper includes six multiple-choice questions, followed by nine more challenging questions where an integer constitutes the solution to a problem.

The CAT problems are written by some of Australia’s most experienced teachers and computer scientists who are a part of the CAT Problems Committee. The original problems are designed to be quick to solve and highly approachable, and range in difficulty from very easy to challenging. The competition employs a mixture of multiple-choice and integer answers, and incorporates unique ‘three stage tasks’ that encourage students to develop informal algorithms and apply them to test data of increasing size or complexity. The competition is an ideal activity to encourage an interest in programming and is suitable for any mathematics class.

Students who enjoyed the CAT are encouraged to enter the Australian Informatics Olympiad (AIO). The AIO is a programming competition to be held on 1 September 2016. Free training for the AIO is available and the National Computer Science School offers courses in programming.

The CAT gives students external recognition of their achievements. All students receive a certificate showing their level of achievement and a detailed report showing how they went on each problem compared with others in their own year and country/Australian state. Every school receives a confidential set of statistics that can be used to assess its overall performance against statistics for their country/Australian state.


How to Enter

Entry into the CAT is through schools. The AMT maintains a register of schools which includes every school in Australia and schools from many other countries who have participated in our competitions and activities in the past. Each year schools are contacted with dates and competition advice. Schools can enter online.