How to prepare for CMI?

First off, I would like you to know a few facts about myself in order to get a context of things.It wouldn't be appropriate if we are trying to understand something with completely different backgrounds.1. I went for FIITJEE for 2 years.I loved Math and physics.I focused on math mostly because I liked it.I was good at math in my class.I was good at IIT related math.
2. I didn't qualify for CMI 2012 because by the time i had known about it, it was pretty late.And IIT preparation merely helps it.
3. Math at 11th/12th that is taught at school is NOT Olympiad math.It is applied mathematics. Having fun with Olympiad math gives you an edge at CMI examination.
4. I did not take coaching classes for Olympiad math.An IIT student spent some effort with me for not more than 24 hours in total.But that was sufficient.
5. I was doing math from various books and also checking out AoPS for new problems.
6. I used on spend on an average of 3 hours on Olympiad Math.Sometimes upto 8 hours depending on your interest.I don't want to use the work hard work here.It's more of your interest that gets you anywhere.
7. I did not know the ABC of Olympiad Math during 2012.But now I will be joining CMI in 2013 with a decently good background in it. Which means, all you need is interest for math.

About the CMI Exam

The exam pattern is highly variable.If you look at their past question papers, you will notice that they constantly change their pattern and the difficulty of questions.It is done so to filter out the drilling methods that go on in IIT.All the questions can be answered with the basics.I would probably put them on the level of INMO based on the time,number of problems and difficulty of the 2013 paper. A good balance between speed and critical thinking is important.

My preparation

Like I already mentioned.I would study as less than half hour a day or upto 8 hours a day depending on my interest.Therefore, spending quality time with the subject is important.Also, I did not prefer buying all the books I wished to have.I often used to download the free ebooks and find good problems and do them.A smartphone comes in handy 😛

In mid 2012 I was checking on how to prepare for Olympiads and stuff.And i found a few VERY useful articles that will help any math enthusiast - Vipul Naik

I referred to the books that were prescribed on the site along with a few better books.I will be attaching the eBooks which I USED in a few days.That is, the ones in which i highlighted a few and stuff.They might have marking here and there with red color.It was used for marking the ones I solved 😛 If you want to find the fresh copy of any ebook just use Google wisely "'blah blah blah' by 'author' pdf ebook download.

I have shared my collection of math material that I collected and used on my Google Drive. . Most of the books mentioned below have been linked and a lot more. And the CMI Entrance Exam papers have also been linked up.

1. Problem Solving Strategies - Arthur Engel
2. Putnam and Beyond - Titu Andreescu
3. Try the books on Number Theory,Alegbra etc etc by Titu Andreescu
4. Problems from AoPS
5. A path to Combinatorics for undergraduates - Titu Andreescu
6. Functional Equations: A problem solving approach - B.J.Venkatachala
7. Number Theory by Burton
8. Geometry i referred only from 10th standard mathematics.If you want good geometry books you can ask people at AoPS.

Some questions in these books are very tough and it is up to you to wisely select a few do able problem at start then move on the tough ones.I didn't follow any pattern of the above books.I did a bit of the easy books that CMI officially prescribed and then moved on to randomly selecting a few good problem here and there.Gradually, increasing the difficulty of the problems of the chapters i liked.But in the end I made sure i finished the important parts which i liked from the above books.

I kept in my mind how a few questions of topics which i didn't like in CMI question paper.In that way, i made sure i didn't leave those parts off completely.Even though i wouldn't recommend anyone doing this. Like i mentioned above, CMI papers are highly unpredictable.Luckily for me the geometry was easy this time 😛

THE Most important thing

DO NOT take learning as math as a job for the sake of examination.If you do so i can guarantee you that you will not happy even if you get into your desired college because competition would be the only thing that you would like. Therefore, the primary thing is to enjoy the subject! Read up a few journals online, read about the International Olympiads, People and their performances,check out the latest developments in the field of mathematics and stuff like that. Keep learning and have fun! 😀 After all it's just an exam.I realized that only this year when i was least bothered about how i would perform in my exam (That doesn't mean i was sleeping in the exam hall :D)

I will soon be posting on various opportunities Indian Students have in the field of mathematics,physics and other sciences.So check that out too!!

UPDATE: 11-11-2013  Sorry, I havn't been updating the content due to Procrastination.
UPDATE: 14-11-2015  Drive link updated. Sorry guys, Couldn't reply to any of your mails/ comments. Been busy myself.
UPDATE: 7-7-2016  Sorry guys, I don't maintain this blog much. I have gone through some comments and emails. Though, I would like to answer some math questions. It is really painful for me to see these challenging questions.

can a student from north india crack this exam.?

First off, I can't give you life advice. "I'm 20 years old .. I'm not sure whether I should chose IAS over this" .. etc etc... I'm not a counselor, man (come on!) .... Send CMI ADDMISSIONS the mail about your age concerns . I've written this post for math aspirants who live and breathe math and consider math as a profession. If you're head is in the game and you want to know more details, send the CMI ADDMISSIONS a mail. THEY REPLY WITHIN A DAY. USE THAT EMAIL!

For other questions, like some wise soul in the comments, use this website called which does precisely that.

As far as the math doubts are concerned. I've answered some questions within my reach. I've written all my books and references. Take it as an advice to shed some light along your path. Not a bible. Individuality is the key for human survival.

Please don't ask questions which are just rephrased from what I've answered.

I am preparing for jee.does the mathematics I am studying would help me for cmi exam ,if not should i only concentrate on cmi syllabus .how should I do it ..bcoz I have 1 yr left so please tell me sth abt it..

I really doubt you even gave it a proper read. Specifically for questions like these, I explained the position I was in so that you can gauge your position yourself and read the post. You don't have to copy paste it in the comments dude 😛

For , Questions like "What do you think about Blah Blah book by Blah. Is that a good book?". Frankly speaking, I do not know. I study physics at a graduate level and I lost track of the current olympiad material. You should understand that this was me 4 years back. Ask people on who are more informed 🙂

And please be sensible, I DO NOT work in CMI office. I wouldn't know if there are 10 students selected or a 10,000 students selected or what the cut off scores are or the number of letters in the 4th word of the 5th Question in the 2016 paper. They have their own website for that FYI.

Finally, I'm really glad from the bottom of my heart who make it into CMI or any other college of their choice to pursue sciences with this info and  in general how this post motivated you towards math. It really means a lot. Thank you and Goodluck 🙂

81 thoughts on “How to prepare for CMI?

  1. Hey Sai Krishna! I came across your blog while looking for CMI/ISI paper solving strategies and interview questions. I was in FIITJEE(Pinnacle) as well but in Bangalore. I screwed up JEE last year due to my indifferent attitude towards Chemistry. I dug deep looking for positives, I found that I had deep interest for Mathematics particularly pure mathematics(a.k.a Olympiad Maths). Since, then I had been doing Math from books like Higher Algebra(Hall&Knight), Number Theory(Burton), Challenges and Thrill(4 indian authors), Calculus(I.A Maron), Applied Combinatorics(Tucker), Functional Eq(B J V), Problem solving strategies(Engel) and my progress had been good so far. Can you please guide me how to tackle questions in the CMI paper. How many to solve? How many to solve from each section? What is the most important factor to make that cut? What are the questions asked in the interview? Any other useful information you would like to share. What are the important things I should do in these last few days? Thank you so much in advance. It'll be of tremendous help to me. Thanks again

    • Hi Vivek,

      Sorry for the extremely late reply.I havn't been updating my blog recently. Well, If you are confident with your math then just take it easy.Don't consider CMI to be your life. Apply for other institutes also. And do as many as you can. Usually people who do subjective without clearing the objective part get called for the interview.And the interview is not a pressure cooker here at CMI.They will ask fundamental questions and they expedct good answers.So, keep calm and enjoy the paper!

  2. Thanks for this post, It helped me paint a better picture of CMI preparation. I, like you, also have a sweet tooth for Maths in particular, which I realized half way through 12th, I was doing well in my classes too, but I procrastinated. I know now that my 12th and JEE scores are low, but my plan now is to drop a year, or take admission in a college and stay at home to prepare for CMI next year. I hope we connect early, Thanks again for this post. Also, if you have a personal email, please, I'd like to associate with you. Thanks again!

  3. Great Post!
    I would like to know whether KVPY scholars have any special considerations during admission to CMI.

  4. Hey I am very weak in functional equations and geometry. Please recommend a few good books to develop those topics.

  5. Your blog helped a lot...and I appreciate the peaceful approach you have. I wish to ask a question...if an individual has the HSC...and has one bachelors degree already...can the individual give the bachelors (not masters) paper for CMI (at age 23/24)...that is attempt to earn a double bachelors? it allowed? I know it sounds crazy..but please do reply..

    • Hi! CMI has a very open approach towards admissions and stuff. I think that is possible. You can ask them personally through email.I would suggest you contact our dean at madhavan [at] . He will definitely reply! 🙂

      • Thank you for such a swift reply! I would like to ask two more questions...
        1) While preparing for the CMI entrance..did you prepare to IMO level questions ? Or INMO level..or a combination..or simply go as deep as you could in your area of interest?
        2) What has been your opinion so far on the crowd/social life of CMI? The pros and cons..and how have you adapted to the cons! Sorry to trouble so much!

        • 1. I've done quite a number of INMO problems and a few IMO problems here and there.But mostly, I did number theory back then because I liked that particularly, whereas I used to not even glance at geometry because I didn't develop an interest for it.

          2.There isn't much of a social life.I guess you have to accept the prime reason I'm here at CMI, that is to learn good stuff from good people.

  6. Did you join any coaching (like iit) while you were preparing for CMI in your drop year ?
    Which other math related exams did you gave ?

  7. I am a class 12 CBSE student and i live in chennai. My desire is to do a computer course in CMI ,i have written this year AMTI and have 24 out of 30 questions right.I am also interested in computer science .I solve problems in IARCS problem archieve..What should i study to get a seat in CMI.What are the different admission processes involved in the process and could you please guide me in this regard.I am not a professional in advanced mathematics and i do not have a proper teacher to guide me.should i watch any other lectures to improve my math skills and could you give me those links.please help me...Please reply soon...

    • Just keep doing math and do good problems from the references above, let it guide you. The Exam is just a time bound problem solving, if you have problems with that, set up time restrictions while you try problems. Indian Informatics Olympiad is something that people in coding take part in.

      Admission is like any other procedure. Contact They will answer all the admission related issues. Sorry for the late reply! 🙂

      Cheers! Sai

      • Hey there, hope you are well. I desire to ask a few questions.
        1) During your interview were you categorically asked about your board marks? What was the role of your board marks?
        2) if an individual had low board marks in maths, assume in 50s or 60s (Taking extreme case here) but performed well in the CMI entrance...will there be question marks over the board marks in the interview? Will it prove to be a stumbling block ? (Although school had applied math, not olympiad type pure math)
        Please do reply swiftly.

        • I didn't hae an interview exam. One of my friends did. He was asked to work with them the questions he wasn't able to do in the exam. This is just an example. They could ask you something else maybe. I don't think that will be a problem, though they might ask you why, but it wouldnt matter much.

  8. Many many thanks for this post. It not only motivated me but also given me direction.

    I would like to know about what series and sequences topics they are referring to which are written under Calculus section in syllabus.

  9. One more thing I wanna know is from where you've downloaded these eBooks. I know one site-bookfi. Do you use some other bigger collection(since some books are missing on this site)?

  10. Hi!
    I wanted to know that whether gap year matters in the admission procedure? I passed 12th in 2013. Took a drop year but couldnt appear for CMI exam. So I took admission in a good engineering college but still I want to get into CMI next year. So, I am preparing for it. Do you think my gap year and this one year of engineering would affect my chances of admission in any negative way?
    Please help! Thank you! 🙂

  11. Congrats mathematician....
    can u pls tell how u started and how u went on securing admission at CMI?
    Means the sequence of the material u followed and preparation tips nd tricks....
    thank u and all the best for upcoming challenges

  12. how shall iprepare far cmi entrance being amatric studentr? is there any coaching lnstitutes for this entrance? how wshall iprepare with the study material without the help of teachers?

  13. My question to you is that by clearing inmo with a good rank for a class 11 student would give admission to isi or cmi or not, will i get a call and after that will i need to give cmi or inmo in my 12th grade also or the one at class 11 would do. one more question to you is that i am a eco ,maths and science student and want to pursue maths and physics in cmi is it necessary to have computer science to get admission. please do reply and help me prepare

  14. Can a student receiving the monthly stipend at CMI also receive KVPY fellowship if he has cracked it?

      • I fail to understand why you think I asked only about the money. You must be knowing of the other opportunities one gains if he/she has cleared KVPY. Please understand.

  15. Hi Sai krishna,

    From what I understand you have bypassed the CMI interview, and I'm quiet sure you must have performed very well in the exam.

    How many questions were you able to solve in the exam?


  16. I am a student of Central University Pondicherry. Now i'm entering into my second year B.Sc Mathematics. I wish to get into CMI for my Master degree. I tried for B.Sc in CMI. but, I couldn't achieve it. So I should never miss this chance. How should I prepare myself for the same?

  17. Sir, I have completed my 12th in a CBSE school. And I wished to do something in maths, since I am good at it. But I chose engineering over this, as I did not have much knowledge about admissions and stuff. I attended engineering classes for a few days, and I realised I can't do this. Now however I am at home doing absolutely nothing. When I asked one of my friends about pursuing a career in maths, He said that the maths you'd study there will be completely different. I got 92.6% in CBSE but my jee score sucks. Can you tell me whether choosing a career in maths is a good idea for a person like me. Also I am clueless about Olympiad maths. Please do reply. 🙇🙏

  18. Hello...
    Am studying 11th std in state board..I love math..I want join in a good institute in and make my life as better as I can...I prefer cmi..would you plzz tell me which books will help me for the entrance.. It vl b very useful for ready to give my best..but I don't know the way...please help me..

  19. Hi, I am a state board student, no experience with Olimpiad, IMO or INMO. Still I could compete for CMI?. Your suggestions and guidance please.

  20. I passed 12th in 2014 & due to parental and relatives pressure I joined a reputed College in Bangalore. I couldn't clear JEE though. I had no interest and in March 2016 I spit that out about my further education and interests in front of my parents. They supported me and said that I can pursue anything in my life. I've a keen Interest in mathematics and I basically love mathematics. I've been a tutor myself for an year for 8,9 and 10th standard students. Now I'm preparing for CMI/ISI/IMA. I want to ask you is it too late I mean I'm 20 years old and even if I crack CMI and will they reject me? because unlike you I've dropped my engineering and now I'm preparing for these exams. I'll attend these exams next year. So I wanted to know that age really matters? . If I get selected for an Interview will they ask me about my age? I'll be 21 if I get admitted next year. Should I pursue any other courses? If I don't get into ISI/CMI and if I get into IMA should I join? Please Help!!!

  21. I am preparing for jee.does the mathematics I am studying would help me for cmi exam ,if not should i only concentrate on cmi syllabus .how should I do it ..bcoz I have 1 yr left so please tell me sth abt it..

  22. Hello Sai ,
    thanks for the suggestions. so far they have been quite helpful.
    i wanted to ask the the time duration of the exam.
    i hope you reply soon.
    thank you.

  23. hey I love maths actually its my dream to be able to do IMO level questions and become a mathematician and do maths for a living and i am not just writting this to get your attention , i really mean it . i came to know about isi late this year and i really want to get into this institution . I NEED GUIDANCE ,i am completly lost . if i start describing my problem here then it would be a long comment and one wont even bother to read the whole comment . so i really request you to please connect to me through facebook or whatsapp . i really need some guidance .

  24. I mainly love mathematics.I want to pursue bsc in math and cs from cmi or bmath from isi.I am studying Olympiad math since class 9.I also study in fiitjee .now I have one year in my hand.I don't like jee because I only like maths. So what can I do?

  25. Hi
    ur blog helped me a lot thank u
    i am a stateboard student so i am afraid about this cmi entrance exam
    i feel that the questions asked are so i need ur help and guidance....
    please help me

  26. Hello..I'm Kevin..I was forced to take engineering in 2013 and now I've completed.. During my school days (12th) I was interested in doing only maths problems...At that time I didn't like science subjects. Frankly saying I didn't like to read books. Anyway I've completed 12th with good marks in maths and I was forced to take engineering and got admission in a college only because of higher marks in maths... After 12th I did write CMI exam and it was like blank...I didn't understand anything...Only one type of class 12 problem I did and it was based on calculus...I remember....Anyway that's the past.

    I'd like to take Msc mathematics at CMI. Is it possible to get there with my engineering background?
    What are all the things needed/measures taken to get Msc mathematics at CMI? Suggest some study materials for the portions for CMI Msc mathematics entrance exam.

  27. Which books are recommended for MSc mathamatics in CMI,and sluybs .how I should prepare this examination as I join Bsc I decid I shall keep my way clear for MSc in mathamatics at CMI or in ISI's. That is why I want to learn firstly for entrance.

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