Frequently Asked Questions

What is the AIO?

The AIO is an opportunity for students across Australia to demonstrate advanced problem-solving and computer programming skills. They will use problem-solving skills and algorithmic thinking to come up with strategies for solving problems, and programming skills to turn these strategies into code.

The questions cover a range of difficulty, challenging students of all skill levels. The leading students will be given an opportunity to be selected for the Australian team for the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). This has been held since 1989 and is the second largest of the scientific Olympiads, with about 80 countries participating.

When is the AIO held?

The AIO is held on 26 August 2021. The start time of the competition is up to each school, and students may begin the competition between 9:00am and 5:00pm AEST (7:00am to 3:00pm in AWST, 8:30am and 4:30pm in ACST).

How long is the AIO? How many problems will there be?

The AIO is a three-hour exam, consisting of six problems of increasing difficulty.

For more information about the format of the contest, please see the Competition Format page.

What languages can students use for the AIO?

Students may submit solutions to problems in C, C++, Java or Python 3. If your students would like to submit in a language not listed here, please email us at

What do students need to sit the AIO?

Students will need a computer with internet access. During the contest, students should only use the internet to access the contest system (and not to look up programming resources, look up answers, nor communicate with other students, etc).

Please see the Competition Environment page for more details.

What resources may students access during the AIO?

The AIO is run as an open book exam. Students may bring whatever printed/written notes, textbooks, or other non-electronic resources they wish.

Students will also be provided (via the contest system) with solution templates. These are pre-written programs, available in each of the supported languages, which already perform the necessary file input and output for the student. Students may optionally use these templates as a basis for coding their own solutions to the problems.

Please see the Competition Environment page for more details.

How can students prepare for the AIO?

Students are encouraged to sign up to the AIOC Training Site and submit code for past AIO problems. Their code will be automatically marked. All AIO languages except for Java are currently supported. Note that the training site and the AIO will use a different interface. Please see the practice contest page to practise using the AIO interface.

How is the AIO marked?

Students submit their source code (not executables), which is compiled on an official judging machine. Then the student’s program is tested against different test cases. For each test case, we run the program and check its output against the expected official answer.

Students can see the marks for each of their submissions during the contest, with feedback from the automated judging system.

What criteria are marks awarded for?

Students are only marked on the correctness and speed of their programs. Coding style (good variable names, indentation, etc.) is not taken into consideration. Of course, students may find that good coding style makes it easier for them to debug their programs.

Will there be certificates?

Yes, as with all Australian Mathematics Trust events, students who submit a solution to at least one problem will receive a certificate (either for Participation, or at Bronze, Silver or Gold level) to acknowledge their work.

What is the AIOC School of Excellence?

The School of Excellence is an intense 10-day training school in December held for Australian students up to year 11 with exceptional AIO results. The school covers advanced topics in informatics, including material on algorithms that is usually taught in second or third year university.

After further competitions and training, four of the students invited to the school will later be selected for the national team for the International Olympiad in Informatics.