How it works

  • Click here if you’re completely new to UKLO and want a brief summary of what you need to do.
  • You register yourself and your school permanently, to make sure that we have your contact details so that we can communicate with you. You can do this at any time. This also gives you a personal account on our portal where you will communicate with us by:
    • adding and updating your contact details and information about yourself and your school
    • receiving and uploading test material
    • registering students
    • being put in touch with your marker (for Advanced entries only)
    • telling us your scores for non-Advanced entries.
  • You choose the ‘levels‘ for your current year’s entries. As a rough guideline,
    • Breakthrough level is for KS2-3
    • Foundation level is for KS3-4
    • Intermediate level is for KS4
    • Advanced level is for KS5.

But any pupil may in fact be entered at any level, and you may make entries at as many different levels as you want. Only the Advanced level qualifies for Round 2 (and receives award certificates printed by us), so these scripts are marked centrally, while you mark your own Foundation and Intermediate scripts.

  • The levels use overlapping sets of problems from the same pool of ten problems, so each level gets a taste of the next level up:
    • Breakthrough: Problems 1-3 (three problems)
    • Foundation: Problems 2-5 (four problems)
    • Intermediate: Problems 4-7 (four problems)
    • Advanced: Problems 6-10 (five problems)
  • You arrange for round 1 to be taken in school.
    • If you enter pupils at advanced level, then you must arrange a time and place for a 2.5 hour test under normal exam conditions during the test week (announced here).
      • ‘Normal exam conditions’ as for an internal exam, with invigilation by a teacher; external invigilators are not necessary.
      • Allow extra time for pupils who would normally be given extra time in public exams.
    • For breakthrough, foundation and intermediate tests, the conditions and timing are up to you; but we recommend two hours and letting younger pupils work in teams of 2-4, but encouraging individual working as pupils get older.
    • For these three levels we also allow individual problems to be taken either singly or in non-standard combinations, e.g. so as to fit into an ordinary teaching slot.
  • If you are entering pupils at Advanced level, you must do the following steps by the relevant deadlines on the list of dates for the current year:
    • you notify the estimated number  of candidates on the portal.
    • you notify the names and demographics (sex and national curriculum year) of individual candidates on the portal.
    • you download the test material when it is released, and print out the Advanced problem paper in whatever quantities you need.
    • you supervise the Advanced test :
      • 2.5 hours
      • under strict supervision, as in a public exam.
      • You may need to provide extra blank sheets for some candidates to write on.
    • At the end of the exam:
      • Collect in all material, including the problem sheets as well as the answer sheets.
      • Keep the problem sheets if you think you want to go through the questions with the pupils.
      • Make sure that candidates have written their names on both sides of their answer sheet, because they’ll be separated in the scanning process.
    • you scan the scripts (that’s just the single sheets containing the candidates’ answers – not the problem sheets) and upload the scans to the portal.
    • you find your marker and negotiate with them about  whether or not to send the actual scripts by post. (Our markers are all unpaid volunteers, mostly academics or students in linguistics departments.)
    • you relax and wait for the results to be announced on the relevant date.
  • If you are entering pupils below the Advanced level:
  • Scoring : marks and points
    • Our marking schemes tell both markers and teachers how to assign points. These follow the internal logic of the problem, such as the number of items requested. So if a problem asks for 13 words to be translated, we might allow one point per word, giving a maximum of 13 points.
    • But you will see that the problems themselves are given a certain number of marks, reflecting their relative difficulty: 5 for an easy (Breakthrough) problem to 25 for a very hard (Advanced) one.
    • We then apply a formula to convert points into marks: m = (p/P) x M (where m and p are the actual marks and points, and M and P are the maximum marks and points). This conversion is done automatically by the portal when the points are uploaded.
  • After round 1:
    • Advanced level:
      • On the announced day, we announce the winners – the best 16 competitors, who are selected for round 2.
      • You can download the marks for each of your competitors.
      • We print and post certificates  for all Advanced candidates, including award certificates for about 35% of Advanced candidates in the ratio 1:2:3
        • Gold for (about) 5%
        • Silver for 10%
        • Bronze for 20%.
    • Breakthrough, Foundation and Intermediate levels:
      • Certificates:
        • You can download certificate templates on the portal, which you can personalize and print, for participation certificates at breakthrough, foundation and intermediate  levels.
        • Some schools produce their own internal awards, applying the same formula that we use nationally for the Advanced level: 5% Gold, 10% Silver, 20% Bronze.
        • Some schools give prizes such as UKLO pin-badges.
  • Round 2 is a residential weekend hosted in late March by a university (details here). The 16 invited competitors receive training and take the round 2 test, which selects the UK squad (one or two teams of four) which we send to the International Linguistics Olympiad.
    • When choosing participants in Round 2 and members of the UK team in the International Olympiad in any given year, we select primarily on performance in the UKLO tests for that year (that is, performance in the Advanced level test in Round 1 for participation in Round 2, and performance in the Round 2 test for participation in IOL). However, the selectors reserve the right to draw on additional information, including:
      – previous UKLO and IOL scores
      – performance during the training sessions in Round 2, when selecting the IOL team.
  • The International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) is held in July. We provide extra training for the team. They travel to the IOL with a chaperone.
  • Thanks to our generous supporters and a great deal of volunteer labour, the entire competition, including Round 2 and the IOL, is free to both schools and competitors.
 

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