UKLO for competitors

This page (which was rebuilt in May 2020 by one of our competitors, Robbie Bennett) is for school students who are competing, or want to compete, in the UK Linguistics Olympiad (UKLO).  If you want more information about how UKLO works in general, or about this year’s competition season (round 1, round 2 and IOL), visit the site for teachers here.


What to do

If you haven’t yet taken part in UKLO, the first thing you need to do is find out whether your school is already registered with UKLO by checking the list here.

  • If it is registered, then one of the teachers must be registered as our contact person. Try to find out who that teacher is by inquiring among teachers; but if that fails, ask UKLO.
  • If your school is not registered, read this page.

How to prepare

To prepare for Round 1:

  • Check out the training material on our website.
  • Explore the collection of past problems:
    • Start with the easy ‘Breakthrough Workout’ practice problems at #4.
    • Then work through some of the problems used in past Olympiads at #2, which get harder as you go further down the list.
    • Use these problems to decide which level to enter at, then look at some of the past papers at that level which you’ll find at #3.
    • If you’re ambitious, enter for the Advanced level and have a look at the suggestions for preparing for Round 2 below!
    • If you want to be impressed, have a look at the problems created by past UKLO champions.
  • If you want to get better, and have tried at least three past problems, and are willing to put in some regular practice, then consider signing up for some personal coaching. We offer this at any level and for any age – you don’t have to be aiming at the Advanced level. But you do need to commit to regular homework (at a frequency to be negotiated with your coach).

To prepare for Round 2:

If you’re selected for Round 2, check the Round 2 page for the current year for practical details about what to expect; and find out something about linguistics. Here are some suggestions:

To prepare for the International Linguistics Olympiad:

 And if you’re interested in linguistics …

  • Online courses:
  • Magazines:

    • See if your school subscribes to Babel (a school magazine about language). If it does, read some past copies; if not, recommend Babel  to your language teacher or your librarian.
    • Unravelling magazine: A free online magazine about language and linguistics, written by students for students; started in Singapore in 2014.
    • U-Lingua: Another free online magazine about language and linguistics, written by students for students; started in UK 2020.
  • Apps:

    • Download the Quizup app (the one by Plain Vanilla Games), and go to Topics > Science > Linguistics > Ranking. You can compete in a pub-quiz style competition about linguistics either nationally or internationally (choose the button at the bottom). Good luck!
  • Competitions:
  • And finally: