The purpose of the South African Mathematics Olympiad is to generate interest in mathematics
and to identify the most talented mathematical minds. Our focus is on how the handling of
missing data affects the selection of the ‘best’ contestants. Two approaches handling missing
data, applying the Rasch model, are described. The issue of guessing is investigated through a
tailored analysis. We present two microanalyses to illustate how missing data may impact
selection; the first investigates groups of contestants that may miss selection under particular
conditions; the second focuses on two contestants each of whom answer 14 items correctly.
This comparison raises questions about the proportion of correct to incorrect answers.
Recommendations are made for future scoring of the test, which include reconsideration of
negative marking and weighting as well as considering the inclusion of 150 or 200 contestants
as opposed to 100 contestants for participation in the final round.
Our respected and loved colleague, Tim Dunne, sadly passed away in a car accident after this article had been submitted for
publication. We acknowledge his valuable contribution not only to the article but also to the field of Rasch measurement theory.