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What do the competitors get out of it?

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Best to let them answer that! Julian Bhardwaj took part for many years, going on the study Discrete Mathematics at University and to be a finalist in the UK Cyber Security Championship. He said of the competition:

If I were to name one thing which has undoubtedly influenced my academic drive, interests and overall career to date, it would be the National Cipher Challenge. Since being introduced to cryptography and the challenge in Year 8, it has been my one passion and driving force in pursuing further education in maths.

Not all of the competitors like to work alone and teacher Claire West from Peter Symonds College saw the benefit of team work

As a teacher, I see the students form themselves into successful teams; with self-elected leaders who are responsible for organising their group after identifying their member’s individual strengths.  In our college, the challenges are worked on entirely by the groups alone as they use our library to work past the usual college close time.  I am so proud of them.

One of her team members said:

You can take it as far as you want. I loved it and read books about ciphers got addicted to solving the challenges. It builds up to the more complex challenges so every week you know you’ll get stretched just a little bit more. I went back multiple years to try and beat my score from the year before. It was great fun, solving the challenges as a team and actually applying the mathematical skills you learn in maths. I loved it and I’m sad I can’t do it again next year!

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