Step-by-step plan to take part in our latest Honorary Memory Challenge

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The 2023 Honorary Memory Challenge is officially on until November 5

(Final update to the deadlines)

You’ll find everything you need to participate below.

If you’re not sure what this strange “honorary challenge” is supposed to be about, just go back to the preceding page and read the question and answers section.

Please let us know if something is unclear or if you find any mistake or technical problem.


[Friendly warning: This page includes a lot of boring text, many not always important explanations and many different versions of the same documents. However, everything is (hopefully) categorized so that you can quickly identify the sections that you need to read and those that you can ignore. If you already know everything you need to know, feel free to ignore all the paragraphs that are not relevant to you, download your first challenge directly and start whenever you’re ready. ]



How to use the documents on this page:

If the “download” button isn’t working directly, try using right-click and then “Save link as”. The name of the document with the (untrue) mention “can’t be downloaded securely” might then appear on the bottom-left corner of your screen. Click on the little arrow next to it and then select “keep”.

Most of the documents are pdf, which means that you can’t write on them directly if you don’t print them. Check out this article if you have problems opening pdf files.

For some recall documents, a .doc option will sometimes be provided for people who prefer answering directly within the document.

For recall, you can also choose to write down your answers on a random sheet of paper, or on another document.


Some possibly useful precisions before we start:

1- If you’re unfamiliar with the CMSA format, read all the rules (except the last part about Championship Points calculations), even if you think you know them already. Only 5-minute IAM images works exactly the same as what you may have seen before. Also know that as we’ve said before, in this case it’s ok if you want to skip some disciplines for some reason.

2- While waiting for the big day, if you want you can practice everything using the same CMSA format you will be tested on. This page offers many sample disciplines, including a few examples of the terrifying “Exam” challenge.

3- Yes it is indeed fine if you just want to do one challenge once a while during your lunch break when you have time and e-mail us after you’re done. But if you want to be more hardcore about the whole thing, you can plan in advance where and when you will be tested and do everything in one day. If you go for that option, ideally I suggest you block out 5 hours in total for the big day. That’s what you will need if you do everything, use all the time allowed for recall, take a 15 minutes pause between each challenge and one longer 30 to 60 minutes break before numbers and cards. It might be possible to do all 6 challenges in less than 3 hours if you really want to cut short on recall time and on breaks as much as possible, but that would be stressful and exhausting. If you’re taking part in the regular section and you don’t want to do numbers and cards, 2 and a half hours should be enough for everything.

4- Do you want to memorize directly on your computer or do you want to print out all the challenges in advance? If you want to print them all in advance, a color printer will be useful for the names, images and exam events. You can scroll down this page and print everything now if you want. Some documents are way longer than necessary for most people. Lots of data are provided for a very small number of highly skilled individuals. Everyone else will need only a fraction of that. For words and especially images, you might want to avoid uselessly printing three times more sheets than you will need. Very, very few people will need more than 4 or 5 pages of images (200 or 250 images) and 2 pages of words (200 words).

5- If you’re taking part in the Regular section, remember that you’re also allowed to print out your number and/or card system on an 8.5 by 11 inches sheet (front side of the sheet only) and use that sheet during both the memorization and recall periods. Here’s one sample system you can use if you don’t have one. 

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If you prefer to use the IAM format:

For most events except the Exam, it is now possible to choose to be tested with a format similar to what is being used in IAM (International Memory Association) events. For those who choose this option, regular CMSA scoring rules and time constraints will still apply, but the memorization material will be designed automatically using either standard-memory.com or the IAM training website. You should know that this format can often be more difficult than the regular CMSA format, so it’s probably in your best interest to just stick with the regular CMSA material. However, there are a few cases where using this alternative option might make sense. For example:

  • For IAM Images, the format and rules will be exactly the same and you won’t have to time or correct yourself.
  • For words, you can choose to memorize in a language other than English or French. For names, you can choose to memorize names written with the Arabic, Chinese (simplified or traditional) or Cyrillic alphabet. You might want to check out both Standard Memory and the IAM training website for the different language options offered because it will vary from one website to the other. Only the Exam cramming challenge, a unique CMSA event, will only be available in English or in French. But since this challenge uses a lot of made-up words, we don’t think that having less than perfect mastery of English is that big of a disadvantage. If you want to skip this weird “Exam”, that’s sad but we’ll forgive you eventually.
  • For numbers, maybe you have a lot of experience with the classic 40-digit per line format and you don’t want to have to adapt something new.
  • Your name is Francis Blondin and you can’t use the regular format because you’re the one who prepared everything and that would be cheating.
  • You happen to be some kind of alien and you think you might be able to go for more 500 images in 5 minutes, more than 120 names in 5 minutes, more than 1080 digits in 10 minutes or more than 300 words in 10 minutes.

So if there are some events where you think you might prefer to use the IAM format instead, when this option is available, just scroll down to the “Alternative IAM format” section that will be placed inside brackets. When you do so, remember to always make sure to time yourself correctly and to use the regular CMSA rules when correcting yourself.

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If you want to follow a strict schedule and simulate a real championship:

As I said it’s ok to use whatever schedule is most convenient for you, one challenge once in a while for example. But if you want to be super strict with yourself and simulate a real competition, here’s a schedule similar to what you would have faced in a regular in-person competition:

  • 1pm: 5 min images. 30 seconds pause and then 15 minutes of recall.
  • Break from 1:20 to 1:35.
  • 1:35: 15 min exam. 30 seconds pause and then 20 minutes of recall.
  • Break from 2:10 to 2:30.
  • 2:30: 5 min names and faces. 30 seconds pause and then 15 minutes of recall.
  • Break from 2:50 to 3:05.
  • 3:05: 10 min words. 30 seconds pause and then 20 minutes of recall.
  • You might be done now if you’re in the regular section and you don’t want to do the rest. Otherwise take a longer break from 3:35 to 4:10.
  • 4:10: 10 min numbers. 30 seconds pause and then 20 minutes of recall.
  • Break from 4:40 to 4:55.
  • 4:55: First attempt of 5 min cards. 30 seconds pause and then 5 minutes of recall (or 7 minutes of recall if you’re in the regular section). Correction and break.
  • 5:15: Second attempt of 5 min cards. 30 seconds pause and then 5 minutes of recall (or 7 minutes of recall if you’re in the regular section). Correction.

We don’t really care whether you use this version of the schedule or a modified version, but we do encourage you to make a plan and stick to it. Starting a memorization period at a pre-determined time is more difficult than starting whenever you feel ready and relaxed.

Note that, with the exception of your card results, it might be a good idea to save time and mental energy by waiting until the very end to check your your mistakes and calculate your results.


How to note down your results:

Please read the rules and calculate your results yourself. Do not send photos of your completed documents!

(If you’re doing everything on the same day, you might want to wait until you’re done with all disciplines before correcting your sheets.)

* You can choose to simply note down your final scores and send that. However, we would prefer if you noted not just your final scores, but also your attempted scores. We want to know! For words and numbers in the advanced section, we’re also curious to know the number of good answers you got before all the penalties.

Here is an example of how a participant might identify him or herself and report his or her results:

  • Your name (either your real name or a pseudonym)
  • The city or region of the world where you live (optional)
  • Your age (optional)
  • Advanced or regular section

Your results:

  • Images: 78/90
  • Exam: 45%
  • Names: 18/26
  • Words: 42/65 (53 correct)
  • Numbers: 78/126 (116 correct)
  • Cards 1st attempt: 50/52 in 3 min. 50 sec.
  • Cards 2nd attempt: 52/52 in 4 min 45 sec.

Comments (optional): “I am usually much faster with images and cards. The exam was hard!” 

For your results, generally speaking, the very first number indicates your final score after all the penalties. The second number after the slash indicates the total number of elements you attempted to memorize. To calculate the total number of elements you attempted to memorize, you usually just need to look at the last lines where something was written. For images, you look at the last row and multiply the result by 5. For names and faces, we count the total number of first and last names you wrote on the paper, including any mistakes and misspellings. For the exam, it is not necessary to note anything other than your percentage score.

In the advanced section, the penalties for errors with numbers and words can sometimes be severe. So it is often worthwhile to also note (in parentheses) the number of correct numbers or words you got right. In the regular section, this is not necessary because these penalties are almost non-existent.

For the cards, if you attempted to memorize 30 cards, made a few mistakes, and got 24 points, just write down “24/30”. If you attempted to memorize the entire deck of cards in less than 5 minutes, we want to know your time even if you didn’t get it all correct.

Officially, for all events, only your final score after all penalties is important. Unofficially, it’s still interesting to know what you tried to get right. If you tried to memorize a deck of cards very quickly but inverted two cards in the middle, your final score will be the same as if you had memorized 50 cards in 5 minutes, but it is still interesting for others to know your time.

Don’t waste your time calculating “Championship Points”. You know that this is an honorary challenge, that there are no real winners and no prizes, right?

Okay, I think I’ve said more than enough…

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First challenge – 5 minutes images, 15 minutes recall

To be tested online: IAM images is the only discipline where we at the CMSA use exactly the same format and rules as everywhere else. If you’re used to training online and the IAM Training Software or standard-memory.com aren’t new to you, in this particular case it might be simpler for you to use that instead. Make sure to time yourself correctly if you’re using Standard Memory. In both cases, you might want to zoom in a little to better see all the images. Not sure how it works on your computer, but I simply use the control button in combination with the “scroll wheel” on the mouse. Before you start, you might want to click on the “test page” option to make sure everything is as it should be.]

To be tested offline: You will find the images document right below. There are 10 pages, 500 images in total. If you’re printing them out, I suggest you only print what you will need. So if you know there’s no way you’ll remember more than 200 images, only print the first 4 pages. 3 pages (150 images) should be enough for most competitors. It should be a little easier if you print in color.

Click the link below when you’re ready to access the recall document for images. It’s 10 pages, again only print what you need if you’re printing.

Again as we’ve said you can wait until you’re done with everything before correcting yourself. If you want to correct everything now, the document below should help speed up the process.

[Another document meant to help speed up the correction process will be added here soon enough]

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Second challenge – 15 minutes Exam cramming – 20 minutes recall

Ok so this is a unique event and we don’t want you to be confused about the rules and the format, so we’ve added more detailed explanations and examples on this page. If this event is new to you, be sure to take a look at this page before starting to memorize if you want to avoid wasting time and energy figuring out what you’re supposed to do. The page is much more detailed than what you may have read already on the rules page.

Click on one of the two links below when you’re ready to access the exam document. The first link is a 3-page document for competitors in the Regular section. The second link is a 4-page document for competitors in the Advanced section. If you’re printing them, the first page should be in color while the rest should be in black and white.

Then click on the appropriate link below when you’re ready for recall. First two links are for the Regular section, next two links are for the Advanced section. There’s a .doc and a .pdf version for each. If you want to be able to answer directly on the doc without printing, use the .doc version, otherwise you can use the pdf version. If you’re printing them out, pages 1 and 4 should be in color while all the others should be in black and white.

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Third challenge – Names and faces – 5 minutes memorization – 15 minutes recall

Click on the link below when you’re ready to start. We’ve managed to fit everything on just 2 pages. Color is best if you’re printing.

Click on one of those two links below when you’re ready for recall. The first link is a pdf document. The second link is a “.doc” document so that you can download it and write all your answers directly from your computer if you want. Unfortunately since I don’t have Microsoft Word and I’m using some other program, I can’t guarantee that the formatting of the “.doc” document will be as intended (I’ve had some problems with this in the past).

When you’ll be correcting and scoring yourself, the document below should help speed up the process.

[Alternative IAM format: You can, if you want to, choose to ignore the documents above and instead test yourself using either the IAM Training Software or standard-memory.com. If you’re using Standard Memory, make sure to time yourself correctly and then click on “recall online”. If you write the same name more than once, the software will note it as being correct, but under CMSA rules it doesn’t count as a point. Before you start, you might want to click on the “test page” option to make sure everything is as it should be.]

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Fourth challenge – 10 minutes Random Words – 20 minutes recall

Click on the link below when you’re ready to start. 3 pages in black and white. 100 words per page. Most people should have enough with just 1 page, 2 at most. If you’re insane and you think you might go for more than 300 random words in 10 minutes, you can use standard-memory.com to create the additional page you might need.

For recall you can write wherever you want. Or you can print this recall page. First link is pdf. Second link is .doc.

[Alternative IAM format: You can, if you want to, choose to ignore the documents above and instead test yourself using either standard-memory.com or the IAM Training Software. In both cases, make sure, to time yourself correctly and make sure to use the significantly different CMSA scoring rules for words. If you use the IAM Training Software, choose the “Free Training” format, increase the number of words you want to be shown (200 should be more than enough) and enter 10 for “memo time” and 20 for “recall time”. Enter your language. I use 2 for the “grouping” option, but you might want to use 1 or 3, depending on how many words you usually place on each location. Before you start, click on the “test page” option to make sure everything is as it should be.]


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All right so you’re done now if you’re in the Regular section and you don’t want to do numbers and cards. If you’re continuing on, maybe you should take a slightly longer break before tackling the last two challenges.

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Fifth challenge – 10 minutes Numbers – 20 minutes recall

Click on one of the links below when you’re ready to start. You can first click here to see examples of all the possible formats you can choose from. Digits are usually shown in chunks of 12 digits each. Three chunks of 12 per row. For easier reading, we also add a small dot every 2, 3, 4, 6 or 9 digits, depending on how many digits you like to place per location.

For recall you can write wherever you want. Or you can print this recall sheet. First link is pdf. Second link is .doc. Third link is also .doc, but without the individual boxes for each individual digit.

You can print the document twice if you’re insane and you went for more than 540 digits.

[Alternative IAM format: If you prefer to memorize your digits in rows of 40, you can choose to ignore the documents above and instead test yourself using either standard-memory.com or the IAM Training Software. In both cases, make sure, to time yourself correctly and make sure to use the significantly different CMSA scoring rules for numbers. Unfortunately, adapting our correction system to the 40 digits per row format can’t really be done in an elegant and 100% fair way. Our deeply flawed solution is to divide each 40 digits row first into one 12-digit chunk, then a second 12-digit chunk and finally a third 16-digit chunk. In the advanced section, each of those blocks is worth 12 points (or 16) if it is perfectly reproduced, 0 point if it is not. On standard-memory.com, you can choose the “customized sheet” option, go into the “grid pattern” section and enter either “12, 12, 16” or “6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 4” or some similar variation if you want those 12 and 16 digits blocks to be shown clearly on your sheet. Do a test first to make sure it looks the way you want.

If you use the IAM Training Software, choose the “Free Training” format, increase the number of digits you want to be shown and enter 10 for “memo time” and 20 for “recall time”. Adjust the “grouping” and “draw lines” options according to your preferences. Again before you start, click on the “test page” option to make sure everything is as it should be.]

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Last challenge – 2 attempts of speed cards – 5 minutes max for memorization – 5 minutes for recall (7 minutes in the Regular section)

All right so you know how that works! You have to use real cards here! If you don’t manage to perfectly recall everything you’ve memorized, make sure you’ve read our rules to count your points correctly (unlike other competitions, we don’t stop counting points after the first mistake). You have two attempts.

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That’s all!

  • Please send your results to cmsa@canadianmindsports.com. Please refer to the “How to note down your results” section on this page if you’re not sure how to proceed. Please calculate and note your results yourself. Do not send photos.* Add some comments for us to publish if you want. Use a pseudonym or just tell us if you don’t want your name to be published. [*Unless it’s a photo of you that we could choose to publish alongside the results.]
  • If you’re curious, the honorary results we received during past years editions can be seen here.
  • Cheaters will be kidnapped and mercilessly tortured by agents of the CMSA secret police.
  • Thank you for taking part! You rock.