Confession: I'm creating this thread because I'm a little disappointed in some contest results I just received. That said, hopefully it leads to an interesting general discussion. Feel free to move it if this is not the correct subforum. Besides their role in university admissions and scholarships, how much significance should an aspiring mathematician assign to contest results? How should one contrast them with grades? Obviously, a very high score is a sign of mathematical aptitude and a very low score a sign that improvement is required. What does a middling score (i.e. second quartile or low first quartile) indicate? Lastly, how are such contests perceived by professional mathematicians?