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The organisers of Brain Academy - the computer science competition in which A-level students compete for a place at Queen Mary's University, London - have opened the contest to all-comers in a bid to encourage more people to consider computer science as a career option.

This year there will be three winners instead of one. Each will receive a laptop, Microsoft software, textbooks and £500 prize money. The winners will be guaranteed an interview for Microsoft's student intern programme, Microsoft Graduate Programme and also be given the opportunity to carry out Summer work experience in technology publishing, the organisers explain.

The first round is a set of questions designed to test the basic skills the students will need. Once hopefuls have completed this part, they will gain access to a number of programming challenges. Once these have been completed successfully, the finalists advance to the interview stage. Last year, only six of the 200 hopefuls made it this far.

Dr Peter McOwan of Queen Mary’s Department of Computer Science says that the contest will give entrants a taste of what it is like to study computer science at degree level.

The winners will be announced in January 2005. To be in with a chance, click here and get cracking on the questions. ®

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