This post will mostly be focused on construction-type problems in which you're asked to construct something satisfying property $latex {P}&fg=000000$. Minor spoilers for USAMO 2011/4, IMO 2014/5. 1. What is a leap of faith? Usually, a good thing to do whenever you can is to make ``safe moves'' which are implied by the property $latex… Continue reading Circular optimization

# Tag: contest prep

## Hard and soft techniques

In yet another contest-based post, I want to distinguish between two types of thinking: things that could help you solve a problem, and things that could help you understand the problem better. Then I'll talk a little about how you can use the latter. (I've talked about this in my own classes for a while… Continue reading Hard and soft techniques

## Math contest platitudes, v3

I think it would be nice if every few years I updated my generic answer to "how do I get better at math contests?". So here is the 2019 version. Unlike previous instances, I'm going to be a little less olympiad-focused than I usually am, since these days I get a lot of people asking… Continue reading Math contest platitudes, v3

## New oly handout: Constructing Diagrams

I've added a new Euclidean geometry handout, Constructing Diagrams, to my webpage. Some of the stuff covered in this handout: Advice for constructing the triangle centers (hint: circumcenter goes first) An example of how to rearrange the conditions of a problem and draw a diagram out-of-order Some mechanical suggestions such as dealing with phantom points… Continue reading New oly handout: Constructing Diagrams

## Some Thoughts on Olympiad Material Design

(This is a bit of a follow-up to the solution reading post last month. Spoiler warnings: USAMO 2014/6, USAMO 2012/2, TSTST 2016/4, and hints for ELMO 2013/1, IMO 2016/2.) I want to say a little about the process which I use to design my olympiad handouts and classes these days (and thus by extension the… Continue reading Some Thoughts on Olympiad Material Design

## On Reading Solutions

(Ed Note: This was earlier posted under the incorrect title "On Designing Olympiad Training". How I managed to mess that up is a long story involving some incompetence with Python scripts, but this is fixed now.) Spoiler warnings: USAMO 2014/1, and hints for Putnam 2014 A4 and B2. You may want to work on these… Continue reading On Reading Solutions

## Against Perfect Scores

One of the pieces of advice I constantly give to young students preparing for math contests is that they should probably do harder problems. But perhaps I don't preach this zealously enough for them to listen, so here's a concrete reason (with actual math!) why I give this advice. 1. The AIME and USAMO In… Continue reading Against Perfect Scores

## Stop Paying Me Per Hour

Occasionally I am approached by parents who ask me if I am available to teach their child in olympiad math. This is flattering enough that I've even said yes a few times, but I'm always confused why the question is "can you tutor my child?" instead of "do you think tutoring would help, and if… Continue reading Stop Paying Me Per Hour

## Writing Olympiad Geometry Problems

You can use a wide range of wild, cultivated or supermarket greens in this recipe. Consider nettles, beet tops, turnip tops, spinach, or watercress in place of chard. The combination is also up to you so choose the ones you like most. --- Y. Ottolenghi. Plenty More In this post I'll describe how I come… Continue reading Writing Olympiad Geometry Problems

## What leads to success at math contests?

Updated version of generic advice post: Platitudes v3. I think this is an important question to answer, not the least of reasons being that understanding how to learn is extremely useful both for teaching and learning. [1] About a year ago [2], I posted my thoughts on what the most important things were in math… Continue reading What leads to success at math contests?