Practice
Practice is the best way to improve your performance at math contests and even in
math class. Dedication and consistent practice are necessary for maximum growth.
Incorporate math practice into your daily or weekly schedule and you'll be more
prepared and confident at competitions.
Strategy for Practice
There are three areas that you should aim to improve when you practice competition
mathematics. They are listed below along with some helpful pointers.
- Knowledge - Read the entire problem. Think about possible approaches
to solving it. Then try to solve the problem and check your answer. Do another similar
problem and try to reinforce the concept. If you get stuck, use the internet, a
teacher, or a friend to help you work through the problem. Memorize any necessary
formulas or steps. Find a problem-solving method that makes sense to you.
- Accuracy - Once you understand the related math
concept, find a series of problems that are similar to the one you learned (or make
them up if possible). Then, do a short number of problems and check your answers.
Go over those problems and see what you did wrong. Finally, finish the rest of the
problems and focus on being as accurate as possible. Avoid rushing at this point.
- Speed - Now that you are confident that you can
solve the problem, find or have a friend construct a practice test. Set a fast-paced,
but reasonable time limit, create an answer grid, and go! On scratch paper, write
as much as you need to as you work, but try not to write so much that it slows you
down. Once the time is up, review each problem and how you solved it, and search
for faster methods. Take the test again, and see if you can complete the same problems
at a faster rate. Over time, you will start to recognize similar problems on related
tests and you will begin to develop faster solution methods.
Past Competition Tests
Here is a list of practice materials for various tests, which includes but is not
limited to past tests and sample tests from a variety of sources. It is recommended
that members practice and familiarize themselves with test formats from competitions
that they are attending prior to the competition date.
Select a competition from the list below and click Go. A new window will take you
to a page that lists past tests for the selected competition. JavaScript will need
to be enabled on your browser in order to use this feature.