Thursday, January 12, 2017

2017 Mathcounts Competition Preparation Strategies

Hola, meet you at the state or/ and the Nationals. :D 

Stay focused (hang in there), sleep well, eat healthy, exercise and please, please don't get sick...
Relaxed and Zenlike... yet focused (how...hmmm... that is a GREAT question)

Check out this video, see if it works and tells you something.  

Write on the comments and let me know if that really helps : Yup -- for the love of learning and have the chance to meet the other kindred spirits 

Lacking sleep will fog your brain. Not skipping questions will cost you. 

Most important, best of luck and have fun. 

It's the Mathcounts chapter/state/AMCs season. Kids are more motivated.
YEAH !!!!! :)

Hi, Thanks for visiting my blog.

E-mail me at if you want to join my groups.

Currently I'm running different levels of problem solving group lessons, and it's lots of fun learning along with students from different states.

My most advanced group of  students are just AMAZING !! to say the least.
Ha ha, we are using AMC-10, 12 questions as countdown round practices and some can solve the first few AIME problems in less than a minute. Oh dear !!

So many students are not learning smart.

Problem solving is really fun (and a lot of the times very hard, yes).

Good questions are intriguing and delicious, so come join our vibrant community and have the pleasure of finding things out on your own.

There is no overnight success.

My other blogs :

thelinscorner  : Standardized test preps, books, links/videos for life-time learning

Take care and have fun learning.

Don't forget other equally interesting activities/contests, which engage your creativity  and imagination. 

Some also require team work. Go for those and have fun !! 

Don't just do math.  

Before going full throttle mode for competition math, please spend some time reading this
well- thought-out article from BOGTRO at AoPS "Learn How to Learn".

It will save you tons of time and numerous, unnecessary hours without a clear goal, better method in mind.

Less is more. My best students make steady, very satisfactory progress in much less time than those
counterparts who spent double, triple, or even more multiple times of prep with little to show.

It's all about "deliberate practices", "tenacity", and most of all, "the pleasure of finding things out on your own".

Take care and have fun problem solving.

I have been coaching students for many years. By now, I know to achieve stellar performance you need :
Grit (from TED talk), not only that but self-awareness (so you can fairly evaluate your own progress) and a nurturing-caring environment. (Parents need to be engaged as well.)
Thanks a lot !!  Mrs. Lin

"Work Smart !!" , "Deliberate practices that target your weakness ", " Relax and get fully rested.", "Pace your time well", "Every point is the same so let go of some questions first; you can always go back to them if time permits."

"It's tremendous efforts preparing for a major event on top of mounting homework and if you are the ones who want to try that, not your parents and you work diligently towards your goal, good for you !!"

"Have fun, Mathcounts changes lives, because at middle school level at least, it's one of those rare occasions that the challenges are hard, especially at the state and national level."

Now, here are the links to get you started: 

Of course use my blog.  Whenever I have time I analyze students' errors and try to find better ways (the most elegant solutions or the Harvey method I hope) to tackle a problem. Use the search button to help you target your weakness area.

Last year's Mathcounts competition problems and answer key

This year's handbook questions.
Near the end of the handbook, there is a page called  problem index (page 82 and 83 for 2013-2014 handbook).
For state/national prep, find your weakness and work on the problems backwards, from the hardest to the easiest. 

Here are some other links/sites that are the best.

Mathcounts Mini : At the very least, finish watching and understanding most of the questions from 2010 till now and work on the follow-up sheets, since detailed solutions are provided along with some more challenging problems.

For those who are aiming for the state/national competition, you can skip the warm-up and go directly to "The Problems" used on the video as well as work on the harder problems afterward.

Art of Problem Solving 

The best place to ask for help on challenging math problems. Some of the best students/coaches/teachers are there to help you better your problem solving skills.

Register for Alcumus and start using the great tool to practice deliberately.
Change the setting based on the levels of your proficiency of different topics.                                                                     Do Not Rush !!

Awesome site!!
For concepts reviewing, try the following three links.

Mathcounts Bible
Mathcounts Toolbox
Coach Monks's Mathcounts Playbook
You really need to understand how each concept works for the review sheets to be useful.

To my exasperation, I have kids who mix up the formulas without gaining a true understanding and appreciation of how an elegant, seemingly simple formula can answer myriads of questions.

You don't need a lot of formulas, handbook questions, or test questions to excel.

You simply need to know how the concepts work and apply that knowledge to different problems/situations.

Hope this is helpful!!


  1. So glad to find your blog! I'm coaching 9 kids this year, having a great time, just not enough of it to make us competitive but we look forward to competition soon!

  2. What you said is not completely true though, i have took the mathcounts competitions and i know as a fact that i need to know a lot of fomulas to do and excel in the mathcounts competitions. I have won and made to states so i know a lot about it. You need to know almost all of the geometric formulas to find areas and such. You may need to know algebraic and quadratic equations. Most of what you said is right but i just wanted to add these few tips.

    -Hope this helps

    1. Actually, what he/she means is that you shouldn't just memorize the formulas without knowing how to derive those formulas. He/She means to actually understand what the formulas mean and how they were formed. For example, you shouldn't just memorize the Pythagorean Theorem because that's the easy thing to do, you should understand how it came about by proving it or something like that.

      -Hope this helps

    2. Hi, Thanks for clarifying what I meant by not just memorizing the formulas without really understanding why/how the formulas work.

      Problem solving, through self-discovery, is the most fun part and that is the reason that my most advanced group of students
      have their favorite questions, areas that they specifically love and are ready to share enthusiastically if you are eager learners as well.

      Thus, we learn from each other and they also help me guide/mentor the next generation of young mathletes.

    3. Well, you don't necessarily need too many formulas. Basic arithmetic, stars and bars, know complementary counting, and basic understanding of multiplication and addition rules for your combo, areas of shapes, multiple formulas for area of triangle, inscribed angle, angle bisector, stewarts (HARD STATES TO NATIONALS) for geo, diophantines, quadratics, factoring, know how to graph, vieta's is helpful for algebra. It's not really knowing the tools and formulas that MATHCOUNTS is testing, but the ability to combine them, and to be creative in your problem solving. The competition is like trying to get out a splinter from your thumb. You don't immediately have to get out a hammer and begin attacking with all the tools you have, you need to be able to recognize different creative ideas and find a unique approach to the problem.

    4. Hear what vanisobhan has to say ; he totally gets what problem solving is all about.
      The even more important is to meet other kindred spirits that share your love of learning and we all learn from each other. It's tons of fun, really.
      Thanks a lot, Vanishobhan, for your wise words and observations. :D

  3. i did this and I am advanicng to state competition in texas.

  4. is it possible for you to send me previous year state competition booklets?

  5. Hi, Anonymous:

    Yes, just put your e-mail address in a new comment. It will be sent to my personal e-mail

    address first (it won't be shown here) so I can send you the previous year's hand book problems.

  6. Hm, I'm glad I found this blog, although my Chapter competiton has already passed. I got 1st Written, so I'm going to State in GA! However, every time I do practice tests, I always miss a few very easy ones at the beginning due to careless mistakes and a few very easy ones at the end since I run out of time. If I recheck the problems at the beginning, I miss even more at the end, and if I don't check over the ones at the beginning, well... Yeah. Sometimes, when I am checking, I do not catch my errors. Do you have any tips to avoid these issues and increase speed/accuracy when solving problems?

  7. Hi, Anonymous: Thanks for your kind words !!

    As for the problems you stated, it's common for students with natural intuition in math to get much easier questions wrong because they are not original and trite, so they are not perked by those routine problems and rush through them. Those students I nickname them "second try ___" or "third try ___" because you don't need to teach them but you do have to wait for them to try the problems the second time or third time to get the right answers. (Sigh...)

    However, since each point weighs the same,it's important to find a workable way for you to make much fewer careless mistakes. Maybe start with the second page and the last page and go back to the first page.

    Or analyze the wrong problems and avoid those pitfalls. Generally speaking, "circle" and probability questions are prone to mistakes so are algebra that involves taking out the factors, or geometry questions that have again fractions or radicals in the denominator.

    Rate, time, and distance (different units conversions), calendar questions, mean, median and mode (the largest possible number, etc...) or arrangements that have limits (each number is more than 6 or 8, etc...) or lots of bars or many words and numbers in one problems (Venn diagram three circles come to min), those are again easy to make mistakes so do them later.

    I also notice statistically wise fewer students actually got 2 or 3 questions in the first 20 sprint right than some of the presumably harder last 10 questions in the sprint so it's important that you scan through the whole set and choose the ones that are your strength to solve.

    For example, this year's chapter team round, the harder one is actually #6 if you don't make a chart.

    Hope this is helpful !! Have fun, take care and good luck at Mathcounts state !!

    Keep me posted.

  8. Thank you for your tips! If you don't mind me asking, what state are you going to represent?

  9. I am looking for a 2010 national Mathcounts probelms and keys. Do you know where I can find it? Thanks.

  10. Hi, Anonymous:

    Yes, just put your e-mail address in a new comment. It will be sent to my personal e-mail address first (it won't be shown here) so I can send you 2010 Mathcounts Nationals problems and key.
    Also, want to join our Mathcounts Nationals prep on Saturdays at 9 pm EST?

  11. Hi

    My son is a 6th grader and preparing for a national finals math contest similar to mathcount. I am looking for national math count sprint and countdown problems and keys. Do you know where I can find it?

  12. You can order this book:

    I sometimes find better solutions to those National problems on AoPS forum.

    You can also use Alcumus (from AoPs) or

    Hope this is helpful !! Take care and good luck !!

  13. Hi id like to recieve personal lessons for nationals. Preferably state-national levels, on the harder end. Do i give you my email? or what should i do to use this great website to practcie mathcounts?

  14. Hi,
    Thank you so much for your kind remarks.
    You can leave your e-mail here so I can contact you directly. (All the comments will be sent to me privately first.)
    Right now I have some very motivated students from different states working on harder state/national problems so come join the fun meets.

    Let me know what state you are in and your recent scores when taking some state/national problems.

    Take care and hope to hear from you soon.
    Cheers, Mrs. Lin

  15. my state is nevada and i would love to work harder state/national problems. This year im hoping to make top 15 at national mathcounts perfect in amc 8 and be a usajmo qualifier

  16. How do we send our chidren to these competitions if the school district is not participating? Can we send them individually? How does it work. Please guide me as I am thinking of sending my kids to Mathcounts, AMC8, AMC 10 etc but it looks like the school staff have no idea about these.

    1. Hi, Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm sorry about your predicament, but Mathcounts competition has to be through school registration.
      Locally, I have some students' parents petitioning for Mathcounts club for years without any result, so unless your kid is homeschooled, it's a uphill battle. Talk to more local parents, PTA members, school board members and include more students from diverse backgrounds to see
      if that might help. Good luck !!

      As for AMC-8, 10, 12 tests, again it's mostly through your school district; however, some local colleges also host the tests so check the AMC website to see if there is any near your place.

      There are other math competitions that don't need to go through schools, but since Mathcounts and AMCs are the most prominent, I recommend them. Less is more.

      If you have further questions, you are welcome to e-mail me at

      Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. Take care and cheers !! Mrs. Lin

    2. My chapter meet is in 1 month. Are there specific things I should practice? We practice at school, but none of the other kids seem too take it seriously. Could you give me the state and national tests? Thanks.

    3. You can order the national test here.

      Or you can join my group lessons. There are different levels.

      My best students are a pleasure to coach and some of them can solve the first few AIME questions like it's the countdown round. Oh dear !!

  17. Hi
    I am Santhosh, from Vermont State.
    I would like to join/participate 'Saturday Mathcounts Volunatary on-line', please let me know.

    Looking forward your favourable reply.

    with regards.

  18. Hi, I am planning to participate at the school level first which will take place on the 28th of this months. Please let me know things that I need to study, specially the geometry. Please send me the web links or the books that I should follow.

  19. This helps so much!!!! Thanks a lot!!!

  20. My son is a 6th grader and is part of mathcount team at Fremont,CA. I need a coach to prepare him for the state and nationals. Will you plesae let me know more details about your online coaching. Also can you please send the national sprint and count down round for 2011 or 2010?

  21. Hello! Thanks for posting this! I'm really glad to have found this blog! :)
    Can I ask for your AoPS username? Mine is TrueshotBarrage.

    Also, I have problems in the Team Round for regional (we don't have many schools in our chapter at our region so we do a thing called regionals, which is like three chapters, but the problems and awards are like chapter). Last year, I could only solve like 2~3 problems in the entire Team Round. Also, in State, it was hard for me to solve many problems pertaining to probability, geometry, and others similar to those subjects. These problems either were not solvable for me, or they took too long and resulted in me skipping them and never coming back to them. How do I solve these problems fast? Most of the time, I overthink and about 5 minutes later, I realize the simple solution. Thanks in advance for any help!


    1. Thanks for visiting me blog and thanks for the kind words.

      I'm Mrs. Lin and I'm literally running an online magnet school and am always interested in guiding/helping the most motivated students, so I'll contact you soon and ask you more questions to see if I can assist you in learning more effectively.

  22. Hi,my daughter is going to be having her school competition in 2 weeks.She is a 7 the grader and has been practicing the handbook.She is very motivated.Any tips for her.She really wants to place at her school competition so she can be a part of the chaptere.She has studied her tool box. She is in Algebra 1.Her dad helps her but we are not the best.Is it advisabke to go through the entire handbook.
    Than you for all your help.

  23. Hi,
    Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. I really appreciate that.
    I'd like to help motivated students and am very honored that they (and their parents) think of my service beneficial.
    Could you please e-mail me at
    I'll give you my phone number so I can problem solve and give you some suggestions.
    Each kid is different so I need to see what the problems are (not studying effectively, confusing quantity with quality, having test anxiety, procrastinating, being overly confident, having difficulty in time management, reading/comprehending problems, being easily distracted, etc...).
    Hope to hear from you soon. Take care and cheers, Mrs. Lin

  24. Hello! I'm currently on a Math Counts team and been trying to study for it. May I join your Study Group?

  25. Hi, Jesse:
    Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. Contact me at "" if you are serious about "deliberate practices".
    Or you can use all the links/notes/problems/suggestions that I put on my blog.
    Every year I have students whom I met online progress to their states' top 30, 20 (younger students),10 and a few went to the nationals.
    Some are still with me at our weekly 90 mins. problem solving group lessons.
    It's lots of fun when you have kids who, even while on vacation (in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, India, Hong Kong, China, at various hotels -as long as there are wireless internet connections - or in the car), still want to take lessons with you.

    Oh dear, and that is the reason that they excel. And it's not just math.

    Cheers, Mrs. Lin

    1. Hello,
      My son is in 8th grade, last year on Math counts. I went through your blog. He was placed 4th on last year's chapters when he was in grade 7. He wants to win the chapter this year and do well in the State. Per advice on your blog he started watching the mini videos. Can he be part of your weekly online meeting?

      Thank you

  26. Hi, Thank you very much for your kind words. I really appreciate that.
    Can you e-mail me at so I can ask you a few more questions to evaluate your son's current level, strength and weakness and hopefully find a better strategy to help him progress faster.
    Again, thanks a lot. Take care and cheers, Mrs. Lin

  27. Wow this blog is *THE* best site for Mthcounts. This year I'm in 7th and i hope to get to state and do well in that. Even if its not enough to get to Nationals.

  28. Oh dear, you just make my day !! I really appreciate your kind words.
    E-mail me at and let me know your current level. You have one more year to try Mathcounts Nationals so go for it. Have fun at the state.

  29. Hi Lin. I found your website and its definitely one of the best MATHCOUNTS resources out there. Im in 7th grade and will compete in my Chapter competition soon. I really want to get to State and was wondering if you can give me any advice. Thank you so much.

  30. Wow, all of your comments make me very productive so I'll try my best to put more contents on my blog.

    If you can e-mail me at and let me know how you would evaluate your strength, weakness, and
    forward me the records of the problems you have attempted and what questions you got wrong, etc...

    I'll see what I can do . I'll be extremely busy this week so will look into that next week.

    Meanwhile, keep using the suggestions from my blog, Mathcounts mini and Alcumus.

    Good luck with your chapter. Let me know how you do.

  31. Hi Mrs.Lin . Your blog is definitely the best resource out there for Math counts .
    I 'm a 6th grader going to state this year and don't know how to exactly prepare
    I want hit all of the concepts for revision systematically , but I don't know what the
    actual Math counts curriculum is exactly and there are no good resources out
    there and our school in Ohio doesn't have much resources out there and can
    you possibly let me join your problem solving group ? Thank you very much for
    putting this resource out there .

  32. Thanks a lot for your kind words. I really appreciate that.

    I'll be more than happy to help out if you think my service might benefit you.
    E-mail me at so I can ask you more questions, evaluate your current
    level and hopefully help you progress faster.

    Again, thanks a lot and good luck with your state competition in three weeks.
    (I have students from OH who are also going to Mathcounts state.)

  33. Hi Mrs. Lin,recently I found your web site. It is one of the best site available to prepare for math counts. My son got 22/25 in 5th grade.Now he is in 6th grade, and preparing for the math counts. Please give some advice how to prepare him, and also can he join your online class. Thank you very much for the blog.

  34. Hi, Anonymous :
    Could you please e-mail me at so I can talk to you.

    These days I get many inquiries and have been quite busy with various projects.
    I'm like running an online magnet school for kids by kids (not just for problem solving, but lifetime learning. I want to build a nurturing, sharing, enrichment community for students who embrace learning), and I intend to make it one of the best in the nation.

    It's a lot of fun learning along with my honor students so at this point, I only want students who love problem solving, are tenacious and inquisitive.

    Thanks a lot for understanding. Hope to hear from you soon. Take care and have fun problem solving.

  35. where could you get national mathcounts practice tests?

    1. You can order the national test here.

      Or you can join my group lessons. There are different levels.

      My best students are a pleasure to coach and some of them can solve the first few AIME questions like it's the countdown round. Oh dear !!

  36. Mrs. Lin, how can we join your online session ? What is your schedule ?thx.

  37. Mrs. Lin, you have online coaching sessions?

  38. Thanks a lot for your interest in my service.

    Yes, I have online coaching sessions and right now it's the busiest season because my kids are very motivated.

    You can e-mail me at and I'll tell you the details.

  39. Hi Mrs. Lin, My Son is in 6th grade now and joined in Mathcounts in school, but i would like to have him practice at home so can you please tell me how to coach / prepare him as I do not know the curriculum. Please advise me as what is the best way for my kid to prepare and participate in the mathcounts.

  40. Thanks a lot for your interest in my service. I really appreciate that.

    Please send your inquiries to if you want to join my online problem solving group lessons.

    Take care and best of luck and have fun with your AMCs, Mathcounts prep.

  41. I have some students' folks petitioning for Mathcounts club for years with none result, therefore unless your child is homeschooled, it is a uphill battle. seek advice from additional native folks, PTA members, board of education members and embody additional students from various backgrounds to envision
    if which may facilitate. sensible luck !!

  42. Yup, tell me about that. Over the years many local parents have tried at one school district without any success.
    There is always some reason that the school can't accommodate that request.
    It's a crisis when I see my previous good problem solvers all are thriving at top colleges and now my local students just languish without proper enrichment activities and as a result, the kids become more and more passive learners.
    Best of luck and hope you succeed in your efforts.

  43. Hi ,
    your site is very daughter can solve the problems but still struggle with time.. any suggestion ? her speed is 25 question (sometime 27-28)in 40 minutes in sprint round chapter round.

  44. Thanks a lot for your kind words. I really appreciate that.
    Wow, it seems like this year there are EVEN more interests in Mathcounts/AMCs.
    E-mail me at so I can talk to you and maybe give you some helpful suggestions.
    Each kid is different so it's all individually based.
    Plus, very important, don't just do math.
    All things are leaning towards critical reading, not to mention writing + social/emotional intelligence and cultural awareness.
    Best and thanks again !!! :D :D :D

  45. very helpful thanks!

  46. Very nice blog. Thanks for sharing it with us.
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