Friday, March 7, 2014

2015 Mathcounts Competition Preparation Strategies

It's the Mathcounts, AMCs, AIME/USAJMO/USAMO and science fair/bowl/olympiad/robotics season. Yeah !! 


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.  



Welcome Back !! Hope during the summer, you are still working on some challenging word problems
(my honor students do; they never stop learning ) + trying some new activities (don't just do math).

E-mail me at thelinscorner@gmail.com if you want to join us. 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 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 !!

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!!

42 comments:

  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!

    ReplyDelete
  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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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
      TrueshotBarrage

      Delete
    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.

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

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

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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?

    ReplyDelete
  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.

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

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

    ReplyDelete
  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?

    ReplyDelete
  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?

    ReplyDelete
  12. You can order this book: http://secure.sportsawardsonline.com/applications/mccoach/store/product_specific_details.asp?product_category_id=1000021&product_id=1000221

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

    You can also use Alcumus (from AoPs) or Brilliant.org.

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

    ReplyDelete
  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?

    ReplyDelete
  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

    ReplyDelete
  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

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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 thelinscorner@gmail.com.

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

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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.

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

    ReplyDelete
  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?

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  22. 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!

    -TrueshotBarrage

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  23. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  24. 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 thelinscorner@gmail.com.
    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

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

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi, Jesse:
    Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. Contact me at "thelinscorner@gmail.com" 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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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
      RF

      Delete
  27. Hi, Thank you very much for your kind words. I really appreciate that.
    Can you e-mail me at thelinscorner@gmail.com 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

    ReplyDelete
  28. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Oh dear, you just make my day !! I really appreciate your kind words.
    E-mail me at thelinscorner@gmail.com 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.

    ReplyDelete
  30. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  31. 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 thelinscorner@gmail.com 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.

    ReplyDelete
  32. 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 .

    ReplyDelete
  33. 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 thelinscorner@gmail.com 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.)

    ReplyDelete
  34. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi, Anonymous :
    Could you please e-mail me at thelinscorner@gmail.com 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.

    ReplyDelete