Geometric mean of a right triangle :

Video tutorial

Notes

Practice I

Practice II : focus on the height (or altitude)

Practice III : focus on the legs

## Wednesday, October 10, 2018

## Wednesday, October 3, 2018

### 2019 Mathcounts Competition Preparation Strategies

Hi, Thanks for visiting my blog.

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."

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

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

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 !!

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!!

E-mail me at

**thelinscorner@gmail.com**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.

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.**

**In Chinese :**《專題報導》亞裔尖子生 職場難出頭？

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!!

## Monday, October 1, 2018

### The Largest Rectangle Inscribed in Any Triangle

From Mathcounts Mini : Maximum area of inscribed rectangles and triangles

\(\Delta EHI\sim\Delta EFG\) \(\rightarrow\) \(\dfrac {a} {c}=\dfrac {d-b} {d}\)\(\rightarrow\) \(a=\dfrac {c\left( d-b\right) } {d}=\dfrac {-c\left( b-d\right) } {d}\)

We are going to find out what the largest area of a rectangle is with the side length a and b.

It can be shown that by substituting the side length "a" with the previous equation + completing the square that the largest area is half of the area of the triangle the rectangle is embedded.

\(a\times b=\dfrac {-c\left( b-d\right) \times b} {d}=\dfrac {-c\left( b^{2}-bd\right)} {d}= \dfrac {-c\left( b-\dfrac {1} {2}d\right) ^{2}+\dfrac {1} {4}dc} {d}\).

From there, you know that when \(b= \dfrac {1} {2}d\), it will give you the largest area, which is \(\dfrac {1} {4}dc\).

\(a=\dfrac {-c\left( b-d\right) } {d}= \dfrac {-c\left( \dfrac {1} {2}d-d\right) } {d}=\dfrac {c\left( d-\dfrac {1} {2}d\right) } {d}=\dfrac {1} {2}c\).

Thus, the maximum rectangle area occurs when the midpoints of two of the sides of the triangle were joined to make a side of the rectangle and its area is thus 50% or half of the area of the triangle or 1/4 of the base times height.

Proof without words from Mr. Rusczyk

Try using different types of triangles to experiment and see for yourself.

Paper folding is fun !!!!!

It's very cool :D

\(\Delta EHI\sim\Delta EFG\) \(\rightarrow\) \(\dfrac {a} {c}=\dfrac {d-b} {d}\)\(\rightarrow\) \(a=\dfrac {c\left( d-b\right) } {d}=\dfrac {-c\left( b-d\right) } {d}\)

We are going to find out what the largest area of a rectangle is with the side length a and b.

It can be shown that by substituting the side length "a" with the previous equation + completing the square that the largest area is half of the area of the triangle the rectangle is embedded.

\(a\times b=\dfrac {-c\left( b-d\right) \times b} {d}=\dfrac {-c\left( b^{2}-bd\right)} {d}= \dfrac {-c\left( b-\dfrac {1} {2}d\right) ^{2}+\dfrac {1} {4}dc} {d}\).

From there, you know that when \(b= \dfrac {1} {2}d\), it will give you the largest area, which is \(\dfrac {1} {4}dc\).

\(a=\dfrac {-c\left( b-d\right) } {d}= \dfrac {-c\left( \dfrac {1} {2}d-d\right) } {d}=\dfrac {c\left( d-\dfrac {1} {2}d\right) } {d}=\dfrac {1} {2}c\).

Thus, the maximum rectangle area occurs when the midpoints of two of the sides of the triangle were joined to make a side of the rectangle and its area is thus 50% or half of the area of the triangle or 1/4 of the base times height.

Proof without words from Mr. Rusczyk

Try using different types of triangles to experiment and see for yourself.

Paper folding is fun !!!!!

It's very cool :D

## Tuesday, September 18, 2018

### Dimensional Change questions I:

Questions written by Willie, a volunteer. Answer key and detailed solutions below.

1a. There is a regular cylinder, which has a height equal to
its radius. If the radius and height are both increased by 50%, by what % does
the total volume of the cylinder increase?

1b. If the radius and height are both decreased by 10%, by
what % does the total volume of the cylinder decrease?

1c. If the radius is increased by 20% and the height is
decreased by 40%, what % of the volume of the original cylinder does the volume
of the new cylinder represent?

1d. If the radius is increased by 40% and the height is
decreased by 20%, what % of the volume of the original cylinder does the volume
of the new cylinder represent?

1e. If the height is increased by 125%, what % does the
radius need to be decreased by for the volume to remain the same?

2. If the side of a cube is increased by 50%, by what % does
the total surface area of the cube increase?

3a. If the volume of a cube increases by 72.8%, by what %
does the total surface area of the cube increase?

3b. By what % did the side length of the cube increase?

4. You have a collection of cylinders, all having a radius
of 5. The first cylinder has a height of 2, the second has a height of 4, the
third a height of 6, etc. The last cylinder has a height of 50. What is the sum
of the volumes of all the cylinders (express your answer in terms of pi)?

1b. Like the previous question: 1

1d. 1.4

Answer key: (Each question should not take you more than 30 seconds to solve if you really understand the concepts involved.)

1a. The volume of a cylinder is πr

^{2}x h (height). The radius itself will be squared and the height stays at constant ratio. The volume will increased thus (1.5)^{3}- 1^{3}-- the original 100% of the volume = 2.375**=237.5%**

1b. Like the previous question: 1

^{3}- 0.9

^{3}[when it's discount/percentage decrease, you use the 100% or 1 - the discount/decrease percentage] = 0.271 =

**27.1% decrease**

1c. 1.2

^{2}[100% + 20% increase = 1.2] x 0.6 [100% -40% = 0.6] = 0.864 or**86.4% of the original volume**

1d. 1.4

^{2}[100% + 40% increase = 1.4] x 0.8 [100% -20% = 0.8] = 1.568 =

**156.8% of the original volume**

1e. When the height of a cylinder is increased 125%, the total volume is is 225% of the original cylinder, or 9/4.

Since the radius is used two times (or squared), it has to decrease 4/9

1 - (2/3) = 1/3^{1/2}= 2/3 for the new cylinder to have the same volume as the old one. [9/4 times 4/9 = 1 or the original volume.]**=**

**0.3**

**= 33.**

**3%**

2. Surface area is 2-D so 1.5

^{2}- 1 = 1.25 =**125% increase**
3a. If a volume of a cube is increased by 72.8 percent, it's 172.8% or 1.728 of the original volume. Now you are going from 3-D (volume) to 2-D (surface area). 1.728

^{2/3}= 1.44 or**44% increase**. [Don't forget to minus 1 (the original volume) since it is asking you the percentage increase.]
3b. From surface area, you can get the side increase by using 1.44

Or you can also use 1.728^{1/2}= 1.2, so 20% increase.^{1/3}= 1.2; 1.2 - 1 =**20%**
4. The volume of a cylinder is πr

^{2}x h . (2 + 4 + 6 + ...50) x 5^{2}π = (25 x 26) x 25π =**16250π**## Saturday, September 1, 2018

### 2011 Mathcounts Chapter Sprint Round solutions

**#22: The answer is 2674.**

**See left for explanations.**

**#23: Let the two consecutive positive integers be x and x + 1.**

**( x + 1 ) / x = 1.02, x + 1 = 1.02x, 0.02x = 1, x = 1 divided by 0.02 = 1 times 100/2 = 50**

**The two numbers are 50 and 51 and their sum is 50 + 51 = 101.**

**#24: The two x-intercepts when y is "0" are 10 or -10; the two y-intercepts when x is "0" are 5 or -5.**

**Area of a rhombus is D1 x D2 / 2 so the answer is [10-(-10)] x [5 -(-5)] = 100 square units.**

**#25: The area ratio of the two similar triangle is 150/6 so the line ratio is √ 150/6 or 5:1.**

the length of the hypotenuse of the smaller triangle is 5 inches, so the other two legs are 3 and 4.

the length of the hypotenuse of the smaller triangle is 5 inches, so the other two legs are 3 and 4.

**(a Pythagorean triple)**

The sum of the lengths of the legs of the larger triangle is (3 + 4) * 5 = 35.

The sum of the lengths of the legs of the larger triangle is (3 + 4) * 5 = 35.

#26: To have same number of boys and girls, the committee needs to consist of 3 boys and 3 girls.

#26: To have same number of boys and girls, the committee needs to consist of 3 boys and 3 girls.

**(6C3 x 4C3)/ 10C6 = 80/210 = 8/21**

#27: When the point (3, 4) is reflected over the x-axis to B, B would = (3, -4).

#27: When the point (3, 4) is reflected over the x-axis to B, B would = (3, -4).

**When B is reflected over the line y = x to C, C would = (-4, 3).**

The area of the triangle is [4 -(-4)] x [ 3 - (-4)]/ 2 = 28 square units.

The area of the triangle is [4 -(-4)] x [ 3 - (-4)]/ 2 = 28 square units.

**#28: Tonisha is 45 miles ahead Sheila when Sheila leaves Maryville at 8: 15 a.m.**

**Each hour Sheila will be 15 miles closer to Tonisha. 45/15 = 3, which means that 3 hours**

**later Sheila**

**will pass Tonisha.**

**8:15 + 3 hours = 11: 15 a.m.**

**#29: Using 30-60-90 degree angle ratio, you can**

**make the radius be √ 3 and half of the side of the hexagon would be 1 so each side of the hexagon**

**is 2.**

**The area of the hexagon is (√ 3/4) times 2**

^{2}times 6 = 6√ 3.**The area of the circle is 3Π.**

**The fraction is 3Π/6√ 3 = √ 3 / 6**

**a = 3 and b = 6, ab = 18**

**#30: Area of triangle KDC is easy to find once you realize the height is just the right triangle with a hypotenuse 6 and a leg 4. (half of the length of CD),**

**Using Pythagorean theorem, you get the height to be 2√ 5 .**

8 x 2√ 5 /2 = 8 √ 5 .

8 x 2√ 5 /2 = 8 √ 5 .

## Friday, August 3, 2018

### A Skill for the 21st Century: Problem Solving by Richard Rusczyk

Does our approach to teaching math fail even the smartest kids ?

Quotes from that article "According to research from the University of California, Los Angeles, as many as 60 percent of all college students who intend to study a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subject end up transferring out. In an era when politicians and educators are beside themselves with worry over American students’ lagging math and science scores compared to the whiz kids of Shanghai and Japan, this attrition trend so troubles experts it has spawned an entire field of research on “STEM drop-out,” citing reasons from gender and race to GPAs and peer relationships."

The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage from The Atlantic Magazine

A Skill for the 21st Century: Problem Solving by Richard Rusczyk, founder of "Art of Problem Solving".

Top 10 Skills We Wish Were Taught at School, But Usually Aren't

from Lifehacker

Quotes from that article "According to research from the University of California, Los Angeles, as many as 60 percent of all college students who intend to study a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subject end up transferring out. In an era when politicians and educators are beside themselves with worry over American students’ lagging math and science scores compared to the whiz kids of Shanghai and Japan, this attrition trend so troubles experts it has spawned an entire field of research on “STEM drop-out,” citing reasons from gender and race to GPAs and peer relationships."

The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage from The Atlantic Magazine

A Skill for the 21st Century: Problem Solving by Richard Rusczyk, founder of "Art of Problem Solving".

Top 10 Skills We Wish Were Taught at School, But Usually Aren't

from Lifehacker

## Wednesday, August 1, 2018

### Show Your Work, Or, How My Math Abilities Started to Decline

Show your work, or, how my math abilities started to decline

I think it's problematic the way schools teach Algebra. Those meaningless show-your-work approaches, without knowing what Algebra is truly about. The overuse of calculators and the piecemeal way of teaching without the unification of the math concepts are detrimental to our children's ability to think critically and logically.

Of course eventually, it would be beneficial to students if they show their work with the much more challenging word problems (harder Mathcounts state team round, counting and probability questions, etc...), but it's totally different from what some schools ask of our capable students.

How do you improve problem solving skills with tons of worksheets by going through 50 to 100 problems all look very much the same? It's called busy work.

Quote from Einstein. "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Quotes from Richard Feynman, the famous late Nobel-laureate physicist. Feynman relates his cousin's unhappy experience with algebra:

My cousin at that time—who was three years older—was in high school and was having considerable difficulty with his algebra. I was allowed to sit in the corner while the tutor tried to teach my cousin algebra. I said to my cousin then, "What are you trying to do?" I hear him talking about x, you know."Well, you know, 2x + 7 is equal to 15," he said, "and I'm trying to figure out what x is," and I say, "You mean 4." He says, "Yeah, but you did it by arithmetic. You have to do it by algebra."And that's why my cousin was never able to do algebra, because he didn't understand how he was supposed to do it. I learned algebra, fortunately, by—not going to school—by knowing the whole idea was to find out what x was and it didn't make any difference how you did it. There's no such a thing as, you know, do it by arithmetic, or you do it by algebra. It was a false thing that they had invented in school, so that the children who have to study algebra can all pass it. They had invented a set of rules, which if you followed them without thinking, could produce the answer. Subtract 7 from both sides. If you have a multiplier, divide both sides by the multiplier. And so on. A series of steps by which you could get the answer if you didn't understand what you were trying to do.

So I was lucky. I always learnt things by myself.

I think it's problematic the way schools teach Algebra. Those meaningless show-your-work approaches, without knowing what Algebra is truly about. The overuse of calculators and the piecemeal way of teaching without the unification of the math concepts are detrimental to our children's ability to think critically and logically.

Of course eventually, it would be beneficial to students if they show their work with the much more challenging word problems (harder Mathcounts state team round, counting and probability questions, etc...), but it's totally different from what some schools ask of our capable students.

How do you improve problem solving skills with tons of worksheets by going through 50 to 100 problems all look very much the same? It's called busy work.

Quote from Einstein. "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Quotes from Richard Feynman, the famous late Nobel-laureate physicist. Feynman relates his cousin's unhappy experience with algebra:

My cousin at that time—who was three years older—was in high school and was having considerable difficulty with his algebra. I was allowed to sit in the corner while the tutor tried to teach my cousin algebra. I said to my cousin then, "What are you trying to do?" I hear him talking about x, you know."Well, you know, 2x + 7 is equal to 15," he said, "and I'm trying to figure out what x is," and I say, "You mean 4." He says, "Yeah, but you did it by arithmetic. You have to do it by algebra."And that's why my cousin was never able to do algebra, because he didn't understand how he was supposed to do it. I learned algebra, fortunately, by—not going to school—by knowing the whole idea was to find out what x was and it didn't make any difference how you did it. There's no such a thing as, you know, do it by arithmetic, or you do it by algebra. It was a false thing that they had invented in school, so that the children who have to study algebra can all pass it. They had invented a set of rules, which if you followed them without thinking, could produce the answer. Subtract 7 from both sides. If you have a multiplier, divide both sides by the multiplier. And so on. A series of steps by which you could get the answer if you didn't understand what you were trying to do.

So I was lucky. I always learnt things by myself.

Labels:
algebra,
article on math education,
problem solving

## Sunday, April 15, 2018

### Original Problem from a Student Problem Solver on Similar Triangles

An original problem on similar triangles from Varun (from FL)

### The Grid Technique in Solving Harder Mathcounts Counting Problems : from Vinjai

The following notes are from Vinjai, a student I met online. He graciously shares and offers the tips here on how to tackle those harder Mathcounts counting problems.

The
point of the grid is to create a bijection in a problem that makes it easier to
solve. Since the grid just represents a combination, it can be adapted to work
with any problem whose answer is a combination.

For
example, take an instance of the classic 'stars and bars' problem (also known
as 'balls and urns', 'sticks and stones', etc.):

**Q: How many ways are there to pick an ordered triple (a, b, c) of nonnegative integers such that a+b+c = 8? (The answer is 10C2 or 45 ways.)**

Solution I:

This
problem is traditionally solved by thinking of ordering 8 stars and 2 bars. An
example is:

*
* * | | * * * * *

^
^ ^

a
b c

This
corresponds to a = 3, b = 0, c = 5.

Solution II:

But
this can also be done using the grid technique:

The red path corresponds to the same arrangement: a = 3, b = 0, c = 5. The increase corresponds to the value: a goes from 0 to 3 (that is an increase of 3), b goes from 3 to 3 (that is an increase of 0), and c goes from 3 to 8 (that is an increase of 5). So a = 3, b = 0, c = 5.

Likewise,
using a clever 1-1 correspondence, you can map practically any problem with an
answer of nCk to fit the grid method. The major advantage of this is that it is
an easier way to think about the problem (just like the example I gave may be
easier to follow than the original stars and bars approach, and the example I
gave in class with the dice can also be thought of in a more numerical sense).

## Sunday, April 8, 2018

### Learn How to Learn by BOGTRO from AoPS forum -- Thanks a bunch !!

**I love the following quotes :**

**Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.**

**I previously thought it's from Albert Einstein, but it's not. I love it anyway.**

You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”

from Michael Jordan

*"When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layer of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple**solutions."***- Steve Jobs, 2006**

**5 ways to Kill your dreams from TED talk**

Below, BOGTRO from AoPS has graciously allow me to post his well-thoughtout article on

**"Learn How to Learn".**
I wish more students will read it , and don't just read it once, but many times at different intervals and really internalize the method. It will help you not just with problem solving/competition math, but learning in general.

**Learn How to Learn**

About a month ago I was PMed by a member, asking for advice as to how to prepare for MATHCOUNTS. I (strangely) get a lot of these types of PMs, but this one was slightly different. Whereas normally I could answer something along the lines of "read Volume 1, do practice tests, profit", this user was complaining that despite having rigorously worked through Volume 1 and CMMS (I still don't know what this is, but it's implied to be a book), he was still scoring only in the low 20s on sprints.

To some extent, I was able to relate. Back in my MATHCOUNTS days, I was doing loads of practice tests, learning new techniques to shave off precious seconds, and even practicing hitting a buzzer quickly. But my results only marginally improved. Gradually I understood that he was facing the exact same problem I was - although we were doing plenty of work, we were doing it in the wrong way.

After some thought, I formulated a long but fairly detailed response. Given that state-national season is rolling around, and with it the usual abundance of "how do I prepare" threads, I'm reproducing it below (with some minor edits). I referenced sprint several times because that was the specific complaint by the user, but obviously you can replace "sprint" with "target" or even "countdown", or any combination thereof.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You first need to determine why it is that you're getting low scores on sprint.**Are you running out of time?**

**Making stupid mistakes?**

**Bad at computation? Or**

**do you honestly not know how to do the problems?**

The former three are rectified with simply a lot of (effective) practice, where I say "effective" because simply blazing through problems, checking your score, and moving on is not going to help you very much. You need to be critically analyzing almost every problem - not just the ones you got wrong. Sure, you don't need to think too hard about your process on #2, but questions that take you longer than you would like, you get wrong, or you do in a "bashy" way need to be reviewed.

Essentially, you should be following something similar to the following process. Of course, this is not something that is going to work for 100% of people. The point here is not that you should be following these guidelines like a bible, but that you need to think about how to get the maximum benefit out of each practice test you take. You may very well find that the below system doesn't work for you (though you should at least give it a chance - it may seem "boring" at first, but after some time you'll be going through it like it's second nature and learning excellent habits along the way), in which case you should come up with an alteration that works for you. If (or more likely when) you choose to develop your own preparation system, keep in mind that the basic elements should be present - rigorous review of problems you got wrong, self-reflection on why you got them wrong, and so on.

- Take any MATHCOUNTS sprint round under contest conditions. It doesn't really matter which one you take, though it should be fairly recent for best results. When you're done, score with a simple checkmark or X system - don't look through the solutions immediately. Make a note of the problems that took you a long time, even if you got them correct.
- Without timing yourself (though you shouldn't spend more than 15 minutes or so), solve the problems that you either got wrong or didn't answer during the test. This will partially tell you if you're getting questions wrong because of time constraints or because you don't know the material.
- At this point you should have 4 separate categories of problems:
- Completely correct - don't worry about these at all. Though there is some benefit to looking these over, they are significantly less important than all the other questions.
- Correct, but took you a long time. Identify why it took you a long time - and if it matters. A problem taking you 2-3 minutes may sound like a killer, but in general if you only have a couple of these questions that's completely fine. Even if there's only one "timesink", you should be looking through alternate solutions to doing these problems. I find that problems that usually cause timesinks are either geometry problems that are semi-direct applications of similar triangles (which are naturally fairly easy to coordinate bash or something similarly slow, but this may take a while) or counting problems where you just listed out the possibilities and counted them up. Unfortunately, many MATHCOUNTS problems have this as their intended solution, so there's not a great deal you can do about those. However, even though there may not be a cleaner solution, minute steps during your bashing may prove important. And in the event that even with optimizations the problem will still take 2-3 minutes, you may want to just skip it altogether even if you know exactly how to do it.
- Incorrect (or blank), but you solved it after the test. These are questions that you know how to do, but you ran out of time doing. Important is to determine how long it took you to solve these questions. If you solved 2 questions in 30 seconds each after the test, clearly that's worse than solving one problem in the second category. These second and third categories are quite similar and should be evaluated against each other (a quite reasonable rule of thumb is to save any counting question that you don't see how to do within ~10 seconds for later).
- Incorrect, and you couldn't solve it after the test. Look up the solution, searching (or even posting) on AoPS if necessary (which you should likely do anyway, as MATHCOUNTS official solutions are often horrendous). If it's a situation where you just forgot something that you really knew, it's easy to pass this off as a fluke and move on. However, this is a grave mistake. Perhaps if it happens once or twice in an otherwise good practice, you can kind of gloss over it. But make a note of it anyway. Whenever you hit two problems in the same general category that you didn't solve (keep your categories broad, but not too broad. "Geometry" is too broad a category, while "trignometric relations in geometric models of algebraic inequalities" is too specific to be helpful. Something like "similar triangles" or "factoring" is a much better type of category), you should immediately stop your practicing and look up the relevant sections in whatever book you have (e.g. Volume 1, or whatever CMMS is, or even just an internet search, etc.). Don't move on until you are confident in that area. By "confident", I don't mean that you can approach these kinds of problems once in a while. I mean that once you identify a question as being in your category, you should be able to solve it relatively quickly at least 75% of the time.

- File away every single problem that you got wrong. Categorize these as either "I solved this afterwards" (include the time it took you to solve it - approximate is fine) or "I didn't solve this afterwards". You will need these later. Take a break - read a book, play some FTW, go outside, play League of Legends, whatever floats your boat. There's not much value in overloading yourself, especially so close to chapter. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, review a chapter on a topic that you have trouble with.There is no point to reviewing topics you already can solve problems in regularly.
- At the end of the week, collect every single problem on your "incorrect problems list". If you're going through a test a day, these shouldn't number more than 50. Do these like you would a test under contest conditions. Compare your results to your incorrect problems paper (how long it took you to solve the problems, and whether you got them correct). The fact that you've seen the problems already should compensate for the fact that you need to work quicker. If you get a problem wrong, do the same process - don't time yourself while solving all of the remaining problems.
- If you got the same problem wrong twice, there are 3 scenarios:
- You got it wrong both times, but finished it after the test both times. This speaks to your (lack of?) time management, something that comes much more naturally with practice. Keep in mind that MATHCOUNTS really only tests a very small amount of concepts (relatively speaking), so working through old problems virtually guarantees that almost all MATHCOUNTS problems will already be more or less familiar to you on test day.
- You couldn't solve it at all the first time, but solved it after the test the second time. This is improvement, so it's perfectly fine.
- You didn't solve it the second time around. This means that you don't understand the concept - back to the books.

- Take all the problems you got correct (during the test) off your "incorrect problems" sheet, and continue to repeat the process from the top.

This may seem like quite a bit of work when typed up here, but in reality it's not. Instead of perpetuating the cycle of "do a practice test, score it, move on, read some books in some disorganized fashion, take another practice test, hope for improvement" (not even necessarily in that order, which is even more problematic), instead we optimize this routine by taking a single practice test a day and making sure that we get everything possible out of it. There are only so many tests, and a frequent complaint is that people have run out of old contests to do. While this may be true, this most likely means that they're not doing the tests properly. A single test with the time taken to reflect, organize, and perform a targeted review is significantly more beneficial than 5 tests taken without a goal in mind.

All in all, this should take at most a little over an hour per day (a little more at the end of the week). You are, of course, welcome to do more, but there's a sort of diminishing returns law past a certain point. Devoting a great deal of time to MATHCOUNTS is going to seem like a serious mistake in hindsight (I was among the most guilty of this), especially if you realize you were spending time incredibly inefficiently. I won't give an exact quote here (simply because I don't remember it and a quick search doesn't turn it up), but one MATHCOUNTS winner (Albert Ni?) said something along the lines of

**Quote:**

I knew that I wouldn't be the smartest mathlete competing. But I could, quite realistically, be the hardest working one [...]

In MATHCOUNTS, that's all that's required. But quantifying the term "hard work" is necessary - someone who is pushing a boulder from point A 25% of the way to point B is doing a lot of work for very little benefit, while someone who uses a truck to carry the same boulder to point B is doing significantly less work for significantly more benefit. Perhaps as a more accurate analogy, take two people in a shooting contest. As soon as the whistle blows, person A starts shooting haphazardly at his target, hitting it once in a while but constantly having to reload. Person B, on the other hand, takes his time, lines up his shots, and hits the target with deadly accuracy. This is very similar to MATHCOUNTS. Person A is blowing through his material quickly, getting little benefit overall, but naturally with the experience of shooting comes some slight improvement. On the other side of things, person B is taking the time to think about how best to use his limited resources to improve as best he can. Sure, he starts off a bit slower, and at the end of the day he might still have some ammunition left unused, but overall he hits the target more. The first approach is popular because it's very easy to feel like you're doing something - after all, if you're spending 4 hours a day on practice MATHCOUNTS tests, you're outworking everyone else, right? Don't fall into this trap. Line up your shots.

## Monday, April 2, 2018

### Square Based Pyramid of Equal Edges: Vomume and Surface Area

**The height of a square based pyramid of equal edges is half of its base diagonal.**

You should be able to figure out the volume as well as surface area of a square based pyramid once

you understand how to get the slant height and the height.

## Tuesday, January 16, 2018

### For Mainly High School Students : Quest for USAJMO or USAMO

Good luck on your quest :)

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2014 AIME I Math Jam

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2012 AIME I Math Jam

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2011 AMC-10/12 A Math Jam

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2010 AMC-10/12 A Math Jam

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