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AoPS WOOT (Worldwide Online Olympiad Training)


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I'm considering whether or not to enrol DS (rising 9th grader) in this:
AoPS WOOT (Worldwide Online Olympiad Training)
https://artofproblemsolving.com/school/course/woot
and if so, how should he approach it.

I know I can ask AoPS for recommendations but I'll start with getting feedback here.

He's only taken AIME once and got an average score, so may be at borderline readiness for WOOT. I thought he might get around 30th-40th in MathCounts, but it was cancelled, so we couldn't see where he stood there. I won't say more contest result details here, maybe by private message to WOOT expert.

He's done the AoPS Intro and Interm coursework (and Calculus), and for various reasons, won't be able to do new (regular sequence) math courses until grade 10, where he'll start to have a wide choice of post-Calculus math courses (but barely time for something like WOOT), so 9th grade will be something of a gap year for regular sequence math courses, so schedulewise it would make sense for WOOT to be his math course for the year.

So the dilemma is, this schoolyear may be the best (or only practical) chance to take WOOT, but I fear he is barely ready for that level (though this might be his best chance to get to the next level).

So should he go for it?

There's also the question of how best to approach WOOT, in terms of motivation and study practices.

 

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Thanks for that feedback. We'll proceed with caution. The WOOT page says "Students who are not capable of consistently scoring 5 or higher on AIME should strongly consider waiting until they have more experience before joining WOOT." which doesn't tell DS to wait, but that wording doesn't say those with mid-range AIME scores should apply either.

But I also looked at last years WOOT Math Jam  https://artofproblemsolving.com/school/mathjams-transcripts?id=496 (this year's WOOT Math Jam is actually tomorrow) and saw some exchanges:

"skyscraper 2019-08-01 19:59:10
I could do pretty decent on AIME practice tests(6-8 usually) but I have almost never practiced any Olympiad-level problems, is WOOT still beneficial for me?
MellowMelon 2019-08-01 19:59:15
You are WOOT's main target audience."

That seems more encouraging. Also they said they get about 700 enrollees, mostly in the US, so that suggests the selectivity is not too extreme (similar to the 500 that take USA(J)MO). Also

"pi3141592 2019-08-01 20:09:39
Is WOOT designed for people with absolutely no background in olympiad math?
MellowMelon 2019-08-01 20:09:40
WOOT offers a lot of material aimed at several levels of students, and a lot of it is catered to people with no olympiad experience at all. But even olympiad veterans should be able to learn from it (which is why people take it multiple times)."


"MellowMelon 2019-08-01 19:33:26
Each Practice Olympiad has three levels, ranging from beginner to National Olympiad/IMO difficulty. Students can switch levels from one Practice Olympiad to the next. (Enrolled students will have a sample olympiad at the start of the course to help them gauge difficulty.) Students have 3 hours to take each test. Students turn in their work by uploading onto our website using a button in the classes page, by emailing to a specified address, or by faxing. We will then provide feedback on student work online. We will have an orientation session at the start of WOOT with many more details."
"caroline2023 2019-08-01 20:12:05
How hard are the introductory level Practice Olympiads?
MellowMelon 2019-08-01 20:12:06
The beginner level practice olympiads are substantially easier than the USAJMO, and perhaps on par with the easier national olympiads out there. Students who are just getting started with olympiad problems should find them a good fit."
"ojns 2019-08-01 19:54:21
how close are the difficulties between the practice tests and the actual test?
MellowMelon 2019-08-01 19:54:22
On our practice olympiads, the intermediate level we have is a bit easier than the USAJMO, and the advanced level is a bit easier than the USAMO. Part of that is because we have a 3 hour time limit for the same number of problems instead of the USA(J)MO's 4.5 hour limit."


So it does sound like they are trying to cater to DS's level, though we can expect it to be tough.

 

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1 hour ago, square_25 said:

OK, just to make sure, what do you mean about an average AIME score? 🙂

 

Average score on 2020 AIME I was 5.71 so he scored (at least) that. He didn't do practice AIMEs (though I think he looked at problems - he was focusing on MathCounts, as that was where he had a better chance of doing well, and he was in grade 8, so last chance for that, but it got cancelled) so it's a sample size of 1 AIME test.

 

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1 hour ago, square_25 said:

Let me also ask a few more things, if you don't mind 🙂 . How much combinatorics and circle geometry  has he seen? Is he familiar with induction and the pigeonhole principle? Is he comfortable with complex numbers? 

He's done the AoPS Intro (Alg, C&P, NT, Geom) and Interm (Alg, C&P, NT, Precalc) coursework (as well as Calculus), so he's seen all those things. And he had to do some solution writing, and proofs, in the courses.

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He's done lots of competitions, (starting with MK grade 1) but never with written solutions. But the WOOT information seems to imply that it's okay to be a "beginner" like that.

He did some AMC/AIME classes. (BTW he got close to qualifying for AIME some times before.)

It could be that he's a candidate for getting "overwhelmed", but I feel like it's worth a shot to try to get to the next level. I think he does have the knowledge (I hope he hasn't forgotten stuff) but the question is, can he see the connections and put the pieces together.

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There was a mathjam with a transcript on woot at https://artofproblemsolving.com/school/mathjams-transcripts?id=236  

It also focuses a lot on whether it's a fit.

Another option might be the awesome math online programs.  

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16 hours ago, square_25 said:

I'm really just reporting my sense of the kids from the WOOT classes I've taught myself at AoPS. He may very well enjoy the classes a lot 🙂 . Just make sure he reads the handouts carefully to prepare -- that made a big difference when I taught it. 

Yes, I would make sure he does the preparation. In regular AoPS classes (which have been his math education for some years) he would do the reading/preparation, and get the homeworks done, but I would sometimes have to push him, and I don't think he would generally do the message board problems. So I'm a bit concerned about him taking full advantage of something as open-ended as WOOT. But the main thing is that he can engage with the difficulty level (and it appears that WOOT tries to cater to different levels).

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8 hours ago, HomeForNow said:

^Thanks. That Math Jam looks like it's for 2008-09 WOOT, but it's interesting to compare to the recent one. Did you have it bookmarked from then?

Does anyone here have feedback whose kid took WOOT some time?

 

I think that @Arcadia's kids took the WOOT sometime back ...

 

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28 minutes ago, mathnerd said:

I think that @Arcadia's kids took the WOOT sometime back ...

 

DS15 took WOOT for two consecutive years as enrichment. He wasn’t interested in AMC or AIME other than the chance to be with other kids for a few hours 🙃 He treated WOOT like he would math circle. 

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4 minutes ago, square_25 said:

How did he find it? 

To him it was like a math club. He had his “friends” from the AoPS calculus class in WOOT so it was an indirect social gathering.  There is no stress since the aim wasn’t to improve the AMC/AIME scores but to broaden his scope in math with no GPA impact. 

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Sorry to respond so late.  My ds took the WOOT for 3 years from 15 to 17.  He did it mostly for human interaction with his math.  At 15 when he started it, he had taken all the other AoPS courses, but could not yet solve a single IMO problem. By the end of the first year, he could solve the first one on each day (problems 1 and 4 of the IMO).  I have no idea about AIME as all NZ exams are proof based as we use the AMO, BMO, and APMO as our exams. My son found it to mostly give a range of problems he could work on, from easy to hard.  I don't remember how easy was 'easy'.  It was all self driven, there are not set problems to solve for a grade.  He liked how all the work he needed to do was laid out so that he could self study.  

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

So there have now been two live classes (plus an orientation class). The live classes themselves, which I watch with DS, don't seem too hard, and DS has no problem participating normally. But he generally finds the problem sets and other problems outside class to be very very hard indeed. I guess they have to pitch the live class at a level that most enrollees can keep up with in real time, whereas the problems outside class are more challenging since there is no time limit, and they're also trying to challenge all the students.

DS has switched from home schooling to virtual public charter, and it's unfortunately time consuming, and he doesn't manage time well anyway, so he may not be putting in as much time as he should to WOOT, but I still think it was the right decision to enroll.

I haven't looked at the (outside class) problems myself yet, so I don't know how much I could do them (I'm a mathematician, but it's been decades since I've done math contests), but if DS is not keeping up with the problem sets, I might have to discuss them with him directly (perhaps after peeking at solutions).

 

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The p-sets and the olympiads are designed at multiple levels. So you could have your son just do the 'basic' level, and skip the other 2/3rds.  My ds did WOOT for 3 years, and graduated from basic, to moderate, to advanced over that period. Have him do problems in the 'zone of proximal development.'

I should also add, that within a year of answering the advanced problems at WOOT, he was taking grad classes in math at MIT. So don't expect to be able to do the advanced work right away as it is crazy hard!

Edited by lewelma
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Thanks for confirming the multi-level nature of it. DS is certainly at the lowest level, while belonging in the class. I just have to figure out how best for him to get the most out of the class. For many things he'll just do what's required, and that approach doesn't work with WOOT. He needs to know where more effort is required, versus what's simply out of range.

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26 minutes ago, HomeForNow said:

Thanks for confirming the multi-level nature of it. DS is certainly at the lowest level, while belonging in the class. I just have to figure out how best for him to get the most out of the class. For many things he'll just do what's required, and that approach doesn't work with WOOT. He needs to know where more effort is required, versus what's simply out of range.

You may want to ask for some guidance. Like are the problems put in order of difficulty? Or what would they consider the best problems to reinforce the classwork?  Basically, ask them to give your son set work, rather than an open buffet.  AoPS is pretty responsive in my experience. 

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  • 9 months later...

@HomeForNowI am wondering if you could share how the WOOT course went since your DS has recent experience with it. I am considering enrolling my son for it - he has finished most of the AOPS books. As to his current problem solving abilities - if given unlimited time, he does well on older AIME papers, but if in a time-constrained environment, he is not be able to finish the paper. I have seen other contest prep classes offered by Awesome math and IDEA math and I wonder how WOOT compares to them and if you know more about these. Thanks!

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15 hours ago, mathnerd said:

@HomeForNowI am wondering if you could share how the WOOT course went since your DS has recent experience with it. I am considering enrolling my son for it - he has finished most of the AOPS books. As to his current problem solving abilities - if given unlimited time, he does well on older AIME papers, but if in a time-constrained environment, he is not be able to finish the paper. I have seen other contest prep classes offered by Awesome math and IDEA math and I wonder how WOOT compares to them and if you know more about these. Thanks!

I think WOOT is aimed more at an olympiad level. How does he do on the recent AIME papers?

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4 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I think WOOT is aimed more at an olympiad level. How does he do on the recent AIME papers?

Thanks. He does fine with the recent papers if there were no time constraints. If he did the recent papers in 2 sessions, he can get most of it done. But, he spends a lot of time on problems 10-15 of the AIME.

This is the recommendation from AOPS: "Students who consistently expect to score 8 or more on the AIME may instead wish to consider our WOOT program." and he fits this profile.

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54 minutes ago, mathnerd said:

Thanks. He does fine with the recent papers if there were no time constraints. If he did the recent papers in 2 sessions, he can get most of it done. But, he spends a lot of time on problems 10-15 of the AIME.

This is the recommendation from AOPS: "Students who consistently expect to score 8 or more on the AIME may instead wish to consider our WOOT program." and he fits this profile.

Then that ought to be a good fit! 🙂 It's quite a strong group; at least it was last time I taught it. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/20/2021 at 5:18 PM, mathnerd said:

@HomeForNowI am wondering if you could share how the WOOT course went since your DS has recent experience with it. I am considering enrolling my son for it - he has finished most of the AOPS books. As to his current problem solving abilities - if given unlimited time, he does well on older AIME papers, but if in a time-constrained environment, he is not be able to finish the paper. I have seen other contest prep classes offered by Awesome math and IDEA math and I wonder how WOOT compares to them and if you know more about these. Thanks!

I know nothing about Awesome Math and IDEA math. WOOT is definitely good, but unfortunately my son did not take good advantage of it. He participated fairly well in the classes, and took all the graded practice exams, but there is much much more available in terms of problems and discussion that he didn't take advantage of, so in some sense we didn't really get our money's worth (son's fault, not WOOT's). It is definitely the kind of thing where you get out of it what you put into it, so it's very worthwhile for those who like to work hard on problems and prepare for contests. He didn't really want to work hard, or prepare, or even think about what it might take to do  well at higher levels, but that's okay - he can just do contests for fun now (which is what he always did, but it used to work much better when younger - it also worked when I was a kid when preparation was non-existent, but things have changed a lot). Actually I was partly paying to discover once and for all what his attitude was on this, so maybe I got my money's worth in that sense. He'll be going to a fairly selective public school next semester where, for example he can start with Linear Algebra, and probably not run out of courses, (or barely so), and there are similarly high level courses in all subjects. This is a much better fit for him, as he will be doing "regular" college level courses some years ahead, and learning a lot, and enjoying it, but that really is easier than something like WOOT. I also think I'll steer him away from academia careerwise - I'm not sure he should even do a PhD.

Actually I almost always watched him taking AoPS classes, and so I learned from WOOT, and some from some other classes.

 

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1 hour ago, HomeForNow said:

I know nothing about Awesome Math and IDEA math. WOOT is definitely good, but unfortunately my son did not take good advantage of it. He participated fairly well in the classes, and took all the graded practice exams, but there is much much more available in terms of problems and discussion that he didn't take advantage of, so in some sense we didn't really get our money's worth (son's fault, not WOOT's). It is definitely the kind of thing where you get out of it what you put into it, so it's very worthwhile for those who like to work hard on problems and prepare for contests. He didn't really want to work hard, or prepare, or even think about what it might take to do  well at higher levels, but that's okay - he can just do contests for fun now (which is what he always did, but it used to work much better when younger - it also worked when I was a kid when preparation was non-existent, but things have changed a lot). Actually I was partly paying to discover once and for all what his attitude was on this, so maybe I got my money's worth in that sense. He'll be going to a fairly selective public school next semester where, for example he can start with Linear Algebra, and probably not run out of courses, (or barely so), and there are similarly high level courses in all subjects. This is a much better fit for him, as he will be doing "regular" college level courses some years ahead, and learning a lot, and enjoying it, but that really is easier than something like WOOT. I also think I'll steer him away from academia careerwise - I'm not sure he should even do a PhD.

Actually I almost always watched him taking AoPS classes, and so I learned from WOOT, and some from some other classes.

 

Thank you very much for your feedback! I am in the same boat, trying to find out how much my son will take away from competition preparation classes.  I will keep what you said in mind 🙂 Convenience wise, Woot works out for us given the Covid situation. My son will take 2 challenging AP’s next year and I am not sure how much of the woot problems he could do, but we will give it a shot. Thanks again 🙏 

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12 hours ago, HomeForNow said:

I know nothing about Awesome Math and IDEA math. WOOT is definitely good, but unfortunately my son did not take good advantage of it. He participated fairly well in the classes, and took all the graded practice exams, but there is much much more available in terms of problems and discussion that he didn't take advantage of, so in some sense we didn't really get our money's worth (son's fault, not WOOT's). It is definitely the kind of thing where you get out of it what you put into it, so it's very worthwhile for those who like to work hard on problems and prepare for contests. He didn't really want to work hard, or prepare, or even think about what it might take to do  well at higher levels, but that's okay - he can just do contests for fun now (which is what he always did, but it used to work much better when younger - it also worked when I was a kid when preparation was non-existent, but things have changed a lot). Actually I was partly paying to discover once and for all what his attitude was on this, so maybe I got my money's worth in that sense. He'll be going to a fairly selective public school next semester where, for example he can start with Linear Algebra, and probably not run out of courses, (or barely so), and there are similarly high level courses in all subjects. This is a much better fit for him, as he will be doing "regular" college level courses some years ahead, and learning a lot, and enjoying it, but that really is easier than something like WOOT. I also think I'll steer him away from academia careerwise - I'm not sure he should even do a PhD.

Actually I almost always watched him taking AoPS classes, and so I learned from WOOT, and some from some other classes.

 

Thanks for this. On the other hand, it's good to know that there is room in the class for kids who just want to participate in working on challenging math problems, but aren't necessarily gunning to make it to the IMO, you know? It's nice to know that kids will be able to keep going in AoPS and math competitions just for the fun of it, if that's where they are at with it. 

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12 hours ago, HomeForNow said:

I know nothing about Awesome Math and IDEA math. WOOT is definitely good, but unfortunately my son did not take good advantage of it. He participated fairly well in the classes, and took all the graded practice exams, but there is much much more available in terms of problems and discussion that he didn't take advantage of, so in some sense we didn't really get our money's worth (son's fault, not WOOT's). It is definitely the kind of thing where you get out of it what you put into it, so it's very worthwhile for those who like to work hard on problems and prepare for contests. He didn't really want to work hard, or prepare, or even think about what it might take to do  well at higher levels, but that's okay - he can just do contests for fun now (which is what he always did, but it used to work much better when younger - it also worked when I was a kid when preparation was non-existent, but things have changed a lot). Actually I was partly paying to discover once and for all what his attitude was on this, so maybe I got my money's worth in that sense. He'll be going to a fairly selective public school next semester where, for example he can start with Linear Algebra, and probably not run out of courses, (or barely so), and there are similarly high level courses in all subjects. This is a much better fit for him, as he will be doing "regular" college level courses some years ahead, and learning a lot, and enjoying it, but that really is easier than something like WOOT. I also think I'll steer him away from academia careerwise - I'm not sure he should even do a PhD.

Actually I almost always watched him taking AoPS classes, and so I learned from WOOT, and some from some other classes.

 

Honestly, he’s still pretty young, right? I wasn’t all that deep into contests at his age.

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On 7/20/2021 at 3:18 PM, mathnerd said:

@HomeForNowI am wondering if you could share how the WOOT course went since your DS has recent experience with it. I am considering enrolling my son for it - he has finished most of the AOPS books. As to his current problem solving abilities - if given unlimited time, he does well on older AIME papers, but if in a time-constrained environment, he is not be able to finish the paper. I have seen other contest prep classes offered by Awesome math and IDEA math and I wonder how WOOT compares to them and if you know more about these. Thanks!

Many of the kids we know from Math Circle will take Awesome Math Problem Solving 4 as a bridge between AOPS classes and Woot. The class helps transition kids to more proof base solutions. We have been very happy with Awesome Math classes, they are very high quality. 

Edited by SDMomof3
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49 minutes ago, SDMomof3 said:

Many of the kids we know from Math Circle will take Awesome Math Problem Solving 4 as a bridge between AOPS classes and Woot. The class helps transition kids to more proof base solutions. We have been very happy with Awesome Math classes, they are very high quality. 

Thanks! That was the course at Awesome Math that I was looking at. I already have some competition books by Andreescu but it has not been easy to get reviews of their classes from anyone I know because Alphastar is local to me and most competition kids in my area go to their classes by default 🙂

It is good to know that your child experienced a high quality class with Awesome math.

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3 hours ago, SDMomof3 said:

Many of the kids we know from Math Circle will take Awesome Math Problem Solving 4 as a bridge between AOPS classes and Woot. The class helps transition kids to more proof base solutions. We have been very happy with Awesome Math classes, they are very high quality. 

So, this is just for my own information, because I'm curious: is the idea for the kids to learn to write down proofs? 

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15 hours ago, mathnerd said:

Thank you very much for your feedback! I am in the same boat, trying to find out how much my son will take away from competition preparation classes.  I will keep what you said in mind 🙂 Convenience wise, Woot works out for us given the Covid situation. My son will take 2 challenging AP’s next year and I am not sure how much of the woot problems he could do, but we will give it a shot. Thanks again 🙏 

I do think classes like this are best if you're willing to put a LOT in. Olympiad problems aren't like the easier contest problems: you really have to be willing to get stuck for a few days and maybe even a few weeks. It's definitely its own feel. 

On the other hand, you can absolutely take one of these classes and just enjoy 🙂 . Not everyone needs to be on the "fancy contest" track. I'll be rather surprised if my own kids go that route, frankly. 

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2 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

So, this is just for my own information, because I'm curious: is the idea for the kids to learn to write down proofs? 

My ds has not taken Level 4, he is taking it in the Fall. From what I heard talking to other parents, the class helps kids learn the different types of proofs and how to construct a rigorous proof. One of the IMO team members is from our math circle and his mom highly recommended this class. She said it gave him the scaffolding he needed to make the transition from AIME to USAJMO and USAMO problems. She also said it’s a lot of work, her son spent 2 hours a day on the class. I’ll report back after my ds takes the class. 

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1 hour ago, SDMomof3 said:

My ds has not taken Level 4, he is taking it in the Fall. From what I heard talking to other parents, the class helps kids learn the different types of proofs and how to construct a rigorous proof. One of the IMO team members is from our math circle and his mom highly recommended this class. She said it gave him the scaffolding he needed to make the transition from AIME to USAJMO and USAMO problems. She also said it’s a lot of work, her son spent 2 hours a day on the class. I’ll report back after my ds takes the class. 

Ah, got it. 

I don't think I was ever taught how to construct a rigorous proof particularly 😄 . It's interesting people are running classes for that. 

In general, the current generation of IMO kids seems to be much higher trained than I remember being back in the day. Of course, Canadians never trained as seriously as Americans, anyway, so maybe the US was also training a lot back then. On the other hand, one of DH's friends was just telling him that he felt like there was less joy in the IMO crowd nowadays and much more... I don't know, ambition? He was helping at one of the camps and was reporting kids having less fun with the math 😕 . 

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Posted (edited)

^ The contest prep arms race has been going much longer. My son learned this theorem

https://artofproblemsolving.com/wiki/index.php/Chicken_McNugget_Theorem

in AoPS MathCounts/AMC8 Advanced class about 5 years ago. I've been told that the American IMO team learned this same thing in their 1983 training camp (MOP?), which prepared them for a 3-variable version which was problem 3 that year.

And superpowers like USA and USSR (and some smaller math-devoted countries) were a lot more serious and trained than some other countries.

 

Edited by HomeForNow
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7 hours ago, HomeForNow said:

^ The contest prep arms race has been going much longer. My son learned this theorem

https://artofproblemsolving.com/wiki/index.php/Chicken_McNugget_Theorem

in AoPS MathCounts/AMC8 Advanced class about 5 years ago. I've been told that the American IMO team learned this same thing in their 1983 training camp (MOP?), which prepared them for a 3-variable version which was problem 3 that year.

And superpowers like USA and USSR (and some smaller math-devoted countries) were a lot more serious and trained than some other countries.

Of course people have been training forever. It’s not like we didn’t learn theorems, geez, even though I know Canada isn’t a powerhouse. (Although we often do place relatively well, so it’s not like we’re schmucks. We were 12th one of my years.)

But I can tell you that the only kid on my IMO team who didn’t like math much was originally from China. He had been highly trained before they immigrated, so he made the team, but he didn’t LIKE it. That can happen if there’s so much emphasis on training and less emphasis on kids having some passion about the math. And I’ve heard that this happens more now.

Edited by Not_a_Number
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