Art of Problem Solving — Shuangcheng Du

During the passing several weeks, including Thanksgiving break, I have quickly gone through the two Art of Problem Solving books that Math Department ordered. Overall the first book is more fundamental, while the second book really explains advanced and complicated topics. As I expected, these two books are targeted to help high school students preparing for math competitions such as AMC and AIME. I will speak with T. Susan and the math department to see if we can actually keep the books and make them available to students who are interested in studying math competitions and practicing problem solving skills.

Besides, I have explored more on the Art of Problem Solving website, where I found videos that explain hard problems from the past AMC exams. While I was trying to solve the problems first and then listen to the explanations, I discovered something that might make a huge difference in math competitions. Almost all math competitions have time limits, and so it is crucial for us students to get a problem done in the least amount of time. One geometry problem, which I spent about 10 to 15 minutes solving using the Helen equation, is easily done in another method in the video in 2 minutes. I think that this is really important, and I am still trying to figure out how can we get to the level where we can solve problems in the easiest way.

I also spent some time checking the Philips Exeter Academy’s math curriculum, not only because they did a great job at Harvard-MIT Math Tournament, but also because of an article that I recently read about their teaching methods in math class. There were some interesting discoveries. However, I will take a deeper look later just so that I will learn more about their math competition preparation.

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