USACO Class Instructor Answers Parent Questions

We have recently been receiving many parent questions regarding our USACO classes. Andrew, our USACO class instructor, answers these questions below: Below are some frequently asked I’ve been taking a class, but the contest was still hard. What can I do and what should I expect from the class?
Remember, many students take several attempts at live contests before becoming comfortable and skilled in a new division – don’t be discouraged when the first time is hard! With any new problem-solving strategy (algorithm) learned, the class teaches HOW the algorithm works quickly, but only practice on more and more problems can train you to figure out WHICH algorithm would be most effective for each new, unique problem. A key part of this training is looking at practice problems WITHOUT getting help in class. By its very nature, doing work as a class group will give hints about what approach to use. It’s essential to add independent practice to the mix!
I’m in Silver/Gold division, but the class spends time on Bronze/Silver problems. Why?
Up to the 2014-15 school year, there were only 3 divisions, which means many of these older problems of a “lower” division had the same topics and difficulty as the current divisions labeled one level higher. We often use older problems like this as an additional resource to train on – you’re still learning about the same topics that will help you in the current contests!
Does the class go over the specific problems from the live contests given during the semester?
Yes! However, USACO rules don’t allow the contest problems to be released publicly until a week after the contest weekend, and instructors need additional time to prepare for a useful class discussion on the problems. You can usually expect to go over each contest about two weeks after it’s given.

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