Competitive Math

Program Introduction

Competitive Mathematics classes are problem solving seminars where students learn to feel free generating and trying out ideas for solving. The instructor does not ‘lecture’ on these topics but helps students create their own solutions. While the goal of problem solving is to obtain a correct answer, the goal of practicing problem solving is to acquire the ability to develop strategies, generate ideas, and combine approaches that are powerful enough to solve the problem at hand as well as future similar problems. Cleo will transform the goal of the problem solving experience from ‘do I have the right answer?’ to ‘do I have the best strategy?’ The class focuses on drawing the maximum possible advantage from each concept learned. In some classes we solve a lot of problems, in others maybe only a few or just a single one, but we always make sure that we look at each concept from a variety of directions, we try out every possible way to re-state the problem in a different way and we explore which data was needed and why. Aside from the math aspect, the class has a strong reading comprehension component. The problems presented in the workbook series are mostly word problems designed to help students learn the precise and concise language of logical reasoning. As most students today prefer shorter problems to those with longer statements, we work to cross this barrier and defuse the fear of parsing long statements. While most of our gifted and talented students are extremely good with numbers, difficulties often arise with comprehension (word problems), visualization (geometry), and pattern matching (algebra). We work to develop these skills to match the students’ strong numeric ability with the ultimate goal of producing able, fine mathematicians. Because we meet only once a week, it is useful to own a copy of the workbook so the student can get some help at home if he/she feels ‘stuck’ on a problem. The workbooks have extensive full solutions for all problems.
These classes prepare for elementary math contests such as: MOEMS-E, Math Kangaroo, Noetic Math. In the long term, however, the foundation built now is extremely useful for successful participation in AMC-8, Science Bowl, NFS math competition, etc. The comprehension, critical reading, data sufficiency, and logic components of this course prepare students for reasoning and logic exams down the road (SAT, GMAT, LSAT).