Effective problem-solving techniques for Olympiad questions - Hindustan Times

Effective problem-solving techniques for Olympiad questions

By, New Delhi
Mar 26, 2024 01:52 PM IST

For students, participating in the Olympiads is a matter of great pride and helps them identify their capability and real potential.

The Maths and Science Olympiads held across the world are distinguished competitions that allow brilliant young maths and science enthusiasts to come together and showcase their problem-solving skills.

 To excel in these stimulating competitions, students must remember that practice plays a crucial role.(HT Photo)
To excel in these stimulating competitions, students must remember that practice plays a crucial role.(HT Photo)

For students, participating in the Olympiads is a matter of great pride and helps them identify their capability and real potential. Several national and international level Olympiads are run in India by different organisations.

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The national level competitions are generally based on class-specific syllabus along with mental ability and logical reasoning sections, but the international level Olympiads where students represent India in different stages also require in-depth knowledge and application-oriented advanced-level preparation. To excel in these stimulating competitions, students must remember that practice plays a crucial role.

Let’s explore the benefits of practice and learn some effective problem-solving strategies that will allow students to efficiently prepare for these Maths and Science Olympiads keeping stress at bay.

Understand the Format

Students often find Olympiad questions challenging because they do not thoroughly understand the format of these questions. It is of prime importance that students familiarise themselves with the different formats and the nature of the difficulty level of Olympiad questions.

This knowledge will help them focus their practice efforts on specific areas and develop a well-rounded skill set. While targeting objective questions, they should carefully consider all options and while answering subjective questions they should focus on writing stepwise solutions.

Review Concepts

Building a strong grip on advanced-level concepts is not an overnight task. It takes persistent efforts and regular practice. In Maths, a strong foundation in the fundamentals of algebra, geometry, and number theory is essential for solving complex equations.

Students should review the fundamental concepts and familiarise themselves with advanced techniques related to equations, inequalities, functions and combinatorics.

In Science, they must review the basics of application-based problems on the syllabus of Physics, Chemistry and Biology ranging from Class 9 to 12 focusing on theoretical, observational and experimental tasks. This will help them confidently deal with advanced-level problems.

Solve Previous Years’ Olympiad Questions

There is nothing more beneficial for Olympiad preparation than Previous Years’ Papers. It opens for students the doors to strategic and effective preparation as per the desired level of Olympiads.

Practicing with previous years’ questions gives students a sense of the types of questions asked and the level of difficulty of these exams. They should solve a variety of questions from different years to expose themselves to various problem-solving techniques and strategies. Moreover, learning from their errors after analysing the solutions will improve their reasoning skills.

Use Logical Reasoning

One thing that Olympiads boost in all students is the power of Logical Reasoning. Mental Ability & Logical Reasoning questions and complex advanced-level questions in Maths and Science often require logical reasoning to visualise patterns and draw conclusions.

Students should pay attention to similar and recurring patterns among questions so that they can make logical deductions based on the given information, thereby applying relevant concepts to eliminate incorrect options. Elimination techniques will help them answer objective questions with more accuracy.

Also Read: Logical Reasoning series: Solving questions on Data Sufficiency

Develop Time Management

Effective time management is crucial for Olympiad preparation. Students should always practice solving problems within a stipulated time to develop speed and accuracy.

They can use a stopwatch or timer to create a simulated exam environment so that they learn how to perform under a restricted timespan. This way they can gradually work on reducing the time it takes to solve each question without compromising accuracy.

Remember, every second is crucial so students should devote time to their strengths first. This will boost their confidence, helping them perform better in the exam.

Practice on Advanced Problem-Solving Techniques

Solving Olympiad questions in the higher stages often requires creative thinking and advanced problem-solving techniques. Students can gradually build their ability to confidently tackle such complex questions with both objective and subjective practice.

Students should remember that objective questions that are asked in Olympiads require a clear understanding of fundamental concepts with utmost accuracy. While, for subjective problems, steps for solving the question are crucial. ‘How you think’ is important to answer subjective mathematical problems and numericals in science.

Seek Guidance from Teachers

When in doubt, reaching out to teachers and mentors keeps the motivation levels running high. Students should always reach out to experienced mentors or teachers who can provide specific guidance and overall mentorship.

They can offer valuable insights, clarify concepts, and help students navigate challenging questions and topics. Rather than ignoring their errors, working on their weaknesses will help students convert those into their strengths. Ultimately, with regular classes and doubt clearance students will be able to achieve the desired results.

Embrace Challenges and Learn from Setbacks

Students should always remember that the journey to the Olympiads will be filled with several challenges. Instead of getting demotivated, they should embrace these challenges as opportunities for growth, learn from the hurdles and use the setbacks as stepping stones towards improvement. It will help them cultivate resilience and push their boundaries to achieve excellence.

Practice, Practice and Practice

Like every other competitive exam, the path to success in Olympiads is also laid down with bricks of recurrent practice. Solving complex problems requires persistent practice and exposure to a variety of problem types.

Students must engage in regular problem-solving sessions, participate in mock Olympiads, and solve Olympiad questions repeatedly. The more they practice, the better they become at identifying problem-solving strategies and applying them effectively.

By following the above discussed strategies, students can enhance their problem-solving skills and excel in the Olympiads. With the three Ps - practice, perseverance, and passion - students can easily conquer the challenges and achieve remarkable success in the Olympiads.

(Authored by Vivek Bhatt, National Academic Director, Foundations, Aakash BYJU’S. Views are personal)

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