Hints and Tips

On this Page:


Make sure you are familiar with the rules, especially the scoring for wrong answers and late submission. And of course, read all of the hints and tips on this page.

Be sure to try the practice test -- you'll want to discover and resolve any technical problems before the actual test. Also, you will familiarize yourself with the test procedure, which is mimicked by the practice test.

Download the official instructions and encrypted test the day before the actual test. Read the instructions carefully in advance.

The test will be approximately 13 printed pages. Make sure your printer has plenty of paper, and ink/toner.

Establish a clean, spacious and quiet work area. This should be near your computer so that you can enter answers as you go along. Have all your tools handy.

Your puzzle solving time is precious, so make sure you will have no distractions during the test - this will be the fastest 2 1/2 hours you've ever spent!

AOL users may experience difficulty with their browser's "refresh" command. This will be an issue when waiting for the password page to update at the exact time that the test starts. You should ensure that you can successfully refresh the password page, or otherwise get the password at the earliest possible time.


Although every puzzle can be solved with simple pencil and paper, there are some allowable items that you may find useful:
• eraser
• extra scratch paper
• graph paper
• colored pens or pencils
• scissors

As a reminder, outside help of any kind is not permitted. This means: no assistance of any kind from any other person, no books, calculators, computers, or tools other than items explicitly permitted.

At this time, no other tools are required to solve any of the test problems.


After decrypting the test file, print the problem pages. The puzzles are designed to be solved on paper, so not printing them will likely not save you any time. Start working on the first page while the rest are still printing.

The point values are a good indicator of difficultly, and the puzzles are ordered roughly from easiest to hardest. Of course, your experience may be different. There may be some puzzles that the organizers want to make sure you try. For these, there will be bonus points (noted on the test) above and beyond the points allocated based on difficulty.

Each problem will include an Answer template. This describes what you should enter on the Answer Page. Precise formatting, such as separating values by commas or spaces, is desired but not critical -- if it's clear enough for you to double-check your entry, we'll be able to figure it out too.

Don't guess -- the penalty is designed to discourage this; don't disappoint us! 

The Answer Page is linked from the Test Page. Be careful when entering your answers on the Answer Page. Don't go too fast -- everyone has to do the same thing. There is nothing worse than spending the valuable time to solve a problem correctly, then ending up with a penalty for a wrong answer.

You may enter your answers on the Answer Page as you go along to avoid a last minute time crunch. You submit your answers by clicking the button at the bottom of the page. If you are concerned about losing data, you may submit some answers before you are finished. If you submit multiple Answer Pages, we will combine your results, using the latest answer for each problem.

The Test Page also includes a link to the countdown timer. This reflects the exactly server timer, and is provided for your convenience. However, you are still solely responsible for submitting your answer before the test deadline.

Relax and have fun. You wouldn't be doing this on a Saturday if you didn't like puzzles -- enjoy it!

Emergency Contacts

The organizers do not expect any technical problems with the Test. If you do encounter a problem that is likely causing trouble for many contestants, check the Technical Support Alerts page. If you have a problem that is most likely affecting only you, you may call one of the following telephone numbers: 650-302-4898, or 914-769-9128. Officials will not, however, answer any questions regarding the puzzles themselves.

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