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US Sudoku Team Qualifying - Solving Tips


  • Make sure you are familiar with the rules, especially those for procedures, scoring and permissible solving tools.
  • Be sure to try the Practice Test, to familiarize yourself with the test procedures, and to discover and resolve any technical problems before the real test.
  • Download the Puzzle Instructions file, with sample puzzles, and the two encrypted test files the day before the test. Read the puzzle instructions carefully in advance.
  • The 2016 Qualifying Test files will be 20 printed pages in total, in two parts, and generally one page per puzzle. 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 solving tools handy.
  • Your puzzle solving time is precious, so make sure you will have no distractions during the test.


  • After decrypting the test file, print the page you want to solve first, then the rest of the test. The puzzles are designed to be solved on paper, so not printing them will likely not save you any time.
  • The point values are a good indicator of the time required to solve the puzzles. More points usually implies a more difficult puzzle, but might mean there is just a lot of work. Puzzles are ordered roughly from easiest to hardest. Of course, your experience may be different.
  • Don't guess -- the puzzles no longer have penalties for incorrect answers, but answer keys are designed so that it is very unlikely that guessing will do anything more than waste the scorekeeper's time.
  • Be very 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 losing points because of an incorrectly entered answer.
  • There are two Answer Pages, one for each part of the test.
  • You should enter and Submit your answers as you go along to avoid any last minute time crunch.
  • From the Answer Pages, you can open the Timer Window. This shows the server time, and counts down to the overall deadline. It is provided for your convenience -- you are still responsible for submitting your answer before the test deadline.
  • Relax and have fun.


Answer Entry

Each puzzle will include Answer formatting instructions. With Javascript enabled, the Answer Page will only accept answer in that specific format, and you will see an error message if your answer does not conform. The following are example formats:

  • Two groups of nine digits, 1-9
  • Two groups of eight digits, 1-8
  • Two groups of six digits, 1-6
  • Two groups of ten digits, 0-9
  • Two groups of six values in either decimal (0-7) or 3-digit binary (0-111) format
  • Two groups of nine values in either decimal (0-8) or 2-digit trinary (00-22) format
  • Two groups of nine digits, 0-7
  • Two groups of nine letters, A-Z, a-z
  • A single cell reference (rXcX) and digit 1-9

Each group will correspond to a row or column in a sudoku grid:

  • Groups contain only digits/letters; no spaces or punctuation,
  • Enter the groups in the order specified: group A followed by group B,
  • Separate the groups by space or comma.

The practice test uses samples of these entries formats.