Mathematics Competition Preparation

Instructor Mohamed A. Khamsi
My Office at UTEP Bell Hall 328
Telephone (915) 747-6763
My Virtual Classroom The next review session will be announced soon.
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The William Lowell Putnam Competition

  • The Putnam Exam (officially known as the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition) is a very challenging, six-hour mathematics exam taken by about 3,600 undergraduates in the United States and Canada each year. It is given on the first Saturday in December, and is composed of two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, each with six questions. Each question is worth 10 points (for a total of 120). Typically, the median score for all contestants is approximately one (out of 120).
    William Lowell Putnam, a graduate of Harvard in the class of 1882, believed strongly in the value of academic competitions. To this end, Mrs. Elizabeth Lowell Putnam, the wife of Mr. Putnam, created a trust fund for supporting such competitions. Two experimental competitions were held, one in English, and one in mathematics, before the competition assumed its present form.


Putnam Preparation Web Sites

Here is just a selection of Putnam Preparatory Seminars at various colleges. Note some of these sites move frequently.

Other Online Problem Competition and Sources

Some Useful Problem Books

Putnam level and some easier problems grouped by subject:
Collections of elementary problems appropriate for freshmen:
Collection of Putnam probems:
Collections of Putnam level problems:
A classic on problem solving strategies:

College Mathematics Journals with Problem Sections

  • Math Horizons (MAA)  is a magazine aimed at undergraduates with a very accessible problem section.
  • Mathematics Magazine (MAA)  is an expository journal of undergraduate mathematics, with an a good problem section for the undergraduate.
  • The College Mathematics Journal (MAA) provides lively, well-motivated articles that can enrich undergraduate instruction and enhance classroom learning.
  • The American Mathematical Monthly publishes articles about mathematics and the profession. Its readers span a broad spectrum of mathematical interests, and include professional mathematicians as well as students of mathematics at all collegiate levels. The problem section is quite challenging, and often contains unsolved problems.

  • With a little bit of searching, you can find practice tests and other useful information.
  • This page was inspired by Harvey Mudd College Math Competition page.

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