About Math Contest Preparation
When I first started to coach students in preparation for the MATHCOUNTS mathematics competitions, I was not able to find a book that I could use as a teaching guide, so I gave past competition questions to the students to work on. Then I would explain the answers if there was a need. Not long after, I found out that the math skills and concepts required to do well in math competitions are different from the math knowledge that students normally acquire from their regular school curriculum. It was also difficult for me to teach because the questions were not arranged from easiest to the most difficult. Most of the time, the students needed to be reminded about the concepts they had learned before. Other times, students could not do some questions because the concepts had not been covered.
Later, I personally combed over past questions and organized them into a few key concepts that I thought students should have a good grasp of. While I went through the questions, I also wrote notes on how to solve them with a systematic method or with shortcuts. By preparing students in this way – teaching students using concept-centred themes, I noticed that students made considerable improvements when compared with their results from the previous competitions.
After spending many years preparing teaching materials, I thought it would be a good idea to organize my notes into a workbook. That way, it would benefit other students, coaches, parents, and teachers and also make my future teaching easier. This is how this book was started.
Although this book was created using MATHCOUNTS as a background, it is equally worthwhile as preparation for any math competitions. It covers some of the most important concepts in math competitions including answers for all the practice questions.
It is fortunate that Henry Leung and Maria Ho joined me in the production of this book. I am grateful to their assistance in producing this book.
This book can be used for beginning training or for review just before a competition. We feel very confident that this book will improve students’ knowledge of concepts in math competitions and will also be an excellent teaching aid for coaches and teachers.
I would like to thank those Math and Chess Learning Centre students who participated in my MATHCOUNTS training classes and gave me the inspiration to create this book, especially to Hubert C., Matthew C., Meghan H., Andrea L., Michelle L., Olivia L.,Tricia P., Matthew W. We also thank Joseph Choi, Matthew Choi, Andrew Ho, and Meghan Ho for providing administrative assistance and acting as testers through out the creation of this book.