• olympiad@cscacademy.org

Problem Solving Skills and Strategies

·         Solving a simplified version

·         Testing a particular case/ special case/ extreme case

·         Breaking the problem into smaller pieces

·         Trying to find a counterexample

·         Using all available information

·         Making a model or diagram

·         Making conjectures (and then testing them)

·         Eliminating possibilities

·         Working backwards

·         Adding helpful conditions

·         Innovating

·         Returning to the question

And also:


·         Being able to stay with a problem over a period of time (an hour, a week, a month)


·         Knowing when to take a break

·         Knowing when to abandon a strategy

·         Being used to struggling

·         Being unafraid of mistakes and false starts

·         Collaboration

·         Flexibility

·         Creativity

·         Patience

·         Persistence



Analytical thinking skills

·         Knowing when something has been established

·         Being clear about definitions

·         Knowing that if we can’t do something, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done

·         Understanding that examples are not proof

·         Understanding why one counterexample suffices to show falsity

·         Being able to articulate a clear argument

·         Asking (and answering): how do we know that?

·         Critiquing our own and others’ reasoning