USACO (USA Computing Olympiad) is the most prestigious pre-college Computer Science competition in US. Each year, thousands of high schoolers attend the USACO contests and try to get as high as possible in the USACO ladders, from Bronze to Platinum and to the USACO camp and finally IOI. USACO also attracts many international students from around the world even though they won’t be eligible for the USACO camp, because the very credible USACO accomplishments say a thousands words in terms of their levels and capability in the world of competitive programming. For more information on USACO, visit the official website: http://www.usaco.org. How to get the best USACO Training? Read on.
The USACO Path
Every USACO journey starts from bronze, then everyone will follow the same path.
From Bronze to Silver, to Gold, Platinum and higher, the further you go, the more challenge you will face and the more fun it is! After the Platinum division, a very small number of students are chosen to attend the annual USACO summer camp and then onto attend IOI, the International Olympiad of Informatics.
Key Elements in USACO Success
Every USACO success story is different, but there are indispensable elements in all of them:
Each USACO division/level tests a set of different algorithms and data structures and it goes without saying things get more difficult and challenging as you go further and further. Just being analytical and smart is not enough (although very helpful!). The most productive and efficient way to prepare for USACO is to systematically learn all the algorithms and data structures that you will need to master for each level – and our USACO training program does precisely that.
No matter how each difficult algorithm is second nature to you, or how the challenging data structures make complete sense to you, you need to be able to fluently convert your thinking into the programming language. Some of our students who tried to get ahead too fast without ample programming practices complained: “I understand everything you talked about, I understand how to solve this problem, but I just don’t know how to put them into coding!” — that is the sign that you are getting into USACO a little too soon. Try to sharpen your programming skills a little more, the wait is worthwhile. Only when you go steady, you can go far. That is why students complete our Fundamental Java class, we recommend them to proceed to Intermediate Java first, even go through the Intro to Competitive Programming class before getting into USACO Bronze.
After you get comfortable with a strong programming foundation, and learn all the algorithms and data structures needed for each level, will you get promoted right away? Maybe. They are all necessary conditions, but not necessarily sufficient. Did you get enough practices? Remember – practices make perfect. Remember USACO is the most highly-regarded competitive programming contest of United States, and performing well in USACO is not easy – otherwise it won’t be so prestigious. It takes hard work, a lot of them. Be invested, your time and efforts. It also takes a bit of luck sometime, so do not be frustrated if you don’t get promoted once, or twice, or even with more tries. It is ok, know that if you keep at it, your hard work will pay off.
And since there are multiple steps/levels for you to go through, be prepared to spend a couple of years at least to get far to where you want to be! Be prepared for the great feeling of pride and harvesting your sweat!
Can you self-study without a USACO Training program? Yes, but that is not smart
So how do I get these success elements in place? Can I just self-study and work super hard and be successful? Well, you could, but that is the smart thing to do. Your time and energy is limited, and conquering USACO is already no easy feast, you want to spend every single minute you have focusing on the studying and practicing themselves — NOT on figuring out what to study.
A great USACO training program is an enabler, a shoulder for you to step on to reach higher easier
Using an effective USACO training program is essential to achieve your USACO goals faster, and allows you to FOCUS your time not on finding information, not on topics you do NOT need to study for each level, but on the things that nobody can do for you, the actual learning and practicing part. Study smart.
What to look for in a great USACO training program
Curriculum Scope and Coverage?
- Each level's curriculum should cover all topics tested in each level and a little more, not too much more , so students are thoroughly prepared but not distracted by topics that they don't need to learn yet
- Each topic should be accompanied with problems to practice with
- The topics should be organized and taught in the right order to maximize the effect of student's learning
Why? So you don't need to spend time figuring about what to learn, but can focus on the learning part which nobody can do for you.
When inquiring this with an institute, they probably tell you yes, we have all those. Ask them how they developed their curriculum. Verify the claim.
Quality of Content?
Ask for sample of their slides and recordings. Ask about what materials they provide for homework problems?
Ask to see samples.
A great learning system is key to students' learning experience. You want all the information/content to be easily accessible, you want homework submission process to be hassle-free, you want the entire learning experience to be smooth and pleasant. You want to be able to learn efficiently.
Ask the institute for a comprehensive description of student's overall learning experience.
Support and Help?
Only those who are not trying will not need help. Every hard working student will need help!
How easy would it be to get direct help from your teacher (not a front desk personnel)? How prompt and satisfactory would the responses be?
Result and Testimonies?
What are the objectives to be expected out each class? Do students need to go through one, two or four semesters to complete the entire course for a given level? - Make sure to ask that question.
What are the results of their students?
Any rating/reviews from real students and parents?
Ascende Learning's USACO Training Program
Curriculum Scope and Coverage
- Complete? Yes
- Covers a little more? Yes
- Not too much more? Yes
- Each topic accompanied with practice problems? Yes
- Topics are taught in the right well-though-out order? Yes
Such curriculum take huge amount of efforts to be created and we developed everything in-house.
It takes a caring heart and strong sense of responsibility to build. Parents and students trust us with no knowledge of USACO. They completely rely us to lead the way. Throwing together a bunch of wrong but cool-looking stuff or with the wrong pace is easy, and is also easy to get away with. But we don't do that. Students can trust us with the right content and the best guidance they can get.
It takes unbelievable amount of time and work to build. To gain in-depth understanding of the USACO scopes of each level, we performed multi-dimensional data analysis on all past USACO problems, and also keep our content updated with each year's new problems sets. When in doubt, we also consult the usaco.org committee team and make sure our students learn the right topics for each level!
It also takes capability and skill to build. Not everyone can put these together even with the best intention and dedication. It takes years of professional education and training, logical thinking skills and organizational skills to make this daunting work possible.
Embark on your USACO journey with our incomparable curriculum which is not available anywhere else.
Premium Content with Utmost Craftsmanship
All our contents are created and updated with the greatest amount of care, scrutiny, and attention to details.
- For each level, great amount of deliberations went into the determination of the list of topics, order of the topics, and selection of the problems to practice with.
- Then each topic is taught with the right amount of difficulty level, intriguing, challenging but not overwhelming and confusing.
- Slides are crafted to contain all the key points with the right amount of details
- Analysis and solutions are provided for all practice problems, and each solution is the result of many revisions which leads to the best version to teach the students, and with clear comments.
Learning System - Our custom-built learning system offers a full package packed with all important elements to empower students to learn in the most productive way
- Each lesson's content includes slides and recording for students to review and replay with no restriction.
- Easy lesson contains homework problems, with easy assignment submission and grading system
- Extra credit homework for students thirsty for more work and challenge
- Class Forum to allow students to communicate with each other or teachers and TAs to seek help
- Quizzes to enforce
- Kahoot to review and have fun
- Notification and reminder system
- Weekly office hour for student to seek more one-on-one help
Support and Help - Easy and Prompt
Students and parents can reach us anytime in many different ways, and expect prompt and personal responses:
- Instant messaging
- Phone call
- Office hour
For group lessons, we also publish class grade to students and parents so they can check anytime.
Our Results and Testimonies - say a thousands words
We stand by you. Students' happiness and success are our utmost goal. We gladly respect and allow withdrawals with no question asked -- but so far almost none! Rather, students stay with us all the way, throughout the levels, because of the great values they see in our system.
Ascende Learning USACO Classes
Now you know what to look for in the best USACO training program and what you will get in Ascende learning’s complete USACO training program package, check out the different classes below.