Bronze to Silver: What problems to practice?

I have a strong math problem solving background, and i’m trying to master bronze by the 2024-25 season. I’m wondering what i should do to achieve this.

I really don’t know any of the terms i see online (bfs, dfs, graphs, trees, bitmasks, dynamic programming, etc.), but i took a CPI bronze class and survived about 1 week before i couldn’t solve anything (I probably could if i put in a lot of hours).

Is working through the cw+hw problems and reading the slides that i missed enough to get me to silver? Should i do codeforces problems? After getting an impressive 6% in bronze last year, I am not nearly as confident in my method of practicing.

As someone who passed Bronze back when it was much easier, please take my answers with a grain of salt. Also, I’m not so familiar with the CPI curriculum, but I assume it roughly follows the USACO Guide Bronze section.

There are Bronze modules that introduce some of these topics:

As for the others, unless they are explicitly mentioned in the USACO Guide Bronze section, they are generally not useful for passing Bronze.

There is no such thing as a guarantee that you can pass Bronze, but it’s a good sign if you:

  • are familiar with all the topics in the USACO Guide Bronze section (USACO Bronze Topics)
  • can score enough points to pass the cutoff in recent Bronze contests. Keep in mind that some Bronze contests (e.g., the latest US Open) are difficult to promote from even with reduced cutoffs, so please don’t feel discouraged if you score much lower than usual on such contests.

If this is referring to the US Open Bronze contest, this is OK, considering that contest was particularly difficult. If you are referring to the practice problems in the USACO Guide Bronze section, you’ll need to be able to solve most of them to pass Bronze.

More practice helps, even if the problems are not in the same format (in particular, Codeforces problems usually don’t have partial credit).