Getting started for USACO


I have not heard about USACO and not many kids prepare for this in our area. My daughter is very interested in programming so I accidentally bumped across this while trying to find something to keep her interest going. Can someone please let me know what grade and how kids get started for this? Is there a getting started resource we can start looking into?

Thank you very much!

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USACO is a fun programming challenges for students. A good resource to begin with is, and begin from the General/Bronze section.

Afterwards, a good resource is, it require some knowledge of programming and problem solving to be able to use the platform optimally. Codeforces held competitive programming contests with lots of interesting problems, and the tutorial/Edu section advances participants’ knowledge a lot.

Also, if there is a CS teacher in school, it is best to seek help from the teacher. Finding a teacher online/nearby is also a good decision.

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In response to your two questions, here are the answers:

USACO is generally for high school students; although, some of the most exceptional students can begin in junior high/middle school. As @KarL05 said, USACO Guide is a wonderful resource that guides students of all levels of algorithmic programming (categorized by Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, with Bronze being the “lowest-level” and Platinum being the “highest-level”).

Aside from USACO Guide, contests such as CodeForces, CodeChef, Google Kick Start, and AtCoder are also beneficial.

Hope this helps!

Because of the emphasis on speed in USACO, most students will need to learn C++. There are some online tutorials and intro books like C++ Primer by Lippmann. C++ is not often taught in schools, so a teacher may be helpful for guidance.

Never too early to learn programming, there’s also a lot to learn about computers and computer science without necessarily focusing on contests.

There isn’t really an emphasis of speed in USACO. It is a 4/5 hour contest after all.

I think they meant in terms of the actual problems (which emphasize efficient and fast algorithms), not the entire contest…

Interesting… Java should be fast enough for Gold and the majority of Platinum though.

Perhaps reword this as:

Because of the emphasis of quick runtime in USACO (although USACO allows longer runtimes for languages such as Java and Python)