Moving on to Silver

So I am basically finished with the Bronze section in the guide. I feel like I can do almost any Bronze question. Should I move on to Silver or keep working on Bronze until the January contest? Also, does working on Silver problem help with finishing Bronze problems quickly? Thanks so much!

I suggest that you continue working on Bronze until January (in particular, I recommend that you solve some of the harder problems, since last December, I neglected to solve harder problems, making me fail Bronze). Silver problems and techniques aren’t necessarily that similar to Bronze although a bit of graph theory knowledge, sorting practice, and binary searching for the answer may help. I highly recommend that you do not traverse every module in silver, just only the ones I mentioned. You may find DFS particularly useful when solving some graph problems.

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Perhaps interestingly, I have the opposite opinion to the above user (further reaffirming that there is no right answer to this question – as long as you practice above your current level, you should benefit). In my opinion, you should move on to silver right now if your goal is to get to gold and beyond. From personal experience, I actually didn’t even qualify for silver until I had looked beyond bronze problems and actually jumped into silver concepts.

As for rigorous reasons behind this, there is some overlap between harder concepts in bronze and basic concepts in silver (as the above user hints, graph theory has shown up in bronze from the “diagram-based” point of view of what a graph is and how situations in word problems can be interpreted as nodes and edges, in some cases even involving recursive traversals such as DFS; and sorting using the STL can actually simplify code quite a bit, where good examples might be “Do You Know Your ABCs?” and “Stuck in a Rut” from this season’s bronze), but more importantly every problem you do in silver is going to reaffirm the groundwork of even the basics of what you covered in bronze (implementation, simulation, etc.). By practicing silver, you also have the added benefit of a head start if you’re aiming for higher divisions.

For the sake of being holistic, I’ll also note a downside to this approach: The most common pitfall people face is misgauging their ability to solve bronze problems and moving too quickly to practicing silver – you should make sure this isn’t you if you do go the silver route.