Tips for short contests

What are some tips to do well in short contests?

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My worst enemy in short contests is the time crunch. You have got to be fast in understanding the Q, developing your algorithm, solving it, and lastly DEBUGGING your code. The last step takes more than half of my time.

Also, make sure you’re in contest till very last. I kinda gave up somewhere around ~11:20, and today i saw that contest was extended by 30 minutes. Yes, those 40 minutes felt short to be, but another half an hour would have meant another AC.

Make sure you keep checking the problem list. It might be that you’re solving the toughest first, when its recommended to solve easier ones first. I started out with KNICOV, and then went to CHEFADET (ya, serious luck…). After 40 minutes i refreshed the list and gave first 2 Q (Snackup and that “Ada and Crayon” one) a try, and got AC.

Even I am eager to hear some tips from others for short contest. Time crunch is the worst thing in short Q. The questions aren’t impossible, but…they take time in my case.

(I will appreciate if anyone can give me tips for my time crunch. My major time goes in debugging my code for WA, corner cases and stuff :frowning: )

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I completely agree with @vijju123 at this point.
Time is your main enemy in this type of challenges. In Long Contest you get enough time to think an appropriate algorithm or maybe even learn new algorithm in the mean-time as well.
Also remember that : Every problem has same points regardless of its difficulty level in Cook-Offs. Hence, your aim will be to solve as many problems as possible but in sorted manner of difficulty!
Hope it helped :slight_smile:

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Yup. I remember taking 1-2 days to solve problem in Long. Thats why i feel long contests are best to learn, and short best to perform.


I think You should always read all the questions first, and then sort them according to your understanding of the questions.
Once this is done, always go for the third easiest. Yes, Keep on doing that until half time.
Then Switch to the easiest 2 questions…irrespective of whether the third ques was done or not.!
After doing the easiest 2 questions, again go on the third question.
IF it is done, then go for 4th and then 5th.!
I have applied this strategy in the past 3 short contests, and I think it is a good strategy.!

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a more common approach will be to read out all questions one by one , this will take around 15 mins , by that time you will be sure enough of the two easiest ones. Moreover, after 10 mins you will probably have submisions for the easiest one at the top, so u can attend that and solve that , and till the time you solve the first one, u will et your second easiest one on the board. make sure you do the easiest ones fast and as quickly as possible and at the mean time avoid WA(penalties). since you will be ranked according to the problems solved first in most of the short contests , so its better if you do the easier ones first , then at the leftover time look for the other ones :slight_smile:

i dont agree @iamabjain since short contests ranklist are moreover time based , solving the easier ones at the last will push you back in the ranklist, if by any means you are not able yo solve the third one , so better to be on the safer side at first


I always prefer going for the easiest one. But, how do you know which is the easiest? The simplest way is to wait for 1-2 minutes and see which problem has been solved. That’s the easiest one. You may read any problem in that time but waiting not more than 2 minutes is still far far better than concentrating on a problem which maybe is tougher than most of the problems and waste a lot of time in that problem.

So now, what if one doesn’t want to waste those 1-2 minutes, because every second is crucial in a short contest. I can tell what I do in that time. I look at the input, output and constraints of each problem. Usually, simple adhoc problems have simple input, output and also the constraints will be reasonable. I try to look at these to find easier problems and usually it works(not always).

Hope it helps! :slight_smile:

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