Kodeclik Blog

10 things you need to know about the USACO

1. What is USACO?

USACO is short for USA Computing Olympiad. It is a Computer Science tournament for high school students, conducted by usaco.org. The goal of the USACO is to identify, motivate and train high school students in world class Computer Science programming. Each year, the top 4 students will get a chance to represent the USA at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI).

2. Who should take the USACO?

The USACO conducts competitive challenge contests for high school students who are interested in pursuing Computer Science at advanced levels. The contests are also open to students who have graduated high school.

3. The USACO timeline

4. Do I need a team to compete in the USACO?

No. The USACO conducts online tests that can be taken individually. Once a student passes all the 4 levels, they will be invited for a 1 week session at. Four students from this group will be selected to represent the USA at the IOI.

5. Brief overview of the USACO

USACO is a highly competitive programming contest for students in High School and beyond. The contests test the algorithmic programming abilities of the students and the problems are designed to include different techniques and varying skill levels.
The USACO is a very challenging contest and students are expected to practice rigorously and consistently to pass each level. Students who are not promoted to the next level will compete again in the same level the following year.
USACO gives students a 4 day window to complete the problems in a contest. All students will receive their scores along with the solutions. The students can also receive feedback on their code and any bugs using the server in analysis mode.
The contests are not proctored, but strict checks are in place such that students who are found to cheat will be banned from competing in the contest.

6. USACO Levels

7. Learning to code

Learning to code is the first step to competing in the UASCO. Students who take part in the USACO have typically been learning to code for a few years and are comfortable with coding in languages like Python, Java and C++. To begin a successful and challenging coding journey, learn to code with Python using Kodeclik's online coding classes.

8. How do I register for the USACO?

Students can create an account at http://www.usaco.org/index.php and follow the instructions to register for the USACO.

9. How do I prepare for the USACO?

Preparation for the USACO can begin years before taking the first contest. The goal of the USACO is to create Computer Science practitioners in algorithmic coding. This requires several skills and rigorous and consistent practice over time.
Students can begin by learning serious Python programming, like the one offered at Kodeclik, and start learning about algorithms. Once a student is proficient with Python programming, they can learn Java or C++ and practice advanced programming skills.

10. Resources to prepare for the USACO

USACO offers a great list of resources that students can use to prepare for the contests.

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