How Hard is USACO Silver? Tips to Move to Silver

how hard is usaco silver

The USACO Bronze division targets students who have programming knowledge but don’t have algorithmic experience. Contrastingly, the USACO Silver focuses primarily on algorithms.

Even though bronze is the first division, it’s the silver division where you will face algorithmic problems for the first time.

So, if you’re curious about how hard is USACO Silver, you have come to the right place. Keep reading till the end to know all about it.

What is USACO Silver

The computing olympiad held for high schoolers/middle schoolers in the USA is called USACO. The abbreviation stands for the United States of America Computing Olympiad. It’s a national contest for students/participants with programming goals.

The USACO is divided into five levels based on difficulty–Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Advanced.

The USACO Silver is the second level out of the five divisions.

USACO Silver division is the second level of the USA computing olympiad.

Can I directly go to Silver without clearing Bronze?

No, you can’t appear for the Silver division without clearing the Bronze. It’s mandatory to clear the Bronze level to reach the Silver.

Similarly, you must clear the Silver to reach the USACO Gold division.

how hard is usaco silver

Topics You Need to Learn to Clear Silver

  • Prefix Sums: Introduction, Computing range sum, Max subarray sum, and Prefix sums in two dimensions.
  • Custom Comparators and Coordinate Compression: How to use a custom comparator to sort values in a non-default order or custom objects.
  • Two Pointers: How to iterate two monotonic pointers  to search for a pair of indices across an array satisfying some condition in linear time.
  • Operations on Sorted Sets: How to use iterators with sets and find the next element smaller or larger than a specified key in a set.
  • C++ Sets with Custom Comparators (optional), Greedy Algorithms with Sorting, and Binary Search.
  • Graphs: Depth First Search (DFS), Flood Fill, Introduction to Tree Algorithms, and Functional Graphs.

Prefix Sums, Custom Comparators and Coordinate Compression, Greedy algorithms with sorting, Binary search, DFS, and Flood Fill are the frequently appearing topics.

Score to Clear the Silver Division

Although it depends on the cutoff (which varies year to year), one needs to score between 700 to 800 to clear the Silver division.

As there is a total of 3 questions and the perfect score is 1000, there is no chance of leaving any question unanswered. Your score depends on all three answers.

Score between 700 to 800 to clear USACO Silver.

In the case of perfect scorers, the cut-off doesn’t apply. They are promoted to the Gold division directly.

student preparing for usaco silver

How Hard is USACO Silver?

The answer to “how hard is USACO Silver” depends on your algorithmic knowledge and programming experience.

Silver is difficult for Students with no Algorithmic experience

If you’re someone who hasn’t learned anything about solving algorithms, the silver division is going to be difficult for you. However, if you keep practicing the training pages and go through the sums available on USACO Guide, you can ace Silver too.

All you need is a little help. You can either hire a private tutor or go for dedicated hours of self-study. Yes, USACO Silver is challenging but not impossible.

Silver is easy for Bronze perfect scorers

Participants who managed to get a perfect score in the bronze level find the silver division relatively easier. In other words, if you are good at problem-solving, you can clear silver without much stress.

Also Read: Is USACO Good For College?

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Prepare for USACO with Expert Teachers

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Dear reader, instead of worrying about how hard USACO Silver is, I suggest you start practicing right away. Be it hard or easy; you’re going to do it anyway. Every year many participants clear the Silver division; you can do it too.

Keep practicing the problems from the previous years, the training pages, and the USACO Guide.

All the best!

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