USACO Gold: Is it Good? How Hard is it?

usaco gold

Did you know programming is the new literary device, and an algorithm is the most effective mean to run this device? Still, wondering how this is related to USACO Gold.

Let me put it in simple words.

USACO, or the USA Computing Olympiad, is designed to judge your knowledge of algorithms and how you use them to solve programming and computational problems.

Broadly divided into the Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum division, you move from one level to the next. The olympiad helps students make a career in the traditional engineering and technical computing sectors. As a highly advanced skill, it supports admission to top colleges and universities.

Today, we are going to focus on USACO Gold. So, if you are looking for a roadmap to USACO Gold or are still thinking about whether USACO Gold is good enough, then this read is for you.

USACO Gold: Is It Really Good?

is usaco gold really good?

Yes, USACO Gold is excellent. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your programming skills get a new dimension when you reach the Gold level.

Gold Helps in College Admissions

Nowadays, getting into a top-ranking university brings you to an edging competition where the focus is on a profile that is one notch up. Not only studies but extracurricular activities are taken into account while giving admissions. Some key features that help a profile shine are volunteer programs, summer programs, competitions, etc.

Those with the USA olympiad certificate get a lot more preference during admissions.

Thus it becomes an essential contest for pre-college students.

Gold Helps get Visibility in Top Companies

USACO gold is challenging. That is why students might wonder if the gold division is good for college admission or does it help to clear the platinum level. Or is it relevant?

The answer to that is “YES.” USACO gold is worth all the effort.

The level of proficiency you achieve through Gold will become your key to visibility in various companies.

These companies are majorly from science, arts, engineering, health, and commerce background.

Clearing USACO Gold will help you prepare for tech interviews. The difficulty level of questions in these interviews is similar to USACO divisions. Prepare for the future with USACO.

How Hard Is It?

The USACO Gold division is based on concepts already covered in the bronze and silver levels. Expected to be a comparatively familiar program, Gold has a higher standard in programming.

how hard is gold level

Gold tests you on the following topics:

  • Divisibility
  • Modular Arithmetic
  • Combinatorics
  • Dynamic programming
  • Graphs
  • Stacks
  • String Hashing
  • Trees
  • Bitwise Operators

>>>Check out a USACO Gold problem sample.

Programming Language Versions Used in USACO Gold

programming languages used in usaco gold

In the case of C or C++, the programs for gold division are compiled using the -O2 flag and -lm.

For Java, version 11.0.10 OpenJDK is used for execution.

For Python, there are multiple versions available. Programmers can use it per the test data they are trying to solve to get detailed results.

Knowing the programming languages and identifying your strengths and weaknesses would help you climb up the ladder in the USA Olympiad.

Score to Clear Gold Division

Just like Bronze and Silver, the test duration for Gold is also between 3-5 hours. It’s online, and students can register for the contest through their USACO accounts. The test pattern is simple – view the problem, test data, and find the solutions.

Upon submission, every test data is examined, and instant feedback reflects. Any sort of print statement is not allowed for submission.

There are three questions altogether scored out of 1000. One must achieve between 700-800 to move to the next level.

How to Prepare for USACO Gold

  • Learn programming covered in bronze and silver divisions
  • Practice, practice, practice using test data. Take the help of the solutions already given for test data and implement them for complex issues
  • Solve the practice sheets
  • Analyze your strength and weaknesses by giving mock tests

Moving from USACO Gold to Platinum

Moving from Gold to Platinum is challenging.

It demands you to think like an enabler, not just a programmer. While the path looks extensive, the journey of Gold to Platinum relies on the right curriculum, practice, and self-belief.

Practice problems from previous contests regularly to not feel anxious about the complexity of Platinum.

The platinum level will take you closer to your ultimate goal – USACO Open Championship.

4529 People Participated In the USACO Open Championship


The US Open championship saw active participation from students in large numbers. To be precise, a total of 4529 students from 69 countries took part in the championship.

774 students participated in the 4-day USACO Gold contest in February 2022. Out of these, 546 were pre-college students.

Check out the country-wise number of participants who appeared for the championship in 2022.

2686 USA 1041 CHN  132 CAN   98 KOR   74 IND   33 TWN   33 SGP

33 ISR   31 POL   25 VNM   25 GEO   23 IRN   20 HKG   19 IDN

19 ARM   15 ROU   15 DEU   14 BGD   13 RUS   11 GBR   10 SAU

10 MYS   10 FRA    8 TUN    8 SLV    8 AUS    7 JPN    6 PHL

6 KAZ    5 TUR    5 NZL    5 KGZ    5 EST    5 CHE    5 BRA

5 AZE    4 ZAF    4 NGA    4 MEX    4 ESP    3 UKR    3 MNG

3 LKA    3 BGR    2 THA    2 SYR    2 SWE    2 ITA    2 IRQ

2 FIN    2 BEL    2 ARE    1 VEN    1 UZB    1 SRB    1 PSE

1 PRK    1 NPL    1 NLD    1 MKD    1 MDA    1 LUX    1 ISL

1 HRV    1 GUM    1 EGY    1 CZE    1 CMR    1 BLR

Source: Official Website

These are not just numbers but speak volumes about how prestigious and important USACO is. These factors make USACO Gold stand out from its potential competitors like the Red Coder.


What are the eligibility criteria for USACO Gold?

The eligibility criteria for USACO Gold is that you must have passed the bronze and silver divisions. Apart from these criteria, the prerequisite for any USACO contest is the applicant must be aware of the programming language.

Is USACO Gold good for college students?

Yes, it is good for college students. Qualifying for Gold makes you stand out in the college admission process. The computer science knowledge you get while training for USACO Gold also helps you score an impressive division in college. And Gold brings you one step closer to the Platinum too!

What are the programming languages accepted in USACO Gold?

The programming languages accepted in USACO Gold are C++ and Java. Python is accepted but less recommended. When students reach the gold level, programming their database structures becomes mandatory for submissions.

What Is US Open Championship, and who is eligible for this?

The US Open championship is the ultimate level of the USACO contest. Those who have cleared the platinum level are eligible for the championship. The exam format remains the same. However, the questions are more challenging than the previous levels.

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The Gold division looks technically demanding and has its set of difficulties. Your perseverance and hard work will guide this path. You need to trust the process and believe in yourself.

USACO Gold is the stepping stone to Platinum and, eventually, the US Open Championship.

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