What is USACO Platinum? Is it Prestigious?

USACO Platinum

“Make it work, make it right, make it fast.” – Kent Beck.

Competitive programming holds true to this quote.

Today with different kinds of coding languages and tech-powered tools, innovation is always around the corner.

Colleges and universities look for such talents and groom them well in programming skills.

The USACO contest is one such initiative and a flagship tournament that tests the programming skills of pre-college students at the national level.

Today, we will focus on the USACO Platinum division.

What is USACO Platinum?


USACO, or USA Computing Olympiad, is one of the most prestigious contests in the USA. USACO  is an online contest for pre-college level students.

The contest is held four times a year in December, January, February, and somewhere in April.

The USACO Platinum division is the last level of the USA Computing Olympiad.

The relay of levels that begins with Bronze, followed by Silver, Gold, and Platinum, is finally concluded by conducting the USA Open Championship, the toughest of all!

Topics You Need to Learn to Clear Platinum

If you see the USACO guide, you will find that a few topics are asked more frequently, and some are asked rarely. However, it is equally crucial for you to understand all the concepts.

usaco platinum

Key concepts to focus on for the Platinum Contest

  • Range Queries and Segment Tree– It is believed that no Platinum contest is complete without range queries and a segment tree. Check an example test data here.
  • Binary Jumping- Binary jumping, also known as binary lifting, is frequently asked in the Platinum contest.
  • Advanced Computational Geometry- Advanced topics related to geometrical problems, line sweep, and several convex functions are covered here.
  • Matrix Exponentiation- Learn about matrix square multiplication and linear transformation to find the dot product. Go through the example to understand how matrix exponentiation problems are solved.
  • Types of Decomposition- Find in-depth knowledge about heavy, light, and centroid decomposition.

Apart from all these, advanced knowledge of Python, C++, and Java is a must.

Score To Clear The Platinum Division

Typically, the cutoff score is 750.

However, this also depends on the level of difficulty of the problems. If the questions are tough, then 650 is the passing score.

Similarly, if the questions are easy, then 850 is regarded as the cutoff.

Check out the results of the top scorers in Feb 2022.

How Hard is USACO Platinum?

how hard is platinum level

Platinum is hard. I’ll be honest about it and not sugar-coat it. Pull up your socks if you want to crack it.

But, the good part is that you have already learned a lot in previous levels and now have a fair idea of what’s coming. USACO Platinum includes advanced programming, higher-grade testing data, and problems of higher standards.

With focus and determination, you can do it.

Follow these steps to the core, and you will be exam ready!

  • Know Java and C++ really well
  • Practice sample sheets
  • Take mock tests as much as possible
  • Refer to various resources for more information
  • Solve problems by critical thinking
  • Able to perform under pressure

Check this test data to see how sticking to the core pointers will help you to crack the Platinum contest.

How do Colleges weigh USACO Platinum?

USACO Platinum division is considered one of the most prestigious levels by colleges.

The international standards of the USACO contest test students’ problem-solving skills and algorithms knowledge.

Colleges give a lot of importance to applicants with USACO contest certificates compared to other regular students.

Move From USACO Platinum To USA Open Championship

USA open championship
The top-performing students from the USACO platinum division are selected as finalists. And then, they get to train with Dr. Brian Dean in a nine-day camp at Clemson University.

In these nine days, Dr. Brian’s team of former IOI champions brings out the best in them through training, workshops, and one-on-one sessions.

According to their score, finalists are divided into groups of 12 or 13. Interestingly they are named- holsteins and gurnseys. Holsteins are the more experienced ones, and Gurnseys are the inexperienced ones.

Gurnseys get the training to gain more experience for the future IOI. On the other hand, Holsteins get the training to represent the USA team for the current year.

5 students are taken as a team. Out of these, 4 holsteins are selected to represent the USA in the IOI- International Olympiad in Informatics.

The journey from a contestant to the top 4 finalists is only possible with rigorous training and practice.


What should I know before appearing for the platinum division?

You should know advanced data structures and advanced levels of algorithms to attempt for platinum division contest.

Does a low score in Platinum would affect future contests?

Yes, a low score in Platinum would affect future contests like the US Open. A low score can push you back during the selection process for the championship.

How many questions are in the exam, and what is the time duration of the Platinum contest?

Three questions are in the exam. The duration is 4 hours max.

What is the governing factor for a score in the USACO Platinum contest?

The governing factor for scoring in the USACO platinum contest depends on the number of inputs you make for your program and whether you can solve it within the time limit.

Why competing for USACO Platinum is so crucial for pre-college students?

Competitive programming is a valuable skill. It opens up doors to top colleges and white-collar jobs at top companies.

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Prepare for USACO with Expert Teachers

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USACO Platinum is a significant milestone in the career of a pre-college student. The open-ended question format tests your programming skills and knowledge of coding.

The top-ranking Computer Science Schools worldwide often give admission easily when they see a candidate with a USACO label.

It is crucial to understand that to make a career with a high-paid job, a backing up of an equally valued certificate is what you need. And USA Computing Olympiad is one such contest.

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