*[Feature photo above “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch” from CheezBurger.com.]*

Okay, kids, I know you’re on break, but Mr. Grinch would tell you that’s no excuse to laze around playing games and eating cookies. There is only a month until our school MathCounts competition, which doesn’t give you much time to prepare. I’ve collected several resources to build up your mental muscle-power before the test…

## Step 1: Check Off the Basics

Begin by taking inventory. Have you mastered the basic math facts? I don’t mean your multiplication tables — although those are important, too. Do you know the square numbers and primes? How about the area and volume formulas for basic geometric shapes?

Print out one (or both!) of the following review lists. Go through each page, checking off all the things you know. Then try to learn *at least* one new math fact per week between now and test time.

**The MathCounts Bible According to Mr. Diaz**

“What you must memorize, without excuses and for the rest of your lives (not just for MathCounts).”**MathCounts Toolbox**

This is a 9-page summary of the basic facts of elementary arithmetic and geometry.

[See my comment below for more links about basic math.]

## Step 2: Master Simple Probability

If you have been practicing our math club worksheets, you know that MathCounts loves to ask probability questions. Unfortunately, you may not have studied probability in your regular school work — but fortunately, it isn’t hard to learn. So take advantage of your vacation from textbooks and master the topic now. Check out these websites:

**Introduction to Probability**

A short tutorial with interactive questions from Mrs. Glosser’s Math Goodies. See also: Rolling a Pair of Dice, Conditional Probability, and the Challenge Exercises.**Math Club: Counting 101**

In order to master probability, you must learn to count. There is more to it than simply 1, 2, 3! Check out as many of these links as you have time for, and you will be well prepared for the test.**From Counting to Probability**

When more than one thing is happening in a probability problem, how do you know whether to add the probabilities or multiply them? And what happens if the events are not mutually exclusive?**Puzzle: Random Blocks**

If you are brave, test yourself with the puzzles in this post. Don’t read the comments until you have tried to answer the questions — but then, be sure to read them and be encouraged. We math teachers don’t always get the correct answer right away, either!

## Step 3: Try Your Hand at Triangular Numbers

It’s amazing how many puzzles involve the triangular numbers pattern. For instance, have you heard of the handshake problem? If you learn to recognize these numbers, you will have a head start on many MathCounts questions.

**Triangle Numbers**

A short introduction to these number patterns. Also, check out Alexander Bogomolny‘s explanation of the important formula for the*n*th triangular number, .**Puzzle: Figuring Out Figurate Numbers**

Join Alexandria Jones in exploring the triangular numbers and related formulas.**Triangular Numbers are Everywhere!**

*[The IMSA Math Journal is offline, as of my 2011 edit of this post, but the Internet Archive Wayback Machine comes to our rescue!]*This worksheet from the IMSA Math Journal examines several examples of triangular numbers in mathematical problems. Can you figure out the patterns?

## Step 4: Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to prepare for any math test is to work lots and lots of problems.

**Preparation Drills for MathCounts**

You can choose the type of problem (such as geometry, counting, or probability), whether you want multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank questions, and anywhere from 5-30 problems on a page. Enjoy!**Last Year’s School, Chapter and State Competitions**

And the Wayback Machine provides us with plenty of prior-year problems. Print out and practice to your heart’s content. Solutions are provided for Chapter and State levels.**Yet More Practice**

*[Thanks again to the Wayback Machine!]*MathCounts-style problems (not from official competitions), with solutions.

## Step 5: Take Time Out for a Laugh

If the video doesn’t display properly, you can find it at this link:

This post is featured in the Carnival of Homeschooling~The Teal Edition.

Don’t miss any of *“Let’s Play Math!”*: Subscribe in a reader, or get updates by Email.

I dashed this post off and published it in the same day — something I almost never do, but I wanted to make the most of limited computer time. Working too fast, I missed a few things:

* factoringand theLCM and GCF* rates,ratios,proportions, andpercents* simple algebra(especially those confusing “define a function” problems, which can be really easy once you get the hang of them)Most of these are basic school math, but since many of you are in 6th grade, you probably haven’t studied them in much depth. You may want to spend an afternoon exploring each of these topics, and then keep an eye out for them as you work your practice problems.

You can find some great information at the Purplemath site, or browse through some of the other helpful websites on my Free Resources page.

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More resources from MathCounts Notes blog:

* Basic Math Skills test for young mathletes* Word Problems: Beginning Level

* Word Problems: Advanced Beginning Level

You may want to subscribe to MathCounts Notes for regular practice!

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Thanks for all these wonderful math links! I hope your competition is successful. I remember in high school being a mathlete so I hope the students who compete continue into high school with this.

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Pingback:Free Online Math for Middle School and Up « Let’s Play Math!Wow! I love your site. My dd loves math and I felt that I wasn’t doing her any justice. This is my first year homeschooling my 4 kiddos. I’m okay at math having myself gone through trig/analyt in high school, it takes a minute for the cobwebs to sort out though! But I wasn’t sure what curriculum to use to help her advance to her potential, she wants to be a veterinarian. Right now we are using Horizons math. Next year she is in 6th grade and that is the last in their series. They said she should be able to go straight to algebra after their program. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks in advance, Vicki B.

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Hi, vickilynn! I’m sorry for not responding sooner, but you caught me at a super-busy time. Have you heard of the Art of Problem Solving website? Their “Introduction to …” books are really good, and the solutions manuals are quite thorough. You might give them a look. (You and your dd may not understand all the starred challenge problems, but there are plenty of great things to learn even without those.)

For more advice, I suggest you ask at a homeschooling forum. If you don’t have one already, you could try The Homeschool Library.

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My dad recently found this site and emailed it to me so I could brush up on my mathcounts skills. This site is great!!!!!! It’s really great how there’s so much information and links in just one website……

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Hi, Eric!

I’m glad you’re enjoying my site. You may also want to check out agmath.com, which has some wonderful resources on their MathCounts page.

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Very Very Nice.. Good Job! :)

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Pingback:Rate × Time = Distance Problems « Let's Play Math!Hey Denise… The Math Goodies website doesn’t let me do anything. I have to buy it if I want to do anything. By the way, awesome website. It’s really helped my kid. (He made it to the state Mathcounts competition. Thanks!

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Austin, several pages on the Math Goodies site are free — including the forums where you can ask math questions — but those are a “hook” to get you interested in the many, many more things she has on her lesson CD. Like everyone on the internet, she has to make a living. :)

If you had trouble opening the free pages that I linked to in the article above, perhaps the site was down for maintenance or something like that. They are working fine for me today.

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Hey Denis, what a great list of resources! I think this is one of the most complete lists that I have seen available online. Great job!

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