You are here

William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition® is the preeminent mathematics competition for undergraduate college students in the United States and Canada. The Putnam Competition takes place annually on the first Saturday of December. The competition consists of two 3-hour sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. During each session, participants work individually on six challenging mathematical problems.

The Putnam began in 1938 as a competition between mathematics departments at colleges and universities. Now, the competition has grown to be the leading university-level mathematics examination in the world. Although participants work independently on the problems, the competition has a team aspect. Prizes are awarded to the participants with the highest scores and to the departments of mathematics of the five institutions, the sum of whose top three scores is the greatest.


The 84th William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition® competition will take place on Saturday, Dec. 22023, proctored in-person on campuses across the US and Canada. Participants are assigned a Putnam Identification Number (PIN) upon registration, which they need for the competition on Dec. 2Any college or university in the United States or Canada that wishes to offer the competition to their students must name a regular faculty member to serve as the local supervisor of the competition. Learn more here.


Register as a Putnam Local Supervisor by Nov. 15. Review the Guide below to assist with registration:

   84th Putnam Supervisor Registration     Supervisor Registration Guide  


Upon successfully submitting the Supervisor Registration Request, Supervisors will receive an invitation to their Putnam Supervisor Administration Portal, and detailed information about the new student registration process in late September.

NEW: Supervisors will need to invite Participants to the Putnam Student Registration form through a personalized, unique link. More info will be provided below:

   Supervisor's Guide for Registering Students (Registration Opens Oct 2)    


The Putnam Competition consists of an A session and a B session that both take place on Saturday, Dec. 2. Review the following documents to prepare for competition day:

   Important Deadlines and Information     Procedures for Supervising  





The competition is administered in two sessions (A and B). Each session lasts precisely three hours. Participants may start the A session on Dec. 2 at the time indicated to their supervisor. After completing the A session, participants will have a 2-hour break. The B session must start at the time indicated to their supervisor.

For each of the 12 problems, participants will hand-write their work on plain 8.5-by-11 sheets of unlined paper. All work to justify a solution and all necessary steps of proof should be submitted. When working on one problem, participants should not refer to work on a different problem. Writing utensils, blank paper, and erasers are permitted, but other materials, such as books, calculators, computers, rulers, compasses, lined paper, or graph paper, are not allowed.

Participants are prohibited from sharing or discussing the competition problems until 8:00 p.m. ET after the competition. There is to be no copying, posting, or distributing the exam until after this time.


The 84th Putnam Competition Problems and Solutions

The 84th William Lowell Putnam Competition Problems and Solutions are now available to download. Follow the links below to access the PDF files. Problems and solutions starting from 2017 can be found on the Putnam Competition Archive page.

  84th Putnam Competition Problems A Session    84th Putnam Competition Problems B Session  

84th Putnam Competition Solutions A Session     84th Putnam Competition Solutions B Session



Click here to access the 84th Announcement of Winners, which includes Putnam Fellows, next highest ranking individuals, honorable mentions, Elizabeth Lowell Putnam Prize winners, winning teams, and teams earning honorable mentions.

Results for past William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competitions® can also be found here.


Preparing for the Putnam

The Putnam Competition covers a range of material in undergraduate mathematics, including elementary concepts from linear algebra, modern algebra, analysis, and number theory. Below are some books available for purchase that may help students prepare for this exam:


FAQs for the 84th Putnam

  1. Q. When is the 84th Putnam Competition?

    A. Dec. 2, 2023

  2. Q. When does supervisor registration open?

    ​A. Sept. 1, 2023

  3. Q. How do students register?

    A. Supervisors will need to invite Participants to the Putnam Student Registration form through a personalized, unique link. View the Guide Above.

  4. Q. I have a bachelor's degree. May I participate?

    A. No. The Putnam Competition is open only to actively enrolled undergraduate students without a bachelor's degree.

  5. Q. May I participate in the Putnam Competition without an association with an institution?

    A. No. You are ineligible to participate if you are not regularly enrolled in an undergraduate institution in the US or Canada. If you meet the eligibility requirements, but your institution does not have a Putnam local supervisor, ask a faculty member (perhaps the math department chair) to become the Putnam local supervisor for your institution. If no faculty member is willing to play this role, then you will be unable to participate.

  6. Q. I am a degree candidate at one institution but temporarily at another. May I participate?

    A. Yes, and you could compete for either institution.

  7. Q. Must I have a high school diploma to participate?

    A. No. Students who are concurrently in high school but taking classes at a US or Canadian college or university regularly are deemed "regularly enrolled" undergraduates. Please note a student may participate in the official Putnam Competition at most four times. Generally, we discourage high school students from exhausting their eligibility. If you are not regularly enrolled as an undergraduate at an institution of higher education, you are ineligible.

  8. Q. Is there a limit to the number of times a student can participate in the competition?

    A. Yes. The limit is four, not counting the 81st (unofficial) Putnam competition in February 2021.

  9. Q. I am a foreign student currently enrolled in a US or Canadian institution. May I participate?

    A. Yes.

  10. Q. I am regularly enrolled in a US or Canadian institution, but I am taking a year off. I intend to return to my institution next year. May I participate?

    A. Yes.

  11. Q. I will be away from my home institution on competition day. Can I still participate in the competition?

    A.  Possibly. Arrangements can sometimes be made to take the exam at another registered institution. Discuss this with your local supervisor.

  12. Q. I've registered. What do I need to bring with me to the exam room?

    A.  Bring pencils or pens (blue or black ink) and the PIN that you were given at the registration platform. Nothing else is needed. Supervisors provide clean, white paper. Calculators, computers, references, and drawing tools are not allowed, and cell phones must be turned off and stowed away during the exam.

  13. Q. What is the registration deadline for supervisors and institutions?

    A. Nov. 15, 2023

  14. Q. What is the registration deadline for student participants?

    A. Dec. 1, 2023