Skip to content
Professional Development & Resources

Problem-Solving Strategy #1: Engage in Successful Flailing

Resource MAA Compeitions

One can often identify to which topic a challenge belongs – this question is about right triangles; this question is about repeating decimals – but still have no clue as to how to start on the challenge. What should you do? Engage in successful flailing!

Think about everything you know about right triangles or repeating decimals. Read the question out loud and then describe it again in different words. Draw a picture, perhaps even one relevant to the problem. Try an example with actual numbers. Mark something on the diagram. And so on.

Read more about this strategy here: Problem Solving Strategy Essay #1: Engage in Successful Flailing

Find other problem-solving strategies you can use on the MAA American Mathematics Competitions and other competitions here.