First of all if you’re not completely sure whether or not you have what it takes to compete, click here to find out the answer : ) Ok so now you know, then what?
How to compete in the National Mental Math Championship as a beginner
That’s the simplest to explain. Not because doing mental calculations is simple or easy, but because if you’ve been to school, you most likely already know how to solve any of the problems we’ll throw at you. Beginners are allowed to write down their calculations on the sheet. The challenge won’t be that any of the problems you’ll have to solve will be particularly hard, it will be in solving as many of those problems as possible as quickly as you can. If you want to compete in the regular section where you aren’t allowed to write down your calculations, then I suggest you do a few tests using those sample disciplines. And if you’re motivated, check out the surprisingly interesting links and resources you can find here.
How to compete in the Friendly Cubing Championship as a beginner
Admittedly the beginner’s section of the cubing championship isn’t quite a real competition. It’s meant more as a few games for spectators and curious people to play. Unlike the regular section, it will last for less than half an hour and be completely free to participate in. Prices will be given away randomly, independently of whether you did well or not. Since “I can only solve one side” is one of the sentences that cubers have heard the most often in their lives, we thought it could be fun to have most of the beginner’s section be designed especially for those people. If you can’t yet do that, just check one of the links here. It’s “hard” at first but it becomes easy quickly enough. By the way the same is true of solving the whole thing. Figuring it out all by yourself would be extremely impressive, but that’s not what I and the vast majority of cubers have done. Learning how to solve it with a step by step guide is a hundred times easier. More advanced methods take much longer to master, but just learning to solve the cube using the beginner’s method can be done in maybe one to six hours. After a while once you’ve mastered all the micro-steps involved, it can honestly become ridiculously easy.
How to compete in the National Memory Championship as a beginner
The “what the hell” method that requires zero preparation: Just use your normal “natural” memory and try to go through each challenge remembering as much as you can using whatever improvised tricks you can think of. That will be difficult and even if you were born with an awesome natural memory, you almost definitely won’t win unless you’re the reincarnation of John Von Neumann. But you might still enjoy the competition. The next method however, although it requires a little bit of preparation (not much really), is both much more fun and much more efficient.
The “let’s see what I can do when I use a few cool tricks” method: Ever heard of the expression the “art of memory”? It’s the coolest thing you’ve never heard of. Getting very good and consistent results using it will take some practice (about 20 hours spread over a few weeks before you can start feeling comfortable with most memory-related tasks), but even if you aren’t willing to invest that kind of time and effort, you can still pretty much double your performance overnight by just learning about and applying the right techniques. You can maybe start by reading this cool New York Times article to understand what the art of memory is all about. Then read this newly added guide to learn the minimum you need to know to compete and perform relatively well in the beginner’s section of the National Memory Championship. If you’ve read and understood those two articles, you’re ready to compete and quite possibly surprise yourself by memorizing much more than you otherwise would have with just your natural memory. If you still want to learn more, then check out some of the other links here.