Putnam Competition

About the Putnam Competition

The annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is held on the first Saturday in December. The competition is open to all undergraduates. It consists of 12 challenging problems. The problems are hard (some very hard), but they are almost all accessible to virtually every student, and certainly to students who have had a year of calculus. Prizes are awarded to the individuals and teams with the highest scores. Complete information on the competition and the prizes can be found at http://math.scu.edu/putnam

Putnam Examination (2016)

The Seventy Seventh Putnam Examination was held on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016.

Eight undergraduates from Northwestern participated in the competition.

According to the results announced in April 2016, the Northwestern University team got a total score of 43, and a rank of 69, meaning the 69th place (out of 568 institutions). Our team member Ruohong Zhang ranked in the 198.5-501 rank category.

Putnam Examination (2017)

The Seventy Eight Putnam Examination will be held on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017.

It will consist of two sessions of three hours each:

  • Morning Session: 9:00am-12:00noon, in Lunt 104.
  • Afternoon Session: 2:00pm-5:00pm, in Lunt 104.


In order to participate in the Putnam examination eligible students must register in early October.


The university will be ranked based on the performance of three students picked by the supervisor as members of the university team. In order to make an informed decision in picking the members of the team a selection test is given prior to registration. Students not in the team can and are encouraged to participate too as individual contestants.

Putnam Training

To help prepare for this exam, we will be holding weekly problem-solving sessions. Any student interested in tackling difficult problems is welcome, regardless of whether s/he is planning on taking the Putnam exam.

Organizational Meeting

  • Thursday, September 28th, 2017 at 6:00 PM in Lunt 104.

Selection Test

  • Tuesday, October 10th, 2017 at 6:00PM-7:30PM in Lunt 104.

Training Sessions

  • Find schedule here.

More on Putnam Training and other Resources
William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition - MAA web page
William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition - SCU site

Questions and suggestions: putnam@math.northwestern.edu