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Putnam Competition

About the Putnam Mathematical 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. Questions will be included that cut across the bounds of various disciplines, and self-contained questions that do not fit into any of the usual categories may be included.

Northwestern University Team

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 Competition Training

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

The Competition Examination Is Constructed to Test:

More information about the Putnam Competition can be found here.

2018 Putnam Examination Results

The Seventy Ninth Putnam Examination was held on Saturday, December 1st, 2018.  Seven undergraduates from Northwestern participated in the competition.  According to the results announced in February 2019, the Northwestern University team got a total score of 32, and a rank of 97, meaning the 97th place (out of 568 institutions). NU students Aidan Perreault and Fiona Brady ranked in the 206-495.5 rank category. The full list of winners can be found here.

2018 Putnam Examination

The Seventy Ninth Putnam Examination was held on Saturday, December 1st, 2018.

It consisted of two sessions of three hours each:

2018 Organizational Meeting

We held an organizational meeting on Tuesday, October 9th at 6:00pm in Lunt 104. We set the meeting time of subsequent problem solving sessions there (see below).

If you were unable to attend this meeting, please contact Miguel Lerma at as soon as possible for more information, specifying on which afternoons you are free to attend training sessions.


2018 Selection test

The Putnam selection test intended to help us in selecting the university team was held on Thursday, October 18th, 2018, at 6:00pm-7:30pm in Lunt 104.


Contact with any questions.

Complete information on the competition and the prizes can be found at


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