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Putnam Competition

About the Putnam Competition

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is perhaps the most prestigious university-level mathematics competition in the world. The Putnam Competition is an annual examination consisting of twelve problems, each worth ten points. Testing originality as well as technical competence, the examination's median score is often zero points out of 120. 

The Northwestern Putnam Team

Prior to 2019, using the results of a selection test the Putnam Supervisor used to select three students to form the official Northwestern Putnam Team. Students not selected for the official team could still participate in the competition as individual contestants.

Starting in 2019 the is no need for preselection of team members. Institutions will be ranked by the sum of the scores of their top three participants. The top three participants will be referred as the team for that institution, but the team will not bet determined until grading is complete.

2019 Putnam Competition Results

Thirteen Northwestern students participated in the Eightieth Putnam Competition on Saturday, December 7, 2019. Northwestern's team scored 83, ranking 39 out of 488 institutiones. Students Harry Nguyen, ranking 212, Nikhil Kalghatgi ranking 344.5, and Akhil Kalghatgi ranking  478.5 out of 4299 participants were the top three participants for Northwestern University. Find here the full list of winners.


In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the Putnam Competition this year will be administered entirely remotely with no on-campus, proctored venues. Students will be able to download the exam on Feb. 20, 2021 from wherever they are residing, solve the problems on clean white paper, and upload their solutions to the exam platform. Students will receive scores for each problem and supervisors will receive a score report for all students from their institution. Unfortunately, there will be no prizes, no awards, and no national recognition of high-scoring participants.

Please see the Putnam page for more details. 

Putnam Competition Training

The usual training sessions to help prepare the examination will be conducted online by sending lists of training problems and solutions to the mailing list and also posting them online.

Resources and Further information

 Contact the Putnam Supervisor for further information.

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