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How important is the Putnam to math grad schools?

  1. May 3, 2010 #1
    I'm hesitating whereas I should make some time to prepare for the Putnam. If I don't have to, I won't, because I'd rather do something else with the little free time I have to be frank. So, in short, is it worth preparing for, if my goal is purely to make my grad application look better? I'm not expecting a spectacular performance anyways, anything above 20 would be more than I wish for.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 3, 2010 #2
    It's not important at all.

    Coursework, recommendations, and your statement are all tons more important (by a factor of 1000, 1000, and 1000 respectively).

    If you'd rather do something else, then do something else. It will likely make you happier, which will have a positive effect on your coursework.
  4. May 4, 2010 #3
    Being a Putnam Fellow is extremely significant. Otherwise the Putnam won't matter much at all, especially if you don't get higher than 20.

    Besides, the Putnam is not something that a bit of preparation will be effective for. Most Putnam Fellows were also members of their country's IMO team during high school--in other words, they've been obsessively solving problems like those on the Putnam for years, probably since junior high.

    Just don't worry about it. Not doing well won't hurt you one bit.
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