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One of the major benefits of a good IBL script is that it effectively organizes the experience of students so that their effort does not need to be used on such organization. A good script leads from very humble beginnings straight through the heart of a subject, hitting all the high points organically…hiding these high points in very harmless looking and natural problems. Students need only worry about one problem at a time, and the entire subject opens before them via their efforts.

Although there are good textbooks for teaching students about IMO/Putnam type exam problems, I don't know of one with the property that if a student worked serially through it he or she would efficiently pick up the necessary techniques and experience to become proficient. I'd like such a source that has the above IBL flavor, in that it is comprised of a series of individual problems to be tackled in order, with each problem innocuous-looking but revealing, in an appropriately graded way, the main tactics and techniques. At the end of the sequence, if completed, a student should have vastly improved ability in solving such competition problems. Is there any such source?

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  • $\begingroup$ This may be close: math.la.asu.edu/~ifulman/mat194/larson.pdf. It may, in fact be the best one could hope for in this regard... $\endgroup$ – Jon Bannon Apr 30 '16 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ You may be interested in Po-Shen Loh's course at Carnegie Mellon: math.cmu.edu/~ploh/2017-putnam.shtml The notes are bare-bones but do feature week-by-week themes and problems of varying difficulties. I'm sure that students who take this course come out of it with much better skills for these competition problems. $\endgroup$ – Brendan W. Sullivan Dec 29 '17 at 4:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Brendan! $\endgroup$ – Jon Bannon Dec 29 '17 at 21:01

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