Frequently Asked Questions

What are acceptable forms of answers?

Answers on the Mandelbrot Competition should be given in simplest form in accordance with standard mathematical conventions. For example, square roots should not appear in the denominators of fractions (rationalize denominators). Other common conventions include writing fractions in lowest terms and simplifying square roots so that no perfect squares appear under the radical sign. In general we recommend that students write fractions rather than decimals when either is an option. Probabilities should be reported as a real number between 0 and 1 inclusive, usually as a fraction. Units are not required, but should be correct if supplied. Finally, special directions in a particular problem take precedence over these general guidelines. More details are provided in the official Rules.

As a general policy proctors should nonetheless award credit for answers which are clearly equivalent to the one supplied on the key; for example, if a student were to write 6/10 instead of 3/5. But inevitably tricky judgment calls will arise. For example, imagine that a contestant makes significant progress on a problem, only to write without making the final simplification to obtain the correct answer of 2. Should this answer receive full credit? (Recall that partial credit is not awarded.) In gray areas such as these we ask coaches to give credit only for answers that are written in simplest terms and clearly agree with the answer given in the solution key, then direct any requests or questions over close calls (such as the above) to us from the Dialogue page. Greater Testing Concepts will make a final decision on such matters and then mention any permitted alternate answers in the Mandelbrot Memo for all coordinators to see.

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