Tips & Guidance

Read below for tips on forming a team, preparing to ace the Challenge, impressing the judges, and managing your time. Also, find some specific advice for coaches preparing teams.

Time Management

  • Divide and Conquer! Try to have an idea of how you will divide the labor throughout the day based on each person’s strengths
  • Set a Schedule Create a rough schedule to move from brainstorming to data to building a model, etc.
  • Understand the Question Read the question a few times and brainstorm what you know about the topic. Be creative and consider seemingly outrageous ideas.
  • Get Out of the Weeds Include variables that are tractable and for which there is data, or make assumptions and move on. Try not to waste time spinning your wheels.
  • Keep It Simple Stick with straightforward ideas rather than adding complexity for the sake of looking sophisticated. Don’t use a sledgehammer when a thumbtack will do.
  • Track Your Resources Keep a running list of the websites/resources you’re using. Future you will be grateful!
  • Write as you go Once you’ve settled on a model, take the time to write a summary of how it works. It’s easier to capture your thoughts early than to try to remember everything at the end.
  • Gimme a Break! Breathe. Stretch. Eat. Play a game. Drink some water. Then get back to it!
  • Bottom Line Up Front Dedicate plenty of time for the executive summary at the end of your time (even though it goes at the beginning of the paper!) since it needs to include models and results.
  • Spare Some Time Proof-read the summary several times, and make sure the whole paper has a cohesive voice.
  • Have Fun! Have fun but keep your eye on the clock!