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I realize that the brilliant community is diverse and from all corners of the world. How is education where you are? Are the courses rigorous and hard, easy and boring or too reliant on rote memorization? Also if you are a more senior member,which college did you go to and what was the experience like? I think it would be awesome if the brilliant staff shared their experiences here.

Note by Thaddeus Abiy
3 years, 4 months ago

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Good evening. I'm from India, where the course relies way too much on rote learning, even for subjects like Math and Physics. It's a very competitive environment here, where millions of students fight to get top ranks, and get into the few really good colleges in the country. So, a lot of emphasis is placed on the exam, and not much on the subject. Problem solving is almost completely neglected until the final years of Secondary schooling where people struggle to understand concepts.

But overall the courses are up to standard. In an idealistic world with no competition, this would be a good course, but sadly, it is not an idealistic world. Due to the heavy competition, there is extreme emphasis on just getting marks and not on understanding the material, or enjoying what you do. Kp Govind · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Kp Govind The saddest thing about the education system in India is its flawed perception of talent. Each year I've seen thousands of students preparing for IIT (Indian Institution Of Technology). For most Indian parents, making it to the IIT is a big deal. Nobody even notices what a third class institution it actually is (no offense). I tried to convince some of my friends about the falsehood of IIT, but in vain. The entrance tests are nothing but a bunch of standard problems which you have to solve in a given time. How quick you can solve a problem you know how to solve isn't a measure of how good you are. Unfortunately, very few people are able to realize that.

When it comes to school studies, well, that isn't good either. I'm not mentioning the way they teach you maths and science in your school, that's simply pathetic. The most well known exams you usually give in your school life are NTSE and IMO. Just for the note, I'm not talking about the legit IMO here. Many school students participate in this competition; the questions are nothing but a bunch of arithmetic calculations they teach you at school (trolololol it claims itself to be the largest olympiad in Asia while it's clearly not an olympiad and isn't held anywhere outside India). The problems are VERY standard, you just have to do them all within 90 minutes. I have seen many students participate in the IMO (the fake one), get medals, and actually getting popular in their schools for being 'good at math' (well no offense to them, all I want to say is that how fast you solve some standard problems isn't a measure of your talent). Very few students (atleast where I live) are aware of RMO, the first step in India towards the legit IMO. The RMO papers were leaked for two consecutive years in 2010-2011 and the questions were posted in AoPS (luckily I didn't sit for RMO back then). Those who qualified RMO had to sit for a retest just because the paper was leaked. It got no attention from other people at all. Now imagine what would happen if IIT papers were leaked for one year, and those who qualified had to sit for another exam. It's actually a sad thing that exams like IIT-JEE and IMO (the fake one) are getting more attention than exams like RMO, INMO, and TST.

I would like to end my comment with a funny conversation I had with one of my friends after I qualified RMO. So when I qualified RMO, well, I was naturally very happy (although RMO isn't that hard an exam :P ), and informed one of my classmates about it. It turned out that he had no idea about what RMO is. I later told him that it was the first step towards the (real) IMO. As it was expected, he confused it with the fake IMO and gave me a problem to solve from the IMO. Eventually I did solve it, but not instantly (it took me about 5 minutes). He then told me that I had to be quick, I don't deserve to qualify for IMO if I'm not quick enough (I'm not making this up!). I really didn't know what to say then. Would the class topper, an IMO gold medalist, admit that he has no idea of what a good mathematics problem is if I told him? I suppose not.

This is how you're judged in India. It doesn't matter how good you are, all that matters is how quick you are.

P.S: No offense to those who are preparing for IIT. These are just my personal opinions. Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Sreejato Bhattacharya Though you may be right on the whole @Sreejato Bhattacharya , you're totally wrong when it comes to the fake IMO. It is of no doubt that the problems here are trivial , but you must acknowledge that this competition is organised in 16 other countries too with over 4 million students participating. I'm no SOF pracharak , but yes I do agree with the point that time is the point that matters in Indian competitions. Even in NTSE and KVPY , time plays a major role. Thus, all I can say is, if you're in this country, I think you have to be fast in competitions. Otherwise, you're perfectly right and very talented too. Best of Luck and hope you get to study in a university of your choice! :D And, btw, do you reallly plan to mark all answers wrong in JEE? Krishna Ar · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Krishna Ar Well, I didn't know the (fake) IMO is held in 16 other countries. :O But it definitely isn't the largest olympiad in Asia. In fact it isn't anything close to an olympiad. I find most of their questions silly and undemanding of intelligence. Maybe 4 million students are participating, but how do they get judged? Someone who can solve a few arithmetic calculations in a given time is not necessarily good at maths. What's more pathetic is that the SOF IMO is more popular (atleast here) than the legit olympiads. When I qualified RMO most of my fellow students confused it for the SOF IMO. Why should the capability of a student be judged by how fast he can solve a few standard problems?

I know, if you're in this country, you have to be fast, and that's what I object. The speed of your mental calculations doesn't determine how good you are. That is why I find exams like IMO pointless.

And yes, I'm going to intentionally mark all answers wrong in JEE. Why care about your JEE rank when you don't want to join IIT? :P Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Sreejato Bhattacharya You're perfectly right. But I still don't think you aren't serious about your comments on JEE :P And, what are TST's? could you throw some light on them? you also mentioned that you're not studying in any school currently. Does this mean you may look at a change of board after your results? Or are you home-schooled? Definitely SOF IMO is more popular because not all can , let go attempt, even understand RMO problems. I hope you got what i was saying Krishna Ar · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Krishna Ar TST stands for Team Selection Test. Every country organizes a series of some exams for students attending the IMO training camp. The top 6 make it to the IMO.

I'm somewhere between tenth and eleventh grade right now, I might change my board when I affiliate (given that I don't fail :3 ).

I couldn't agree more with your last sentence! Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Sreejato Bhattacharya Hi, @Sreejato Bhattacharya , observing your views about the JEE exam and the IIT, I am sure even though you shall easily qualify the exams, you shall not join IIT. Then what are your plans about future studies? Studying basic sciences at IISc or going for the MIT or something like that? Shaan Vaidya · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Shaan Vaidya I'm being forced to give JEE, and I have decided that I will intentionally mark all answers wrong (if by some chance I get a good score, I'm afraid might have to study at IIT. :P ). Yes I'm applying aboard, but even if I don't qualify, there are good colleges in India like ISI and CMI. Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Sreejato Bhattacharya Hahahaha! Great plan for not getting into IITs! I agree that the exam is not that difficult but I disagree on your opinion that IITs are third-class. They produce, I think, the best engineers in the world who have been extremely successful. Why have you been drawn into having this opinion? Shaan Vaidya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Shaan Vaidya I might have been exaggerating when I said IIT is a third-class institution, but it definitely doesn't deserve to be this popular. You might want to take a look at this list of some of the best institutions in the world. Note that IIT isn't even in the top 100! One of the main reasons I hate IIT is that I'm being forced to focus on JEE which diverts me from my primary interest, the math olympiads. Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Sreejato Bhattacharya Well, I am ignorant about their method of ranking institutes but I think the IITs lack behind only because we do not have the resources for research like the MIT and the other elites have. Yes, I do agree that this extraordinary attention to JEE hampers our aptitude towards Math and Science. It does not give us the freedom to study whatever we want to. I am hardly able to take out some time to solve problems on Brilliant only because of the pressure of parents and teachers to do well in JEE for which I also have to study some topics that I do not like. I agree, this system should change for the better. Shaan Vaidya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Shaan Vaidya The lack of research facilities isn't the only reason IIT is lagging behind. From what I've heard, the way they teach you stuff there is not that great. Out of the curriculum projects aren't particularly encouraged there (based on what I've heard). And their admission system sucks. A speed test can never determine how good you are. And yes, I agree, this hype for JEE is rather unnecessary. Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Sreejato Bhattacharya Well, I have not heard about the teaching being ordinary or something like that. I agree that a speed test can never determine how good you are. RMO, INMO, IMO and their counterparts in the other subjects, wherein we are a given a set of problems to ponder over for a time, can get the best out of us. I don't know whether you have heard about it but I would suggest you to give this exam called Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojna (KVPY), as, if you get a fellowship, you stand an extremely good chance to get into the Best Research institutes of India (viz. IISc, IISERs, etc.) The exam's easy, but what is important is the preference given to KVPY fellows in admissions. I became its fellow just this year in eleventh standard. Shaan Vaidya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Shaan Vaidya Yes, I'm appearing for KVPY. KVPY fellows indeed get a considerable advantage when it comes to higher studies. Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Sreejato Bhattacharya so have you taken the sat? Beakal Tiliksew · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Beakal Tiliksew Not yet. Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Sreejato Bhattacharya Advice from person of experience, applying to the universities you indicated, As good as your math is IT will be trivial if you have no extracurricular activities(That is where i made a mistake), But i am sure you will ace the standardized tests,
I am saying this seeings how you love to be on the olympiad, Beakal Tiliksew · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Beakal Tiliksew Umm... I don't think the ISI entrance examinations consist of standard problems. Plus, INMO awardees don't have to seat for their admission test, which is why ISI and CMI are gonna be my primary targets. Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Sreejato Bhattacharya At least you haves some competitions, here we have none Beakal Tiliksew · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Sreejato Bhattacharya So... did you make the (legit) IMO? Finn Hulse · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Finn Hulse Nope, screwed up in INMO this year. :( The time limit was too less for me. Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Sreejato Bhattacharya Well, I bet you'll kill it next year. Study hard! Good luck to you! :D Finn Hulse · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Finn Hulse yeah ..i will give RMO this year but it will but it will be my first and last attempt because students of class 12th and above are not eligible to give RMO . only till class 11th one is eligible . I am too nervous . @Sreejato Bhattacharya So..how to prepare for RMO ?Which books to study?your advise will be too helpful? Starwar Clone · 3 years, 4 months ago

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This is kinda long, but I have been to a lot of schools :P

I am a mostly proud product, of the deeply flawed, but tremendously valuable American public education system. For k-12 I attended schools that were good, but not the "best," in a pretty middle class place in America.

Education in America is absurdly diverse both in type and quality. Region to region, neighborhood to neighborhood, the schools vary in how well funded they are and the demographics that attend them. From elementary school to highschool, I had both heroically spectacular and abysmally bad teachers across pretty much all subjects at some point in time. In general, I had fewer good math teachers, but a wealth of good science, English/Literature, and History/Social studies teachers.

High school for me was easy, slow, and often boring, but now always. I used to be able to do all my homework at lunch to make more time for sports, reading novels, and working for money. In America we do a whole lot of rote learning/memorization, though compared to the stories I hear from Asia, we do a lot less of it and our rote learning is much easier. No American students ever see anything mandatory that looks as scary as the JEE until college (that might be a lie). When I say highschool was easy for me, that is less a testament to my talent and more to the degree that doing "well," at typical American high schools just involves being good at learning and remembering to turn in your homework. I went to Wilson Highschool if anyone wants to creep on it. Their website has not improved much since 2002.

I then somehow managed to get into a totally insane school called DeepSprings College. That is way too long a tale to tell here. Deep Springs is an unbelievably intellectually rigorous place. Classes at Deep Springs are perpetually demanding, extremely intimate and ambitious endeavors, spent with people who are all smarter than you. No matter who you are. They destroyed every idea and value I ever had and built them back better from scratch.This is an old recruitment brochure, it can give you a sense of what happens at Deep Springs.

Deep Springs is a two year college. I then took a year off of college and stayed on as the Staff Cowboy of Deep Springs for several months. Eventually I moved to New York City, to try to get a job and see what it would be like to live in a city and support myself. It was the fall of 2008 which was a bad time for job hunting in America. I failed at that and mostly starved and failed to make ends meet doing odd jobs as a janitor, butcher etc... and squandering my life's savings until eventually I found work back west, and moved away. I only mention that because I learned as much in that year between school as I ever did while in school. Hence my recommendation: not all great learning and adult development happens in school. That said school, is still probably your greatest shot at upward mobility no matter where your from, so you should still go.

Because I was homesick and terrified of student debt, I transferred to Oregon State University where I spent a few years and got a degree in Geology, which I love to the bottom of my heart. A common trait of American public universities is their extremely bi-modal quality within them. Most of my lower division general science/math and general-ed classes were appallingly bad. They were easier than high school and crammed full of 100's of people that probably didn't belong in college. My Upper division courses within my department were functionally an entirely different university. The classes were absurdly challenging, joyfully interesting, and spent with really smart and supportive people.

The best part about American college in my opinion is that you generally have a lot to do, but way more unstructured time to do it in than you have in high school. Also, if you are in a cool department, the thrill of college is participating with others in asking questions that have no known answers. At cool colleges, you get to do fewer exercises and a lot more learning by doing, exploring, and creating. I am unsure the degree to which that version of an undergraduate degree is unique to motivated American students, at schools with awesome departments, or common in other systems as well. Peter Taylor Staff · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Peter Taylor No offense to you personally, but Deep Springs looks pretty hicky... :D Finn Hulse · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Finn Hulse Ha! Yeah Deep Springs does give you an appreciation of the the finer points of rural life 100 years ago. This is balanced by an overdose of reading and writing which is not commonly found on a typical working ranch. Peter Taylor Staff · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Peter Taylor Huh, seems actually pretty cool! Something Dwight Schrute would do. :D Finn Hulse · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Finn Hulse Nah, Dwight was destined for bigger and better things than elite academia, Deep Springs would have interfered with his upward mobility at Dunder Mifflin. Peter Taylor Staff · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Peter Taylor Dude, I have literally watched every Office episode at least twice. Fist bump. And plus, (spoiler alert) he eventually makes it to manager. :D Finn Hulse · 3 years, 3 months ago

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I from Eritrea, but I am in United States now.The course in Eritrea was much harder and you had to do a lot of memorization.When I first came into Us I took a magnet test for gifted students, I didn't pass the test due to lack of English and not been that speedy in math. My classes are boring, I take pre calculus and geometry and some free online classes.While science I started learning the awesomeness of physics this year.I ask my teachers for challenging problems and more work. Sometimes I think that math teacher should be someone who is passionate not some one who tells you that you don't use this in real life.I would like to hear from others and and thanks for making this note. Mardokay Mosazghi · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Mardokay Mosazghi What really is a 'Magnet School'?Technically I go to a 'Magnet' school but I bet its not what you are referring to. Thaddeus Abiy · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Thaddeus Abiy School for the gifted. Finn Hulse · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Mardokay Mosazghi Wait... are you in precalculus? Because then you should totally qualify for any magnet school. Finn Hulse · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Finn Hulse No I wasn't on pre calculus when I took the magnet test and the test is like a preliminarily test of the SAT. Mardokay Mosazghi · 3 years, 4 months ago

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Right now, I live in America. I go to a crappy public school and I'm in Algebra 1. It sucks. Pretty much, I'm not allowed to skip courses, so I do crappy math at school, and fun stuff outside of school. Hopefully, when I get to high school I'll get recognized for my hard work and achievements. Finn Hulse · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Finn Hulse I draw fractals at school during math class. Frodo Baggins · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Frodo Baggins They teach math in Middle earth?lol Thaddeus Abiy · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Thaddeus Abiy Of course! 1 wizard+4 hobbits+2 men+1 elf+1 dwarf makes 10 members of the fellowship! Frodo Baggins · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Frodo Baggins :D Finn Hulse · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Thaddeus Abiy HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That's hilarious! :D Finn Hulse · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Finn Hulse Sad for you though. Our school only lets us skip one grade ahead of one subject and I think that's about it. End of story for me. But I can't imagine a school that won't let you skip.. Well, I'm a 12 year old 7th Grader who's also in Algebra I... Kevin Mo · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Kevin Mo No no no, I'm already in "Gifted" math with a bunch of Neanderthals, but I'm not allowed to go anywhere else. So yeah, I'm in 7th and in Algebra 1 (and I'll be 13 next month). Finn Hulse · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Finn Hulse This makes me feel lucky. I got to do harder math in class when I solved a HSC type question which was very simple. \(\frac {5x^2 - 3x + 34}{x+2}\). Also in 7th grade and 12. BTW, the HSC is a test that Year 12 students take for universities, etc. Sharky Kesa · 3 years, 4 months ago

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Well, I am from India and I live in Berhampur, Odisha. Actually the problem with the education system in India is that a lot of importance is given to rote learning or memorization and almost no importance is given to the understanding of concepts. Actually a survey showsmost of the students joining IITs are not necessarily conceptually strong(no offense intended). In our country a lot of emphasis is on getting a good rank in entrance examinations rather on education. Soham Dibyachintan · 3 years, 4 months ago

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Hello,I am from India land of scientists. The educational structure here though developing yet is one of the finest educational system of world. Courses here mostly concentrates on theory not practical thus making a serious setback to this system.Courses here are neither too hard nor easy but depends on the person itself who is attempting the course. Some people have view that Indian educational system mainly concentrates on cramming but lets take it as positive because this leads students to develop and encourages them to do research work in a way. Anirudh Nirmal · 3 years, 4 months ago

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Hi,I'm from India I like to study but,usually when I try to concentrate on my studies in school my friends sometime call me Einstein or anything so I just don't do it at all in school instead I try to do it in my home alone and it helps in studying too even though in my last year I got cgpa same as my class' topper who usually go to tution and study a lot of extra classes I was like I didn't even study as per being in this age I topped in PSA ,and other some competition tests and I was just laughing at me and some my classmates who used to show-off their extra studies i 'be decided to study this time so I joined brilliant and I will be like last time but study also for time to time intervals and will see what will I score this time.what about you guys???? Varun Singh · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Varun Singh Guys don't get me wrong,I am not saying to depend on destiny I am saying that studying is good but giving your mind some rest and when study even fora hour concentrate fully in it.its much better then going to extra coaching centers,just study with full mind concentration. Varun Singh · 3 years, 4 months ago

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@Thaddeus Abiy I probably shouldn't say, but i think you know why? Beakal Tiliksew · 3 years, 4 months ago

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