The North American Online Practice Contests

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The North American Online Practice Contests

Borja Sotomayor
University of Chicago

borja@cs.uchicago.edu

There are many ways in which ICPC teams can prepare for a contest, including doing practice contests that replicate, as much as possible, the experience of being in a real contest. While seasoned ICPC coaches typically have the in-house expertise to run a contest management server and hold practices for their teams, the same is not necessarily true for schools and coaches that are new to ICPC, who may find the experience of setting up a contest to be daunting. This, in turn, can lead to teams not getting enough preparation before a regional, discouraging these newer teams, and ultimately affecting retention in ICPC. To address this issue, as well as to facilitate the work of the more experienced coaches, the North American regions have been running a series of online practice contests since 2015 (http://naipc.uchicago.edu/practices/). These practice contests are run on Kattis on weekends, with several practice contests scheduled before the North American regionals, and another series of practice contests scheduled before the North American Invitational Programming Contest (in March/April) and the World Finals. In this presentation, we will describe how the practice contests are or- ganized and run, and will share insights and lessons learned from the three years the practices have been running.