Many questions have been asked on this site regarding preparation for olympiads like the Putnam. I've read those questions and accordingly decided to start with Engel's "Problem Solving" but I have a few queries regarding how to practice the problems.
- Is Engel's book right for me? I think I have the knowledge of the material and that I just need lots of problems with clever solutions.
- How much time should I spend per problem? I am very bad at Putnam problems - I almost never get the solution - so is it better to: (1) spend just a little time on the problem, trying a basic approaches, and then looking at the solution, so that I can maximize my exposure to problem solving techniques in minimum time, or (2) spend a lot of time per problem and try as many possible approaches? I feel that (2) is very discouraging beccause even after spending time I usually don't get the answer, and that I end up spending lots of time on just 1 problem.
So far, studying has been a frustrating experience for me. I lose energy and feel discouraged when I start solving a problem because I almost always fail to do so. I lose my concentration and give up eventually. After looking at the solution, however, it seems so obvious. Is this just a phase that I'll get past, or am I studying wrong?