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Welcome to the homepage for the Problem Solving Workshop!

Before our Academic Enrichment Programme launches in January 2022, we will be supporting students who attended our Summer Preparation Programme over October half-term with a Problem Solving Workshop. During this week-long workshop, you will attend a skills session, complete a problem-solving activity, and have the opportunity to present to your peers.

The workshop will support your current studies by helping you to develop key skills which are relevant for all subject interests. The workshop will also prove valuable for aspects of the university application process, such as admissions assessments and interviews. More generally, problem solving is crucial for our college's goal of addressing complex global challenges and making a positive impact on society.

On this page, you can remind yourself of the Problem Solving Workshop timetable and find problem solving resources.

Please fill in this post-workshop to tell us about your experience of the workshop

We hope you will enjoy the programme and find it really valuable for your studies, and beyond. If you have any queries or concerns then don't hesitate to contact us on



In this skills session, we will discuss the importance of developing your problem-solving skills, various methods for going about solving problems, and relevant aspects of metacognition. 




Extension resources:

You Can Grow Your Intelligence: New Research Shows the Brain Can Be Developed Like a Muscle

What We Know About Growth Mindset from Scientific Research



If you are struggling with any aspect of your chosen problem, or would like some help with your presentation, you are welcome to attend our drop-in clinic to ask any questions. 


This session will not be recorded, but you are welcome to send any questions to

In this session, you will have the option to present your findings to the rest of your cohort. You will be asked to provide constructive feedback to students’ presentations. We hope that this session will allow you to see the wide variety of methods through which problems can be solved and allow students who are presenting to develop their oracy skills.




1. Choose a problem

Choose one problem to solve from the problem solving workbook below. The problems are designed to primarily develop your transferrable skills, so even problems which are not necessarily immediately related to your subject area(s) should be accessible and offer you an opportunity to develop key skills. Once you’ve solved one problem and reflected on it, you’re of course welcome to attempt the others too!

Problem Solving Workbook

UPDATE: The problem solutions have now been published. You can find them at the end of this webpage.

2.    Solve the problem

Keeping in mind what you learnt from the session, try and solve the problem. We know it’s tempting, but do not use the Internet when solving your problem! If you have any problems, you are welcome to attend the drop-in clinic on the afternoon of 27th October. 

3.    Reflect on your experience

While solving the problem, reflect on the following questions:

  • What is the question asking you to do?

  • What are the different ways you could go about solving this problem? Try to identify at least three possible methods (e.g., write information down, discuss the options with someone else, use trial and error).

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of each method?

  • What steps are required to execute your method?

  • Was your method effective or not?

  • What problems did you incur when solving the problem?

  • What did you find most challenging when solving the problem?

  • What did you enjoy most when solving the problem?

  • What will you change about your process next time you solve a problem?

4.    Prepare a presentation

Even if you do not wish to deliver your presentation in Friday’s session, we encourage you to prepare a presentation. In your presentation, you should explain how you solved the problem and discuss some of your reflections when solving the problem. Your presentation should be around 5 minutes in length, and you are welcome to prepare slides to accompany it.

5.    Deliver the presentation

Delivering the presentation is not compulsory. However, we would like to offer as many students as possible the opportunity to share their findings. Being able to deliver an engaging presentation is an important transferrable skill, and it is a fantastic way to help develop your oracy skills. If presenting, you may wish to rewatch the Oracy session recording from the Summer Preparation Programme to remind yourselves of our top tips for presenting. 
If you would like to deliver a presentation, please email Hayley at with your chosen problem and any slides you have prepared. 




Solution (Question 1 - Estonian)

Resources for similar problems:

UK Linguistics Olympiad Problems

(I would recommend starting with the 'Foundation' problems - i.e., the same level as the Estonian problem)

International Linguistics Olympiad Problems

A quick intro to language analysis

The Language Lover's Puzzle Book

Linguistics Admissions Assessment (Question 1)


Solution and resources

If you have attempted this question, I'd encourage you to submit your solution to NRICH!

Interested in other opportunities to get involved with Lucy Cavendish?

Check out our Visits and Open Days page to find out about other events which you can get involved in