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Navigating the Classroom

Please see this page for information about how to access your classroom.

Each class consists of an experienced instructor leading students through a series of related problems of increasing complexity. The classes are highly interactive. Students are challenged to answer questions throughout their study of each problem. Students are also able to ask questions of their own and work one-on-one with instructors if they need more personal attention. We are able to achieve this high degree of interactivity and individualized attention by holding our classes in a text-and-image-only moderated classroom. You can read more on this page about why we have chosen to set the classroom up in this way.

What To Expect

Your class will have a main instructor and one or two assistants. The instructor will lead the conversation while the assistants are helping individual students independently.

When class begins, the classroom will be moderated. That means that the messages you send will not go directly into the classroom, and the instructor will choose some messages to be sent to the classroom. This gives all students a chance to participate and keeps the class focused. This also means that students can ask questions at any time, and the class assistants will help them out individually.

During class, you'll want some paper and a pen or pencil nearby, so you can work on problems during class. If your class has a textbook, you should complete the assigned readings before class, but you won't need to use your textbook during class. Also, don't worry about taking notes. We'll do that for you and post a complete transcript of the class once it ends.

The Classroom Window

Once you're in the classroom, you'll see one big window, divided into a few pieces. The main part of the screen you'll see is the classroom discussion. At the bottom of the screen is where you'll type in any questions or comments you wish to share with the teacher or assistants.

On the right side of the screen is the list of users in the room. The usernames of your instructor, course assistants, and any other school staff will be bold and appear at the top of this list in teal. You will also see an "I" icon next to your instructor's username and an "A" icon next to any class assistants.


During class time, the classroom will be moderated, which means that everything you type in will be shared with the instructor and assistants. Sometimes, the instructor will choose to share your comment or question with the rest of the class. In that case, it will show up in the main classroom window. Other times, the instructor or assistant may address your question or comment privately.

Messages you send to the moderated classroom will show up in a special color. Please see more about colors under "Settings" below.

Student messages shared with the rest of the class will appear with a light gray background. If your message is shared with the rest of the class, you will see your username appear in your selected color.

Private Communication

If the instructor wants to answer you privately, they will do one of two things: whisper or start a private message.

Whispers and private messages are only used for staff-to-student communication. Students are not able to whisper or start private messages with other students or course staff, but staff will see anything you send to the classroom while it is moderated.

Whispers are one-way messages will appear within your classroom window, and that text is only visible to you. Whispers cannot be directly replied to. You may type in a response as usual. If you wish to address your message to a particular user, you can add "@USERNAME" to the start of your message. This will let the instructor and assistants know that your message is directed at a particular person.

Private messages will open up a separate window that allows two-way direct communication between you and the instructor or assistant. Private messages end when either you or the instructor/assistant close your private message window.

Honor Code

One of the two principles of the AoPS Honor Code is that students will be respectful of all other AoPS users while in this class and on this site, as stated in the AoPS Terms of Service. All AoPS students have agreed to this statement before beginning their courses. More details about the Honor Code can be found on this page.

The same love of math and learning is what brings each of us to the site. All AoPS members have a right to experience a kind, welcoming, and safe environment. This includes you, as well as your classmates, the course staff, and other AoPS administrators.

Be sure to keep these expectations in mind when interacting with others in the classroom. If you encounter something that you feel is in violation of the Terms of Service or Honor Code, please let us know! Reach out to your instructor or assistants, or email school administrators at


Click the arrow next to your avatar in the top-right corner to view the Settings menu.

  • Clear My Classroom: This will clear all of the text from the classroom screen for you only. If you mistakenly click this, refresh your browser page and the classroom should load about the last 100 lines of text.
  • Text Size: Increase or decrease the size of the text in the classroom.
  • My Message Color: This allows you to choose the color that your own messages, and private responses to your messages appear to you. This does not change the way your messages appear to others. The color options are shown below.
    • Green:
    • Orange:
    • Red:
    • Purple:
    • Blue:
  • Show Avatars: If your instructor has enabled avatars (images next to your username) for the entire class, you can decide whether or not you would like to see those avatars on your screen. If your instructor has not enabled avatars for your class, you will not be able to change this setting.
  • Flashing Notifications: When you receive a Private Message from an instructor or assistant, the number of unread messages in that private message will blink or flash in red. You can turn off this setting if you prefer the number only displays but does not flash.
  • Full Screen: If your screen is wide, you can turn on this setting to hide the gray panels on the left and right of the screen and stretch the classroom to fill all the available space. If you are on a less wide screen, including a tablet or mobile device, you will not see this setting.
  • Change Column Widths: This allows you to adjust the widths of the classroom and user list columns. The default layout is a wide classroom window and small user list, but you also have options to view a larger user list or make the columns evenly-spaced.

Special Classroom Features

Preview: On the left side of the text entry box, you will see an eye icon. This will allow you to preview your message before you send it, if you would like. This is especially helpful if you type in LaTeX code (more information below).

Click the circular arrow to update the preview if you make any changes, and click the eye-closed icon to close the preview.

LaTeX: LaTeX is a mathematical typesetting language that helps display math properly. You can include LaTeX-typeset math equations within the text of anything typed into the classroom. The math needs only be wrapped in dollar signs (such as $x-4=10$). If you don't know LaTeX, that's no big deal. You don't have to use it. We'll tell you how to express different symbols in plain text as we encounter them.

If you are unfamiliar with LaTeX and would like to learn more about how to use it, we have a LaTeX Guide in the Resources area of our site. The Message Board is also a good place to practice using LaTeX.

Images: Often, your instructor will display images using the Asymptote Vector Graphics language. If you want to see the Asymptote code used to create a particular image, click on it in the classroom. You can use Asymptote in the classroom, too! Just as with LaTeX, learning Asymptote is not required, but it is available for students who wish to use it in class. To use Asymptote code within the classroom, the code simply needs to be placed within [asy] and [/asy] tags, like this:
[asy]Asymptote Code Goes Here[/asy].

If you are unfamiliar with Asymptote and would like to learn more about it, we have an Asymptote Guide in the Resources area of our site.

Python: If you enroll in one of our programming courses, the classroom will look a little different than the screenshots on this page, and won't have custom color settings or message previews. However, in programming courses, your instructor will be able to post Python code into the classroom! You can run this code, edit it, and try again. The "Reset" button will reset the code back to what was originally posted, and "Pop Out" allows you to "pop" the code out into a new window. You can post your own code, too! To use Python within the classroom, use ;python before any code you wish to enter, like this:
;python Python Code Goes Here.

Keep Diagrams or Messages Around: The instructor will occasionally "stick" messages to the top of the classroom, which means that these messages will stay at the top of the classroom. If you'd like to hold on to a particular message or diagram from the classroom, double-click it. This will open up a separate window that contains only the message or diagram you clicked. You can have one such message open at a time.