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Different layers of problem solvers

A brain exercise quiz caught my eye recently (trace out the figure without repeating any edges):

After playing out a few rounds randomly I decided to give it some real thought and managed to come up with the solution. But the real important aspect of the experience was making me reflect on the different types of problem solvers there are out there:

Layers of problem solvers:

Level 0

Keep trying mindlessly and never getting it

Level 1

Keep trying and finally got it, but find it hard to replicate the answer or explain why the method work - has form, but hasn’t caught on the substance

Level 2

Try and fail a few times, pause and identify the key elements of the problem. Work on them and thus able to conquer the problem. Feels confident after in explaining the concept, method and thinking process after.

Level 3

Is able to catch on the key points of the problem immediately and extend the principles to other similar problems

Putting it in context:





Keep trying and somehow never getting it, keep repeating the same wrong moves

Keep getting the wrong answers and just brush off the subject as insanely difficult.


Keep trying and complete it once, but can’t remember the solution or explain why it works – just happy that the question is solved

Follows model solutions and manage to get the answer, but is unable to explain how the method works and replicate method on similar problems


After a few tries, ponders through why the previous guesses didn’t work and proceed to work out the right way forward

After a few erroneous tries, reflects on what is wrong with the previous attempts, tweaks method to get the desired solution subsequently. Is able to extend his learnings to analogous problems.


Am able to pick on the right points and work out the puzzle immediately, either through experience or high IQ

Catches on the theory and is able to work out the problem immediately, one shot one kill.

Now we have to admit that not everyone is a level 3 guy, but level 2 can be attained with the right amount of guidance, reflection, probing question. I hope we can all work towards that (at least).

The framework above is merely my own construction, feel free to agree/disagree!


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