For quite some time, from 2006 to 2009, FSG used the, at that time, most common registration procedure known as "First clicked, first registrated". This procedure is fairly simple: The registration process would open to the teams at a specified date and time and the first x teams clicking on "Register now" would get a slot. It is easy to implement and easy to understand, but successful registration is a matter of mere luck. FSG and the teams were not satisfied with this solution. Understandable, given that during competition every achievement is measured with points.
Additionally this method is also prone for DDOS attacks on the registration server, starting shortly before the registration starts and just leaving a very small synchronized time window to register your own team. Frankly, I always wanted to try that, but it would have been very unfair and the spirit that I experienced at the events kept me from doing it during my active time as a team member. It would also be against FSAE D10.2 Unsportsmanlike Conduct and can get your team banned from other competitions as well. So do not think about it, you will be caught anyway.
The first measure of addressing the "registration problems" was to allow early registration for a specified number of registration slots. This started in 2008 where 20 of 64 slots were available to non-German teams to increase diversity at the event. This was increased in 2009 by adding the Top10 FSG contenders of the previous year and the Top10 of the FSC World Ranking List. The general purpose early registration slots for non-German teams where subsequently reduced to 16. This means that in theory a total of 36 slots of 78 in total are available during early registration, 50%.
However, since there is typically a significant overlap between Top10 FSG teams and Top10 WRL teams of 5 to 7 teams, we end up with about 30 available early registration slots. FSG is currently the only event which allows early registration for the Top10 of the WRL, probably because it was invented by FSG and the other comps are still a bit critical about its purpose. Since its introduction the number of early registration slots has remained quite stable for FSC. Only the general purpose non-German slots were reduced by 1.
In 2015 there will also be an early registration for FSE teams which does not only include the Top6 FSE2014 teams, but also 4 slots for teams from outside Europe. Therefore up to 10 FSE slots will be given away during early registration
In 2010 it was finally decided to take a step ahead and change registration procedure to be more transparent and competition driven, the rules quiz was implemented. This works quite easily: The registration is still opened to teams at a specified date and time. The teams are all presented the same set of multiple choice question about the rules (FSAE and FSG and in case of FSE teams also general EE basics). If a teams manages to answer all questions correctly and slots are still available, it gets that slot, otherwise it is placed on the waiting list. NOTE: There is no waiting list for early registration.
There were rumours that the rules quiz was introduced to have higher quality entries. This is NOT the purpose of the rules quiz. It is mainly a tool to provide a fair and transparent registration process. A side effect is that teams that prepare for the quiz, have a better understanding of the rules which makes life during Scrutineering easier for both sides and hopefully prevents rules to be overlooked.
All information about the registration procedure for FSG2015 are summed up here on the FSG homepage: FSC / FSE . I strongly recommend to thoroughly read through that page! It contains all necessary information. In the following I will put emphasize on some of the information given.
There are two important things which have to be done before 11AM CET on the day of the rules quiz:
1) Make sure that your team account has been created on the FSG homepage.
2) Make sure that you have chosen three team captains and that these three people are available during the time of the quiz.
Why are those two things important? At 11AM the team database is closed to move the database to the registration server. Therefore it is impossible to make any changes to the database after 11AM. We do this, because the registration server offers way more computational resources and by doing so we were available to always prevent our site from being locked down aka denial-of-service by too many teams trying to register. We only move to the other server during registration to keep the cost down. During the rest of the year there is no need for a MIPS behemoth being used as our webserver.
You should also make sure to have 3 team captains registered and available before 11AM. During the last FSG registration quizzes I saw many teams not using all three accounts which is a disadvantage with respect to the maximum allowable amount of quiz submissions per time frame. If you read the information available on the FSG website already, you know that every user aka team captain can only submit the quiz every 30s. Therefore with one team captain you have one try every 30s. But with 3 team captains and coordinated approach you may take a shot every 10s which could heavily influence your chance of passing the quiz quickly. So hint number 1 is:
1) USE ALL 3 TEAM CAPTAIN ACCOUNTS TO TRY PASSING THE RULES QUIZ!
The 30s penalty between submissions has been implemented to prevent brute force attempts by just permutating through the answers. Therefore I would not skip good preparation as brute force is not likely to be successful, if being applied to all questions. A little example: The FSC quiz usually has 10 questions with at least 4 answers per question. That leaves you with 4^10 possibilities, while you may submit every 10s...in the worst case (using 3 team captains) you would solve the quiz 121 days after it has begun.
A further measure to prevent robots and/or brute force attempts is alternating the order of the questions and answers after each submit! Therefore you need to have good memory or really know the answer to the question. This leads to hint number 2:
2) THE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS MAY ALTERNATE IN ORDER AFTER EACH SUBMIT AND ALSO IN BETWEEN TEAM CAPTAINS OF THE SAME TEAM. DON'T BE CONFUSED BY THAT!
There is another hurdle that sometimes confuses teams: After 10min inactivity (no submit or refresh of the page) the respective user is logged out. This is a good thing, if the laptop of one of your team captains crashed while you were waiting for the quiz to start, but it might be bad, if you have just taken more than 10min to figure out the right answers without submitting in between. So hint number 3 follows:
3) DON'T GET CAUGHT BY THE INACTIVITY LOG OUT. EITHER REFRESH OR SUBMIT EVERY 5 TO 8 MINS TO BE SAFE.
After you have submitted the quiz, but haven't passed it you will be presented with the number of wrong questions. This is new this year. It will NOT show which questions have been answered wrong, only how many. This however means that checking this number regularly can prevent you from changing the correct answer to a question which has already been answered correctly into a false answer. Because, if you change the answer of an already correct answered question, the "wrong questions count" will go up. The good thing is: There is no maximum of tries to pass. Therefore, even if you know that you have not answered all questions correctly or calculated all numbers, just give it a try and see how many you have left.
4) IF AT LEAST ONE ANSWER WAS WRONG, YOU WILL BE GIVEN THE AMOUNT OF WRONG ANSWERED QUESTIONS WHICH CAN HELP SOLVING THE QUIZ QUICKER.
As soon as you have passed the quiz successfully and get the message that you have been registered, you can lean back and take it slow. You will be prompted to choose a car number, but you do not have to rush this as this is not part of the battle for a registration slot.
When it comes to the normal rules questions, you can only prepare by knowing the rules, BOTH FSAE and FSC/FSE well and of course by checking out the quiz questions of the last years which I have published in the FSG forum (note that you have to be logged in to access the forum): FSC2013 , FSC2014 Early Reg, FSC2014, FSE2010-2012 , FSE2013, FSE2014. This may give you a hint about the type of questions that will be asked.
If you are an FSE team you will be facing another type of question for which you can hardly prepare except by having paper, pen and calculator ready: The questions about basic principles of electrical engineering. Those questions usually lead to longer registration times for the FSE teams and can hardly be predicted. Again having a look at the published quiz questions could help you out. So hint number 5 is:
5) PREPARE FOR THE QUIZ BY READING THE FSAE AND FSC/FSE RULES THOROUGHLY. ALSO CHECK THE QUIZ QUESTION OF FORMER YEARS TO GET A FEELING FOR THE TYPE OF QUESTIONS.
The last important thing is to use a suitable infrastructure, test it before hand and prepare a plan B. Shortly before the quiz starts some teams post pictures where you can see them sitting together in a room with a digital projector that shows the FSG website, waiting for the quiz to appear. This is a smart way of concetrating your resources, especially if you choose the information systems department of your university which usually provides a fast and reliable internet connection. However, as we all know, Murphy's law might kick in and either may cut power or network connection and you would "sit in the dark" with no chance of registering. Therefore it could be a good backup plan to have someone with the respective login e.g. one of the team captains sit somewhere else using a different internet connection. For example using a laptop and a 3G USB stick or similar. Just in case...
Additionally you may want to check beforehand whether your browser displays the quiz correctly. You can do so by using the FSG Testregistration Page . You are able to see what the quiz will look like, etc. Make sure to submit the test quiz at least once with a wrong answer, to see what happens.
6) MAKE SURE TO USE A PROPER INFRASTRUCTURE TO COMBINE YOUR RESOURCES AND HAVE A PLAN B, IF YOUR PRIMARY SOLUTION FAILS.
There are of course no real secret hints on how to pass the quiz faster than the other teams except for knowing the questions beforehand, but I can assure you that FSG keeps them very safe and only a few people inside FSG know the questions and correct answers.
We also monitor and log all the attempts during the quizzes, to make sure everything is working properly and to be able to resolve any questions or protests after the quiz.
If you think that any content in this post is worth discussing, please do so in the FSAE.com forum and not in the comment section of this blog, to make sure that everyone can benefit from the contents of the discussion, even if he/she is not reading this blog.