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The 2012 STEP Results Discussion Thread

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  • View Poll Results: Should we include the AEA in this thread?
    Yes
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    No
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    Use this thread for discussion about STEP results 2012!

    A separate no-discussion thread for posting your results is here.

    This thread used to be called The 2012 STEP Prep Thread 2012, so don't be alarmed by the sheer number of posts...
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    Just a place for us to discuss STEP in particular, how it's going, get some handy hints and share questions that seem particularly tasty

    Good luck to all! We're in this together, and obviously, we can do it! Read shamika's very helpful post if you need inspiration.

    Please read this before posting questions about STEP. This list is kept updated with answers to FAQs. All files you need are probably in the Megapack or on the official site - both linked below!


    Obviously though, you can post any questions that aren't directly answered here.

    VERY IMPORTANT: Please use spoiler tags when discussing recent STEP questions! Many of us are planning to use certain papers as mocks and do not want to stumble on any surplus information. Thank you.


    26/03/12 - STEP Megapack now available for online browsing! Still the final pack unless something happens.

    If MediaFire dies and Google Docs is a fail, PM me with your email address and I'll get the STEP Megapack to you. Download link is at the bottom of this post.
    ________________________________ ________________________________ _

    Good Advice (or an honest attempt! )
    • Start STEP practise as soon as you can. It's not something you can leave until the last minute, and the more time you have, the better!
    • Don't worry if STEP seems very difficult at first (or ever...). It's important to adjust your sights when doing STEP, as Cambridge say on their helpful page. One question is meant to take about 45 minutes to get a "good" solution (which might not even mean getting to the end of the question).
    • A good place to start is Stephen Silkos' booklet "Advanced Problems in Core Mathematics", available as part of the Megapack or from the official site. Don't simply read the solutions - have a go and use the hint if you're stuck.
    • Try and keep your practise steady (as far as possible). If you're busy in a week, try and have a go at one question anyway.
    • Everyone is different, but general consensus is that one question a day starting at the beginning of February, then shifting to an entire past paper a week (all 13 questions), is a solid amount of practise. (A few opinions - read from here.) It seems most people do less, but that's something to aim for to maximise your chances!


    • Unable to make progress? Consider leaving a question until tomorrow instead of looking up the solution. Sometimes you'll come back and the key will come :cool:
    • Do past papers, but save some of the more recent ones to do before the exam.
      • You may like to start timed past papers only once you have a good "hit rate" - that is to say, when you can do a good proportion of questions given enough time.
      • There are at least 25 past papers available for each STEP exam, most of which are in the new format (see below) and therefore relevant!
    • I don't know anyone who's getting STEP tuition. It's perfectly possible to do it yourself! A good strategy is to tackle a problem until you either succeed, or know you can't do it. Not just frustration; knowing you can't do it. At that point, seek a hint from a teacher or from TSR, or just look up a solution. Lone wolf until you're bleeding!
    • Have fun! Many people are surprised when they start enjoying STEP questions, as they get further and further into the rabbit hole. They're certainly more interesting than A-level questions, much more satisfying to complete, and hopefully you'll have a few smiles along the way!


    And finally, shamika made a very helpful post for those for whom STEP is fast approaching. I strongly suggest you check it out if you're nervous only thing I'd add is "know where your towel is!"

    Any additions / suggestions / bad advice here? Please let me know!

    Some answers to FAQs / Basic information
    • Not all questions will require all content. The non-standard (i.e. outside C1-4) content required by each question, if any, is usually obvious. Especially for STEP III, don't worry if you haven't covered everything!!
    • STEP I and II require Maths A-level plus "Proof by Induction" (basic explanation here - GDocs mirror).
      • Questions can be set that require:
      • C1-4 (for all questions).
      • S1-S2 (Stats questions).
      • M1-M2 (Mechanics questions)

    • STEP III has a very wide syllabus, including basically all of Further Maths. You're not expected to be able to do every question; it's possible to find six questions for most syllabuses but if you can learn more Maths, obviously more choice is better!
      • Modules required will depend heavily on your exam board, but in general (loose guidance):
      • C1-4, FP1 (all questions)
      • Most of FP2-3 (technically all questions but mostly Pure).
      • S1-S2 and bits of S3/S4 (Stats questions).
      • Most of M1-5 (Mechanics questions; OCR only offer to M4 but OCR has all relevant content)

    • Watch out when doing past papers: the STEP format changed in 1994.
      • Old format - STEP I is Maths A-level. STEP II and III are actually Further Paper A and Further Paper B (two Further papers).
      • This is in addition to changes in the syllabus that coincided with changes in the Maths and Further syllabuses (so there was one around 2000; STEP I 1998 mentions Argand diagrams!)
    • STEP I is meant to be easier than STEP II, which is roughly the same difficulty as STEP III (but STEP III requires Further Maths).
      • However, you might find STEP II harder if you're confident with Further Maths. Some people do. Swings and roundabouts really.
    • Outside formulae: STEP does not require you to learn anything outside A-level (Maths and Further). A-level (Maths and Further) results can be assumed. Other results may require proof depending on the question. My personal tactic is to ignore anything outside A-level (and it seems to be working fine), but if you want to learn some extra results, there's a small chance you may find a question to be easier.


    How STEP is marked (this bit probably needs checking/suggestions)
    • We don't know all the details, but I've tried to get together all the reliable information I can. STEP marking is a enigma, wrapped in a lie, wrapped in some kind of pastry.
    • We know the basics for sure.
      • One fully correct answer to all parts of a question is 20/20.
      • No lost marks for a bad (i.e. ugly) method, as long as it works, and it satisfies what the question is asking. Full marks for a correct answer by any correct method. (For "Show that..." and "Explain why..." questions, you do need to give sufficient reasoning.)
      • Most marks are method marks - i.e. a little algebraic slipup midway through a question (that results in an incorrect final answer) isn't the end of the world, as long as your method still holds. DFranklin suggested one such small slipup should cost 1-2 marks.
    • We do not know exactly how each individual question is marked. Let's take a look at what we know.
    • First of all, here is Dr Stephen Silkos' word. (He's the STEP Curator.)
      • "STEP questions are marked out of 20; no bonus marks, no alphas and betas, no extra credit for supposedly `neat' solutions. Borderlines [grade boundaries] are based on total marks and no other information from the scripts is used in the grading.
      • "The scripts of the Cambridge applicants are available for Directors of Studies to see in August, so that they can decide whether to accept an applicant who has not achieved the required conditions."
      • This means there shouldn't be any bonus marks for complete solutions any more. (Though obviously, complete solutions are still the goal!)
    • Though a question may have two parts, this does not necessarily mean each are worth 10 marks. Marks allocated to each question part should be weighted on the amount of effort required.
    • STEP markschemes may exist, but seem to be confidential. I emailed the STEP people and was met with this response:
      Spoiler:
      Show
      Other than the comments posted in the 'Final STEP solutions', the 'Final Examiner's Report' and other information on the website at http://www.admissionstests.cambridge...rg.uk/adt/step, there is no published guideline on the potential value of each partially completed STEP question; each candidate's answer, whether or not complete, would be unique.

      There are past papers downloadable from the website; we would suggest that thoroughly revising all topics within your A level syllabus and completing these past papers to the best of your ability under timed conditions will help you to prepare for the tests in June.

      You would also find useful information at http://meikleriggs.org.uk/ and https://nrich.maths.org/.
    • This suggests that it would be worth going through all the examiners' reports and seeing what comments they make [not done yet].
    • Are we allowed to start with the given answer in a "show that" or "prove that" question?
      • The short answer seems to be "Yes", as long as we are careful that the implications (logic) work both ways (e.g. no rogue squaring that introduces other possibilities).
      • Silkos' word on this, from the booklet:
        Spoiler:
        Show
        For the very first part [of this question], you could either factorise the left hand side to obtain the right hand side, or multiply out the right hand side to get the left hand side. Obviously, it is much easier to do the multiplication than the factorisation.

        But is that ‘cheating’ or taking a short cut that might lose marks? The answer to this is no: it doesn’t matter if you start from the given answer and work backwards — it is still a mathematical proof and any proof will get the marks. (But note that if there is a ‘hence’ in the question, you will lose marks if you do not do it using the thing you have just proved.)
    • Please suggest any more information that could be added here



    Useful links
    TSR Threads


    Downloads




    Megapack notes:
    • If you downloaded before v4, get the missing specimen papers here, as found by ben-smith.
    • If you downloaded before v3 - before 9pm 9/1/12 - download the newest one! This contains fixed versions of STEP 2 and 3 from 1990 to 1993 (thanks Farhan.Hanif93), plus better quality versions of the papers from 1999-2006.



    Grade Boundaries by Year - 2000-2011 (Google Docs link - includes sources etc)
    Spoiler:
    Show


    A perfect solution to any question is worth 20 marks.
    This means a 1 can usually be obtained with four good (but not perfect) solutions.


    Llewellyn suggested
    that for papers not listed above, use 90/70/50/40 for S/1/2/3.

    Alternatively, calculate means and variances (maybe even covariances! hooray! *shot*) from the data above - you're a maths nerd now! Original data available from the Google Docs link above.




    I'll add some more later - suggestions are very, very welcome!!

    Let's get cracking
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    (Original post by Xero Xenith)
    Just a place for us to discuss STEP in particular, how it's going, get some handy hints and share questions that seem particularly tasty

    Useful links
    STEP Solutions 1987-2007 (just click the links at the bottom of the first post)
    STEP Solutions and Papers 2011

    I'll add some more later.

    Let's get cracking
    I think people should leave 2011 alone for the moment. They might want to use it as a mock.
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    Right. Is anyone else only doing light step until end of jan due to exams?
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    *Subscribe*

    (Original post by maths134)
    Right. Is anyone else only doing light step until end of jan due to exams?
    Doing no STEP. I'd really rather get the next 2-3 weeks out of the way!
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    (Original post by ben-smith)
    I think people should leave 2011 alone for the moment. They might want to use it as a mock.
    Very true! Thanks, I'll leave it there for reference but with a pointer.

    (Original post by maths134)
    Right. Is anyone else only doing light step until end of jan due to exams?
    No STEP for me either 6 exams, trying to do well to take a load off my back come Junetime...
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    Thanks - that's very handy . Thought I'd mention the official copies of the 2011 STEP papers are on the website here.

    On a side note, does anyone have a copy of the 2011 AEA paper?
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    what modules do you need to know to do them? I know C1-4 for STEP I and II and im guessing FP1-2 for STEP 3? and what about the mechanics questions? would M1-2 be ok?
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    (Original post by like_a_star)
    what modules do you need to know to do them? I know C1-4 for STEP I and II and im guessing FP1-2 for STEP 3? and what about the mechanics questions? would M1-2 be ok?
    STEP III seems to be pretty much all of FP1-3 and M1-4 (1-5 on Edexcel) and a lot of Statistics. The syllabus is huge so it might be worth picking bits to study - many people just stick to Pure questions.

    For STEP I and II, C1-4, M1-2 and S1-2 is fine.
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    (Original post by Ree69)
    Thanks - that's very handy . Thought I'd mention the official copies of the 2011 STEP papers are on the website here.

    On a side note, does anyone have a copy of the 2011 AEA paper?
    Thy will be done. Question paper, mark scheme and report included.

    I've added your link to the top - thanks

    That raises a fair point though - should we include AEA in this thread or keep it STEP-only? They're different styles of test, but essentially for the same purpose and the same people are taking them. Opinions please!
    Attached Files
  1. File Type: zip AEA 2011.zip (299.4 KB, 189 views)
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    (Original post by Xero Xenith)
    Thy will be done. Question paper, mark scheme and report included.

    I've added your link to the top - thanks

    That raises a fair point though - should we include AEA in this thread or keep it STEP-only? They're different styles of test, but essentially for the same purpose and the same people are taking them. Opinions please!
    Cheers
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    (Original post by Xero Xenith)
    STEP III seems to be pretty much all of FP1-3 and M1-4 (1-5 on Edexcel) and a lot of Statistics. The syllabus is huge so it might be worth picking bits to study - many people just stick to Pure questions.

    For STEP I and II, C1-4, M1-2 and S1-2 is fine.
    ok thanks i think i might just stick to the pure questions then
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    Ok today I did question 3 of STEP 2 from 2001 in one of my free periods, is that representative of the difficulty of STEP II? I thought it was the same as STEP I
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    Oh, memories!
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    (Original post by generalebriety)
    Oh, memories!
    If you dig back into the archives, you and your lot did loads of threads. What are you up to now? did you do part III?
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    (Original post by deejayy)
    Ok today I did question 3 of STEP 2 from 2001 in one of my free periods, is that representative of the difficulty of STEP II? I thought it was the same as STEP I
    There are probably quite a few questions which you find where you go o.O! that shouldn't be in this paper!

    But if you are meaning is the whole of STEP II supposed to be of the same difficulty of STEP I then no, of course not
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    (Original post by Thrug)
    There are probably quite a few questions which you find where you go o.O! that shouldn't be in this paper!
    There was a syllabus change around that time.
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    (Original post by deejayy)
    Ok today I did question 3 of STEP 2 from 2001 in one of my free periods, is that representative of the difficulty of STEP II? I thought it was the same as STEP I
    Probably slightly on the easier side than a question found on II should be.

    As Thrug said, there's always a couple of questions which seem out of place on the paper.
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    (Original post by ben-smith)
    If you dig back into the archives, you and your lot did loads of threads. What are you up to now? did you do part III?
    Yep. Recreating the 1987-2006 papers' solutions (or whatever we had time to do of them!) was our STEP preparation. Served me well. Mumble mumble, kids these days eh, back in my day...

    I did do Part III. Future plans uncertain. But this is probably a conversation best taken to PM.
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