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    (Original post by fluteflute)
    To be fair, I was very unimpressed with a day I spent at Sussex But I can't generalise from that day to every course at every uni.
    Oh I assure you I agree with your first impressions.

    Are there any dress codes for lecturers in Oxford by the way ?
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    (Original post by Zenomorph)
    Oh I assure you I agree with your first impressions.

    Are there any dress codes for lecturers in Oxford by the way ?
    There's no dress code for lectures or tutorials.
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    (Original post by Noble.)
    There's no dress code for lectures or tutorials.
    The open shirt look is pretty common in PPE!

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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    The open shirt look is pretty common in PPE!

    The way lecturers dress in maths varies massively. Some wear jeans and a T-shirt, while others dress as if they should also bring a pipe to complete the look.
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    The open shirt look is pretty common in PPE!


    What would you think of a bull ring ?
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    (Original post by Noble.)
    The way lecturers dress in maths varies massively. Some wear jeans and a T-shirt, while others dress as if they should also bring a pipe to complete the look.
    One of the most bizarre experiences of my life was my interview at Imperial (yeah they interviewed back then), where Buzzard turned up in what can only be described as his PJs... they were fluorescent pink. Amazing
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    (Original post by shamika)
    One of the most bizarre experiences of my life was my interview at Imperial (yeah they interviewed back then), where he turned up in what can only be described as his PJs... they were fluorescent pink. Amazing
    Did you get in? How did you stop yourself from laughing?
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    Did you get in? How did you stop yourself from laughing?
    I think the reason I got in is because I managed not to laugh
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    (Original post by Drederick Tatum)
    It's not just the difficulty of the papers that makes a difference, it's the style. Bath, Bristol, KCL maths papers have a very formulaic way of examining students (usually questions are of the form: recall a definition, do some bookwork, and then prove a trivial consequence of a lectured theorem).

    Final year Cambridge maths exams are, in contrast, great:

    1. Each paper contains questions from all subjects
    2. You have massive choice in the questions you can attempt - there are far too many to complete even half of them.
    3. There is no minimum standard to be achieved in any one subject - you could have attended a course diligently but not answer one question on it.
    4. The marking scheme rewards depth of answers - you can't pick up many marks by answering the trivial parts of lots of questions.
    5. The structure of the questions is a bookwork part followed by a 'problem' element, which requires real thought, and is rewarding, to complete.
    6. Time pressure is not such an issue in Cambridge exams. I've invigilated an exam at Bath where people struggle to regurgitate stuff onto the paper quickly enough. The exams allow you time to think.


    Although this is all my experience of one particular course / exam, I'm inclined to think it applies somewhat to other subjects at Oxbridge because of discussion with people that study those subjects.
    In relation to what you've written, the paper in the paper I quoted is definately harder than the UK's. However we do not know the style of these papers and for all we know, it could tick all the boxes you mentioned.

    Nevertheless, I feel not enough is known about exams in other countries for us to make an informed decision about what is classed as "best".

    What we do know is an element of "he who shouts the loudest gets heard the most"!

    On the note of standards across universities, you are probably one of the few who understands what I'm syaing re exam boards at A-Level.

    Years ago (forgive me if I'm assuming you've done your degree a fe decades ago) there were quite a number of exam boards, eg LON, MEI, AEB, JMB, O, C, SMP, etc.

    It is clear just from reading the papers that they are not of the same standards, yet an A in one is deemed the same as an A in another. (My own experience was that MEI contained topics not found in others, such as Engineering statics, lagrangian multipliers, group theory and difference methods).

    To the present day, this still remains, though with fa fewer boards. I fail to see the need for there being different boards.

    On the point of a 1st v 2:1, admittedly the course from Oxbridge should be more demanding, owing to the 1-2-1 tutorial system as well as the higher grades achieved by their students.

    Note I say higher grades and not higher intellect as Oxbridge have more public school educated than others and if we are to believe public school educated have a distinct advantage, then this does not necessarily imply they are cleverer.

    But the student who achieves a 1st from a non-Oxbridge uni CANNOT be deemed less bright than a 2:1 from Oxbridge, simply because the maximum one can achieve is a 1st!

    What we can say is that a 2:1 from non-OB IS less bright than a 2:1 from OB.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    I remember someone posting on the Oxford forum here that their friend had failed the year at Oxford (got below a third), transferred to Nottingham and got a First.

    So, I would find the notion that a First at Nottingham is harder to achieve than a 2.1 at Oxford to be highly highly questionable.
    But I know of people who got Ds and Es at A-Level in the 1990s and now retaking got A*s, so by your notion, an A* now is equivalent to a D in the 1990s (as illustrated by resarch conducted by Durham).

    I'm sure many will disagree (but not me).
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    (Original post by shamika)
    I think the reason I got in is because I managed not to laugh
    Lol, anyone capable of such heroic self-restraint deserves a place. :cool:
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    Lol, anyone capable of such heroic self-restraint deserves a place. :cool:
    Yay, I did something right!

    Actually, thinking about it... what does it say about me that I decided to firm Imperial even after that incident? :eek:

    Spoiler:
    Show
    I'm being mean, Buzzard (the guy who interviewed me) is insanely intelligent and actually was very nice during the interview
    .
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    (Original post by shamika)
    Yay, I did something right!

    Actually, thinking about it... what does it say about me that I decided to firm Imperial even after that incident? :eek:

    Spoiler:
    Show
    I'm being mean, Buzzard (the guy who interviewed me) is insanely intelligent and actually was very nice during the interview
    .
    Ha, sounds like you had your reasons. Does he still wear them to tutes/lectures??
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    (Original post by shamika)
    One of the reasons Imperial over Cambridge was one of the best decisions of my life! I'd disagree that a 2:1 from Oxbridge trumps a 1st from say Imperial, but I'd have to admit that even between these world class institutions, is not always obvious. In Imperial maths for example, there are plenty of stats courses that people take because they're easier than other courses. It's like that in Oxbridge maths too - some courses are harder than others and you can be strategic about what you pick.

    But really, there is no way anyone can convince me that an Aston degree compares with an Oxbridge degree. Easiest way to prove that for maths say, is to give someone a STEP paper, which is only based on the A-Level syllabus, and see how someone from Aston does. I'd be surprised if many (any?) do well enough to get the grades required to enter Cambridge.

    There's lots of good things more vocational degrees such as those at Aston bring to the table. But if we're comparing like for like subjects, I know what I'd rather have.
    Hardly a proof, surely?

    Oxbridge has the highest number of public school educated and from my own experience, will have a distinct unfair advantage.

    I have tutored a number of these students and know what extra lessons and material they have at their disposal (more funding for equipment such as computers and software, teachers who were specialist at heir chosen subject and many had themselves been through the Oxbridge system so knew what to expect).

    An acquaitence of mine told me at Westminster, they were starting the A-Level syllabus at 15 (but without taking the exam until 18) so had a full extra year to get them the desired grade).

    Take this argument:

    How many of you speak Mandarin? I speak Mandarin.

    Impressed?

    In fact I was fluent at 2 years old.

    Really impressed?

    Actually my parents are Chinese.

    Now does it seem less impressive?

    But why? Is it because you automatically assumed I have an unfair advantage with Chinese parents?

    So if I only told you I was fluent and stopped at that, I'd be looked at differently (OK if my parents were Chinese, I'd look Chinese too and that sort of gives it away)!

    So those who did STEP and did well could have been due to the extra help as well as intellect. We cannot distinguish that.

    Even if they didn't get a public school education, they still could have got private tutors and help such as TSR.
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    I'm a huge believer in the way the Maths Tripos is run (especially Parts IA-II) and really do think the exams are nearly exactly how I would design them if I had free reign (sorry peeps who are struggling with Tripos now!), but I'd be the first to admit the system is nowhere near perfect:

    (Original post by Drederick Tatum)
    There is no minimum standard to be achieved in any one subject - you could have attended a course diligently but not answer one question on it.
    Whilst I agree there's no problem with this, there is an issue where you have somewhat related courses and you can rack up alphas in a relatively niche field... plenty of external examiners have moaned about this.

    The marking scheme rewards depth of answers - you can't pick up many marks by answering the trivial parts of lots of questions.
    Have you seen a marking scheme? I was surprised by how similar it followed what Imperial do - give stupid amounts of marks for very trivial bookwork, squeeze in the middle (so that the conscientious 2:1 student still has some work to do to get around 12/20) and then the final rider is usually around 6 so you can't get an alpha without attempting the last part. You'll also be surprised by how often the final rider is less than 5 so that you can pick up an alpha without the last bits (although obviously, my surprise was that there are examples, it's not common).

    Time pressure is not such an issue in Cambridge exams. I've invigilated an exam at Bath where people struggle to regurgitate stuff onto the paper quickly enough. The exams allow you time to think.
    Unless you're right at the top, in which case, Part IA in particular has recently become stupid with multiple people getting a full set of alphas, which means that its a race to make sure you get all of your questions in.

    With Part II, you get a lot of people trying to game the system by taking easier courses. And I know for a fact this happens with Oxford maths in several years, as a guy I interviewed was boasting about doing so.

    Although this is all my experience of one particular course / exam, I'm inclined to think it applies somewhat to other subjects at Oxbridge because of discussion with people that study those subjects.
    Even in the humanities? In a subject like History, asking something like "what were the causes of WWII" could come up from Cambridge to (insert your idea of lesser university here). I'd certainly expect the quality of answers to be different though!

    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    Ha, sounds like you had your reasons. Does he still wear them to tutes/lectures??
    We never had tutes as such. He did wear them at a couple of lectures actually, but by that point nothing surprised me. I mean we had a guy in flip-flops and socks... in winter. Now really, I know its Imperial maths, but still ...
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    (Original post by caveman123)
    Hardly a proof, surely?

    Oxbridge has the highest number of public school educated and from my own experience, will have a distinct unfair advantage.

    I have tutored a number of these students and know what extra lessons and material they have at their disposal (more funding for equipment such as computers and software, teachers who were specialist at heir chosen subject and many had themselves been through the Oxbridge system so knew what to expect).

    An acquaitence of mine told me at Westminster, they were starting the A-Level syllabus at 15 (but without taking the exam until 18) so had a full extra year to get them the desired grade).

    Take this argument:

    How many of you speak Mandarin? I speak Mandarin.

    Impressed?

    In fact I was fluent at 2 years old.

    Really impressed?

    Actually my parents are Chinese.

    Now does it seem less impressive?

    But why? Is it because you automatically assumed I have an unfair advantage with Chinese parents?

    So if I only told you I was fluent and stopped at that, I'd be looked at differently (OK if my parents were Chinese, I'd look Chinese too and that sort of gives it away)!

    So those who did STEP and did well could have been due to the extra help as well as intellect. We cannot distinguish that.

    Even if they didn't get a public school education, they still could have got private tutors and help such as TSR.
    We had this conversation over on the STEP prep thread recently. I truly believe TSR massively levels the playing field (which is the main reason I'm on it so much). There is undoubtedly a massive gap in the inspiration you get at a good public school and say a normal state school. But the number of people who get any real STEP help at school has to be few and far between. You're always going to get amazing support at the very top, but it's not as if STEP has been handed to them on a plate - it's ridiculously hard (for a 17/18 year old) no matter how much help you're given.
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    (Original post by shamika)
    We had this conversation over on the STEP prep thread recently. I truly believe TSR massively levels the playing field (which is the main reason I'm on it so much). There is undoubtedly a massive gap in the inspiration you get at a good public school and say a normal state school. But the number of people who get any real STEP help at school has to be few and far between. You're always going to get amazing support at the very top, but it's not as if STEP has been handed to them on a plate - it's ridiculously hard (for a 17/18 year old) no matter how much help you're given.
    You'll be amazed at the number of top public (and grammar) schools that have really top notch staff, many with PhDs in the subject.

    Check out the staff list at Westminster, St. Paul's, Winchester, North London Collegiate, Haberdashers' Askes.

    Agree with the second quote but practise makes perfect .....
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    (Original post by shamika)

    Even in the humanities? In a subject like History, asking something like "what were the causes of WWII" could come up from Cambridge to (insert your idea of lesser university here). I'd certainly expect the quality of answers to be different though!

    We never had tutes as such. He did wear them at a couple of lectures actually, but by that point nothing surprised me. I mean we had a guy in flip-flops and socks... in winter. Now really, I know its Imperial maths, but still ...
    You'd get pretty firmly shot down if your answer wasn't of the quality level being sought, yes.

    I believe mathematicians generally show a high level of eccentricity, don't they?
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    As much as psychologits ( yes that's not a spelling mistake)?
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    This argument can never be proved conclusively.

    Recently an article came out stating the UK now has not 3 but 7 social classes. This is evidence that despite what it usually claims (that the UK is classless), it actually isn't.

    On an absolute level, Oxbridge does definately have the most demanding courses (in general) but can you extrapolate and say their students are cleverer?

    We know they have the most public scholl educated and once at Oxbridge, they also have the excellent 1-2-1 tutorial system, something that is denied to everyone else.

    So with these two points, possibly others as well, is it any surprise their standards are higher?

    As for reputation, they have no doubt been fuelled by the media and the offspring of heads of states. For example. in recent times, the profile of St. Andrews has been elevated by a factor of 10.
 
 
 
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