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# STEP Prep Thread 2015 Watch

1. (Original post by alpen)
They won't, I can tell you that right now. If they cannot understand your answer due to illegibility, then you will not get any marks until they can understand it, and even then a believe marks can be deducted for poor presentation, as your mathematical answers and arguments can become incoherent if messy.

I think it varies from person to person - there is no one set good plan, at first I felt STEP was totally unapproachable, so I was looking for little differential equations, easy intersection questions everywhere, this took me from 2002 to 2009 sometimes, then as I got comfortable I started moving back to earlier questions and then soon enough I had completed most of STEP I by exam time, with the exception of a number of stats questions. It depends on the person honestly - you don't want to shatter your mathematical confidence by having a specific, very tough goal (i.e. all questions) but you don't want to relax with familiar questions all the time. My personal advice is mix and match, don't always pick your easy topics but don't always focus on an entire paper before moving onto the next one (unless mocks).
" A candidate reaching the correct answer will receive full marks, regardless of the method used to answer the question."so if I get all the right answers I will get 20/20 for each question that has been sorted.
2. (Original post by Allic)
Couldn't do the sketching in the aforementioned question 1 Step 1987.

First part came out quickly. The sketching part must be carrying the most marks.
Note that it said a rough sketch all you have to think about is what happens to cos as x increases and what happens to e^ax as x increases you should realise that e^ax increases very rapidly and cosbx is periodic so you will multiply by more and more the cos graph as x increases and less and less as x decreases I hope that helps you.
3. I have skipped Question 5 to go onto Question 6 and it is a lovely question although it looks horrid the only hard part is explaining the first result, which I might lose marks for as its unclear but the second part is just a lovely bit of juicy differentiation,integration and dealing with stuff like cos(arcsint) which I just did something similar with yesterday when integrating 1/(x(1+x^2) to get sin(arctanx).Doing these 1987 STEP I Questions is building my confidence because I have hadn't any major problems with 1,4 or 6.
4. (Original post by Dalek1099)
That expression giving -pi only works if alpha becomes the previous value of beta beforehand and beta becomes the previous value of alpha like how if a=6 b=14 and then b=14 a=6 that would work but alpha>beta doesn't mean alpha=previous beta.
I'm not quite sure what you're getting at here. All the question is asking you to do is find the value of the integral in the case . Since you already know what the value of the integral is for , all you are wanting to do is 'swap' the with in your integral. Does that help? Also, are you familiar with the result I mentioned in my previous post?

In a similar fashion I don't understand how the limits are pi/2 and 0 for the first part when I ended up with costheta=0 and costheta=1 which leads to pi/2+kpi and 0+2kpi not necessarily pi/2 and 0.
I will confess not being 100% sure why, from an algebraic point of view, you choose these solutions. However, sketching a graph and looking at the areas you are integrating may help convince you, and is what I would do - I would think most of the time you only take the first solution though (so in this case, and 0)

If someone else could shed some light on this I would appreciate that as well.

That substitution isn't helping and leads you to pretty much the same as you had before but with 1/u where x is in the square root that's the only difference and doesn't help
Sounds good. What did you end up with then?
5. (Original post by Dalek1099)
I will not be removing my advice on STEP which is needed to help people preparing for STEP as a person who has got through several questions eventually but still struggles with STEP I think I'm in a good place to give advice so that people don't panic.
I am going to be blunt here. I am not suggesting to remove any kind of advice - I am suggesting to turn the OP back to what it has always been, rather than a mangled fusion of the excellent OP that has been used for the past 2/3 years with your life story. In particular, things like this:

"I would suggest we start from 1987, I will be missing out the Statistics questions at the moment as I have only just started learning S2 at the moment.

The earlier you start the better and I find that students often come on here for procrastination but with this thread now available you will hopefully become distracted by Maths and it will feel as if you are procrastinating-it has happened on here before that I have ended up doing lots of revision and its not felt like revising and even in Y11 I was very intrigued by this thread and stimulated to attempt STEP questions so opening this early can only be positive."

"Decision Maths is very useless(particularly for STEP) so avoiding do it if you can-my college does D1 so I am taking D2 just to get 3 A Levels in Mathematics if I didn't have to do D1, it might have been worth just getting an AS."

"Unfortunately, I will not be able to post here as much as I would like as I have a lot of self teaching of Additional Further Maths to do(I'm on S2 at the moment in the middle of Chapter 1 so a lot more to do on Binomial Distributions).

Fortunately, lessons don't start until 1st September(for me at least) so for the moment there is plenty of time to get things done."

All of this is personal information relevant to no-one except you. The students who use the thread and the OP range from regular users to guests who simply want to check answers but information on what you are learning in S2 is absolutely useless to every single one of them. It is a waste of people's time, a waste of space in the OP and detracts from the purpose of it as an amalgamation of resources, links and information for people who need to find them without hassle. Ultimately the point is that this is meant to be the 2015 STEP Prep Thread, not "Dalek's personal STEP prep thread". By all means discuss that sort of thing here but for the love of peace don't put it in the OP.

(Note that I have not actually said to take out everything you have added, but I would recommend rewriting or getting someone else to rewrite the other things you have written so they make proper grammatical sense)

My work can be quite scrappy but the STEP questions are hard which makes them particularly scrappy answers because you don't know what to write next usually.I got great marks at A Level so it is usually fine, I will need to practice STEP so that my answers become legible as I understand what I'm doing.
This is no excuse as this is not A Level. At A Level, the examiners are far more lenient with this sort of thing. In the STEP booklet Siklos states answers should be set out legibly and logically and this is even more important at university where if your answer is impossible to read the examiner is not necessarily going to have the patience to decipher it. It is not just your handwriting, scribblings or crossings out. It is your entire layout. To try to explain better, I have retrieved my STEP solutions and in particular the solution to Q1 STEP I 1987:

Spoiler:
Show

You should go clearly in lines in the same manner, and put some effort into writing more neatly - I am left handed so should have more excuse for horribly messy writing! Moreover, if you get something wrong just cross it out neatly and move on to the next line, and don't bunch everything up like you do - use a bit more paper and pick up more marks because the examiners can follow what you are writing/saying. If you handed in a solution to a Cambridge supervisor looking anything like the solution you uploaded they likely wouldn't bother trying to mark it. The solution I've posted here is not a perfect one - there are places where I feel I could have used more logical connectives to make it flow more and for all I know the actual Maths in it might be wrong, it is so long since I did the question - but it is much closer to what you should be aiming for.

(Original post by Dalek1099)
" A candidate reaching the correct answer will receive full marks, regardless of the method used to answer the question."so if I get all the right answers I will get 20/20 for each question that has been sorted.
This presumes the examiner has any clue whether you have reached the correct answer, which given the current state of your work is unlikely.
6. (Original post by jtSketchy)
I'm not quite sure what you're getting at here. All the question is asking you to do is find the value of the integral in the case . Since you already know what the value of the integral is for , all you are wanting to do is 'swap' the with in your integral. Does that help? Also, are you familiar with the result I mentioned in my previous post?

I will confess not being 100% sure why, from an algebraic point of view, you choose these solutions. However, sketching a graph and looking at the areas you are integrating may help convince you, and is what I would do - I would think most of the time you only take the first solution though (so in this case, and 0)

If someone else could shed some light on this I would appreciate that as well.

Sounds good. What did you end up with then?
for the integral to become the negative of the original alpha and beta must equal the same values but the opposite way round what if alpha>beta but alpha wasn't the same as the beta before then this would lead to a different answer.I suppose if we assume that alpha and beta equal pi/2 and 0 then this solves this problem I don't get why you can do that though.

I ended up with exactly as I described with 1/u for x in the brackets multiplied by -u on the denominator integral of -1/(usqrt((1/u-alpha)(beta-1/u))).
7. (Original post by DJMayes)
I am going to be blunt here. I am not suggesting to remove any kind of advice - I am suggesting to turn the OP back to what it has always been, rather than a mangled fusion of the excellent OP that has been used for the past 2/3 years with your life story. In particular, things like this:

"I would suggest we start from 1987, I will be missing out the Statistics questions at the moment as I have only just started learning S2 at the moment.

The earlier you start the better and I find that students often come on here for procrastination but with this thread now available you will hopefully become distracted by Maths and it will feel as if you are procrastinating-it has happened on here before that I have ended up doing lots of revision and its not felt like revising and even in Y11 I was very intrigued by this thread and stimulated to attempt STEP questions so opening this early can only be positive."

"Decision Maths is very useless(particularly for STEP) so avoiding do it if you can-my college does D1 so I am taking D2 just to get 3 A Levels in Mathematics if I didn't have to do D1, it might have been worth just getting an AS."

"Unfortunately, I will not be able to post here as much as I would like as I have a lot of self teaching of Additional Further Maths to do(I'm on S2 at the moment in the middle of Chapter 1 so a lot more to do on Binomial Distributions).

Fortunately, lessons don't start until 1st September(for me at least) so for the moment there is plenty of time to get things done."

All of this is personal information relevant to no-one except you. The students who use the thread and the OP range from regular users to guests who simply want to check answers but information on what you are learning in S2 is absolutely useless to every single one of them. It is a waste of people's time, a waste of space in the OP and detracts from the purpose of it as an amalgamation of resources, links and information for people who need to find them without hassle. Ultimately the point is that this is meant to be the 2015 STEP Prep Thread, not "Dalek's personal STEP prep thread". By all means discuss that sort of thing here but for the love of peace don't put it in the OP.

(Note that I have not actually said to take out everything you have added, but I would recommend rewriting or getting someone else to rewrite the other things you have written so they make proper grammatical sense)

This is no excuse as this is not A Level. At A Level, the examiners are far more lenient with this sort of thing. In the STEP booklet Siklos states answers should be set out legibly and logically and this is even more important at university where if your answer is impossible to read the examiner is not necessarily going to have the patience to decipher it. It is not just your handwriting, scribblings or crossings out. It is your entire layout. To try to explain better, I have retrieved my STEP solutions and in particular the solution to Q1 STEP I 1987:

Spoiler:
Show

You should go clearly in lines in the same manner, and put some effort into writing more neatly - I am left handed so should have more excuse for horribly messy writing! Moreover, if you get something wrong just cross it out neatly and move on to the next line, and don't bunch everything up like you do - use a bit more paper and pick up more marks because the examiners can follow what you are writing/saying. If you handed in a solution to a Cambridge supervisor looking anything like the solution you uploaded they likely wouldn't bother trying to mark it. The solution I've posted here is not a perfect one - there are places where I feel I could have used more logical connectives to make it flow more and for all I know the actual Maths in it might be wrong, it is so long since I did the question - but it is much closer to what you should be aiming for.

This presumes the examiner has any clue whether you have reached the correct answer, which given the current state of your work is unlikely.
The examiner will simply tick the correct answer very simple I suppose on the proof questions its a bit more complicated but most lines can be followed.

The OP is good as it is because I am simply adding personal anecdotes as a way of providing evidence to what I have said and I hope that people can relate to this and then my advice can be useful.
8. (Original post by Dalek1099)
The examiner will simply tick the correct answer very simple I suppose on the proof questions its a bit more complicated but most lines can be followed.

The OP is good as it is because I am simply adding personal anecdotes as a way of providing evidence to what I have said and I hope that people can relate to this and then my advice can be useful.
Personal anecdotes from someone who hasn't sat any of the STEP papers yet, cannot be useful in the slightest...

its just a mess honestly, keep it how it was last year
9. I hope someone will come back to help me with Question but at the moment Question 7 completely baffles me.I have tried summing up the sines using formulas sin(a+b) and sina+sinb but none of that has helped and I have considered other series' like sin(30)+sin(90) etc and I find that the terms often cancel themselves out once sine becomes negative but with sin(2pi/23)+sin(4pi/23) this isn't helpful as sin(2pi/23) is only going to cancel itself out with sin(44pi/23) and sin(6pi/23) with sin(40pi/23) and these aren't in the series.I don't know where to start with this one?
10. (Original post by alpen)
Personal anecdotes from someone who hasn't sat any of the STEP papers yet, cannot be useful in the slightest...

its just a mess honestly, keep it how it was last year
Please send me a list of contradictions I have corrected some of them and I will edit them so that it makes sense but starting 2000 is just lazy and means you won't get enough practice done in my opinion and you will waste good questions that you won't be able to answer due to no preparation of STEP eg.2000 questions.
11. (Original post by Dalek1099)
Please send me a list of contradictions I have corrected some of them and I will edit them so that it makes sense but starting 2000 is just lazy and means you won't get enough practice done in my opinion and you will waste good questions that you won't be able to answer due to no preparation of STEP eg.2000 questions.
Why do you think starting after 2000 isn't adequate preparation? recent STEP papers match the exact style of the 2002-2014 papers, so going earlier than that will strengthen understanding on certain ''old'' topics but the majority of the questions on a step paper will tend to be based on the more recent changes to a-levels. So starting after 2000 is not ''lazy'' its smart, then you can go back if you're bored
12. (Original post by Dalek1099)
This is not too early to start as there are 1092 questions(as explained below) to attempt and I would suggest we start from 1987, I will be missing out the Statistics questions at the moment as I have only just started learning S2 at the moment.
I don't agree with this, at all.

For starters, there is no need to complete all 1000+ questions and it gives the wrong mindset in some sense - it's not a race to do as many questions as you can, nor is completing them all a requirement to do well in the exam (I realize this may not have been what you are saying, but this is the impression I get from reading it). For many people starting STEP it's already overwhelming because of the difficultly and making it seem like there's a necessity to complete them all is just discouraging. This is especially for those who may start prep around January or so, which isn't too late by any means, but you're making it seem like it is.

Secondly, the style of STEP problems has changed significantly over the years. The 1987-1993 papers are especially so, thus it's not that relevant for the 2015 exams. Since not everyone will do all of the questions, many will end up starting from 1987 and working their way up, ending up at around 2000 or so in June. This means they've spent a large proportion of their time preparing for the older papers, which isn't as useful compared to doing the new papers.

I tried something similar last year, my STEP prep consisted of starting at the 1994 papers and working my way up, attempting every question I had the knowledge to answer. I only made it up to around the 2005 papers by May and while I did attempt most of the 2007-2013 papers as mocks, I clearly spent more time doing the older, less relevant papers which might not have been beneficial. I feel it may have been better if I instead started around 2009 and worked my way down, rather than the other way round.

Finally, everyone has their own way of preparing. Some may find it useful to do all the questions they can, while some may prefer to spend more time on the individual questions and think about it in detail - there was someone is last year's thread who seemed to be doing that. Some people may skip questions after half an hour of getting nowhere, while others may spend an hour or two trying to crack it and then ask for advice. Suggesting a set way of preparing in the second line of the post really isn't the best of ideas, because it's almost certainly not going to work for everyone. Some may also like the Siklos books for getting started, while others may not.

I would like to emphasize that it's really, really important for the first post of this thread to be properly structured and such. For many, these prep threads are the only place where they can get help with STEP and having the right advice is crucial so they don't fall into bad practice habits. With all due respect, I think it would be better if you leave the changing of the post to those who have more experience with the process.
13. (Original post by Dalek1099)
The examiner will simply tick the correct answer very simple I suppose on the proof questions its a bit more complicated but most lines can be followed.

The OP is good as it is because I am simply adding personal anecdotes as a way of providing evidence to what I have said and I hope that people can relate to this and then my advice can be useful.
OK, two things:

1) Neither of us know the specifics of STEP marking (Note the neither, it includes you) but I am reasonably confident that there is more to it than that. Even if it were that simple, the fact remains that the lines cannot be followed in anyone's opinion except yours, and given that you will not be marking your script you should put the effort into making sure other people understand it, or you will lose marks because the examiner does not understand you.

Another important fact to consider is that peoples colleges have access to their STEP scripts in borderline cases, so if you have a borderline mark - and for some reason you think you have a clue at this stage and have predicted yourself 1,2,2 in other threads, which certainly qualifies - then your script will be examined more closely by the college, who will almost certainly throw it out. Why do you insist that it doesn't require significant improvements in presentation? Do you think that if your writing looks like Galois', you will start to think like him? There is no reason for it and I would be prepared to bet on two things - that you have already been told this by several teachers, and that if you tried to hand this in for a supervision your supervisor would tell you to stop wasting his time.

2) The OP is not good - it has good parts, which are the remnants of the previous OP. The bits I highlighted to you to remove are all extraneous rubbish of absolutely no interest to anyone except you. Do you think people are going to look at the OP to see whether you are done doing Binomial Distributions in S2 or not? Do you think knowledge that you are doing D2 to get 3 A Levels but might've only done the 3rd AS had D1 not been forced on by the school is going to help anyone with regards to STEP? What on earth makes you think letting everyone know the fact your school lessons begin on the 1st of September is "adding personal anecdotes as a way of proving what you have said"? It is not, it is posting tripe about yourself in the OP no-one wants to read and gets in the way of its purpose. What actual advice have you posted that I've pointed out to you as unsatisfactory?

In actual fact, the OP has categorically been ruined, and I question why you even bothered copying the "if you have any comments/contributions let me know" line when you are clearly going to ignore them.
14. (Original post by Dalek1099)
...
Thanks I need to improve my graphing in general.
15. (Original post by DJMayes)
...
Don't worry, it's assertions such as...

The examiner will simply tick the correct answer
The OP is good as it is because I am simply adding personal anecdotes
starting 2000 is just lazy and means you won't get enough practice done
...that also made Dalek a fan favourite in the results day thread.
16. (Original post by alexmufc1995)
Don't worry, it's assertions such as...
...
...that also made Dalek a fan favourite in the results day thread.
I wouldn't mind so much if he had any idea what he was talking about or had taken STEP before...
17. How would you give a rough sketch of f(x) = ax^2+bx+c? This confuses me because of the constants. Do you do different sketches on the same graph depending on the sign of a?
18. (Original post by DJMayes)
OK, two things:

1) Neither of us know the specifics of STEP marking (Note the neither, it includes you) but I am reasonably confident that there is more to it than that. Even if it were that simple, the fact remains that the lines cannot be followed in anyone's opinion except yours, and given that you will not be marking your script you should put the effort into making sure other people understand it, or you will lose marks because the examiner does not understand you.

Another important fact to consider is that peoples colleges have access to their STEP scripts in borderline cases, so if you have a borderline mark - and for some reason you think you have a clue at this stage and have predicted yourself 1,2,2 in other threads, which certainly qualifies - then your script will be examined more closely by the college, who will almost certainly throw it out. Why do you insist that it doesn't require significant improvements in presentation? Do you think that if your writing looks like Galois', you will start to think like him? There is no reason for it and I would be prepared to bet on two things - that you have already been told this by several teachers, and that if you tried to hand this in for a supervision your supervisor would tell you to stop wasting his time.

2) The OP is not good - it has good parts, which are the remnants of the previous OP. The bits I highlighted to you to remove are all extraneous rubbish of absolutely no interest to anyone except you. Do you think people are going to look at the OP to see whether you are done doing Binomial Distributions in S2 or not? Do you think knowledge that you are doing D2 to get 3 A Levels but might've only done the 3rd AS had D1 not been forced on by the school is going to help anyone with regards to STEP? What on earth makes you think letting everyone know the fact your school lessons begin on the 1st of September is "adding personal anecdotes as a way of proving what you have said"? It is not, it is posting tripe about yourself in the OP no-one wants to read and gets in the way of its purpose. What actual advice have you posted that I've pointed out to you as unsatisfactory?

In actual fact, the OP has categorically been ruined, and I question why you even bothered copying the "if you have any comments/contributions let me know" line when you are clearly going to ignore them.
Following this conversation all the way from when Dalek posted his solutions has absolutely made my day, but well said DJ.
19. (Original post by Tom777)
I wouldn't mind so much if he had any idea what he was talking about or had taken STEP before...
I know, I had him telling me about the Oxford application process before, which I'd actually been through!

Where do you think all those gems came from?
20. I wonder if Dalek still believes in symbolic maths

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