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# STEP Prep Thread 2016 (Mark. II) Watch

1. (Original post by Zacken)
STEP I 2014 and 2015 have approximately the same boundaries?
Supports my point of higher boundaries this year (for STEP I) even more. Check the chart with the grade boundaries in the OP. It seems like they usually increase the boundaries after 1,2,3 (only once happened) max lows.

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2. 2015 Paper 1 Q12 part ii:

According to the marking scheme, (sum m from 0 to inf) (6^m / m!) = e^6

Is the binomial expansion of e^x even part of the syllabus? Or can this be done without knowing it?
3. (Original post by lol456)
2015 Paper 1 Q12 part ii:

According to the marking scheme, (sum m from 0 to inf) (6^m / m!) = e^6

Is the binomial expansion of e^x even part of the syllabus? Or can this be done without knowing it?
You mean series expansion of e^x? Yes, it is in the spec for STEP I.

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4. (Original post by lol456)
2015 Paper 1 Q12 part ii:

According to the marking scheme, (sum m from 0 to inf) (6^m / m!) = e^6

Is the binomial expansion of e^x even part of the syllabus? Or can this be done without knowing it?
It's not the binomial expansion, it's the McLaurin/Taylor expansion, and it is part of the syllabus.
5. (Original post by jjsnyder)
I read this as 3/2 and was so confused why my answer was wrong! Got it, didn't use any geometric series though, had a slightly different method

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Yeah you didn't need geometric series, the way I did it was multiplying the series by 3 and then adding it to the original series and the result follows after some algebra.
6. (Original post by Insight314)
Supports my point of higher boundaries this year (for STEP I) even more. Check the chart with the grade boundaries in the OP. It seems like they usually increase the boundaries after 1,2,3 (only once happened) max lows.

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But according to you, STEP I 2015 should have had higher boundaries because STEP I 2014 bottomed out?
7. (Original post by Zacken)
But according to you, STEP I 2015 should have had higher boundaries because STEP I 2014 bottomed out?
Nope, because there have been times at which STEP I has went up to 3 consecutive downs. It would either be a third down which is unlikely since there has only been one like that in the whole 2000-2015 I think in about 2005 (cba to check) and it more often happens that it spikes after a down.

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8. (Original post by Zacken)
This is III 2005, Q3.
thanks zacin
9. (Original post by Alex_Aits)
I can't find it, but if it helps this is how I always think about it:

Sufficient condition: if the condition is true, then the result must be true, but not necessarily the other way around. In other words, knowing only the condition is true is sufficient to assert that the result is true.

Necessary condition: Result is true implies that the condition is true. In other words, the result cannot possibly hold without the condition. However, note that this says nothing about whether or not the result is actually true - all it says is that if it is true, then the condition must be also.

If we then have a condition that is both sufficient and necessary, we deduce that the condition and the result are logically equivalent, since without the condition the result cannot be true, and with the condition the result must be true.

If you want me to go through a specific example I'd be happy to do so
Thank you for this, I liked the explanation!
10. (Original post by Insight314)
Nope, because there have been times at which STEP I has went up to 3 consecutive downs. It would either be a third down which is unlikely since there has only been one like that in the whole 2000-2015 I think in about 2005 (cba to check) and it more often happens that it spikes after a down.

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I'm not convinced, the sample size is too small to conclude that it's unlikely we won't get 3 consecutive down's again this time, for all we know, that's 65-ish boundaries for a 1 is what they want.

(Original post by drandy76)
thanks zacin
No problem mate, you sitting I tomorrow?
11. (Original post by Zacken)
No problem mate, you sitting I tomorrow?
yeah,just reading over some stuff before hand because ive been doing mechanics this past month so i need to make sure everything is still in my head
12. Think it's time to unearth this post - credit to shamika, of course, I'm just quoting it here:

(Original post by shamika)
Sorry I couldn't write this earlier - I've been feeling a little ill the last couple of days. A few last bits of advice before STEP I on Monday:

1) Do not panic. You can ignore the other advice I give below, but seriously try to resist the urge to worry about the exam. A little nervous adrenaline is fine (and may help). Thinking that your life is about to end because of a bad paper is silly and counterproductive.

Not doing any STEP over the weekend is a completely valid 'revision technique' if it means you'll be alert and relaxed for the exam. Eat and sleep properly, and take some water with you into the exam.

2) Resist the urge to put pen to paper the second the exam starts. You should read every question in the Pure section, and any of the applied that you can realistically do (clearly if you've never studied any statistics trying to do some in the exam is unrealistic at best).

How long you spend is up to you. I would spend between 5 and 10 minutes, and in that time:- I would have a good idea what each question is trying to test (e.g. 'this is an integration question')

- I would skip any questions on topics I hate (for me, any question with vectors or geometry I'd stop reading it and move on)- I would work out which questions I think are easy (i.e. I can work out immediately how to do the first few parts, or sometimes the entire thing from a glance), and hence work out the order I want to attempt them
STEP is supposed to be unpredictable, and its supposed to be hard. Don't make it harder by trying the wrong questions.

3) STEP requires you to use standard techniques in novel ways, and thinking about how to approach a question can reap dividends.

As an example, consider STEP I Q2, 2011:
Spoiler:
Show
The first part of the question seems to beg an integration by parts. But stop to think about how to break up the integral - why won't using and work? If you want to use integration by parts, what is a better way of splitting the integral?

4) The above question is also slightly unusual in that the first part is the hardest in the question. You can pick up marks for doing later parts of the question without doing the first.
Spoiler:
Show
In fact the question is also unusual because resisting the urge to integrate by parts will reap dividends - the easiest way to do the question is to use a (simple and 'obvious' substitution for all four integrals

5) Any valid way to do a question (which is not expressly forbidden by the question) should gain full marks. There are often multiple ways to do a question. The recent solutions and examiner's reports for STEP I are excellently written and often show multiple ways of doing a question - one thing you might want to do this weekend is to read those rather than trying a full paper.

6) STEP I sometimes has an 'elementary' first question which requires no knowledge of the A-Level syllabus; the last one was STEP I, Q1, 2009. Knowing something about counting/prime numbers may give you a full question very quickly.

7) Don't ignore the applied if you can! Topics I would brush up on for STEP I would be:Mechanics:
collisions and projectiles
Statistics: definition of a pdf and expectation (Obvious caveat - I have no idea what's in your paper)

You'd be surprised how many questions require very little knowledge. Applied questions which are slogs of algebraic manipulation are not uncommon.

8) Speaking of algebraic manipulation, STEP is full of it. You'll have to strike a balance between not making mistakes and not running out of time. STEP is definitely time pressured, especially if you're going for an S or 1 rather than 'just' a 2.

9) STEP sometimes requires you to prove or show that a statement holds. Learn (quickly if you haven't before the exam!):- the difference between 'necessary' and 'sufficient' (or and ) - what 'if and only if' or 'equivalent' means- what an identity is and how it differs from an equality.

Don't make the mistake of thinking peppering your script with fancy symbols is the way to go. Symbols should aid the reader in understanding your mathematics. Saying something using ordinary words is usually the way to go.- remember that something 'obvious' may not be so in the heat of an exam. The "identity" has the obvious caveat that it doesn't hold if either x or y are 0. Don't divide by 0 and be careful when squaring (there's the possibility of spurious solutions, since , not x -

In mechanics questions, always draw a diagram (the only exception to this we discussed earlier, for moments of inertia problems, do not come up in STEP I or II), and explain in words when resolving (and in what direction), or if you are using conservation of energy/momentum) If it's all going wrong, still don't panic:

- You might be very lucky and remember something from your extra reading around maths to use an advanced technique on a problem. If so, state very clearly what you are trying to do and force on. You might make the examiner smile and hey, that's never a bad thing
- Taking a couple of moments to breathe in the middle of the exam is not a bad thing. Last year I panicked in the middle of an exam - I shut my eyes, drank some water and moved on from that question. Ironically the thing that made me panic was an algebraic slip that changed an integral from something trivial to impossible.
- Fragments of questions may be worth more than you think.
Spoiler:
Show
Again consider STEP I, Q2, 2011. The examiner's report implies the last two integrals were worth 12 marks, which is very generous

- Checking your work (quickly) may show that you made a slip.- If you're finding the exam hard, chances are the majority of people are too.(The honest truth is that you're against the best of the best - someone is likely to do well no matter how harsh the paper is. However you can see for yourself how variable the grade boundaries are, just like any other exam. There is a chance the examiners misjudge the paper and make it too hard.)

Hey, if England can pull it back against Sweden, so can you Best of luck all, no matter what happens it will be fine. Note the similarity between the above advice, and what is in the examiner reports/Siklos' booklets. Most of it seems obvious but believe me people will lose marks (maybe even grades) by not following it.
13. Equivalent is the same as equal. Am I correct? Like 1000m is equivalent to 1Km?
14. (Original post by Geraer100)
Equivalent is the same as equal. Am I correct? Like 1000m is equivalent to 1Km?
There are some subtle differences, but nothing you really need to worry about at this stage.
15. (Original post by Zacken)
There are some subtle differences, but nothing you really need to worry about at this stage.
Okay...
16. (Original post by Geraer100)
Equivalent is the same as equal. Am I correct? Like 1000m is equivalent to 1Km?
well in step it normally is an if and only if condition.
17. (Original post by physicsmaths)
well in step it normally is an if and only if condition.
Ok!
18. (Original post by Zacken)
Accuracy mark, method mark, independent mark.
What do they translate to, in terms of marks on 20? Or does that vary from question to question.

Also, accuracy and method marks sound sort of self explanatory, but what do you mean by independent mark?
19. (Original post by krishdesai7)
What do they translate to, in terms of marks on 20? Or does that vary from question to question.

Also, accuracy and method marks sound sort of self explanatory, but what do you mean by independent mark?
A1, M1, B1 is 1 mark each - hence the 1. I'm not sure what you're asking...?

Independent mark is just a way of giving marks for something that doesn't rely on the method before it.
20. (Original post by Insight314)
Nope, because there have been times at which STEP I has went up to 3 consecutive downs. It would either be a third down which is unlikely since there has only been one like that in the whole 2000-2015 I think in about 2005 (cba to check) and it more often happens that it spikes after a down.
This sort of speculation is likely useless, as future boundaries have no explicit dependence on previous boundaries - instead, I'd argue that there's a more significant dependence on the difference between previous boundaries and their "ideal" boundary (if such a thing really exists); and that this is more likely to the influence the difficulty of subsequent papers. I presume it's favourable for them to stay close to their generic advice of "4 good solutions is a grade 1", so a mark in the mid 60s is most probably something they're happy with.

It's also worth pointing out that grade boundaries in STEP appear to be very sensitive to minor changes (as the quality and level of prep of the candidates is so high nowadays), and that STEP I boundaries are far too volatile to make predictions of this kind.

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