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# The big fat STEP megathread (NOT for getting help with maths questions) Watch

1. (Original post by Lusus Naturae)
I think the reason that the STEP Mechanics questions are slightly more popular than the Stats is that the A-level Mechanics at least has some element of problem solving involved, so I would suggest that stepping from the A-level Mechanics to STEP is less of a leap than from the plug-and-chug A-level Stats to STEP Probability.
In terms of the solution threads, I think there were more stats questions attempted than mechanics once you discount my posts. I know I did a lot of mechanics questions "for completeness" after people had finished off all the pure. I think I did about as many mechanics questions as everyone else put together!

But I can well believe that stats questions don't get answered in the exams. People will go for the "sure thing", and the big problem with stats is the potential for mistakes. If I were to take STEP, I'd be pretty happy to do "show that" stats question, but I'd be very wary of answering a question where you had nothing to check your answer against.

Conversely, if the examiners want more people to do the stats questions, make more of them be "show that" questions. (And completely avoid any "explain which statistical test would be appropriate"-type questions; it's pretty much impossible to know what answer is expected, so you'd have to be desperate to attempt such a question).
2. Does anyone have a good idea of how marks are awarded in STEP papers? I've just started STEP preparation today, and while I think I'd have a good chance of an S on the STEP I paper I've just spent an hour and a half on, I've missed out a few small parts of questions. On an A level paper these might lose me two or three marks out of 20 each, but does anyone know how much they'd be likely to cost me on a STEP paper? They're things like only managing half of the second show part of a question with 3 shows and 2 hences. I'm going to finish the three hours later today and will hopefully have filled all the gaps, but I'm worried that on a II or III paper I would struggle for time to do this.

My second question must have been asked before, but I can't find answers anywhere.
3. (Original post by harr)
Does anyone have a good idea of how marks are awarded in STEP papers?
Not really. I think I have a better idea than most, but I can't reconcile my understanding very well with some of the other things I hear.

I've just started STEP preparation today, and while I think I'd have a good chance of an S on the STEP I paper I've just spent an hour and a half on, I've missed out a few small parts of questions. On an A level paper these might lose me two or three marks out of 20 each, but does anyone know how much they'd be likely to cost me on a STEP paper?
Impossible to say without concrete examples. What are the questions, and what parts did you miss out?

I will point out that if you couldn't do a part, and you think you're an 'S-grade' candidate, then there's a fair chance it was worth more than "two or three marks".
4. (Original post by DFranklin)
I will point out that if you couldn't do a part, and you think you're an 'S-grade' candidate, then there's a fair chance it was worth more than "two or three marks".
I wouldn't normally consider myself an S-grade candidate (not on II and III anyway) and would be very happy just to meet my offer, but on that particular STEP I paper I think I am capable of answering six questions with a couple of bits left out within 3 hours (though I won't know until I do the rest of it, which I plan to do today). I also don't see the obvious as much as I should, something I'm really going to need to improve if I'm to do well on STEP, so it may actually be some of the easier parts of the questions. Although the parts of the questions are likely to be worth more than to or three marks, I feel that in all cases I've made some progress towards the answer and just need one more leap to get there. It's entirely possible that I've blundered off in the wrong direction, but I'll only see that by checking my answers which is something I don't want to do yet. Once I do that I might say how far I got, but atm I don't want to spend much time putting working up and I'm sure nobody would want to spend their time looking through it if it may not lead anywhere. Thanks for your reply, and I'm sure I'll be bothering you again tomorrow with some specific examples .
5. What offer did you get?
6. (Original post by harr)
I also don't see the obvious as much as I should, something I'm really going to need to improve if I'm to do well on STEP, so it may actually be some of the easier parts of the questions.
The thing that concerns me is that in my experience, it's hard to "miss" a bit of a question and still get the rest of it out. A few questions are so compartmentalized that this is reasonable, but I find they are the exception rather than the rule.

But it really is impossible to comment on the potential marks lost without knowing exactly what you missed out (just knowing the question and which part you missed would make it clearer, even if you don't give any actual working).

I've seen people miss bits and I've felt "I'd take one mark off, and I'd only take that off because I can't give 20/20 for a question with a missing bit".

I've also seen people say "I got this question out except for one bit", and I've thought "The bit you missed is probably worth 75% of the marks".
7. (Original post by speedy_s)
What offer did you get?
Asuming this is aimed at me, 1,1 in II,III.

DFranklin: Sorry, I was very unclear with my question and somehow failed to realise this until last night. Essentially what I wanted to know was whether each section has a number of marks assigned to it or if the examiner just judges how complete it is or if it is a mixture of the two.
(Original post by DFranklin)
The thing that concerns me is that in my experience, it's hard to "miss" a bit of a question and still get the rest of it out. A few questions are so compartmentalized that this is reasonable, but I find they are the exception rather than the rule.
I was very surprised at how many parts some of the questions had, some of them were almost as compartmentalized as A level questions. I assume II and III don't do this to the same extent.

I'll take Q4 2007 as an example. You are asked to find Q(x) then write 2Q(x) as the sum of three perfect squares. There is then three shows and a deduce which seem to be on completely unrelated information. As far as I can see you don't need either of the Q(x) bits to do the later parts.

Or in question 6 I didn't manage to show that 3xy = d3 - d2 because I didn't factorize x3 - y3, but I could do all the rest of it fine. That may well be worth 10+ marks, I have no idea, but if I had to guess I'd say it's unlikely that it's worth more than a quarter of the question, so if each section has a number of marks assigned to it I would lose all the marks for that section while still probably getting most of the marks for the question.

Other mistakes I've made tend to be smaller, such as getting to the verge of an answer and then saying something equivalent to
x+y=x+z
y=2x+z

A vaguely related question: If I was to skip one part of a proof and then continue on the basis that I had shown it, might I still be able to get some of the marks if the way I've done it is right. There was one section on one question where I could do it using an idea I could see was true but couldn't find a neat proof for. I could have used exhaustion (or drawn a picture, which turns out to be the way it's done on Meikleriggs'), but it's quite possible that I wouldn't be able to on a different question in a similar situation. In this example (Q1) I said that the number would be the sum of two expressions and rearranged them to give the answer, but didn't show why it was the sum of those. Obviously I would miss most of the marks, but would I still get a few?
8. (Original post by harr)
DFranklin: Sorry, I was very unclear with my question and somehow failed to realise this until last night. Essentially what I wanted to know was whether each section has a number of marks assigned to it or if the examiner just judges how complete it is or if it is a mixture of the two.
From a few comments in examiners' reports, I think there are marks assigned to each section. But I'm not sure how "big" a section may be, and how much discretion an examiner has. In other words, if you skip a part which is only a tenth of the question, I really wouldn't assume you'll only lose 2 marks, because it might belong to a section worth 10 marks, and a sufficiently mean examiner could take all 10 marks away. I could see you getting dinged quite heavily if it's a result you need to complete the question.

I'll take Q4 2007 as an example. You are asked to find Q(x) then write 2Q(x) as the sum of three perfect squares. There is then three shows and a deduce which seem to be on completely unrelated information. As far as I can see you don't need either of the Q(x) bits to do the later parts.
The "standard" solution to the last part requires you to use the "sum of 3 perfect squares" formulation.

I'd say that if you didn't get Q(x) in the right format, that would be a moderately serious loss of marks: maybe 5-6 marks lost.

Or in question 6 I didn't manage to show that 3xy = d3 - d2 because I didn't factorize x3 - y3, but I could do all the rest of it fine.
I think that's a fairly trivial one, probably only a couple of marks.

A vaguely related question: If I was to skip one part of a proof and then continue on the basis that I had shown it, might I still be able to get some of the marks if the way I've done it is right.
Yes. The danger is that skipping one part of the proof makes it much less likely that you've done the rest of it right.

There was one section on one question where I could do it using an idea I could see was true but couldn't find a neat proof for. I could have used exhaustion (or drawn a picture, which turns out to be the way it's done on Meikleriggs'), but it's quite possible that I wouldn't be able to on a different question in a similar situation. In this example (Q1) I said that the number would be the sum of two expressions and rearranged them to give the answer, but didn't show why it was the sum of those. Obviously I would miss most of the marks, but would I still get a few?
Yes.

However, I really think you are approaching this all the wrong way. If you've done this well with little preparation, you are obviously a strong candidate. This whole thing of "how many marks can I scrabble together" makes sense if you're a borderline candidate, and when you get close to the exams, obviously you want to maximize your score. But at this stage I really think you should be aiming to complete whole questions.

The other thing to worry about:

You asked if I anyone knew how the questions are marked. I have a fair idea how the degree questions were marked when I did the Tripos, and I've been fairly accurate predicting STEP grades based on that knowledge. But, in the Tripos, there are various "bonus schemes" which mean that you are more likely to get a high grade if you've answered complete questions. Now no-one knows how or if there are any such "bonus schemes" for STEP (there's circumstantial evidence both ways). I know that as an examiner, I'd be unhappy giving an S-grade to someone who had few complete solutions.
9. Thanks for all your help.
(Original post by DFranklin)
The "standard" solution to the last part requires you to use the "sum of 3 perfect squares" formulation.
Although I did do it that way, I think you could do it without that (I haven't tried re-doing it without using the Q(x) though, so I could be wrong).
However, I really think you are approaching this all the wrong way. If you've done this well with little preparation, you are obviously a strong candidate.
I don't trust myself to cope with the increase in difficulty from I to II and III or to perform that well in an actual exam. Time (or cliches) will tell how strong a candidate I really am.
But at this stage I really think you should be aiming to complete whole questions.
I agree. I need to spend longer on each question trying to finish it instead of giving up after two minutes to scurry off to a different question I can see how to start.
10. Whoa, looks like Cambridge Assessment themselves are releasing past papers now:

11. That's very nice.

Although they still lack the older papers
12. I have a small question on the Advanced Problems in Core Mathematics booklet by Stephen Siklos. The one which I can download here
says "first draft". Is there any difference between that and the one you can buy from OCR? If so, is it actually worth buying the newer version?
13. The one from ocr (Advanced problems in Mathematics) contains different Step 2/3 to the one thats on the internet (Advanced problems in Core Mathematics).
14. Does anyone know where I can find the grade boundaries for previous papers? (Specifically, STEP I 2001.)
15. Can someone start threads for 1988 and 1989?

Feel free to start one yourself for 1988 if noone else wants to.
17. Oh, thanks for that speedy_s
18. (Original post by Glutamic Acid)
Does anyone know where I can find the grade boundaries for previous papers? (Specifically, STEP I 2001.)

2000 S 1 2 3
STEP I 91/120 69/120 50/120 38/120
STEP II 91/120 65/120 48/120 32/120
STEP III 88/120 66/120 50/120 39/120

2001 S 1 2 3
STEP I 85/120 66/120 50/120 41/120
STEP II 85/120 62/120 47/120 32/120
STEP III 77/120 59/120 46/120 32/120

2002 S 1 2 3
STEP I 80/120 61/120 48/120 35/120
STEP II 90/120 65/120 40/120 32/120
STEP III 77/120 56/120 43/120 32/120

2003 S 1 2 3
STEP I 94/120 78/120 60/120 43/120
STEP II 95/120 70/120 55/120 37/120
STEP III 77/120 56/120 43/120 33/120

2004 S 1 2 3
STEP I 90/120 72/120 55/120 43/120
STEP II 82/120 60/20 49/120 36/120
STEP III 75/120 56/120 43/120 33/120

2005 S 1 2 3
STEP I 96/120 80/120 62/120 45/120
STEP II 89/120 64/120 49/120 31/120
STEP III 80/120 59/120 47/120 35/120
19. ^ Thanks , and repped.
20. I've updated my previous link to include every single STEP paper that's ever been set (all organised neatly into folders). It's a direct link (so you can avoid stuff like Megaupload/Rapidshare) and includes the following:

STEP Specification 2007
STEP I: 1987 - 2007
STEP II: 1987 - 2007 (+ Sample)
STEP III: 1987 - 2007

http://www.byond.com/members/DeathAw...files/STEP.zip

Enjoy!

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