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    (Original post by DFranklin)
    Yes, I would also be frustrated at that. The thing is, the interviewers don't generally want to give someone a 'special' interview with questions directed at them in particular, because it's hard to compare that interview with the standard ones everyone else gets.
    I can understand this viewpoint and that's fair enough on their behalf. I suppose it possibly didn't help that all of my interviewers were applied mathematicians...

    It really depends on how much time they get to examine each application (not much, I suspect); I think losing marks on the Physics practical is not that unusual, and something I'd expect them to be sympathetic about if they actually noticed, for example.
    I think they have a window of about 20 hours to pick files from the pool over a 3 day period in early January, so yes, I don't think there was enough time for me to be fished by another college. As far as the physics goes, this too was my hope for the situation but I guess it didn't turn out so well.

    Sounds like a fair plan; too early to make a decision without it being based on emotion anyhow. Personally I'd pick Warwick over Imperial every time (but that is largely based on I'd hate to study in London, so mileage may vary).
    Thanks to Jonnyboy1993, I've booked an open day at Imperial tomorrow so I'll take a look into it. If I do decide that reapplying is not in my interest then it will be a tough choice between Warwick and Imperial. Thankfully, Warwick have asked me for a fairly easy offer so I can use them as firm and insurance rather than having to choose one over the other due to high requirements. I just don't feel as though luck was on my side this year and the most off-putting thing about reapplying is that I keep thinking, if 97 marks in STEP I whilst competing against Warwick offer holders who are, on average, a year older than myself is not good enough then what am I supposed to do this year to stand off the page? I'm thinking I'm going to need an S in STEP II or III this time, plus high UMS in FMaths.
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    (Original post by Farhan.Hanif93)
    I just don't feel as though luck was on my side this year and the most off-putting thing about reapplying is that I keep thinking, if 97 marks in STEP I whilst competing against Warwick offer holders who are, on average, a year older than myself is not good enough then what am I supposed to do this year to stand off the page? I'm thinking I'm going to need an S in STEP II or III this time, plus high UMS in FMaths.
    If the worst happens, I'd definitely get some feedback; that will give you an idea whether it was bad luck, something you can fix, or something you can't fix.

    If you can do it, an S in STEP II/III and high UMS in FM sound like good things to aim for.
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    (Original post by Farhan.Hanif93)

    Thanks to Jonnyboy1993, I've booked an open day at Imperial tomorrow so I'll take a look into it. If I do decide that reapplying is not in my interest then it will be a tough choice between Warwick and Imperial. Thankfully, Warwick have asked me for a fairly easy offer so I can use them as firm and insurance rather than having to choose one over the other due to high requirements. I just don't feel as though luck was on my side this year and the most off-putting thing about reapplying is that I keep thinking, if 97 marks in STEP I whilst competing against Warwick offer holders who are, on average, a year older than myself is not good enough then what am I supposed to do this year to stand off the page? I'm thinking I'm going to need an S in STEP II or III this time, plus high UMS in FMaths.
    The Imperial Open Day should be good! If it's a Maths one I mean.
    I went to one as part of my interview in December, and the guy that did the lecture was fantastic. You'll know him by his trousers, maybe.
    I really enjoyed.

    I'm also struggling to decide between Warwick and Imperial, so I'm off to a Warwick open day on 23/02.
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    (Original post by Farhan.Hanif93)
    The thing is, that I don't even remember you at all... The fact that you remember this conversation so well is astonishing (if not, a bit odd). It's not only me who is surprised about this situation I'm in, but practically every person I have told thus far who has an understanding of what Cambridge are looking for.

    I hope you understand the concept of someone wanting to study somewhere for the place and not the name. I'm aware that I'll get a very good education in maths from any of those Universities but just because it's in COWI doesn't necessarily mean that I'll want to live there for the foreseeable future, does it?

    Cambridge has been my aim for a good few years now so if you cannot understand why I'm feeling a bit disappointed that I haven't been made an offer yet then there's not much I can say to change your mind.

    I'd just like to mention that it is extremely rare for me to be jealous of someone else, life is too short for that.
    lol, its ok if you dont remember me, its just that i remember a lot of stuff. Maybe you can look back in your inbox, maybe not.

    Right now, you're 17, you're in school, you're probably 1 of the smartest kids in your school etc. So I get it how it can be annoying in that environment with your teachers, your parents and dumber people getting offers etc.

    The simple point is that in a real-life competitive environment which is beyond uni apps or even grad job apps (stage where I am) nobody is guaranteed anything no matter how good you are.

    Yes the 1st big rejection (or humbling by pooling) may hurt but honestly man-up. Life is about rejection. If you can't take it you won't last long. If you can and learn from each one then I guess you may get where you want to go.

    Im not actually trying to be rude or patronising . You remind me of a young me so I'm just trying to give you a more honest perspective.

    Continue seeking pity on the internet if you want.

    P.S. 100th post
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    The thing is, I've seen your exam timetable, and I don't even think you should do STEP III this year. Because I don't think you can do 2 exams in the morning and then do STEP III in the afternoon. It will only lower your grade, and therefore your confidence, and give Cam an excuse to reject you again.
    Well, if that's on the basis of having two FM modules to take in the morning, I'd say it's nonsense. When I did exams, having 5+ hours per day was considered pretty normal, and it shouldn't be a big strain if you're confident on the FM material.

    Depending on how much you write, you might want to consider adjusting your style for the FM modules to write less and avoid your arm getting physically tired. Although I never found that a problem once switching to a decent pen that didn't require much pressure. (Ballpoints are BAD if you're doing 6 hours in one day).

    Note that lots of people sitting STEP will be in a similar position, and also that Cambridge is a pressured environment. If Farhan reapplied with an 'S' in STEP II but without STEP III, I'd expect on of the first questions to be "why didn't you sit STEP III?". And I don't think "I had 3 hours of exams in the morning" is going to cut it as an excuse. (His interviewer will probably be from my generation, who had to sit four 3-hour Tripos exams over two days).

    This is particularly the case given the M1/S1 marks; you don't want to give them another reason to wonder if you're capable of getting up to scratch on all the material without extra time/retaking.

    Just my opinion, but I think this is particularly bad advice.
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    The thing is, I've seen your exam timetable, and I don't even think you should do STEP III this year. Because I don't think you can do 2 exams in the morning and then do STEP III in the afternoon. It will only lower your grade, and therefore your confidence, and give Cam an excuse to reject you again.
    I don't think he should avoid STEP III purely because of exams in the morning. As has been said, Cambridge wouldn't accept this as an excuse, and many other candidates with offers this year will be dealing with a similar scenario. I for one will have to. I have M4 and Biology 5 in the morning, combining to give me 3hr 45m of exams. I will then have to sit STEP III with no more than 45 mins break. I think Cambridge would question if a candidate had S/1 in STEP I/II but had avoided STEP III, especially as offer holders are expected to sit II/III in the same examination series.
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    (Original post by Farhan.Hanif93)
    One. I'm not that prodigious. :p:

    It's just my luck that the fees are going up next year, if they weren't, I would have no problem in reapplying next cycle (if something miraculous doesn't happen and I get rejected) but the decision is made more difficult when you know your degree is going to cost £18000 more if you wait.
    Would you mind telling when you got an offer from Inperial as my application is still pending with Imperial and the only e-mail I received from them on 1st November, 2010 saying that they would not be able to make a decision until after 15th January, 2011.

    Cheers!
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    I don't agree. People have sat STEP before with exams in the morning, and they've nearly always said their exam performance sufferred in the afternoon. I guess some people are fine with it, but for most it's a strain and their performance suffers. It's going to be very hard to do two exams and then fully concentrate for 3 hours in STEP III. He will be fatigued, it's common sense.
    It makes life harder, but it's really not a big deal, particularly if you're just doing a couple of FM exams that you should find fairly straightforward. The Cambridge exam system is high pressured, and if you're not prepared to do STEP under those circumstances, you're probably better off choosing somewhere else.

    I also think he needs to prioritise weakpoints. Do you want him to re-sit M1/S1, resit his Physics ISA, perhaps resit 1/2 Econ modules, get high marks in all his Further Maths Units, AND get SS in STEP 2/3; despite the timetable? I honestly think this is too much for him.
    If he applies without STEP III, that will be a weak point. Probably a deal-breaker, given his academic history.

    And I can't honestly say I consider that an impossible schedule at all, incidentally.

    There are people who take STEP on their gap years after getting an offer from Cam. Why does Farhan have to do STEP III this summer? Infact, if he got an offer, what's he going to do in his gap year Maths wise?
    Unfortunately, Farhan's in the position of having taken STEP I early. If he takes STEP III late, then he's had two extra years to practice STEP. Cambridge tend not to like that.

    I think he needs to prioritise his weakpoints, and that isn't STEP. I don't think Cambridge will hold it against him as long as his application is strong. If he's deemed good enough they'll give him an offer pending his STEP III Grade. I think it's much safer this way, than sitting STEP III fatigued, getting 2/3, and then have Cambridge use it against him.
    Well yes, if he thinks he'll get a 2/3 like that, it would be a bad idea. But since he should be expecting to get a 1/S, this is somewhat moot.

    A bad grade, whatever the excuse, is always used against you. If you haven't sat the exam then they can't use it against you.
    He already has issues with his grades. (And as far as I'm aware, has to declare those grades even if he retakes, so he can't fully "fix" the issue).

    So what he really needs is a good showing in STEP to overcome that.

    As has often been said (albeit without verification from Cambridge): get SS in STEP II/III, and your chances of getting in are pretty good.
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    If they rejected someone for that, it would seriously be retarded. Is this about his Maths ability or not? It seems like every other factor seems to matter more; from his GCSE scores, to his Econ&Physics AS scores, to his fatigue/timetable.
    Well, if your maths ability is good, you won't be significantly fatigued by doing two FM exams in the morning. And a little bit of fatigue won't be enough to stop you doing well on STEP III.
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    (Original post by DFranklin)
    ...
    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    ...
    Thank you both for your concern but, with all due respect, since neither of you have actually seen me work towards an exam, it is hard for either of you to judge how I will take this.

    What I can tell you is that I had Physics Unit 2 on the same day as STEP I (both pm exams, so no breaks between them) and I did just fine on both. Of course, STEP III is a different ball game to STEP I but on the flip side, I also have two maths exams rather than a physics exam this time and tbh this favours me. I found M2 extremely easy to self teach and have worked through about one third of the past papers so essentially all I will need is to polish up just before the exam i.e. slow work for around a month on it. Working with STEP mechanics has inevitably made this easy too. I'm far more concerned about the physical fatigue rather than a possible lack of preparedness due to having to juggle 3 exams.

    It may also be worth saying that I had an incredibly lazy attitude towards anything that wasn't interesting. This meant that I was always getting side tracked by something more interesting like a STEP question or my EPQ. Consequently I didn't do a lot of revision (just did past papers in the two preceding nights). Besides this, I tend to have issues with numerical errors (thus why I tend to perform better on the core modules than the applied, apart from the fact that the core modules were more interesting than M1). What I'm saying is that it's entirely my fault that I'm in this position but I have learnt my lesson now (possibly a bit late) and have decided that I will put in extreme effort.

    I also agree with DFranklin that if I can't cope with that then I will not survive in the Cambridge environment so I will give it a shot. I do have a little confidence in my ability.
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    (Original post by Farhan.Hanif93)
    What I can tell you is that I had Physics Unit 2 on the same day as STEP I (both pm exams, so no breaks between them) and I did just fine on both. Of course, STEP III is a different ball game to STEP I but on the flip side, I also have two maths exams rather than a physics exam this time and tbh this favours me. I found M2 extremely easy to self teach and have worked through about one third of the past papers so essentially all I will need is to polish up just before the exam i.e. slow work for around a month on it. Working with STEP mechanics has inevitably made this easy too. I'm far more concerned about the physical fatigue rather than a possible lack of preparedness due to having to juggle 3 exams.
    That's pretty much what I'd have thought. As I hinted at, you might want to "pace yourself" with the two FM exams; I know the modern exams are different, but my experience was that it was easy to score in the high 90s with a fair bit of time to spare, but you could easily run up the rest of the time trying to get ensure the last few marks, (trying to make your sketches beautiful, rechecking all your work, etc).

    It *might* be that you're better off trading those last few marks for a more relaxing morning, but only you can judge that.

    I didn't do a lot of revision (just did past papers in the two preceding nights).
    Pretty much all I ever did (and read through notes - but as much to avoid anxiety ("Good, I still remember how to integrate by parts...") than from an actual need).

    Besides this, I tend to have issues with numerical errors (thus why I tend to perform better on the core modules than the applied, apart from the fact that the core modules were more interesting than M1).
    For numerical errors, if you have the time to spare, do the calculations twice. Practice helps, of course.
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    (Original post by DFranklin)
    That's pretty much what I'd have thought. As I hinted at, you might want to "pace yourself" with the two FM exams; I know the modern exams are different, but my experience was that it was easy to score in the high 90s with a fair bit of time to spare, but you could easily run up the rest of the time trying to get ensure the last few marks, (trying to make your sketches beautiful, rechecking all your work, etc).

    It *might* be that you're better off trading those last few marks for a more relaxing morning, but only you can judge that.

    Pretty much all I ever did (and read through notes - but as much to avoid anxiety ("Good, I still remember how to integrate by parts...") than from an actual need).

    For numerical errors, if you have the time to spare, do the calculations twice. Practice helps, of course.
    Definitely. The biggest benefit of the past papers is probably to practice how to avoid numerical mistakes. I think this conversation may be a bit premature, considering the said exams are over 5 months away... I appreciate the advice nonetheless :p:

    If I was in a scenario where I've decided to reapply and have a gap year to plan for, what would you suggest that I do to give the impression that I'm still interested in maths? At the moment, I'm thinking I'll undertake another project similar to the one I undertook on the Calculus of Variations but without the constraints of the assessment criteria. I don't think that I can get an A-Level in further additional maths on my exam board so I'm not sure whether it'd be worthwhile sitting any extra mathematical examinations. Obviously I'll keep fresh by sticking to BMO problems etc but what else could I be doing? Should I start doing some undergraduate maths to keep up to speed?
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)

    Have you noticed all the STEP-calibre people go/went to Warwick or Cam?
    Perhaps the fact that they had to do STEP to get in to those two unis has something to do with it, did you consider that?

    I think BMO/IMO is a little more interesting than STEP, at the same time more puzzle/fun oriented and still touching more on proper mathematical topics. I'm not amazing by any means. I can hold my own. I like how it has elementary number theory, combinatorics and geometry, rather than lots of calculus.

    That's the other thing. STEP (A-level) is entirely quantitative. It deals with real numbers, and their functions, and that's about it. [Complex numbers are ordered pairs of real numbers]. Uni maths is much more qualitative. By that I mean, it includes the STEP style stuff under the name of methods, but is much more focused on structures. It works with sets, in general, and structures, in general. This includes abstract algebra and more (as far as I can tell, algebra is intended to convey some sort of analogy with arithmetic - groups, rings, fields - but structures without operations, like posets and ultrafilters possess no such analogy).

    Even the qualitative/quantitative distinction doesn't quite do the difference, justice, of course. You also have number theory, which is a big area.
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    Is this really a good attitude to take?
    Yes.
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    Is this really a good attitude to take? You could easily say 'if your Maths ability was good, you'd never get pooled and leave it to chance' or 'if your Maths ability was good, you'd get an S in STEP I rather than a 1' or 'if your Maths ability was good, you'd have got 90+ in M1/S1, even with moderate revision and an off day'.

    It's nice to have faith in someone, but it shouldn't be at the risk of him cracking. You seem to be of the opinion Maths ability dictates whether he'll be tired. Sure that has an effect; but no matter who you are, you need to concentrate, think hard and do a lots of writing. After 3 hours it can be hard to tackle STEP III.

    I don't want to sound harsh, but I honestly think very few people should be confident of walking into STEP III with some fatigue, and getting at least a 1. It's very very plausible he would 'only' get a 1 if he walked into STEP III fresh in the afternoon (no exams AM). Thus he could drop to a 2 with the AM exams.

    I'm not saying he will/won't suffer, I just want him to consider this before entering the exams. You can't be a whizz at everything, and you are human after all.
    Have some faith! If I'm good enough for Cambridge then I will be able to do that. If I can't, then my decision can be made for me. The main reason I'm considering reapplying is because being pooled suggests to me that I was good enough a mathematician but not good enough on paper to justify an offer (besides this, there are the many people who are encouraging to reapply). Not only do I love the place and the idea of a challenging environment, but being put in this position of not knowing where I stand has made me want to prove that I can get in. Anyways, this decision can wait until results day. Who knows? If you're right about STEP III being a step too far (see what I did there?) for me, then it will show in my result and I won't reapply. Although I'll be damned if I can get a high 1 in STEP I but not even a 1 in STEP III. I think saying that I won't get a 1 is a bit unjustified going on how little you actually know about me. I may not get a 1 but I think it's possible that I could get an S so it's really hard to predict things like this. I did have an exam clash with STEP I last year and I did fine so don't worry about me being overstretched! I'll be extremely disappointed in myself if I can be defeated by M2 and S2...
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    You've left things very cut-throat for him.
    So have the Cambridge admissions team. I hope you realise that anonymatt got an offer from Cambridge this cycle with 3,3 in STEP II and III from last summer (he was a reapplicant) so I'm not sure what the big worry is. If I don't get two 1's, I won't reapply. Simple.
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    So what happens if he's feeling a bit fatigued by the FM exams, does STEP, and struggles a bit more than he should, and gets a 2? Or even a 3? Are you going to come in here and tell him that he's not good at Maths? You've left things very cut-throat for him. A little harsh I think. Being tired doesn't mean you're sub-par IMO. I don't think this kind of pressure is very healthy, but then I'm quite caring.
    I see where you are coming from here, but was it not you who was bigging up STEP as the real test of a good mathematician? All we have been doing is suggesting that Farhan shouldn't give up on STEP III just because he has other exams on the day, at no point was it suggested that if he got a 2 we would think any less of him as a mathematician.
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    Exactly, it's a hard exam, and one should really be fresh for it. I'm not saying he won't get a 1 (or S) this summer, and I hope he does, but I just threw out my opinions and the possibility of what may happen. If nobody ever found it a problem then I wouldn't have suggested such a thing.

    If he dropped a grade due to the fatigue, I wouldn't see him as a worse mathematician, I would say it's due to the fatigue. But DFranklin is saying the opposite; that if he can't handle it, that makes him not 'good enough' at Maths.
    Yes, ideally everyone would go into STEP exams entirely fresh and have their best performance possible. However, life has a funny way of meaning these sort of things rarely happen. And I agree it's best to get opinions from everyone, but I'm just saying he shouldn't immediately avoid STEP III because of his exams in the morning. After all offer holders are expected to go into STEP in this situation, and if he did well in the same situation as someone with an offer then this would only serve to strengthen even further any reapplication he might make.

    I think you've mis-understood the point that DFranklin was making, namely that in the Tripos exams one might be reasonably expected to do 6 hours of exams in one day, so if you can't handle that with STEP/A level then maybe you wouldn't be able to cope with it at Cambridge. And again just because one doesn't deal well with the Cambridge system it does not make one a bad mathematician, just that one may be better suited to the teaching/learning style at another uni. In this case I would say that if one were to struggle with STEP in Farhan's (or my) exam schedule then maybe one should consider if they will reasonably cope with the intense course that is the Cambridge maths Tripos.
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    In which case DFranklin was wrong about not-sitting STEP III this summer being a 'deal breaker'.
    Sigh - what I said was "Probably a deal-breaker, given his academic history. ", which is a long way from saying "always a deal-breaker, regardless of academic history".

    And to be clear, I don't personally see anything wrong with Farhan's academic history, but given the way things have gone (and from what he said, he did well at interview), one has to assume there's something in there that the tutors didn't like. Giving them something else to dislike is not a good move. (And before you jump in, yes, there's a risk of doing badly in STEP III and giving them something else to dislike. But opposing that is the certainty of implying "I needed 3 years and a completely blank exam schedule to do STEP III").

    I am confident you're capable of 1 in STEP III, I never suggested otherwise. I just threw out the idea that it's possible to fatigue from 2 Further Maths exams and then drop a grade in STEP III.
    And lots of people who've done that many exams in one day, or more, have said it shouldn't be an issue. More to the point, Farhan has said something similar happened last year, and he felt it wasn't an issue.

    On the gripping hand, it's absolutely clear that right now, Farhan should be behaving as if it isn't an issue. The "simplest" solution is to go in there expecting to blitz the two FM exams with little effort, and to then get 110+ in STEP III. If you get a little tired and only get 105, who cares?

    If it gets to 29th April and he's thinking "I'm not sure if I can get a 1", then he can start seriously thinking about whether he really wants to take STEP III this year.

    But tp be honest: if you spend 2 years working at STEP and aren't happy to do STEP III with two FM exams in the morning (and don't forget, most entrants will probably have the same two exams), then you really should question whether Cambridge is for you. It's a very pressurized environment, there's a high workload, and the material tends to be aimed at the most able rather than the average undergraduate.
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    (Original post by jonnyboy1993)
    I think you've mis-understood the point that DFranklin was making, namely that in the Tripos exams one might be reasonably expected to do 6 hours of exams in one day, so if you can't handle that with STEP/A level then maybe you wouldn't be able to cope with it at Cambridge.
    To be fair, they've changed the system so you dont' typically do 6 hours a day any more. On the other hand, 3 hours of an exam where you have to "try your hardest" (i.e. Tripos or STEP) is vastly more tiring than 3 hours of an exam you can do easily. (The difficult thing mentally is to 'coast' through the easy exams without burning too much energy. Confidence helps).

    And again just because one doesn't deal well with the Cambridge system it does not make one a bad mathematician, just that one may be better suited to the teaching/learning style at another uni. In this case I would say that if one were to struggle with STEP in Farhan's (or my) exam schedule then maybe one should consider if they will reasonably cope with the intense course that is the Cambridge maths Tripos.
    Agreed in all respects, remembering that spending 3 years stressed and struggling is not a great deal of fun, and won't make you a better mathematician (possibly a bitter one).
 
 
 
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