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How do Oxbridge develop you intellectually once onto the degree? watch

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    (Original post by SouthernFreerider)
    1st paragraph: The Cambridge maths course IS harder than anywhere else. Most of the content (at least in the first two years) is covered elsewhere, but the Tripos questions are definitely harder. No question.
    I seem to remember that quite a few people on here came to the conclusion that Oxford probably have slightly harder exams. There are other universities which are meant to be good for maths that do have significantly easier papers though. I was looking through another university's past papers with someone and he described the level of difficulty as "insulting". (No, I won't say which university, but they ask for AAA if you don't have Further Maths.)
    (Original post by Simplicity)
    However, ironically the two great mathematician and physicist in the last century went to crappy unis, that is Grothendieck going to nearly the worst uni in France and Einstein failing to get into the top uni.
    So failing to get into the top university means you go to a crappy one? This seems contrary to the view you were expressing earlier. (I was under the impression that he did go to his preferred choice, just that he didn't get in the first time he applied. I'm probably wrong though.)

    It seems odd to pick out only two examples and act as if they're representative, especially when they don't necessarily reflect what would happen now. Of course there are other examples you could have used that support your point (e.g., Dirac), but I'm willing to bet that a very large proportions of the top mathematicians and physicists went to a very small proportion of universities, and that Oxford and Cambridge get a high proportion even compared to most of the others in that group.
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    (Original post by harr)
    I seem to remember that quite a few people on here came to the conclusion that Oxford probably have slightly harder exams. There are other universities which are meant to be good for maths that do have significantly easier papers though. I was looking through another university's past papers with someone and he described the level of difficulty as "insulting". (No, I won't say which university, but they ask for AAA if you don't have Further Maths.)

    So failing to get into the top university means you go to a crappy one? This seems contrary to the view you were expressing earlier. (I was under the impression that he did go to his preferred choice, just that he didn't get in the first time he applied. I'm probably wrong though.)

    It seems odd to pick out only two examples and act as if they're representative, especially when they don't necessarily reflect what would happen now. Of course there are other examples you could have used that support your point (e.g., Dirac), but I'm willing to bet that a very large proportions of the top mathematicians and physicists went to a very small proportion of universities, and that Oxford and Cambridge get a high proportion even compared to most of the others in that group.
    Lol, to be fair I think it would be better to cover more things instead of focusing on making the questions harder, certainly in real life you think about stuff over days not in a three hours period. What uni? Hmm, I guess it would be a uni that showed past papers online. In a way what hard question can they ask for it to take a hour to anwser? certainly, lol most hard problems take years to anwser.

    Hmm, I can look it up again, but according to a documentary that isn't true. Even, then Einstein didn't actually get really good grades, hence not being able to get a uni place after. According to that same documentary it said he only studied what interested him and annoyed the staff in the uni. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfDzLzMYs0w

    Lol, I didn't say they are the representative, they are just the best. The point is that going to a uni doesn't make you great, hmm so lol this is a pointless thread. Hmm, lol on average yes, Oxbridge do get better mathematician. But, lol you can't say they got the best or that yeah they are better than every other mathematician not in Oxbridge.

    Hmm, this comes to mind
    The main problem I have with du Sautoy’s books is that their main topic is NOT mathematics, but rather the lives of mathematicians (colourlful described with childlike devotion) and the prestige of mathematical institutes (giving the impression that it is impossible to do mathematics of quality if one isn’t living in Princeton, Paris, Cambridge, Bonn or … Oxford).
    http://www.neverendingbooks.org/inde...moonshine.html
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    (Original post by Simplicity)
    Lol, to be fair I think it would be better to cover more things instead of focusing on making the questions harder, certainly in real life you think about stuff over days not in a three hours period.
    I think the idea is that harder questions are a better indicator of how you'd tackle a problem that does take days. You're right that three hours isn't enough to give proper practice of hard questions, so example sheet questions are generally harder than the exam ones.

    There are quite a few people of the opinion that, for the majority of students, the Cambridge system isn't a good approach. (I'm talking about Maths in particular here, though sciences are likely to be similar and I have seen some people who disagree with the way arts subjects are taught.) The most common criticism I've seen is that it's too hard and this results in many students not really understanding the stuff. I don't have any experience of the alternatives, so I can't really comment.
    In a way what hard question can they ask for it to take a hour to anwser? certainly, lol most hard problems take years to anwser.
    As far as I can see you can only talk about relative difficulty. So the questions are probably hard compared to what undergraduates at other universities are asked, but clearly very simple compared to what a researcher would have to do.
    Hmm, I can look it up again, but according to a documentary that isn't true. Even, then Einstein didn't actually get really good grades, hence not being able to get a uni place after. According to that same documentary it said he only studied what interested him and annoyed the staff in the uni. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfDzLzMYs0w
    His maths and physics results were pretty good, if nothing compared to what he achieved. He obviously had a focus that was narrower than what the university wanted. I expect that there are top places that would accept this narrower focus now (depending on exactly how good his maths and physics results were).
    The point is that going to a uni doesn't make you great, hmm so lol this is a pointless thread. Hmm, lol on average yes, Oxbridge do get better mathematician. But, lol you can't say they got the best or that yeah they are better than every other mathematician not in Oxbridge.
    Agreed.
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    (Original post by Simplicity)
    The point is that going to a uni doesn't make you great, hmm so lol this is a pointless thread.
    Except that wasn't even the point of the thread in the first place. :sigh:
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    (Original post by harr)
    I think the idea is that harder questions are a better indicator of how you'd tackle a problem that does take days. You're right that three hours isn't enough to give proper practice of hard questions, so example sheet questions are generally harder than the exam ones.

    There are quite a few people of the opinion that, for the majority of students, the Cambridge system isn't a good approach. (I'm talking about Maths in particular here, though sciences are likely to be similar and I have seen some people who disagree with the way arts subjects are taught.) The most common criticism I've seen is that it's too hard and this results in many students not really understanding the stuff. I don't have any experience of the alternatives, so I can't really comment.

    As far as I can see you can only talk about relative difficulty. So the questions are probably hard compared to what undergraduates at other universities are asked, but clearly very simple compared to what a researcher would have to do.

    His maths and physics results were pretty good, if nothing compared to what he achieved. He obviously had a focus that was narrower than what the university wanted. I expect that there are top places that would accept this narrower focus now (depending on exactly how good his maths and physics results were).
    Agreed.
    Hmmm, I don't know about that. Certainly, I was under that hard question take years not days, certainly Fermat Last Theorem comes to mind. Postgrad itself takes three years. Even then having hard exams might not make better postgrads.

    Yeah, thats what I would have thought. In a way learning everything yourself but like say in maths working out how to prove it instead of looking in the book, would likely make you a better mathematician and better at tackling hard questions. However, the stuff you know would decrease and there would be a huge pressure to do stuff that you know you are good at as you would be tested on something hard. So the two would decrease range of knowledge of mathematics.

    (Original post by harr)
    As far as I can see you can only talk about relative difficulty. So the questions are probably hard compared to what undergraduates at other universities are asked, but clearly very simple compared to what a researcher would have to do.
    Hmm. Well, I don't see how you can conclude that, certainly a researcher would likely be working on easier problems a few weeks before attempting hard problem.

    His maths and physics results were pretty good, if nothing compared to what he achieved. He obviously had a focus that was narrower than what the university wanted. I expect that there are top places that would accept this narrower focus now (depending on exactly how good his maths and physics results were).
    Hmm, lol he got mixed grades in physics. Has maths and physics got a narrow focus? as lol I know someone who does mathematical physics and lol they have to take units from both the maths and physics department. Not forgetting Einstein had a attitude problem that annoyed people.

    (Original post by BJack)
    Except that wasn't even the point of the thread in the first place.
    That actually does anwser the question, since I'm saying the question is pointless as a person will be great regardless of uni they go to.
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    (Original post by Simplicity)
    Hmmm, I don't know about that. Certainly, I was under that hard question take years not days, certainly Fermat Last Theorem comes to mind. Postgrad itself takes three years. Even then having hard exams might not make better postgrads.

    [...]

    Hmm. Well, I don't see how you can conclude that, certainly a researcher would likely be working on easier problems a few weeks before attempting hard problem.
    1000 is a large number of people to have in a room, but a small number of people to have in a country. A researcher will solve easy problems that are difficult compared to hard exam questions.
    Hmm, lol he got mixed grades in physics.
    According to Wikipedia, he gained "exceptional" marks on the physics part of his entrance exam. I know it's not a reliable source, but it's the sort of article where incorrect statements are likely to be removed quickly.
    Has maths and physics got a narrow focus? as lol I know someone who does mathematical physics and lol they have to take units from both the maths and physics department.
    Relative to what the entrance exam tested, yes.
    Not forgetting Einstein had a attitude problem that annoyed people.
    Sorry, but I don't see the relevance of this.
    That actually does anwser the question, since I'm saying the question is pointless as a person will be great regardless of uni they go to.
    It doesn't mean that the question is irrelevant for people who aren't looking to achieve greatness, and it's entirely possible that your university choice influences your chance of achieving greatness, though I couldn't say what university people seeking greatness should attend.
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    (Original post by harr)
    1000 is a large number of people to have in a room, but a small number of people to have in a country. A researcher will solve easy problems that are difficult compared to hard exam questions.

    According to Wikipedia, he gained "exceptional" marks on the physics part of his entrance exam. I know it's not a reliable source, but it's the sort of article where incorrect statements are likely to be removed quickly.

    Relative to what the entrance exam tested, yes.

    Sorry, but I don't see the relevance of this.

    It doesn't mean that the question is irrelevant for people who aren't looking to achieve greatness, and it's entirely possible that your university choice influences your chance of achieving greatness, though I couldn't say what university people seeking greatness should attend.
    Well, hmmm. In a way it depends, hmm but lol research is a few years ahead i.e. three years. So in way thats like saying uni is harder than a levels, which means nothing. Also, lol researcher would have specialised so they would be doing what they feel is easy for them.

    Lol, wiki, I'm talking when he was at uni not his entrance exam. According to the documentary he only really excelled at electromagnitism and lol flunked some physics topics.

    Hmm, he failed to gain a position in uni after finishing undergrad because of this.

    Lol, hmm I don't know about that. Certainly, Nash didn't even go to uni lectures, and lol Hardy wrote about how he wasted his time at uni learning pointless tricks to pass the exams(lol, he would have quite according for a book on Ramanujan if it wasen't for a french mathematics book he had got from a lecturer). Smale himself got really poor grades and was going to get kicked out of uni, intill he was told this. But, lol its a bit more complicated, prodigies go to the top unis, however most prodigies don't end up becoming top of their fields or achieving greatness.
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    (Original post by Simplicity)
    Well, hmmm. In a way it depends, hmm but lol research is a few years ahead i.e. three years. So in way thats like saying uni is harder than a levels, which means nothing. Also, lol researcher would have specialised so they would be doing what they feel is easy for them.
    University is harder than A levels. Or at least my one is. I don't see how that could possibly mean nothing. But that's not the point. The orginal point was that different universities have exams of differing difficulties, and from the limited sample I've seen the Oxbridge ones are harder.
    Lol, wiki, I'm talking when he was at uni not his entrance exam. According to the documentary he only really excelled at electromagnitism and lol flunked some physics topics.

    Hmm, he failed to gain a position in uni after finishing undergrad because of this.
    I thought that you were originally talking about bad grades stopping him getting into university as an undergrad, not after. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
    Lol, hmm I don't know about that. Certainly, Nash didn't even go to uni lectures, and lol Hardy wrote about how he wasted his time at uni learning pointless tricks to pass the exams(lol, he would have quite according for a book on Ramanujan if it wasen't for a french mathematics book he had got from a lecturer). Smale himself got really poor grades and was going to get kicked out of uni, intill he was told this. But, lol its a bit more complicated, prodigies go to the top unis, however most prodigies don't end up becoming top of their fields or achieving greatness.
    But those things don't mean that the question is pointless, it just means that if someone was to say (you achieve greatness) <==> (you go to a top university) they would be wrong.
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    (Original post by Simplicity)
    That actually does anwser the question, since I'm saying the question is pointless as a person will be great regardless of uni they go to.
    You just don't get it. The original question asked how Oxford and Cambridge help their students. Not whether their admissions processes could be improved. Not whether people could do as well at other universities. Not whether the British examination system is inherently flawed. Not STEP. Not Einstein.
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    The extensive 1on1 work at Oxbridge helps the student strengthen their ability to consider multiple perspectives on a given issue/problem.

    Because of this immediate feedback, students can accelerate their learning and gain a greater understanding in the same amount of time when compared to students at other universities (where Socratic teaching isn't given a focus).
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    (Original post by Simplicity)
    Well, hmmm. In a way it depends, hmm but lol research is a few years ahead i.e. three years. So in way thats like saying uni is harder than a levels, which means nothing. Also, lol researcher would have specialised so they would be doing what they feel is easy for them.

    Lol, wiki, I'm talking when he was at uni not his entrance exam. According to the documentary he only really excelled at electromagnitism and lol flunked some physics topics.

    Hmm, he failed to gain a position in uni after finishing undergrad because of this.

    Lol, hmm I don't know about that. Certainly, Nash didn't even go to uni lectures, and lol Hardy wrote about how he wasted his time at uni learning pointless tricks to pass the exams(lol, he would have quite according for a book on Ramanujan if it wasen't for a french mathematics book he had got from a lecturer). Smale himself got really poor grades and was going to get kicked out of uni, intill he was told this. But, lol its a bit more complicated, prodigies go to the top unis, however most prodigies don't end up becoming top of their fields or achieving greatness.
    Your posts make me want to cry. You use "lol" six times, mostly in places where it makes no sense. Your spelling is abysmal, and your phrasing makes it very difficult to understand you. Ultimately, statements about Einstein and Nash are irrelevant. Nash and Einstein were world-class intellectuals. They are outliers, and aren't indicative of anything at all about how universities develop ordinary students intellectually.
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    (Original post by jjarvis)
    Your posts make me want to cry. You use "lol" six times, mostly in places where it makes no sense. Your spelling is abysmal, and your phrasing makes it very difficult to understand you. Ultimately, statements about Einstein and Nash are irrelevant. Nash and Einstein were world-class intellectuals. They are outliers, and aren't indicative of anything at all about how universities develop ordinary students intellectually.
    Hmm, I suffer from language problems, so I don't know how I can really improve it. Which, is a problem, but lol what can you do when you think in pictures or really fast. Well, the humanistiic approach to psychology would disagree, they would argue you have to look at the top or world class intellectuals and what made them self actualized.
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    (Original post by Simplicity)
    Hmm, I suffer from language problems, so I don't know how I can really improve it. Which, is a problem, but lol what can you do when you think in pictures or really fast. Well, the humanistiic approach to psychology would disagree, they would argue you have to look at the top or world class intellectuals and what made them self actualized.
    LOL.

    I suffer from making up crap to excuse myself for having poor spelling and grammar.
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    (Original post by popman)
    LOL.

    I suffer from making up crap to excuse myself for having poor spelling and grammar.
    Yeah, since nobody suffers from language problems.
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    (Original post by Simplicity)
    Well, the humanistiic approach to psychology would disagree, they would argue you have to look at the top or world class intellectuals and what made them self actualized.
    Doesn't this make the erroneous assumption that what motivates and stimulates world class intellectuals will work for everyone else? This seems patently and demonstrably false.
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    I find it hard to pay any attention to someone who uses the phrase 'self-actualised' without feeling ironic/stupid.
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    (Original post by Simplicity)
    Actually, I do think that is a wasted year. Well, in a way if you want to get a job in the real world than yes that wouldn't be wasted, as you will have work experience. However, to me that would be a wasted year, espically since academically your ability drops a lot when you get older.
    :p: My universities obviously didn't agree with your point about being academically less able after a gap year. And I am going to be gaining a lot more than just a few grand to help cut back on debt.
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    (Original post by cruciform)
    Basically there is still a gap in intelligence between people from Oxbridge and universities lower down; even as good as UCL, Warwick, Bristol, etc. My question is how do they develop you intellectually once you get onto the degree, what sets it apart from the other top institutions i.e. it could be better teaching quality, harder course material, atmoshere, etc. I mean the top institutions require very similar A-level grades, so why is there still a fairly large intellectual gap between them?
    Also an oxbridge degree seem much more rigorous than A-levels, how do you progress from there, it's like people on the degree haven't even reached their intellectual peak. Or is everyone actually just naturally very intelligent?
    It beats me.
    1. how do they develop you intellectually once you get onto the degree, what sets it apart from the other top institutions

    They're are fantastic resources and a lot of good teaching goes on. We're also put in an environment among other great students- it creates a good academic atmosphere where standards are high. These things are probably true of other good courses at other universities to some extent- Maths at Warwick, Law and Durham, Physics at Imperial etc etc must have similar students to Oxbridge.

    What really helps us develop academically (sometimes beyond other undergraduates) is that we have to do all our work- there is no way of getting away with the kind of extreme laziness which can afflict students at other universities. We have small group tutorials with tutors at least twice a week and usually have to hand in a peice of work for both of these- if we didn't do the work or did it badly we would be called up on it and made to do it. If we consistently handed things in late we'd probably get put on some sort of academic probation and have to have meetings with the senior tutors or deans or someone. I'm often tired, I often want to spend 3 days at a time watching scrubs dvds, and I often want to socialise a lot more than I do...work gets in the way! I get the impression at other institutions you more of a face in a crowd and poor/incomplete/late work is more acceptable.

    For example, at Imperial for Physics you seem to have a similar amount of work as an Oxford physicist; but, as you are set it by a lecturer who doesn't even know who you are, if you do have a tendency towards laziness you could probably just not do it and get away with it and not even feel guilty. Good students will do it and will end up with similar academic to their Oxbridge counterparts, but others will be left behind.

    Another example is PPE courses...at Oxford you hand in 1-2 essays a week and thus have to do at least some reading and consider lots of topics and ideas during the course. I know someone who does the Manchester PPE course and she would probably do the same amount of reading as Oxford students if she did read all of her reading list, but she doesn't because no one really checks. They have a group seminar every week but you can get away (I hear) with only having read very little and you only actually have to hand in an essay once or twice a term. Consequently her academic development isn't all that great and she doesn't take advantage of seminar discussions and so on...this effect is reinforced as if people don't read enough then contact time will be less about vibrant discussion and more about going over things that people didn't bother to read and understand.

    2. Also an oxbridge degree seem much more rigorous than A-levels, how do you progress from there, it's like people on the degree haven't even reached their intellectual peak. Or is everyone actually just naturally very intelligent?

    It's a mixture I think, although it's hard to say. I did the IB and I'm sure in terms of hours working I probably did more in sixth form than I do at a levels...so in a sense it's not that much more rigorous. As with any degree you just specialise more and hone different skills than you did at a-levels.
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    (Original post by Teebs)
    I find it hard to pay any attention to someone who uses the phrase 'self-actualised' without feeling ironic/stupid.
    Don't worry; it's okay to feel stupid.
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    (Original post by BJack)
    Don't worry; it's okay to feel stupid.
    I am so going after you next time you leave grammatical ambiguity in a post.
 
 
 
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