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    (Original post by anotheregostar)
    I was always under the impression that oxford wasn't good for maths at all... but then again, I have been mistaken in the past
    Yes, you are mistaken.

    But then again, my opinion could be biased.
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    I did much research when deciding whether to apply to Oxford or Cambridge for Mathematics last year. I chose Oxford (and do receive an offer) at the end for many reasons that I shall explain below. Hopefully this will be beneficial for you guys.

    First, I read an article by Bill Lionheart from Manchester University on comparing Maths Departments in the UK which I found to be very useful and reliable (see http://www.maths.manchester.ac.uk/~b..._league/2009/). It will tell you that Oxford Mathematics department:
    •Has the largest number of Fellows of Royal Society, highly cited authors, and Whitehead Mathematics prize winners than any other UK universities.
    •Receive government grants almost twice that of Cambridge for Mathematics
    •Has more Mathematics papers published and grants received (more than double) per staff than Cambridge. This ensures that you’ll be taught by very enthusiastic and active world-leading experts.
    •Has the highest % of graduate employment among its graduates
    •Has the highest % of 1st class degree among its graduates, and equal with Cambridge for the % of 2nd class degree received; indicating a very high standard, if not the best, teaching.
    •Has the highest research quality than any other UK universities, as judged by the Research Assessment Exercise 2008
    •Has more Mathematics undergraduate and postgraduate than Cambridge – so you can always be sure that the spirit is in the air!

    Next, I look at various UK universities league tables. Oxford’s overall positions for the past few years are summarised nicely in Wikipedia and its own website at http://www.ox.ac.uk/about_the_univer...res/index.html
    •In September 2009, Oxford University was ranked first in the UK by the annual Sunday Times Good University Guide, completing a clean sweep of British national newspaper league tables for 2009. The Sunday Times also named Oxford University of the Year.
    •In June 2009, the annual Times Good University Guide named Oxford Britain’s top university for the eighth year running.
    •In May 2009, Oxford University topped The Guardian’s UK rankings for the fifth consecutive year.
    •In April 2009, Oxford topped the national university league table, The Good University Guide, for the seventh time in the last eight years. The table is published in association with the Independent newspaper.

    Having satisfied with Oxford’s overall positions in recent years, I then checked its ranking for Mathematics
    •It’s ranked first for Mathematics in The Guardian and The Times league table (http://www.maths.lancs.ac.uk/departm...-league-tables)
    •It’s also ranked first for Mathematics in the Sunday Times League table (http://extras.timesonline.co.uk/tol_...ub=42&x=25&y=7)
    •From research, I conclude that the reason Oxford Mathematics was ranked second in 2008 is because they (the publishers) heavily based the ranking on Oxford’s performance in the previous RAE 2001 which was very outdated. Oxford’s outstanding performance in RAE 2008 both for Mathematics and overall, indeed influence its success on recent league tables.

    From the Research Assessment Exercise 2008, the University of Oxford: (http://www.ox.ac.uk/research/rae_200...lts/index.html)
    •Was judged to have the largest submission of world-leading research (4* rated by HEFCE) in the UK.
    •Made the largest submission of world-leading or internationally excellent research (4* or 3* rated) in the UK.
    •Was awarded the highest level of QR funding from HEFCE of any University (£119.4 million for 2009/10) due to its outstanding performance in RAE 2008
    •Has higher research quality scores than Cambridge for pure mathematics and statistics, and equal with Cambridge for applied Mathematics
    •Is particularly exceptional for statistics and operational research

    Further reasons why I applied to Oxford:
    •“One of the world’s most influential Mathematicians - Sir Andrew Wiles - will be joining Oxford as new Royal Society 2010 Anniversary Research Professor. He will hold a Fellowship at Merton, where he read Mathematics as an undergraduate” (http://www.merton.ox.ac.uk/news.shtml#wiles). He is the one who solved Fermat’s Last Theorem!
    •New facilities:
    oThe £13m Oxford-Man institute of Quantitative Finance announced in 2007
    oThe $25m Oxford Centre for Collaborative Applied Mathematics announced in 2008
    oA new Mathematical Institute building at Radcliffe Observatory Quarter will be built soon (http://www.ox.ac.uk/roq/maths.html)
    •University Challenge winner 15 times, compared to Cambridge’s 6
    •25 British prime ministers attended Oxford compared with Cambridge’s 15, with David Cameron likely to be the 26th
    •Personally I very much like the city. This city of dreaming spires is one of the Britain’s heritage cities and is also where the Harry Potter and Oxford Murder scenes took place.
    •Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Andrew Wiles, Stephen Hawking, Edmond Halley, Lewis Carroll, C S Lewis, J R Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, Whitehead, Marcus du Sautoy, Atiyah, Richard Dawkins, Ball, Adam Smith, Tim Berners-Lee (co-inventor of WWW), Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson..
    •I preferred Oxford’s early Mathematics entrance exam with 4/more interviews than Cambridge’s late STEP exams with 1/2 interviews because I do think that the performance in STEP is too heavily based on preparation and knowledge, whereas interviews and Oxford’s entrance exam are fairer in the sense that it mainly tests your understanding and personality which is a heavy factor in the tutorial system
    •Tips: if you have perfect GCSEs and A-Level grades, I think it’s easier to get in to Cambridge; there are cases where students with 10 or 5 As at A-levels are rejected from Oxford due to poor interviews!
    •Lastly, although Cambridge was perceived to be better than Oxford for sciences in the past, I prefer to play for Chelsea than Liverpool….
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    The best way to find out about Cambridge Maths:

    Cambridge Mathematics Open Days
    Saturday 24th April and Saturday 1st May

    You visit a college in the morning (most colleges have an open day on either one date or the other) and have talks about maths at that college, meet maths undergraduates and lecturers, have a tour and eat in the College Hall. Then you have faculty lectures in the afternoon - maths taster sessions.

    Colleges with Open Days on 24th April:
    King's College http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/study/open-days.html
    Downing College http://www.dow.cam.ac.uk/dow_server/..._day_2010.html
    Trinity College http://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/index.php?pageid=84
    St John's College http://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/admissions/...aths_open_day/
    Clare College http://www.clare.cam.ac.uk/admissions/open-days.html
    Murray Edwards http://www.newhall.cam.ac.uk/undergr...ents/opendays/
    Emmanuel College http://www.emma.cam.ac.uk/admissions...ates/opendays/
    And others


    Colleges with Open Days on 1st May:
    Sidney Sussex http://www.sid.cam.ac.uk/admiss/ugrad/opendays.html
    Trinity Hall http://www.trinhall.cam.ac.uk/admiss...ndays.asp#1229
    Newnham College http://www.newn.cam.ac.uk/joining-ne...atics_Open_Day
    And others
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    Oxford Open Days for Maths are 1st and 8th May - details and registration form at:-

    http://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/events/open-days/

    Then there are later open days on June 30th, July 1st, Sept 17th
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    I do Maths at Oxford and I can tell you it's much easier than at Cambridge, both to get into and to get a decent grade in. A friend of mine who does Maths at Cambridge and is a bit better than me did about twice as much work as me and still got about 10% less than I did in his first year exams. Also the proportion of offers/applicants is about the same for both universities, ultimately fewer people get into Cambridge because of STEP.

    So the message is Oxford is easier to get into, you do less work and get a better degree. Why would anyone apply to Cambridge!?

    One more thing:

    (Original post by RichE)
    How can you argue with a man with Neutral Milk Hotel lyrics in his sig!?
    Neutral Milk Hotel are awesome.
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    info for prospective cambridge maths people:

    some people here (on TSR) give the impression that the STEP isn't that hard if you put in the practice.

    However, I'm positive that many people simply don't have the intellectual capacity to get a 1,1. It's not like A-level maths, where you just learn a few techniques, and do some past papers to know the question format. STEP requires a lot more flair than that. There were at least 40 or 50 people doing A2 further maths at my sixth form college, so I saw a lot of very good maths people, most of whom are at top 5 universities now. but only a few of us ever got to grips with STEP. the rest either dropped the exam, or ended up with 3s and Us.

    As a general rule I'd say, if you aren't getting 95% UMS comfortably in each AS and A2 maths, and AS further maths module, don't bother trying STEP. 1/4 of my further maths class got modules scores like this, yet only 2 of us got into to cambridge and got 1,1s. the rest couldn't do it, or thought it too hard to try.



    as far as the difference between oxford and cambridge...

    the sixth form I went to had 3000 students, so the head of maths obviously saw an awful lot of oxbridge maths people go through. and she definitely thinks cambridge is harder. not to get an offer, but to get the 1,1 necessary. she only saw a few people ever get a 1,1.

    also, one person in my class got an oxford offer, yet got rejected from imperial and another uni for maths. but all the cambridge offer holders (inc me) got offers from everywhere else, and 5 of my good friends got 4 other offers, yet a cambridge maths rejection.



    its not that oxford is easy to get into, lots of extremely good people end up there. its just that STEP weeds out any "lucky" offer holds.
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    (Original post by balliolrulez)
    So the message is Oxford is easier to get into, you do less work and get a better degree. Why would anyone apply to Cambridge!?
    Oxford isn't necessarily easier to get into. If, say, you were very strong at maths, and already had high STEP grades, Cambridge would certainly be easier to get into.

    Some people like to be challenged by their degree.

    Assuming you consider a first from Cambridge to be equivalent to a first anywhere else...
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    (Original post by balliolrulez)
    Also the proportion of offers/applicants is about the same for both universities, ultimately fewer people get into Cambridge because of STEP.
    If you read my earlier post on this thread, you'll see that this is simply untrue - last year the proportion of admissions (ie people matriculating at the start of October) to applicants was pretty much 20% at both Oxford and Cambridge.
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    Here are the Cambridge Maths admissions statistics

    The Oxford Admissions statistics can be downloaded here
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    (Original post by balliolrulez)
    I do Maths at Oxford and I can tell you it's much easier than at Cambridge, both to get into and to get a decent grade in. A friend of mine who does Maths at Cambridge and is a bit better than me did about twice as much work as me and still got about 10% less than I did in his first year exams. Also the proportion of offers/applicants is about the same for both universities, ultimately fewer people get into Cambridge because of STEP.
    That's not quite the case - there are around 5-5.5 applicants per place at each university for maths. (Cambridge using STEP may skew the applicantffer ratio but not the ultimate applicantlace ratio.)
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    (Original post by SimonM)
    Oxford isn't necessarily easier to get into. If, say, you were very strong at maths, and already had high STEP grades, Cambridge would certainly be easier to get into.
    Oxford take note of STEP too, if you already had a 1,1 at STEP (no mean feat I might add) you would almost definitely get in. Trust me, Oxford is much easier to get into (not that I want to disrespect my own university too much...)
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    (Original post by RichE)
    That's not quite the case - there are around 5-5.5 applicants per place at each university for maths. (Cambridge using STEP may skew the applicantffer ratio but not the ultimate applicantlace ratio.)
    That's fair, I don't know the exact stats. However it is a fact that a lot of people apply to Oxford on the basis they have a better chance of getting in, making it less competitive. Something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but its also caused by Cambridge just generally having a better reputation for graduate work and so being higher in the league tables.
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    (Original post by balliolrulez)
    Oxford take note of STEP too, if you already had a 1,1 at STEP (no mean feat I might add) you would almost definitely get in. Trust me, Oxford is much easier to get into (not that I want to disrespect my own university too much...)
    Not at all. Most of the weighting goes on the admissions test and partly on interviews.
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    (Original post by refref)
    Not at all. Most of the weighting goes on the admissions test and partly on interviews.
    Yes, but only because most Oxford candidates don't take STEP, especially not before the decision is made whether or not to give them an offer. I had a conversation with my tutor about this a while back, he essentially said if a student applies on a gap year with STEP grades on their record (like I did) he often knows he'll be able to offer them a place even before they sit the admissions test.
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    (Original post by balliolrulez)
    I had a conversation with my tutor about this a while back, he essentially said if a student applies on a gap year with STEP grades on their record (like I did) he often knows he'll be able to offer them a place even before they sit the admissions test.
    But 'knowing that he'll be able to offer a place' doesn't imply that the STEP results are taken into consideration? It could just mean he knows that people getting good STEP grades will do well at the entrance test and quite likely interview as well.


    I had STEP I (1) and STEP II (3 - I had an awful day, apparently...) when applying despite my grades were below the normal offer requirements I got an interview. I don't know if the STEP had an impact on this, but I suspect it might have.
 
 
 

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