(Original post by El Chueco)
i know of a person with 6A's - all maths/sciences, all with UMS 570+, and applied to cambridge for maths. in his step practices he was getting the marks he needed, but in the real thing he ended up with 3,3 and so didnt meet his offer. seriously, he is going to be one of the best mathematicians of our generation, but he got unlucky.
If you've a decent ability in maths, then getting 570+ UMS points is not hard (well, for Cambridge maths students), and the same isn't far wrong for the sciences. The problem with A Levels is that they are somewhat robotic, you do not think very much for yourself, but instead "jump through hoops", answering questions which were asked the year before, but with slightly different numbers.
I'm not downplaying getting an A at A Level, its an acheivement certainly, but just because your friend got A's at A Level doesn't mean he's the best thing since sliced bread. STEP gives a much better test of someones ability, and even if your friend was somewhat unlucky with the questions that came up, if he was "going to be one of the best mathematicians of our generation" he'd still do well enough in STEP (or have impressed the interviewers so much that he got in anyway).
Its impossible to gauge accurately your ability compared to the top people in the country until you get to university. At my 6th form I was the best at maths by a long long way, even compared to people over the previous 5 years. When I got to Cambridge I found I was "middle of the road". To think you're going to be the best mathematician of your age because you did well at A Level (even 6 of them) is enormously arrogant and to be frank, ignorant, because you have no idea the playing field you're on and who you're up against. There are people at Cambridge who eat STEP for breakfast, who got SS during their 1st year in 6th form, and who walk a 1st. I think your friend would have had a HUGE shock if he'd got in.