I'm doing an AEA in English and I have little idea of what it contains...so I'm not paticuarly clued up on the whole thing. I know this has nothing to do with Maths, but from my understanding it just takes the harder parts of the A level...the higher level criteria...I hope that helps, even though I'm not doing maths!
Ok, thanks, but is there anyone who is doing a combined course with maths and did STEP/AEA, that is finding that practice in problem solving useful?
I did STEP II and III for my application to do maths at Cambridge, and as has been pointed out, it isn't about learning new material, it is much more about learning to think about questions in a new way, which you definately find useful when you get to university.
A Level maths questions are almost the same year to year. You know there's going to be a question on differentiation, series sums, geometry etc in P1. The numbers in the questions change each year obviously, but the style doesn't. STEP (and to a much smaller extend AEA) changed hugely year to year, and tests your ability to recognise elegant solutions to problems, or to be able to use slightly less obvious hints than A Level gives. You have to actually understand the material, not just regurgitate it parrot fashion. When you get to uni, you will find almost all questions are like that, you're expected to demonstrate comprehension of material, not the ability to mentally photocopy your notes.
If you aren't required to do AEA, but are very good at maths and fancy a challenge and a decent preparation for uni maths, doing STEP I would be worth a try. STEP II and III if you're very good, but they are only asked of Cambridge applicants who've done double maths A Levels, so are obviously quite hard.