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nulli tertius
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I have been looking to try and find old Oxbridge entrance papers on the WWW.

These are two of the four papers taken by a Cambridge Natural Sciences applicant in 1981 (the other two papers were a chemistry paper and a general paper).

The examination could be taken either pre or post A level.

http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/11463667

http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/11756314

Perhaps some Mathmos would comment on how the paper compares with STEP. I do think that although this paper was available to maths tripos candidates, the majority would have taken harder papers.
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qgujxj39
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
Perhaps some Mathmos would comment on how the paper compares with STEP.
Only glanced quickly, but it looks quite a bit easier than STEP. You do have to answer more questions, though.
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The Polymath
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
I have been looking to try and find old Oxbridge entrance papers on the WWW.

These are two of the four papers taken by a Cambridge Natural Sciences applicant in 1981 (the other two papers were a chemistry paper and a general paper).

The examination could be taken either pre or post A level.

http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/11463667

http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/11756314

Perhaps some Mathmos would comment on how the paper compares with STEP. I do think that although this paper was available to maths tripos candidates, the majority would have taken harder papers.
Definitely easier in nature than a STEP paper, but as the other poster said, there are more questions.

It's more like 'difficult', but similarly styled questions to an A-level FM paper, whereas STEP comprises totally different styles of questions which make you really have to think to solve the problem.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by tommm)
Only glanced quickly, but it looks quite a bit easier than STEP. You do have to answer more questions, though.

(Original post by The Polymath)
Definitely easier in nature than a STEP paper, but as the other poster said, there are more questions.

It's more like 'difficult', but similarly styled questions to an A-level FM paper, whereas STEP comprises totally different styles of questions which make you really have to think to solve the problem.
What I don't have is the papers rubric for the exam. It is clear this is the "enough maths to handle a maths heavy non-maths course paper" but I don't know under what circumstances it would be available to those reading for the maths tripos. I wonder if it was intended to be substituted for the General Paper by mathematicians who were totally illiterate. Maths was the only Oxford course where General Paper I was not compulsory and I wonder if this was the Cambridge equivalent.
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davros
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(Original post by tommm)
Only glanced quickly, but it looks quite a bit easier than STEP. You do have to answer more questions, though.

(Original post by The Polymath)
Definitely easier in nature than a STEP paper, but as the other poster said, there are more questions.

It's more like 'difficult', but similarly styled questions to an A-level FM paper, whereas STEP comprises totally different styles of questions which make you really have to think to solve the problem.
From (very distant) memory, I think pre-A level candidates for Maths would have sat this paper plus a harder Maths paper, as well as a General Studies-type essay-writing paper(!), whereas post-A level candidates would have sat two harder Maths papers plus the Essay.

When comparing to STEP you need to bear in mind that the old CCE exam was a Fourth Term exam, sat in late November before A levels, so although some of the questions seem more approachable, the typical candidate would not have reached the same level of mathematical maturity or even experience with A level questions! (Plus there was no such thing as the internet, so you were on your own if you got stuck and teachers were unused to Oxbridge entrance exams!!)
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The Polymath
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(Original post by davros)
From (very distant) memory, I think pre-A level candidates for Maths would have sat this paper plus a harder Maths paper, as well as a General Studies-type essay-writing paper(!), whereas post-A level candidates would have sat two harder Maths papers plus the Essay.

When comparing to STEP you need to bear in mind that the old CCE exam was a Fourth Term exam, sat in late November before A levels, so although some of the questions seem more approachable, the typical candidate would not have reached the same level of mathematical maturity or even experience with A level questions! (Plus there was no such thing as the internet, so you were on your own if you got stuck and teachers were unused to Oxbridge entrance exams!!)
How did you escape the War, Davros?
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davros
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(Original post by The Polymath)
How did you escape the War, Davros?
They took pity on me because I'd stared into the abyss that is the Cambridge Maths Tripos
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by davros)
From (very distant) memory, I think pre-A level candidates for Maths would have sat this paper plus a harder Maths paper, as well as a General Studies-type essay-writing paper(!), whereas post-A level candidates would have sat two harder Maths papers plus the Essay.

When comparing to STEP you need to bear in mind that the old CCE exam was a Fourth Term exam, sat in late November before A levels, so although some of the questions seem more approachable, the typical candidate would not have reached the same level of mathematical maturity or even experience with A level questions! (Plus there was no such thing as the internet, so you were on your own if you got stuck and teachers were unused to Oxbridge entrance exams!!)
Thanks
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The Polymath
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(Original post by davros)
They took pity on me because I'd stared into the abyss that is the Cambridge Maths Tripos
Hehehehehe
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Dirac Spinor
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(Original post by DFranklin)
...
^I think DFranklin is the guy to talk to about this^

Any comments? Did you sit it back in the day?
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by ben-smith)
^I think DFranklin is the guy to talk to about this^

Any comments? Did you sit it back in the day?
No, I did the old Oxford entrance. My Cambridge PG is courtesy of Maddingley Hall.

However, I have been looking to post old Oxbridge entrance papers.
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davros
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(Original post by ben-smith)
^I think DFranklin is the guy to talk to about this^
I have a feeling DFranklin went down the conditional offer route (something nasty like AAA11 where the 1's would have been S level grades), rather than the entrance exam itself, but hopefully he'll see your quote and respond.
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(Original post by ben-smith)
^I think DFranklin is the guy to talk to about this^

Any comments? Did you sit it back in the day?
I was "on the cusp" on the change between the CCE and STEP. There was someone in my maths group who studied for the CCE and we looked at quite a few CCE papers, but I wasn't going to apply until after my A-levels and that year they got rid of the CCE.

The only CCE papers I've seen since then were some "Scholarship" questions (which are harder than standard CCE questions), so the following is somewhat from memory, but:

The main "Maths" papers were:

501, 502, 503 in ascending order of difficulty. The questions were even more "unlike A level" than STEP questions (and more varied), and I do recall them as more difficult but I'm not 100% sure that's true. One thing I do remember was that answering 3 complete questions in the 503 paper was supposed to get you automatic entrance.

There was also the optional "scholarship" paper 504 as mentioned earlier. This contained a fair amount of university / BMO level material, and 3 complete questions would get you a scholarship (you'd get a special grant + stuff).

You could either do the papers 4th term or 7th term. 7th term applicants were supposed to do 501, 502 and 503. 4th term could opt to do the "Maths for Natsci" paper and 501 and 502 instead.

For sure, the Maths for Natsci paper was quite a lot easier even 501.
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(Original post by DFranklin)
I was "on the cusp" on the change between the CCE and STEP. There was someone in my maths group who studied for the CCE and we looked at quite a few CCE papers, but I wasn't going to apply until after my A-levels and that year they got rid of the CCE.

The only CCE papers I've seen since then were some "Scholarship" questions (which are harder than standard CCE questions), so the following is somewhat from memory, but:

The main "Maths" papers were:

501, 502, 503 in ascending order of difficulty. The questions were even more "unlike A level" than STEP questions (and more varied), and I do recall them as more difficult but I'm not 100% sure that's true. One thing I do remember was that answering 3 complete questions in the 503 paper was supposed to get you automatic entrance.

There was also the optional "scholarship" paper 504 as mentioned earlier. This contained a fair amount of university / BMO level material, and 3 complete questions would get you a scholarship (you'd get a special grant + stuff).

You could either do the papers 4th term or 7th term. 7th term applicants were supposed to do 501, 502 and 503. 4th term could opt to do the "Maths for Natsci" paper and 501 and 502 instead.

For sure, the Maths for Natsci paper was quite a lot easier even 501.
So have I got this straight... there were four CCE papers 501-4 (with 4 being the scholarship paper?).

Anyone have any copies of those? I'm now very curious to see what those were like. Actually, I'd be even more interested to see what the syllabus was for those papers (and the A-Levels at the time...)
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(Original post by Shamika)
..
Some 504 questions have been posted before. One of them was a recent IA Tripos question, if that gives you an idea of the level. I think there was often a question involving the Mobius inversion formula from number theory as well (which is a Part II course at Cam).

I've never seen any 501-503 questions online (which I find surprising, to be honest). I recall a 503 question which was essentially a "Solve this diff eq. by Frobenius", although they didn't call it that. And a 502 question that was essentially the same as a recent STEP question about serving over a tennis net.

Also a famous 504 question along the lines of: "A jar has r red sweets, g green, b blue. A boy takes sweets from the jar one at a time until only one colour remains. Show, by induction or otherwise, the probabilty that only blue sweets remain is b / (r + g + b)".

Spoiler:
Show
Induction is not the way to go.
Spoiler:
Show
Instead, suppose the boy takes sweets until only one sweet remains. Obviously this doesn't affect the "last colour", but then the probability is just the chance of choosing a single sweet and it being blue, which is b / (r + g + b).

How the examiners missed this solution I don't know, but I understand it was accepted for full marks.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by shamika)

Anyone have any copies of those? I'm now very curious to see what those were like. Actually, I'd be even more interested to see what the syllabus was for those papers (and the A-Levels at the time...)
Neither the Cambridge nor the Oxford entrance examinations had syllabuses as such. They were designed to be undertaken by candidates who had or were following any A level syllabus.

You can see the effect of that on the physics paper which includes questions specifically for those following a Nuffield syllabus. Nuffield science A levels were an attempt to modernise the science curriculum.

The issue was perhaps more acute with subjects like English, history and languages where the range of questions had to be broad enough to give a range of questions to candidates reading the set books and covering the periods of each syllabus. Including the Scottish and NI boards, there were 11 exam boards, each of which had multiple syllabuses.
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(Original post by DFranklin)
Some 504 questions have been posted before. One of them was a recent IA Tripos question, if that gives you an idea of the level. I think there was often a question involving the Mobius inversion formula from number theory as well (which is a Part II course at Cam).
Hmmm... can't find it, which is annoying. Google doesn't seem to be much use either, sigh.

I've never seen any 501-503 questions online (which I find surprising, to be honest). I recall a 503 question which was essentially a "Solve this diff eq. by Frobenius", although they didn't call it that. And a 502 question that was essentially the same as a recent STEP question about serving over a tennis net.

Also a famous 504 question along the lines of: "A jar has r red sweets, g green, b blue. A boy takes sweets from the jar one at a time until only one colour remains. Show, by induction or otherwise, the probabilty that only blue sweets remain is b / (r + g + b)".

Spoiler:
Show
Induction is not the way to go.
Spoiler:
Show
Instead, suppose the boy takes sweets until only one sweet remains. Obviously this doesn't affect the "last colour", but then the probability is just the chance of choosing a single sweet and it being blue, which is b / (r + g + b).

How the examiners missed this solution I don't know, but I understand it was accepted for full marks.
:eek:

You can do that in a matter of seconds! I feel sorry for both students and examiners in a situation like this (it's easy to moan about the due care they should take, but I wouldn't want to be the one setting questions of consistent difficulty in a paper like that).


(Original post by nulli tertius)
Neither the Cambridge nor the Oxford entrance examinations had syllabuses as such. They were designed to be undertaken by candidates who had or were following any A level syllabus.

You can see the effect of that on the physics paper which includes questions specifically for those following a Nuffield syllabus. Nuffield science A levels were an attempt to modernise the science curriculum.

The issue was perhaps more acute with subjects like English, history and languages where the range of questions had to be broad enough to give a range of questions to candidates reading the set books and covering the periods of each syllabus. Including the Scottish and NI boards, there were 11 exam boards, each of which had multiple syllabuses.
Yeah, I should've been clearer - I guessed that Oxbridge entrance exams didn't have defined syllabuses, what I was really after was the A-Level syllabuses...
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I know this is resurrecting an old thread, but I wonder if anyone would be interested in seeing an example from Autumn 1976 of these maths entrance papers. I have scans of 501-4 and of 801 (Physics) and 998 (general paper) that I sat in this year. I'm quite happy to post them.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Gregorius)
I know this is resurrecting an old thread, but I wonder if anyone would be interested in seeing an example from Autumn 1976 of these maths entrance papers. I have scans of 501-4 and of 801 (Physics) and 998 (general paper) that I sat in this year. I'm quite happy to post them.
Yes.

Have you any ideas on why mathematicians above all others keep old exam papers? If you look around the internet at old exam papers posted for pure nostalgia at least 75% of them must be maths papers whether O Level, A Level or whatever.
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Oh, I think it’s to do with the aesthetic pleasure to be experienced from good mathematics examination questions; a little like keeping records of “the best games of chess I played”. Examinations associated with other subjects don’t tend to be quite so aesthetically pleasing.

I'm having trouble uploading the the papers as attachments to this message ( I get the warning that they are too big for the forum to cope with). So, I'll stick them on a hosting site and post a link a bit later on today.
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