Cambridge maths application, post STEP examinations?

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ManUtdFan1990
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Just wanted an opinion, on applying to Cambridge after taking the STEP examinations? I'm a mature student. Currently finishing off A levels in Further Maths and Further Additional Mathematics, having already an A* in Mathematics, in hand. I plan on taking the STEP exams this summer. How would this affect an application, if I were to achieve a grade, similar to a typical Cambridge offer? Would this be looked on favourably. Also as a side question, are my A-Level choices too narrow? Too much maths, and nothing else to compliment that? All self taught.
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davros
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(Original post by ManUtdFan1990)
Just wanted an opinion, on applying to Cambridge after taking the STEP examinations? I'm a mature student. Currently finishing off A levels in Further Maths and Further Additional Mathematics, having already an A* in Mathematics, in hand. I plan on taking the STEP exams this summer. How would this affect an application, if I were to achieve a grade, similar to a typical Cambridge offer? Would this be looked on favourably. Also as a side question, are my A-Level choices too narrow? Too much maths, and nothing else to compliment that? All self taught.
I'm not sure there's an "official" answer to this, and relatively few applicants have this background so I don't think statistics or anecdotes are necessarily helpful, but broadly speaking I would say:

Pros
====
For Cambridge Maths, subject choice doesn't need to be broad - Maths, Maths and More Maths is perfectly acceptable, as is Maths, Further Maths, Physics or Maths, Further Maths, anything else. If you're applying for other unis then their viewpoints may be different, but I would expect Cambridge to be more 'flexible' on this.

Generally for gap year students / mature students Cambridge will want to see that you've kept your Maths "up to speed". If you're actually studying for A Levels / STEP now then that is sufficient proof.

The consensus on TSR seems to be that getting high grades on STEP as a re-applicant or mature student will give you a good shot at getting an interview!

(Possible) Cons
============
The workload at Cambridge is intense. For conventional applicants (basically sixth formers), Cambride, in common with most other unis, will want to see that you can handle a workload equivalent to 3 concurrent A levels (and ideally a bit more!). How has your academic workload been balanced out over the last few years?

It is possible (but not guaranteed) that even after getting good grades in one session of STEP, Cambridge may give you an offer that is conditional on resitting specific STEP papers AND getting higher grades e.g. you may be asked for S, 1 in STEP II and III. The argument here is that you have had more time / fewer distractions whilst preparing for STEP, so you should be capable of getting higher grades!

This is all very general, as I say, and you won't really know until/unless you make an application - it won't hurt you to try!
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SamKeene
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(Original post by ManUtdFan1990)
Just wanted an opinion, on applying to Cambridge after taking the STEP examinations? I'm a mature student. Currently finishing off A levels in Further Maths and Further Additional Mathematics, having already an A* in Mathematics, in hand. I plan on taking the STEP exams this summer. How would this affect an application, if I were to achieve a grade, similar to a typical Cambridge offer? Would this be looked on favourably. Also as a side question, are my A-Level choices too narrow? Too much maths, and nothing else to compliment that? All self taught.


I'm in exactly same situation as you, apart from I'll be applying with Edexcel Maths, Further Maths and only AS Advanced Further Maths. I also plan on doing STEP I, II and III.

If you/we can get a decent result on STEP, I see no reason why Cambridge wouldn't take us very seriously. I mean, if we can already show we can meet their standard offer they are bound to at least throw us an interview? ^.^
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Mr M
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(Original post by SamKeene)

I'm in exactly same situation as you, apart from I'll be applying with Edexcel Maths, Further Maths and only AS Advanced Further Maths. I also plan on doing STEP I, II and III.

If you/we can get a decent result on STEP, I see no reason why Cambridge wouldn't take us very seriously. I mean, if we can already show we can meet their standard offer they are bound to at least throw us an interview? ^.^
I wouldn't waste any money on STEP I if I were you.
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SamKeene
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(Original post by Mr M)
I wouldn't waste any money on STEP I if I were you.
Why?
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Mr M
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(Original post by SamKeene)
Why?
It isn't a qualification - it serves no purpose other than to secure a place at university. Any offer you receive will be based on STEP II and III so it is clearly pointless (and expensive) to sit this examination. You may, of course, still decide to use the STEP I past papers in preparation for the STEP II and III exams.
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SamKeene
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(Original post by Mr M)
It isn't a qualification - it serves no purpose other than to secure a place at university. Any offer you receive will be based on STEP II and III so it is clearly pointless (and expensive) to sit this examination. You may, of course, still decide to use the STEP I past papers in preparation for the STEP II and III exams.
I've seen stories of people being accepted on a, say, 2 1 on Step II and III due to getting a 1 in STEP I.
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Mr M
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(Original post by SamKeene)
I've seen stories of people being accepted on a, say, 2 1 on Step II and III due to getting a 1 in STEP I.
And one of my students has just received the same offer in STEP II and III without even looking at STEP before Year 13. That is the standard offer for many colleges. I originally thought you were talking about taking all three in the same year. If you want to waste some money it probably won't be harmful for you to do STEP I this year (unless you bomb out and come away with a 3 or worse).
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davros
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(Original post by SamKeene)
I've seen stories of people being accepted on a, say, 2 1 on Step II and III due to getting a 1 in STEP I.
STEP I taken early with a good grade may indicate mathematical potential and could be heplful in getting an interview.

STEP I questions done for fun (i.e. not sitting the exam) may constitute good practice for an interview.

Either way, the standard Cambridge offer will be based on STEP II and III so that's where your focus will need to be
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Mr M
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(Original post by davros)
STEP I taken early with a good grade may indicate mathematical potential and could be heplful in getting an interview.
90% of applicants get an interview anyway. I have never known anyone to fail to get an interview for Cambridge mathematics although I'm sure there are plenty of people in this position nationally. I expect those unfortunate candidates had patchy A Level module scores or lukewarm supporting statements from their schools/colleges.
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davros
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(Original post by Mr M)
90% of applicants get an interview anyway. I have never known anyone to fail to get an interview for Cambridge mathematics although I'm sure there are plenty of people in this position nationally. I expect those unfortunate candidates had patchy A Level module scores or lukewarm supporting statements from their schools/colleges.
Yes, tbh I suspect that most applicants are pretty much a self-selecting bunch who have top AS grades and predictions anyway, and the ones who don't have a realistic shot won't apply in the first place

It's probably more the case that if you've done A2 in a year then STEP I in Y12 is probably of value as extension work + getting you used to the mindset of a 3-hour exam before the real thing, but like you I don't really see the point of doing I/II/III in a single year (although I know some recents posters have done precisely that)!
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Mr M
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(Original post by ManUtdFan1990)
I plan on sitting STEP I, as in my opinion, it will provide me with a warm up for II and III.
You do realise you could enjoy a banquet of 24 Sausage and Egg McMuffins for the entry fee alone? You may well also have to pay additional fees as an external candidate to offset the Centre's administrative and invigilation costs.
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