Wissenschaft
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I'm a year ahead, so I'd be 16 when I apply, and 17 when I enter. (I'm from the English education system). Would my younger age count against me?

Also, say I get A*A*A* Maths, F Maths and Physics, but do terribly in the interview. Would I still stand much of a chance? I am terrible at interviews.

Thanks very much. Will of course rep the most helpful replies.
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davros
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(Original post by Wissenschaft)
I'm a year ahead, so I'd be 16 when I apply, and 17 when I enter. (I'm from the English education system). Would my younger age count against me?

Also, say I get A*A*A* Maths, F Maths and Physics, but do terribly in the interview. Would I still stand much of a chance? I am terrible at interviews.

Thanks very much. Will of course rep the most helpful replies.
I don't think the age factor itself would be a problem - it's not unprecedented for people to enter Cambridge a year early.

I'm a bit puzzled by your second paragraph. Are you saying you would already have sat your A levels before applying, or are you just hypothesizing about the possibilities? The usual order of things would be to apply with actual AS grades + A level predicted grades; then get an interview; then be made an offer based on actual A2 performance plus STEP grades, so the interview performance would determine your likelihood of getting an offer before you even knew what your A level grades were!

I'm presuming also that you understand about the STEP exam that is used as part of the offer - this is where most applicants fail to meet their offer, even those with A*A*A* at A level!
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Wissenschaft
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(Original post by davros)
I'm a bit puzzled by your second paragraph. Are you saying you would already have sat your A levels before applying, or are you just hypothesizing about the possibilities? The usual order of things would be to apply with actual AS grades + A level predicted grades; then get an interview; then be made an offer based on actual A2 performance plus STEP grades, so the interview performance would determine your likelihood of getting an offer before you even knew what your A level grades were!

I'm presuming also that you understand about the STEP exam that is used as part of the offer - this is where most applicants fail to meet their offer, even those with A*A*A* at A level!
Sorry, okay A*A*A* predictions. Yeah, I've looked at the STEP papers. Apparently, you only need to answer 4/8 not perfectly to get a 1, the questions are that difficult.

But say my extracurricular activities list is not impressive, and I do badly in the interview. Would I still stand a chance of an offer?
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popo123
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(Original post by Wissenschaft)
Sorry, okay A*A*A* predictions. Yeah, I've looked at the STEP papers. Apparently, you only need to answer 4/8 not perfectly to get a 1, the questions are that difficult.

But say my extracurricular activities list is not impressive, and I do badly in the interview. Would I still stand a chance of an offer?
Cambridge maths don't care about extra-currics. Also it depends on which college you apply for: for example, trinity hand out a large amount of offers and the interview is more to see how you think than to check your mathematical abilities, however I've heard some colleges do use it as a filtering and don't give that many offers, but expect all their offers to be met.


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Doones
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(Original post by Wissenschaft)
But say my extracurricular activities list is not impressive, and I do badly in the interview. Would I still stand a chance of an offer?
Cambridge interviews are not like a job interview, it's more like a tutorial/supervision session. You work through a couple of problems with them.


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Al-muttaqin
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I know a guy who is insanely good at maths (got 600/600 at a level), yet got 2&3 on STEP...

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ItsWhiteHat
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Cambridge has said itself, Maths UMS is a bad predictor of how well you'll do in Maths Degree. STEP is a much better predictor hence he would not have handled the course. A Level is more about how much you've revised and how careful you are during the exam. It isn't based heavily on how smart you are. STEP is a different beast...

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Colmans
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(Original post by Wissenschaft)
I'm a year ahead, so I'd be 16 when I apply, and 17 when I enter. (I'm from the English education system). Would my younger age count against me?

Also, say I get A*A*A* Maths, F Maths and Physics, but do terribly in the interview. Would I still stand much of a chance? I am terrible at interviews.

Thanks very much. Will of course rep the most helpful replies.
Being young is not a problem if you have the maturity to cope. I was 17 and it's not that uncommon. (I also had 100% at Maths but didn't do the Maths course!)
You can have very high Maths UMS and still not be up to Cambridge Maths. So A*A*A* suggests you have the ability but they sort out the places on meeting STEP. If your UMS are >95% that is helpful.
Many Mathematicians are "terrible at interviews" where interviews are about social skills and being an extrovert. Maths interviews are about working through novel and tricky maths problems with a tutor who loves maths.It really isn't a personality test beyond not being arrogant.
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ItsWhiteHat
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It's to see how you would benefit from their supervision system. Where it's a 1 to 1 or 1 to 2 tuition. STEP is taken at the end of A2 year, they need to measure your ability to see if you could cope with STEP before offering you it.

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davros
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(Original post by Wissenschaft)
Thanks for the info guys.

So its not really an interview, more of a test of how you solve problems? Why do they bother then, why don't they just look at STEP results?
You should think about it more of an opportunity for each side to look at the other

Some people may have been misinformed about the course; some people may look good on paper but be unable to communicate; some people may have benefitted from their school system and do well in standard exams but not actually have good problem-solving skills; some people may not be suitable for the supervision system, or may actually feel that Cambridge isn't for them after having the interview discussion.

It's a good opportunity for you to ask questions of them as well as the other way round, as well as for them to see how you work on unfamiliar material with a bit of prompting.
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Colmans
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(Original post by Wissenschaft)
Thanks for the info guys.

So its not really an interview, more of a test of how you solve problems? Why do they bother then, why don't they just look at STEP results?
I think it's because it is possible to get 100% in maths with a reasonable degree of intelligence and decent teaching yet not be able to cope with longer more complex problems which are not as standardised as AS questions.


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Doones
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(Original post by Wissenschaft)
1 to 1 tuition? That sounds intense.




Communicative as in what? I'm not exactly an extrovert, nor very good at explaining things
That's why they want to interview candidates...

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davros
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(Original post by Wissenschaft)
1 to 1 tuition? That sounds intense.




Communicative as in what? I'm not exactly an extrovert, nor very good at explaining things
Explaining what you're doing; explaining what your thought processes are; explaining what led you to try a particular technique or approach to a problem etc.

These are things that you would be expected to do as part of the Supervision system (typically paired up with another student so 1-2 rather than 1-1), so the interview is an opportunity to see how candidates react to unfamiliar problems and provide feedback when they get stuck.

(And to be fair, communication skills are things that employers look for too - there are going to be very few positions where you can "hide away", work on a problem, and not have to explain your output to someone, even if it's only your immediate supervisor )
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davros
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(Original post by Wissenschaft)
Thanks. So I'll obviously need to get used to explaining what I'm doing then.
It's in your own interest tbh. Interviewers are looking for any signs of intelligent life, so if they ask you to solve a problem and you have a good idea of a strategy but just get stuck kicking things off, then at least if you can explain how you think the problem should be tackled they'll be able to give you an appropriate hint to get you started
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Mansmisterio
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I don't think that STEP is mandatory.
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davros
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(Original post by Mansmisterio)
I don't think that STEP is mandatory.
Would you care to expand? It's pretty much a universal part of the maths offer at Cambridge, although individual colleges do have discretion (as they do in most things!).
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Mansmisterio
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Well If you do well at the interview they won't give you Step to do. On the website, they said that step is part of almost all conditional offer. So it's not mandatory.
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popo123
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(Original post by Mansmisterio)
Well If you do well at the interview they won't give you Step to do. On the website, they said that step is part of almost all conditional offer. So it's not mandatory.
I've never heard of anyone getting a non-step based offer


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Colmans
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(Original post by Mansmisterio)
Well If you do well at the interview they won't give you Step to do. On the website, they said that step is part of almost all conditional offer. So it's not mandatory.
No if you do well at interview you will get an offer to do STEP. There would have to be exceptional circumstances why they would feel a candidate could not sit STEP. It isn't even sufficient that a school offers no preparation for it. If a "dead cert" candidate as such existed they would find STEP useful preparation for Cambridge.
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Itsmonique
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My friend just received an invite to an interview for Maths at cambridge today!


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