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    My goals being to get into a high ranking college. BMO type questions are more fun than the MAT/Step style questions, but how less effective are they in preparing myself for those said tests?
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    (Original post by CancerousProblem)
    My goals being to get into a high ranking college. BMO type questions are more fun than the MAT/Step style questions, but how less effective are they in preparing myself for those said tests?
    They test almost completely orthogonal skills. BMO is effectively useless at preparing you for STEP. I can't speak for the MAT, but I imagine it's the same.
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    (Original post by CancerousProblem)
    My goals being to get into a high ranking college. BMO type questions are more fun than the MAT/Step style questions, but how less effective are they in preparing myself for those said tests?
    It helped me develop my problem solving skills. Helped me sit there and think hard about solution which is a skill required for step. I still do bmo questions. I dont think there a waste of time at all. The actual mathematics might not help at all though


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    Generally, I'd say doing any maths is going to be helpful, but perhaps some things are better to do than others. You don't have to be good at BMO questions to get into a top university, just do well on the MAT, and/or get high UMS at AS-Level and you shouldn't have too much trouble.
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    (Original post by Smaug123)
    They test almost completely orthogonal skills. BMO is effectively useless at preparing you for STEP. I can't speak for the MAT, but I imagine it's the same.
    What are orthogonal skills?
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    What are orthogonal skills?
    Skills which do not vary together. (OK, technically they kind of do, but in the area of maths tests, they don't.) By analogy with decomposing vector spaces into orthogonal subspaces, I suppose, such that the operation "varying the inclusion into one subspace" doesn't affect the inclusion into another.
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    (Original post by CancerousProblem)
    My goals being to get into a high ranking college. BMO type questions are more fun than the MAT/Step style questions, but how less effective are they in preparing myself for those said tests?
    Yeah I found that olympiad questions helped develop my problem solving skills aswell. I didn't feel like doing them prepared me that well when I started doing step I papers, and the olympiad maths is pretty much useless to me except occasionally when I use mod arithmetic or something.

    Another thing to kind of consider though is that in my interview for cambridge the questions were all very problem solve-y, and if I didn't do any olympiad stuff I definitely wouldn't have done as well in my interviews as I did.


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    It might not help mathematically but seriously, it helps alot with problem solving as a whole as i thing BMO1 is harder then step 1 without a doubt especially problem 5 and 6.
    BMO helped me enjoy maths as enrichment. I have only seen it help me in two questions so far and i dont expect it helping any more. But it has helped so much with the times when i dont see the solution.(happened quite often in bmo lol)



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    (Original post by Wesbian)
    Yeah I found that olympiad questions helped develop my problem solving skills aswell. I didn't feel like doing them prepared me that well when I started doing step I papers, and the olympiad maths is pretty much useless to me except occasionally when I use mod arithmetic or something.

    Another thing to kind of consider though is that in my interview for cambridge the questions were all very problem solve-y, and if I didn't do any olympiad stuff I definitely wouldn't have done as well in my interviews as I did.


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    Yep it helped me in a mod arithematic quest aswell. I fully agree if i didnt do olympiad maths i wouldnt have got in to camvridge. Still gotta do step though 😁


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    (Original post by physicsmaths)
    Yep it helped me in a mod arithematic quest aswell. I fully agree if i didnt do olympiad maths i wouldnt have got in to camvridge. Still gotta do step though 😁


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    Really because I really don't like the style of the Maths Olympiad questions I have seen, they don't seem to be proper questions ie.involving higher level skills like Calculus that doesn't mean they are easy by a long shot just not my style of Maths really, they seem extremely tough too I was never really good at that type of Maths I got Bronzes on the Maths Challenges when most people applying for Cambridge probably got Golds and some people in my class got Golds and Silvers.I got into Cambridge and I didn't study Olympiad questions but I had done a lot of STEP practice starting slowly from Y11.
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    I think, as a metric of ability, STEP functions much better than BMO. Once you have covered A-Level Maths, all that stops you from bossing STEP I and II is practice. In the vast majority of cases learning new techniques will not be useful for STEP. On the other hand, although BMO1 in theory requires only GCSE Maths, unless you are ridiculously skilled you cannot get by just on prior knowledge. Even BMO1 success realistically requires knowledge of geometrical theorems, number theory and inequalities that you wouldn't come across unless you did a lot of specific study. As a result, BMO rewards people who have been trained specifically for it. I have no idea on the stats but I'd guess that if you looked at , say, the people who qualified for BMO2, probably the majority would have been training since year 9 or before. I'm not saying it's completely due to pushy parents, but I'd guess that it's often a factor.

    The question then is whether they are useful with regards to each other. I'm not that good at either BMO or STEP, but I've used a bit of BMO number theory in STEP. That's probably about it in terms of technical maths.

    However, BMO and STEP are both the only three hour exams most students will ever do prior to uni, and in terms of teaching mathematical perseverance and suchlike I reckon they probably help each other out a bit. Also, they are the only two exams that realistically test ability to prove things fairly rigorously. Overall, while the contents of the exams aren't much to do with each other, the style of the exams are somewhat similar, which I think could help a bit.
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    (Original post by Krollo)
    I think, as a metric of ability, STEP functions much better than BMO. Once you have covered A-Level Maths, all that stops you from bossing STEP I and II is practice. In the vast majority of cases learning new techniques will not be useful for STEP. On the other hand, although BMO1 in theory requires only GCSE Maths, unless you are ridiculously skilled you cannot get by just on prior knowledge. Even BMO1 success realistically requires knowledge of geometrical theorems, number theory and inequalities that you wouldn't come across unless you did a lot of specific study. As a result, BMO rewards people who have been trained specifically for it. I have no idea on the stats but I'd guess that if you looked at , say, the people who qualified for BMO2, probably the majority would have been training since year 9 or before. I'm not saying it's completely due to pushy parents, but I'd guess that it's often a factor.

    The question then is whether they are useful with regards to each other. I'm not that good at either BMO or STEP, but I've used a bit of BMO number theory in STEP. That's probably about it in terms of technical maths.

    However, BMO and STEP are both the only three hour exams most students will ever do prior to uni, and in terms of teaching mathematical perseverance and suchlike I reckon they probably help each other out a bit. Also, they are the only two exams that realistically test ability to prove things fairly rigorously. Overall, while the contents of the exams aren't much to do with each other, the style of the exams are somewhat similar, which I think could help a bit.
    I wasn't trained specifically. I was the first person to ever qualify for bmo1 let alone 2. I just practised.


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    (Original post by Dalek1099)
    Really because I really don't like the style of the Maths Olympiad questions I have seen, they don't seem to be proper questions ie.involving higher level skills like Calculus that doesn't mean they are easy by a long shot just not my style of Maths really, they seem extremely tough too I was never really good at that type of Maths I got Bronzes on the Maths Challenges when most people applying for Cambridge probably got Golds and some people in my class got Golds and Silvers.I got into Cambridge and I didn't study Olympiad questions but I had done a lot of STEP practice starting slowly from Y11.
    I was talking about me as a person. That has what developed my mathematical skill and logic to what it is. It probably doesn't apply to a lot of people.


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    (Original post by physicsmaths)
    I wasn't trained specifically. I was the first person to ever qualify for bmo1 let alone 2. I just practised.


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    Fair enough - I know a lot of people practised off their own back.
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    (Original post by Krollo)
    Fair enough - I know a lot of people practised off their own back.
    Should've said from my school lol.


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    (Original post by CancerousProblem)
    My goals being to get into a high ranking college. BMO type questions are more fun than the MAT/Step style questions, but how less effective are they in preparing myself for those said tests?
    To re-iterate what the others have already said, and to throw in a few comments of my own:

    Ability in one type of test doesn't necessarily correlate with ability in another. There is a core of very able young mathematicians in this country who have digested the whole of A level, get through STEP/MAT without too much hassle, and perform exceptionally well in competitive maths such as BMO. But there are also people such as myself who were never exposed to maths competitions at school and still got through Cambridge OK!

    BMO tests a very narrow set of topics, but tests it in a very demanding way. Yes, it will improve your general problem solving ability, but it won't necessarily develop skills in the 'right' areas i.e. coverage of A level topics which is what STEP (and to a lesser extent MAT) are testing.

    As I commented in one of your other threads, there is nothing wrong with seeking out any maths that interests you. But the best way to prepare for a specific test is to practise other examples of the same test - if you want to be good at STEP, practise STEP; if you want to be good at MAT, practise MAT.

    Finally, recognize that you are playing a tactical game. BMO may be very enjoyable, but if you want to get into a 'top' uni you have to play by the rules they set, which essentially means you're going to be facing up to one of MAT or STEP at least - you can't trade off performance in something else against your offer requirements (although there are rare exceptions to everything!).
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    (Original post by davros)
    To re-iterate what the others have already said, and to throw in a few comments of my own:

    Ability in one type of test doesn't necessarily correlate with ability in another. There is a core of very able young mathematicians in this country who have digested the whole of A level, get through STEP/MAT without too much hassle, and perform exceptionally well in competitive maths such as BMO. But there are also people such as myself who were never exposed to maths competitions at school and still got through Cambridge OK!

    BMO tests a very narrow set of topics, but tests it in a very demanding way. Yes, it will improve your general problem solving ability, but it won't necessarily develop skills in the 'right' areas i.e. coverage of A level topics which is what STEP (and to a lesser extent MAT) are testing.

    As I commented in one of your other threads, there is nothing wrong with seeking out any maths that interests you. But the best way to prepare for a specific test is to practise other examples of the same test - if you want to be good at STEP, practise STEP; if you want to be good at MAT, practise MAT.

    Finally, recognize that you are playing a tactical game. BMO may be very enjoyable, but if you want to get into a 'top' uni you have to play by the rules they set, which essentially means you're going to be facing up to one of MAT or STEP at least - you can't trade off performance in something else against your offer requirements (although there are rare exceptions to everything!).
    I just tried oxford MAT test and self marked it and found myself getting 36/40 for the multiple choice, and for both of the 2 questions I did, I got all of the question except the last part of each. It took me approximately 2 hours out of the 2 and a half hours that I'm supposed to have, and if that was a real test I would expect my work to be worth ~60 marks, give or take 5. I'd really like to see a mark scheme for the MAT/STEP because I'm not really sure how much you have to write for you to "show that" in a question, obviously I don't want to risk losing marks so I'd have to write a decently large amount, but at the same time, doing so has an opportunity cost in the form of time spent for other questions. Is there a general guideline as to what level of depth should I be going to in the "show that" questions? I'm assuming it's roughly that of the worked solutions that are on the MAT site, though unless anybody says otherwise.

    I think you do raise a very valid point though, that I should be preparing for these tests instead of doing BMO type questions. I think MAT is a bit more simialr to BMO type problems than STEP.
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    (Original post by CancerousProblem)
    I just tried oxford MAT test and self marked it and found myself getting 36/40 for the multiple choice, and for both of the 2 questions I did, I got all of the question except the last part of each. It took me approximately 2 hours out of the 2 and a half hours that I'm supposed to have, and if that was a real test I would expect my work to be worth ~60 marks, give or take 5. I'd really like to see a mark scheme for the MAT/STEP because I'm not really sure how much you have to write for you to "show that" in a question, obviously I don't want to risk losing marks so I'd have to write a decently large amount, but at the same time, doing so has an opportunity cost in the form of time spent for other questions. Is there a general guideline as to what level of depth should I be going to in the "show that" questions? I'm assuming it's roughly that of the worked solutions that are on the MAT site, though unless anybody says otherwise.

    I think you do raise a very valid point though, that I should be preparing for these tests instead of doing BMO type questions. I think MAT is a bit more simialr to BMO type problems than STEP.
    On the MAT and STEP the question parts are weighted differently, so the last/penultimate part is generally worth the majority of the marks. You can find MAT papers and mark schemes on the Oxford Institute website here. If you are considering applying to Imperial & Oxford it may be detrimental to start practising MAT papers now, as there are only very limited number of them, and only 1 in the current style (there are now 5 multiple choice options; previously there were only 4).
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    (Original post by CancerousProblem)
    I just tried oxford MAT test and self marked it and found myself getting 36/40 for the multiple choice, and for both of the 2 questions I did, I got all of the question except the last part of each. It took me approximately 2 hours out of the 2 and a half hours that I'm supposed to have, and if that was a real test I would expect my work to be worth ~60 marks, give or take 5. I'd really like to see a mark scheme for the MAT/STEP because I'm not really sure how much you have to write for you to "show that" in a question
    There are no official mark schemes issued for STEP, but in recent years they have started issuing Hints/Solutions along with Examiners' Reports - see here for all the details including how to register etc: http://www.admissionstestingservice....ep/about-step/

    In addition, if you look in the MathsExams subforum of Maths here on TSR you will find threads that have been started for various years of STEP where people have posted their own worked solutions. There is also a STEP 2015 thread currently running for people intending to sit the exam this summer - you might find it useful to 'lurk' there and see what sort of questions people ask about the process.
 
 
 
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