Chumbaniya
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Here's the problem; I've got a sheet of maths questions sent from Cambridge to attempt before the course starts in October, but I'm struggling already. Of the 4 I've tried, I'm only able to complete 2 of them. I've already got poor marks in STEP (actually failing my offer but being given a place anyway) so I'm worried that I'm going to be totally left behind when the real work starts.

I was wondering if any Cambridge mathematicians could advise me on whether it's possible to do well even if you struggle with even the earliest work, or whether lack of ability at such an early stage means I'll have serious problems later on.
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Speleo
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Is this the maths workbook or something different?
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Chumbaniya
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It's not the workbook that is designed to refresh knowledge of A-level techniques, it's a single sheet of problems which they want us to provide solutions to and - I think - bring to our first supervisions.
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Willa
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in that case it really is about finding out who knows what! Try your hardest, but don't bluff your way - supervisions are as much a time to show what you DONT know as the stuff which you DO know.
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MC REN
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(Original post by Chumbaniya)
Of the 4 I've tried, I'm only able to complete 2 of them.
To be honest that doesn't sound that bad (and you've got a while longer to work on them anyway)
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yusufu
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(Original post by Willa)
in that case it really is about finding out who knows what! Try your hardest, but don't bluff your way - supervisions are as much a time to show what you DONT know as the stuff which you DO know.
:ditto:
My supervisions seemed to be all about the stuff I didn't know .
The earliest work in A&G was mostly A level recap, while Numbers and sets was initially doable to a reasonable level using common sense (I do not advise this if you want to leave a good impression with your supervisor. In my Camcors report, he wrote I didn't use the material in the notes enough). Differential Equations starts off with A level recap as well, but to greater depth. You (OP) should be fine settling in.
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ad absurdum
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I found the sheet pretty difficult too. But on the bright side, they said you're not expected to finish it, and it's apparently not relevant to much so I wouldn't worry too much. What questions have you done?
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justinsh
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What sheet are you talking about exactly? I've only got the 30 questions from the "Mathematics Workbook" and 8 "Questions on Complex Numbers".
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epitome
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Don't panic!
As others have said, it's as much about what you DON'T know as what you do - and you'll get well-practiced at not knowing stuff in the next 3 or 4 years. It's a big step up from A Level & the like, so don't worry - you're working at a different level. You're not stupid, and you won't get behind (unless you give up working 'cause you feel it's too hard, which is about the most damaging thing you can do - SO difficult to catch up then!)
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ad absurdum
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(Original post by justinsh)
What sheet are you talking about exactly? I've only got the 30 questions from the "Mathematics Workbook" and 8 "Questions on Complex Numbers".
It's neither of them. It's a sheet with 8 questions on a range of A-Level stuff. Title is Tripos IA Introductory Problems or something. I think Emmanuel might be the only college that's sent it out.
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CarneLevare
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http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/stcs...tory_sheet.pdf

This?
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ad absurdum
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Almost. The first five questions are the same, sixth question in the linked one is the seventh question we have, eighth question in the linked one is the sixth question in the one we have. The last question in the one we have is the last one from the old Siklos booklet (Advanced Problems In Mathematics).
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DFranklin
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(Original post by Chumbaniya)
Here's the problem; I've got a sheet of maths questions sent from Cambridge to attempt before the course starts in October, but I'm struggling already. Of the 4 I've tried, I'm only able to complete 2 of them. I've already got poor marks in STEP (actually failing my offer but being given a place anyway) so I'm worried that I'm going to be totally left behind when the real work starts.
A long time ago, I also got an "introductory sheet" of 9 problems when I went up to Cambridge. Out of 18 students, I think only two of us managed all the questions. Most people only answered 3 or 4, I think.

To be honest, I think part of the intention is as a 'short sharp shock' for those who have got lazy during the long gap between A-levels and the start of term. Hard to get a sheet like that and stay complacent!

As others have said, the other main reason is just to get an idea of people's strengths and weaknesses, but don't take that too seriously. Although the people who can do all the questions generally do quite well in the Tripos, there were also people who could only do 1 or 2 questions on the introductory sheet and ended up with firsts.

Another reason for the sheet is just to give you something to talk about in the first supervision! I know my supervisor quite liked it because he could tell us about things like how to lay out a proper proof while the actual material being discussed was relatively familiar.

I was wondering if any Cambridge mathematicians could advise me on whether it's possible to do well even if you struggle with even the earliest work, or whether lack of ability at such an early stage means I'll have serious problems later on.
As above, it's certainly possible to do well. These questions aren't particularly related to the course content. As far as the actual courses go, my experience is that it is very very hard to 'catch up' on a course once it gets away from you. Conversely, if you understand everything so far, it's much easier to understand the next lecture. So it's very important to put the work in to make sure you understand each lecture before you get to the next one. If you don't understand something, don't hide your head in the sand and hope "it will just click later on". Chances are it won't, and you'll find yourself struggling with much bigger areas of the course later on.
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Chumbaniya
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I think I probably spoke a little too soon about having that much trouble with the questions. I tend to get a bit moody when I get maths wrong, so I wanted to rant a bit. I've now completed the first 5 of the 8 and made some progress on number 6 which I couldn't do before. Hopefully I'll have some partial solutions at least to 7 and 8 before I go.

So actually, considering it now, I think I'm at about the level I hope to be for starting off - I can do a fair proportion of the questions, but they're all challenging and there are parts of the later ones I can't complete, which is fine with me.

Incidentally, how nice is question 2? I really enjoyed that.
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Chewwy
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woo, question 6 is cool. the rest are just fiddly.
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Chumbaniya
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(Original post by Chewwy)
woo, question 6 is cool. the rest are just fiddly.
Hmm, for some reason I didn't try that one on the sheet (our question 7) but it looks interesting. I'll have to give that a go tomorrow.
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