Maths preliminary questions - Am I done for? Watch
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.
Of the 4 I've tried, I'm only able to complete 2 of them.
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.
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.
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!)
What sheet are you talking about exactly? I've only got the 30 questions from the "Mathematics Workbook" and 8 "Questions on Complex Numbers".
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.
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.
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.
woo, question 6 is cool. the rest are just fiddly.