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      (Original post by vincrows)
      the way you put in in your earlier post is asking for being misunderstood
      It wasn't an accusation. I just felt what you said about grades could be taken the wrong way/give false hope.
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      (Original post by Hydeman)
      It wasn't an accusation. I just felt what you said about grades could be taken the wrong way/give false hope.
      I think most people are intelligent enough to understand, especially as I did say each application is looked at individually and holistically without any fixed weighting.
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        (Original post by vincrows)
        I did say each application is looked at individually and holistically without any fixed weighting.
        You said that in reply to me; it wasn't part of the post to which I replied in the first place, which is what I'm defending.

        In any case, I think I've made it clear what I meant. You're welcome to continue to find fault with it/see it as some sort of accusation, but I won't be continuing. :hat2:
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        Way I'd look at it - why spend 3 years of your life working for something that isn't the best available to you?

        If you have an offer from Cambridge, I think it would be silly to go somewhere else.
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        Hello.

        I went to Oxford rather than Cambridge, but twenty years later I still wish I'd gone elsewhere. The reason is not that I was unhappy there or did badly. I was involved in the rowing, the partying, the dinners, and did well academically. But there was a class difference that rankles to this day. My overall assessment of Oxbridge is that it is not committed to the pursuit of truth. Rather, it is an old boys' club.

        So, it really depends what class you are. If you are well to do and want to become a banker/lawyer/management consultant or any of the other professions that cheat and rob society for private gain, you may as well get on with it and pretend that there is some kind of higher purpose there. But if you are working class, or if you genuinely care about truth, then you will find it terribly disappointing. Plus, you will not meet the kind of people who will personally enrich you and with whom you will want to stay friends afterwards. Rather, you'll meet plenty of people who will claim to be 'amazing' in one way or another, but who will ultimately just follow mummy and daddy into the family business/profession like obedient, unthinking sheep.
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        (Original post by jadeemma)
        I've received an offer from Cambridge for Maths and heard how demanding the course is and the amount of hard work required! Does anyone wish they went to a different Uni? Plus what are the parties and nights out like?
        I have not been to Cambridge, actually applying for Uni placements currently but I can say from seeing friends going to Cambridge that it is totally worth the pain, I would say the social side of things you can do at any uni so dont worry too much about that because there will always be times to experience new things, once you have a degree at Cambridge you will most likely get to travel around the world either through your amazing job or through the money that you will have. Basically if you want a successful career just go to Cambridge.
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        (Original post by BeenThereDoneIt)
        Hello.

        I went to Oxford rather than Cambridge, but twenty years later I still wish I'd gone elsewhere. The reason is not that I was unhappy there or did badly. I was involved in the rowing, the partying, the dinners, and did well academically. But there was a class difference that rankles to this day. My overall assessment of Oxbridge is that it is not committed to the pursuit of truth. Rather, it is an old boys' club.

        So, it really depends what class you are. If you are well to do and want to become a banker/lawyer/management consultant or any of the other professions that cheat and rob society for private gain, you may as well get on with it and pretend that there is some kind of higher purpose there. But if you are working class, or if you genuinely care about truth, then you will find it terribly disappointing. Plus, you will not meet the kind of people who will personally enrich you and with whom you will want to stay friends afterwards. Rather, you'll meet plenty of people who will claim to be 'amazing' in one way or another, but who will ultimately just follow mummy and daddy into the family business/profession like obedient, unthinking sheep.
        None of my friends are like this at all. There are people like it, but it's easy enough to avoid them if you don't want to interact with people like that.

        I'm in the first generation of my family to do any post-16 education and want to pursue an academic career, certainly not the type where I will "cheat and rob society for private gain".

        Things have changed.
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        (Original post by BeenThereDoneIt)
        .........................
        And have you been back there in the last 20 years? Because I don't recognise any of that description from 2003-2008 while I was there.

        Just to help the balance, I had an absolutely fantastic time at Cambridge, I was there because I wanted to have my brain stretched, and it was, and it was fabulous to have all those opportunities within walking distance, food and a warm bed on hand, health services at your beck and call, faith, culture, art, history, performance, all immediately available and more sports and facilities that you could shake 20 different types of stick at.

        I had bags of time to make friends, go out in the evenings, play new sports, try new activities, because everything is possible and nothing is more than 20 minutes away, including your home.

        There's a brilliant diversity of people, and there are all sorts of 'difference' that are completely ignored because 'different' is entirely normal in Cambridge. Everyone has their own story and they are accepted for it.

        I can't think of any circumstance in life where you will ever have such opportunity laid out to pick and choose from, save if you stay employed by Cambridge or possibly go to the other place.
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        (Original post by dragonkeeper999)
        • Grade based partly on your ranking (at least in the first few years), making for a very competitive and non-supportive atmosphere among students - which contributed towards a focus on passing exams and getting good coursework marks rather than just learning overall
        • College inequalities - they all claim to be "basically the same" but in reality there are so many inequalities between the colleges, I'm not going to list them all here but essentially the quality of academic support and even things like accommodation quality/ prices vary so much
        I really appreciate your honesty and would really like to know a bit more about the these two points.
        I have never doubted Cambridge...and blah blah (I am not even religious but I believed lol) until the day offers/rejections/pooling/fishing came out randomly regardless of ability. Now I have more questions than answers!
        I don't believe in the idea that they know what they are doing BS any more; in Maths many with offers get 3 and even Us and some rejected end up with Ss. One thing I know for sure is that when it comes to Maths, it should be only about Maths.
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        ''each application is looked at individually and holistically'' it's just an excuse to avoid being accountable .
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        (Original post by Melanie Leconte)
        I really appreciate your honesty and would really like to know a bit more about the these two points.
        I have never doubted Cambridge...and blah blah (I am not even religious but I believed lol) until the day offers/rejections/pooling/fishing came out randomly regardless of ability. Now I have more questions than answers!
        I don't believe in the idea that they know what they are doing BS any more; in Maths many with offers get 3 and even Us and some rejected end up with Ss. One thing I know for sure is that when it comes to Maths, it should be only about Maths.
        For the two points you quoted:

        Regarding the grade thing, it does vary between subjects and years, but for the first couple of years of NatSci they have quotas to meet for the number of each grade they give out, and if for whatever reason students to unexpectedly well/ poorly in exams they will move the grade boundaries/ shift everyone's grades around to reach their target quotas. In practice, they are pretty good at setting the exams to the right standard (apparently, examiners reports only mention a couple of instances of needing to adjust everyone's grades...) but coursework always gets moderated down. In third/ fourth year I've heard it's a bit different - there is still some attempt to spread grades out a bit, but they also get external moderators in from other unis to compare standards etc. so no longer mark strictly to a quota. I have no idea what other subjects do though...

        On top of individual students grades depending somewhat on how they rank against their peers, colleges are also ranked (unofficially) by the Thomkin's table each year, which results in some colleges putting quite a lot of pressure (and often, more academic support - see college inequalities below...) on students to push for higher grades.

        Personally, I feel that the whole ranking thing (both of individuals and colleges) makes the atmosphere at Cambridge very competitive and less friendly, putting lots of stress on students without really achieving anything...

        Regarding the college inequalities thing, I could rant about it for ages, but basically I do feel like too much responsibility is given to the college in terms of organising/ funding supervisions and there are ridiculously unfair differences in costs/ financial support (accommodation, food, kitchen charges, library fees, travel grants, book grants, sports grants, etc.) between all the colleges. The college system also means you have very limited choice of accommodation, so I can't just move into accommodation closer to my department/ cheaper/ nicer unless my college conveniently happens to have the perfect room already (rare...). Additionally, I've also found out that some colleges (in particular, Johns) have exclusive international exchange opportunities and the like for their students - although I guess in a way I can't complain since Murray Edwards has exclusive internship opportunities for our students only... It would just make it fairer for everyone and provide more opportunities of interest (what if you're at John's but want an internship...) if the whole college system was scrapped and colleges just became halls of residence like other unis have, with their "exclusive" stuff available to all students at the university.

        About your other comments:

        I have to agree, there does at times seem to be a huge element of chance in who gets an offer/ pooled etc. - I guess due to the high numbers of highly qualified applicants they get, and (tying back into the whole college inequalities thing, in a way...) who looks at your application...

        For Maths students though, it's a bit different - they deliberately over-offer and set high STEP requirements such that around 50% of offer-holders will miss the offer. This is because the STEP exam is sat post-offer and they want to make sure they get the best students possible, which they can't guarantee just by looking at A level grades etc. STEP is so different to standard exams you do in school it's really hard for students to prepare for it - hence possibly explaining the mess of results people you know have got, when presumably in school exams they've always done very well. Cambridge did a load of analysis on this though and apparently STEP grades are the best indicator of how well Maths students do in their Tripos exams, so I guess they know that its the most reliable way of selecting students...
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        Thank you for your honesty again and the clarification.

        (Original post by dragonkeeper999)
        For Maths students though, it's a bit different - they deliberately over-offer and set high STEP requirements such that around 50% of offer-holders will miss the offer. This is because the STEP exam is sat post-offer and they want to make sure they get the best students possible, which they can't guarantee just by looking at A level grades etc. STEP is so different to standard exams you do in school it's really hard for students to prepare for it - hence possibly explaining the mess of results people you know have got, when presumably in school exams they've always done very well. Cambridge did a load of analysis on this though and apparently STEP grades are the best indicator of how well Maths students do in their Tripos exams, so I guess they know that its the most reliable way of selecting students...
        Regarding STEP, I have an offer and have been preparing for them. Some can hardly manage a STEP question and they have offers and some who can whiz through STEP 2/3 questions with ease and are rejected....so go figure ''STEP grades are the best indicator of how well Maths students do in their Tripos exams''
        That's why I am questioning the ''system''.
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        (Original post by Melanie Leconte)
        Thank you for your honesty again and the clarification.



        Regarding STEP, I have an offer and have been preparing for them. Some can hardly manage a STEP question and they have offers and some who can whiz through STEP 2/3 questions with ease and are rejected....so go figure ''STEP grades are the best indicator of how well Maths students do in their Tripos exams''
        That's why I am questioning the ''system''.
        That's why I tried to emphasise how STEP is a post-offer exam (i.e. you get the conditional offer BEFORE taking the STEP exam) - in itself, it is very good at predicting tripos performance, but the interviews/ A level predicted grades etc. which are used beforehand are the issue, filtering out applicants who otherwise could have excelled at STEP. That being said, just doing well at STEP isn't enough either - they want to check in your interview that you are a vaguely nice person, are enthusiastic about your subject, cope well with the supervision style of teaching, etc. and maybe those students you know who didn't get offers but would have aced the STEP exam were lacking in these areas.

        Mind you, I still agree that there is a fair amount of randomness in the process and there are a lot of issues...
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        (Original post by Melanie Leconte)
        Thank you for your honesty again and the clarification.



        Regarding STEP, I have an offer and have been preparing for them. Some can hardly manage a STEP question and they have offers and some who can whiz through STEP 2/3 questions with ease and are rejected....so go figure ''STEP grades are the best indicator of how well Maths students do in their Tripos exams''
        That's why I am questioning the ''system''.
        I seriously doubt many who could "whizz through" STEP II and III questions in November would have also done badly at Interview (including any tests they were given). But if they did then maybe it highlights the supervision system isn't the best route for them and they would do better elsewhere.

        As you know Cambridge has a far higher offer rate for Maths than any other science course. They rely on STEP as their main selection filter, not the interview, not your UMS at AS-level, not your A-level predictions. Nothing is more important than STEP. If they didn't trust STEP to be a good indicator they wouldn't select in this way. If anything Maths applications are rather less "holistically" considered than any other course because of the focus on STEP.

        But anyway, if you don't like the system you don't have to accept the Offer.

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        (Original post by jneill)
        I seriously doubt many who could "whizz through" STEP II and III questions in November would have also done badly at Interview (including any tests they were given). But if they did then maybe it highlights the supervision system isn't the best route for them and they would do better elsewhere.

        As you know Cambridge has a far higher offer rate for Maths than any other science course. They rely on STEP as their main selection filter, not the interview. If they didn't trust STEP to be a good indicator they wouldn't select in this way.
        I know some who can and were rejected or pooled.

        It is about Mathematics after all... Srinivasa Ramanujan!

        If you don't like the system you don't have to accept the Offer.
        I think I am allowed to ask questions..?!.. in order to make my mind up, NO?!

        I wonder sometimes whether you are a parent, a helper, an AT, a DoS,...who are you?!!
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        (Original post by Melanie Leconte)



        I think I am allowed to ask questions..?!.. in order to make my mind up, NO?!
        And other people can respond to your questions, NO??

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        (Original post by ageshallnot)
        And other people can respond to your questions, NO??

        Posted from TSR Mobile

        Actually, I am happy to listen to others' opinions with great pleasure and really keen to hear about different experiences.

        Please remember that I have read some of the responses for the last few years After reading the same preaching over and over again one starts to wonder

        Good night
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        (Original post by Reality Check)
        I think this view is a little dated. Oxbridge graduates may be over-represented in certain field, but there are no careers where an Oxbridge degree is 'almost a necessary prerequisite'. It would be entirely self-defeating - just think of all the talent which would be wasted were that approach taken wholesale!
        I agree. What an oxbridge degree does is get your foot in the door more easily: grads get noticed and are one up on getting the interview, but that is just the first step in getting a job. Employers know grads can work, but there is also the question of technical qualifications and fit.
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        (Original post by dragonkeeper999)
        That's why I tried to emphasise how STEP is a post-offer exam (i.e. you get the conditional offer BEFORE taking the STEP exam) - in itself, it is very good at predicting tripos performance, but the interviews/ A level predicted grades etc. which are used beforehand are the issue, filtering out applicants who otherwise could have excelled at STEP. That being said, just doing well at STEP isn't enough either - they want to check in your interview that you are a vaguely nice person, are enthusiastic about your subject, cope well with the supervision style of teaching, etc. and maybe those students you know who didn't get offers but would have aced the STEP exam were lacking in these areas.

        Mind you, I still agree that there is a fair amount of randomness in the process and there are a lot of issues...
        One thing to add about the subjectivity: admissions tutors want to find the people whom they would enjoy teaching. That's often a gut feeling, but at interview it's the chance to perform.
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        (Original post by Melanie Leconte)
        ''each application is looked at individually and holistically'' it's just an excuse to avoid being accountable .
        Ah, poor Cambridge, whatever it does it seems to be the recipient of accusations like this! Melanie, let me advance some suggestions in the hope of persuading you that you are being a tad unfair.

        Forty years ago I went to Cambridge to study maths - this is the system as it was then. All candidates took the Cambridge Entrance Exam. Most candidates for Cambridge prepared for the entrance exam which they took at the end of the term after they had finished A-levels - effectively the start of a third year of sixth form. A few candidates did attempt the entrance exams in their fourth term of sixth form, but that was seen as quite risky!

        The exam I took consisted of four three-hour mathematics papers, a physics paper and a general paper. The mathematics papers were at a level fairly well above current day STEP, with paper 4 (the "scholarship" paper) being a complete brute.

        A nice objective system? Well yes, but Cambridge (and Oxford) came under a lot of pressure to change the system because very few state schools were able to prepare candidates for the entrance exams. State schools (other than the best state grammar schools) tended to pair up with local independent schools to get their candidates prepared.

        If we roll the clock on to today, we see a system in place that is intended to be as fair as possible to a wide range of candidates from different backgrounds. (A lot of the exam component is based on A-levels, an exam that is far easier these days that it was in my day, so there is far less discriminatory power in them; so Cambridge has to deal with academic evidence that is, in some ways, much less useful than it used to be.) The idea of this "holistic" assessment is that (a) candidates from weaker schools are not disadvantaged and (b) future potential is balanced with past achievement.

        So, you will get candidates given offers at Cambridge who do not have stellar records of academic achievement. This is principle (a).

        But the other principle, that Cambridge are looking for potential, is of enormous importance, and might provide an explanation of why candidates, who to your eyes are just as good or better than some offer holders, don't receive offers. The fact is that mathematics at university level, and especially at Cambridge, is quite different from what you learn at A-level. Much of the A-level syllabus corresponds to a couple of units of a university "mathematical methods for applied maths" course; much of what you learn at university, especially the rigour, will be entirely new.

        Spotting whether candidates will be able to make that leap from school to university maths is difficult - doing well on STEP seems to be a necessary but not sufficient condition - after all, there are students who do well on STEP who flounder and do poorly in the Tripos. It took me a eighteen months to adapt to university maths, having done well in the entrance exams.

        Hence the interview system (and the new entrance tests, I presume) that is designed to try to work out how you think and how you'll adapt to the new situation. There are some people who can become exam-machines, stamping out good STEP II answers to order - but when you put something new in front of them, they flounder.
       
       
       
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