After oxbridge, Durham and Imperial have the highest physics offers as far as I can tell however I asked Durham about alevels done a year early and they said they would be included in offer where as I think physical natsci at cambridge is one of the rare cases where they might give a 4 Alevel offer if maths is studied in y12 and fm y13. I get the impression that with physics courses, doing further maths is quite sufficient in terms of extending your maths past alevel step only required for the top unis to distinguish between the most talented mathematicians for maths courses. Of course doing more maths is always good and the more you do the more likely you are to be good at it.(Original post by KMan_PhysCheM)
I just finished year 12, so will be applying this October. Most likely to Cambridge, Imperial, Durham, Southampton, Warwick or something, to read Physics (or maybe physics with chemistry) or physical Natural Sciences at Cambridge if I am made an offer.
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STEP Prep Thread 2018 watch

black1blade
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 01082017 01:53

tomahawker314
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 01082017 08:34
(Original post by Physics Enemy)
Many avoid most/all of the applied, and that's after harder applied units were ditched from M/FM/STEP post 2006. At the mo you can go to Cam by scraping Bs/Cs in M1M2 and S1S2 and avoiding it in STEP.
I think you under appreciate applied maths due to the 2006 reforms and the 'pure culture' in STEP e.g) on TSR. Applied is very important at e.g) Cambridge.
So anyway would you say it is still worth practicing the applied questions, both mech and stats, or just focus on pure as there isn't enough questions on applied in a paper to make it worthwhile.
Another thing that worries me is if you have practised all styles how do you decide which of the 13 to answer. If you spent 23minutes reading and understanding each question then that's easily 40mins burned? How do you select which questions you are going to answer in the actual exam? 
IrrationalRoot
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 01082017 09:20
(Original post by Desmos)
I've finished year 13, which makes having this misconception pretty bad. I even sat the AEA this year, and I think I got a merit at least, and am predicted a solid A*.
I think a lot of misconceptions boil down to poor teaching and the fact that Pearson's specification rarely requires students to go any further than what they're initially taught, mainly because exam questions are repeated yearonyear.
Perhaps I should still look at STEP questions to quell my confusion, but I'm hoping you can humour me anyway. This is my understanding of the modulus function currently: If x = constant, then is a modulus equation, and we solve for x how we normally would. But x = variable, then this isn't a modulus equation but an application of the modulus function if you get what I mean. So whatever x is, variable will always be the modulus of that.
Is that a correct understanding or am I still missing something?
Thanks!
Best way to think of any new function/notation is in terms of its definition, not shortcuts. x is a piecewise defined function, defined by x=x if x≥0 and x=x if x<0. So whenever you see an equation with a modulus function (say, x), always separate it into these two cases, one where you suppose x≥0 and one where you suppose x<0. Remember these assumptions when you're solving the cases because you might get a contradiction which would imply no solutions in that case. Of course, if you have more than one modulus you will have many cases. The first question in Siklos' booklet is a very good example of this and will hopefully clear things up. 
DFranklin
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 01082017 12:50
(Original post by Physics Enemy)
I've shown DFranklin M3 and M6 papers from the early 2000s, makes a mockery of M1/M2 people reach now (plus M1/M2 was harder then).
But "further applied" tends very much towards "here's a concept and then 16 related formulas/approaches"; most of the "work" just comes back to pure mathematics ability. (e.g. many CofM and MI questions are just integration fests).
STEP was 4:3 pure:applied. IMO pure should be 4 Qs and pick 3, applied 4 Qs and pick 3. Would be more balanced, better discriminator. With current lopsided syllabi that's tricky, so perhaps enforce 2 applied Qs.
In terms of forcing people to do particular areas, I see three big reasons Cambridge is unlikely to do that:
(1) Culturally, Cambridge exams have always tended to give a lot of choice (Technically, the IA Tripos might ask for 7 questions out of 10, but when 4 questions are probably enough for a first, it's really more like "5 questions out of 10" at most).
(2) There's significantly more choice in the applied modules at Alevel than the pure. So if you're going to be fair to all possible applied choices, if you made some applied questions compulsory, you'd need to increase the number of applied questions significantly.
(3) Although the degree material has a lot of "applied", when you actually look at what's involved, in Alevel terms it's actually mainly "pure" maths. There's really not much I did in Alevel applied that I think was much help in part IA. 
Physics Enemy
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 01082017 14:23
(Original post by DFranklin)
I agree that the loss of M3 material from the standard Alevel results in a significant loss of difficuty (plus some useful exposure to some differential equation tricks for solving SHM).
But "further applied" tends very much towards "here's a concept and then 16 related formulas/approaches"; most of the "work" just comes back to pure mathematics ability. (e.g. many CofM and MI questions are just integration fests).
(Original post by DFranklin)
And comment above holds for STEP too. The examiners can't use more advanced concepts than you get in the Alevel, so the applied questions tend to be "it's just like an Alevel question, only with harder algebra/integrals".
(Original post by DFranklin)
In terms of forcing people to do particular areas, I see three big reasons Cambridge is unlikely to do that:
(1) Culturally, Cambridge exams have always tended to give a lot of choice (Technically, the IA Tripos might ask for 7 questions out of 10, but when 4 questions are probably enough for a first, it's really more like "5 questions out of 10" at most).
(2) There's significantly more choice in the applied modules at Alevel than the pure. So if you're going to be fair to all possible applied choices, if you made some applied questions compulsory, you'd need to increase the number of applied questions significantly. 
DFranklin
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 01082017 14:42
(Original post by Physics Enemy)
FM's been hit arguably more; in addition to direct reform, dumbing down in M spills over to FM. P3P6 + M4M6 (or M4/M5/S1) vs FP1FP4 + S1/S2. Big difference. Pure content skimmed, applied units thrown out, easier exams.
You're good/experienced at applied, so applied STEP Qs don't seem a big deal. Infact you tell people to not write it off and give it a go, as it's doable. I agree, but people avoid it. Same goes for why you aren't phased by (old) M4M6.
And if you look at the reasoning I give, it's "don't write it off, because it really doesn't take much work to cover the applied material you need for STEP, and the questions don't really test super deep understanding of applied mechanics, they test your ability to grind through the equations". It's not "do this 'cos it's super important and useful and will help you at university". (which I would say to someone about the pure content if they were seriously intending to only answer applied questions).
But do the exams test specific topics/areas, or mixed content on one paper? Big difference in picking from 10 applied Qs, vs avoiding it altogether. I don't see the problem in picking 3 of 4 applied Qs in STEP (2 Mech, 2 Stats) assuming people don't do D1(!). Especially STEP 3 (FM = done more applied).
Now it could still be done, but honestly, what's the point? Repeating myself: the applied material you do at Alevel is not particularly useful at degree level. 
Physics Enemy
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 01082017 14:55
P3P6 > FP1FP4 and (old) M4M6 > S1/S2, so it's still dumbed down. Modern S1/S2 is a joke btw.
I agree with your reasoning on doing STEP applied, if anything it shows how weak/averse people are to it given it's avoided.
For my system of 3 Qs from 4, it wouldn't cover M1M5 and S1S5 for STEP III, or whatever on STEP I/II. Would be more confined, at least people would be doing it.Tagged: 
DFranklin
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 01082017 15:05
(Original post by Physics Enemy)
P3P6 > FP1FP4 and (old) M4M6 > S1/S2, so it's still dumbed down. Modern S1/S2 is a joke btw.
For my system of 3 Qs from 4, it wouldn't cover M1M5 and S1S5 for STEP III, or whatever on STEP I/II. Would be more confined, at least people would be doing it.
I'll also note that (IMHO) there are some fairly easy "tweaks" Cambridge could make to make to improve applied takeup (a big one would be to have a much higher proportion of results being "show that...", since a big reason to avoid applied in the exam is that it's much easier to get a question wrong without realising it). But instead they've taken the attitude "not many people do the applied, so let's cut the number of applied questions". So I just don't see it changing in the direction you suggest. 
Zacken
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 01082017 15:06
(Original post by DFranklin)
And if you look at the reasoning I give, it's "don't write it off, because it really doesn't take much work to cover the applied material you need for STEP, and the questions don't really test super deep understanding of applied mechanics, they test your ability to grind through the equations". It's not "do this 'cos it's super important and useful and will help you at university". (which I would say to someone about the pure content if they were seriously intending to only answer applied questions) [...]
Now it could still be done, but honestly, what's the point? Repeating myself: the applied material you do at Alevel is not particularly useful at degree level.
@Physics Enemy: Applied at ALevel and Applied at university are very different things. Mechanics and stats which is what applied is taken to mean at ALevel forms a very small subset of applied at university. A large portion of the pure on STEP (solving DE's, integrals, anything computationty) is considered applied at uni.
So, as DFranklin said  doing more "applied material" on STEP will pretty much only help with one applied course at Cambridge (D&R). Which means making STEP 50% applied rather nonsensical. The pure on STEP is much better preparation for most applied courses at uni, than mechanics & stats. 
Physics Enemy
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 01082017 15:21
(Original post by DFranklin)
Again: since the applied material isn't relevant at degree level, who cares enough to want to change this?
I'll also note that (IMHO) there are some fairly easy "tweaks" Cambridge could make to make to improve applied takeup (a big one would be to have a much higher proportion of results being "show that...", since a big reason to avoid applied in the exam is that it's much easier to get a question wrong without realising it). But instead they've taken the attitude "not many people do the applied, so let's cut the number of applied questions". So I just don't see it changing in the direction you suggest.
Main reason for applied aversion IMO are 2006 reforms and 'pure culture' around STEP/ALevels, coupled with not making applied Qs compulsory.
I don't think turning applied Qs into pseudo pure/proof Qs is sensible, defeats the point. 
Zacken
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 01082017 15:31
(Original post by Physics Enemy)
I'd be surprised if pre2006 M1M6 and S1S6 was mostly useless at Cam, but I wouldn't know. Surely someone could put it to use if they picked applied throughout the degree, not sure about 1st/2nd year tho.
Main reason for applied aversion IMO are 2006 reforms and 'pure culture' around STEP/ALevels. Coupled with not making applied Qs compulsory. I don't think turning applied Qs into pseudo pure/proof Qs is sensible, defeats the point.
So doing M16 will help you with Dynamics and Relativity in your first year in Cambridge and then become forevermore useless, whilst doing pure modules and the pure questions on STEP involving things DE's, Vectors, Matrices, integrals, etc... are the ones that are actually going to be useful to you if you pick only applied courses.
To emphasise: applied does not mean mechanics. 
DFranklin
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 01082017 15:32
(Original post by Physics Enemy)
I'd be surprised if pre2006 M1M6 and S1S6 was mostly useless at Cam, but I wouldn't know. Surely someone could put it to use if they picked applied throughout the degree, not sure about 1st/2nd year tho.
Main reason for applied aversion IMO are 2006 reforms and 'pure culture' around STEP/ALevels. Coupled with not making applied Qs compulsory. I don't think turning applied Qs into pseudo pure/proof Qs is sensible, defeats the point. 
DFranklin
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 01082017 15:34
(Original post by Zacken)
Dynamics and Relativity (the only course in this list that is applied and has any relevance to what you call applied). 
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 01082017 15:46
(Original post by Enigmatically)
Was waiting for this thread to start. Thank you very much Zacken. Guess I'll check in here.
Could anyone recommend some resources for Mechanics? I have Understanding Mechanics by A.J. Sadler, but I'd also like to have more resources, as I'm planning to blitz through M15 this summer.(school offers just stats :/)
Together volume I and II should cover all the mechanics you need for STEP, and both contain plenty of questions, some of which are quite challenging.
The second one also covers some things that aren't on syllabus anymore but are on the older papers (motion in polar coordinates, combined rotational & translational motion and some other stuff) as well as giving a very good intro to vectors at the start.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Appli...matics+bostock
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mathematics...matics+bostock 
Physics Enemy
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 01082017 16:07
(Original post by DFranklin)
Why don't you try to set a suitable STEP level applied question that isn't a "psuedo pure/proof" question? It is far harder than setting the type of question typically set now (although a few do get set), and I can assure you that if those questions became the norm, the takeup of those questions would be far lower than it is now. (So low, in fact, that I suspect if it was the norm, and "do 1 applied question" was made compulsory, most candidates would just accept "tanking" the applied question rather than hoping to score well on it).
You've convinced me it's really worth going over mech/stats notes and practising those Qs for STEP. The 'tanking' issue is why I proposed the idea, to see who does and doesn't.
RE Cam's course, seems M1M6 is useful in one 1st year course, S1S5 useful in another. Good foundation if you decide to pick applied further down the line, but I agree pure is usually much more useful throughout. 
DFranklin
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 01082017 17:16
(Original post by Physics Enemy)
I don't have a problem with the difficulty of STEP applied Qs as they are, just the uptake of them (hence my proposed system).
(Original post by Physics Enemy)
I don't think turning applied Qs into pseudo pure/proof Qs is sensible, defeats the point.
RE Cam's course, it seems M1M6 is useful in one 1st year course and S1S5 useful in another. 
Physics Enemy
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 01082017 17:40
I wanted the applied to be made compulsory in some way, I'm happy with the Q style/difficulty as it is.
I was against the idea of changing Qs as described, whereby increasing difficulty would probs scare away the few who attempt it.
I think the Cam course is versatile enough to make M1M6 and S1S5 either a bonus for ~15% of 1st year, or a footing to become an applied mathematician.Tagged: 
DFranklin
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 01082017 17:56
(Original post by Physics Enemy)
I wanted the applied to be made compulsory in some way, I'm happy with the Q style/difficulty as it is.
I think the Cam course is versatile enough to make M1M6 and S1S5 either a bonus for ~15% of 1st year, or a footing to become an applied mathematician. 
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 01082017 18:14
(Original post by IrrationalRoot)
Well yeah unfortunately you don't need to understand the content particularly well at all to do well at A Level, so a conscious effort must be made to do so with every topic (especially trig, so many people don't understand trig properly even when they've done a lot of STEP).
Best way to think of any new function/notation is in terms of its definition, not shortcuts. x is a piecewise defined function, defined by x=x if x≥0 and x=x if x<0. So whenever you see an equation with a modulus function (say, x), always separate it into these two cases, one where you suppose x≥0 and one where you suppose x<0. Remember these assumptions when you're solving the cases because you might get a contradiction which would imply no solutions in that case. Of course, if you have more than one modulus you will have many cases. The first question in Siklos' booklet is a very good example of this and will hopefully clear things up.
You mentioned that students have poor understanding of trig concepts. Could you expand upon what you mean? 
IrrationalRoot
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 01082017 18:20
(Original post by Desmos)
I think I've got it now, but I'm still going to look at some STEP questions.
You mentioned that students have poor understanding of trig concepts. Could you expand upon what you mean?
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