AMA - first year maths student Watch

PythagorasGhost
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Hey, I'm a maths student at Cambridge and just finished the first year. I did one of these threads over xmas and it was reasonably successful so thought I'd try another. Feel free to ask about anything from A levels, personal statements, STEP, interviews, the course itself, etc.
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username4171924
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Congrats for getting into Cambridge!!!! What are you planing on doing after your degree?
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Black Water
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(Original post by PythagorasGhost)
Hey, I'm a maths student at Cambridge and just finished the first year. I did one of these threads over xmas and it was reasonably successful so thought I'd try another. Feel free to ask about anything from A levels, personal statements, STEP, interviews, the course itself, etc.
How did first year go for you? Did you find it hard?
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PythagorasGhost
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(Original post by ___*-*)
Congrats for getting into Cambridge!!!! What are you planing on doing after your degree?
Thanks! Not too sure yet, something in STEM I guess... Will probably do an internship after second year so that should give me a better idea
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PythagorasGhost
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(Original post by Black Water)
How did first year go for you? Did you find it hard?
Could've gone better, but equally could've been a lot worse, so I guess I'm happy And yup, everything was hard! But it was fun to be challenged constantly, albeit pretty tiring and demoralising at times!
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username2281303
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(Original post by PythagorasGhost)
Hey, I'm a maths student at Cambridge and just finished the first year. I did one of these threads over xmas and it was reasonably successful so thought I'd try another. Feel free to ask about anything from A levels, personal statements, STEP, interviews, the course itself, etc.
What are the main differences between the A Level and Uni maths questions? I've heard that in Uni maths you're asked to do more "proof" questions rather than getting to the answer - is that correct?

What's your favourite maths module? (and least favourite? )
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yusyus
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(Original post by PythagorasGhost)
Hey, I'm a maths student at Cambridge and just finished the first year. I did one of these threads over xmas and it was reasonably successful so thought I'd try another. Feel free to ask about anything from A levels, personal statements, STEP, interviews, the course itself, etc.
hi, I am reapplying for natural sciences next year and had some questions. What topics would you recommend for me to put in my ps, I know about differential equations/limits/eulers method and stuff like that but idk how to take it further so I can put more stuff in my ps.
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Toastiekid
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Why maths? What interests you about it?
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kkboyk
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What's the most interesting theorem you've encountered this year?

What do you think of analysis?
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Black Water
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(Original post by PythagorasGhost)
Could've gone better, but equally could've been a lot worse, so I guess I'm happy And yup, everything was hard! But it was fun to be challenged constantly, albeit pretty tiring and demoralising at times!
Good to hear it went well. Hang in there, it’s only going to get harder but you’ll be able to manage it. Mind me asking what you did for A-Levels and what you got?
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The Scotfather
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(Original post by PythagorasGhost)
Hey, I'm a maths student at Cambridge and just finished the first year. I did one of these threads over xmas and it was reasonably successful so thought I'd try another. Feel free to ask about anything from A levels, personal statements, STEP, interviews, the course itself, etc.
Hows the workload? Heavy? or is it not alot but just difficult to understand? Are the lecturers sound?
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PythagorasGhost
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(Original post by ZiggyStardust_)
What are the main differences between the A Level and Uni maths questions? I've heard that in Uni maths you're asked to do more "proof" questions rather than getting to the answer - is that correct?

What's your favourite maths module? (and least favourite? )
Yeah that's right - the main difference is that uni maths questions (at least at Cambridge) are often "show that"s. The questions are much harder than at A Level (that is, they require a lot more thinking about) and so take much longer - the first year exams are 3 hours each but you might only finish, say, 7 questions in that time. All the past papers are online if you want an idea of their structure: https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/undergrad/pastpapers.

Favourites: Vector Calculus, Probability (didn't expect the latter honestly)
Least Favourite: Analysis (just felt really tedious tbh)
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Ridinghigh95
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(Original post by PythagorasGhost)
Yeah that's right - the main difference is that uni maths questions (at least at Cambridge) are often "show that"s. The questions are much harder than at A Level (that is, they require a lot more thinking about) and so take much longer - the first year exams are 3 hours each but you might only finish, say, 7 questions in that time. All the past papers are online if you want an idea of their structure: https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/undergrad/pastpapers.

Favourites: Vector Calculus, Probability (didn't expect the latter honestly)
Least Favourite: Analysis (just felt really tedious tbh)
Can I just say... ur bloody clever . I’m envious 😂 I wish I understood all that on those papers!
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PythagorasGhost
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(Original post by yusyus)
hi, I am reapplying for natural sciences next year and had some questions. What topics would you recommend for me to put in my ps, I know about differential equations/limits/eulers method and stuff like that but idk how to take it further so I can put more stuff in my ps.
I'd say it's less about which topics you mention and more what you have to say about them. The admissions tutors like to see some independent research, so it might be good to say something like "during my A Levels I enjoyed learning about a because b, and this led me to read c which I found interesting because d". Also don't be afraid to talk about the stuff you learned/read that you didn't enjoy/disagreed with, as long as you can justify why. Hope that helps
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yusyus
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(Original post by PythagorasGhost)
I'd say it's less about which topics you mention and more what you have to say about them. The admissions tutors like to see some independent research, so it might be good to say something like "during my A Levels I enjoyed learning about a because b, and this led me to read c which I found interesting because d". Also don't be afraid to talk about the stuff you learned/read that you didn't enjoy/disagreed with, as long as you can justify why. Hope that helps
thanks alot, also I forgot to ask do you think they will mind if I keep a whole (chunky) paragraph on my EPQ/self learning FP1 given that it was in year 12
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PythagorasGhost
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(Original post by Toastiekid)
Why maths? What interests you about it?
I guess it's just that it's not subjective - you're (usually) either right or wrong and that was always comforting to me. Plus it's cool to see how different areas of maths fit together and how it can all be applied; there's not really any subject like it in that sense.
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PythagorasGhost
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(Original post by kkboyk)
What's the most interesting theorem you've encountered this year?

What do you think of analysis?
The most interesting theorem™ can be found at the top of page 43: http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/acla2/vc_notes1.pdf

I thought I'd love analysis before started uni but it's honestly my least favourite of the courses (I don't hate it though, just preferred everything else). I found a lot of the proofs pretty tedious and there were a lot of results to remember for the exam Nonetheless it's still very important to learn as a maths student
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PythagorasGhost
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(Original post by Black Water)
Good to hear it went well. Hang in there, it’s only going to get harder but you’ll be able to manage it. Mind me asking what you did for A-Levels and what you got?
Thank you A Levels were as follows:

Maths, Further maths, Physics: A*
AS Computer Science: A

Wasn't really enjoying CompSci so dropped it after the first year and decided to try to focus on maths (which was useful when I had to worry about STEP...)
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Black Water
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(Original post by PythagorasGhost)
Thank you A Levels were as follows:

Maths, Further maths, Physics: A*
AS Computer Science: A

Wasn't really enjoying CompSci so dropped it after the first year and decided to try to focus on maths (which was useful when I had to worry about STEP...)
Ohh right. Good grades Where else did you apply and what did you get in STEP?
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PythagorasGhost
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(Original post by The Scotfather)
Hows the workload? Heavy? or is it not alot but just difficult to understand? Are the lecturers sound?
Sadly it's both heavy and full of stuff that's difficult to understand But of course everyone's in the same boat so we all just try our best and no one judges you if you, say, leave the odd problem sheet half-finished (although obviously you'd rather not).

In my opinion we've had some really good lecturers but also some pretty bad ones. But you can usually leave a lecture with a set of pretty legible notes regardless of who's lecturing, it's just that some are 'messier' than others so you have to use valuable time trying to decipher what they're trying to say rather than understanding it.
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