life_is_strange
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Hello,

I intend on applying for CS this upcoming application round and I had a few queries.

In regards to the MAT exam, I was wondering: contextually, should a student be predicted 3 A*'s (or of that similar range) which include Further Maths (as well Maths, obviously) in addition to GCSE results that complement these grades, but their MAT exam does not (for whatever reason) go as planned, are there still fair / high odds for this said student to make it to the interview round - assuming that their personal statement does demonstrate a true compassion and ability for Computer Science? I just want to understand to what extent other factors influence the outcomes.

On a similar note, I am beginning preparation for the MAT exam and I don't think I'm the only one that finds most question to be rather challenging in the way they demand the depths of your mathematical abilities. I have looked at the sources that Oxford itself recommends to prepare, such as Underground Mathematics, but I want to ask if anyone (preferably any Compsci student at Oxford?) can share any of their tips, or share how they prepared!
I would think of myself as a mathematically capable student, but I oftentimes find myself very puzzled in the questions, even the multiple choice ones that are meant to be easier, which does sometimes dishearten me

Any advice (even unrelated to my questions above, but related to applying to CS) would be very much welcome and appreciated.

Thank you.
Alex.
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gavinlowe
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(Original post by life_is_strange)
I intend on applying for CS this upcoming application round and I had a few queries.

In regards to the MAT exam, I was wondering: contextually, should a student be predicted 3 A*'s (or of that similar range) which include Further Maths (as well Maths, obviously) in addition to GCSE results that complement these grades, but their MAT exam does not (for whatever reason) go as planned, are there still fair / high odds for this said student to make it to the interview round - assuming that their personal statement does demonstrate a true compassion and ability for Computer Science? I just want to understand to what extent other factors influence the outcomes.
Unfortunately we can interview only a limited number of candidates. We interview between 2.5 and 3 candidates per place. We think it's better not to interview more: those further down the field are unlikely to be better than marginal; and we want to be able to devote more time to more realistic candidates. As a result, we do have to be quite strict about shortlisting.

To answer your question: it depends upon how well or badly your MAT goes. If you're a strong candidate, clearly deserving a place, but you have a bad day and your MAT score is, say, 10 points lower than you'd expect, then you should still get an interview: it's then up to you to show at interview that you're better than your MAT suggests. Over the years, I've taken a number of candidates with modest MAT scores but who did much better at interview; gone have normally gone on to do well in their degrees.

In a bit more detail, we use a formula using the MAT score and the number of A*s at GCSE (where taken), to derive what we call a provisional shortlisting indicator (PSI); the MAT score is the dominant part of the formula. Candidates with a PSI above a certain threshold are interviewed by default, i.e. unless there are particularly unusual circumstances. Below that, there's quite a wide discretionary band, where tutors use their judgement to decide who to interview, taking into account the factors you mention, and also contextual information (e.g. educational background).

On a similar note, I am beginning preparation for the MAT exam and I don't think I'm the only one that finds most question to be rather challenging in the way they demand the depths of your mathematical abilities. I have looked at the sources that Oxford itself recommends to prepare, such as Underground Mathematics, but I want to ask if anyone (preferably any Compsci student at Oxford?) can share any of their tips, or share how they prepared!
I would think of myself as a mathematically capable student, but I oftentimes find myself very puzzled in the questions, even the multiple choice ones that are meant to be easier, which does sometimes dishearten me
There's no magic formula for doing well. We do have to ask difficult questions, because we get so many good candidates.

I'm attaching some slides I used at a recent talk about the MAT. I hope some of the points might be useful.

Also, if you get stuck on a question, there is a thread on this site where people discuss MAT questions; so try posting there.

Gavin
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RichE
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(Original post by gavinlowe)
I'm attaching some slides I used at a recent talk about the MAT. I hope some of the points might be useful.
It's surely not right to say (as those slides do) that "The syllabus for the MAT is roughly the same as the core of A Level Maths." It's roughly the core of AS level Maths. Or am I misinterpreting them?
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gavinlowe
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(Original post by RichE)
It's surely not right to say (as those slides do) that "The syllabus for the MAT is roughly the same as the core of A Level Maths." It's roughly the core of AS level Maths. Or am I misinterpreting them?
Good point. I've corrected that.

Gavin
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r_gup
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(Original post by gavinlowe)
Good point. I've corrected that.

Gavin
Professor , can you please post this document on The MAT Prep Thread too?
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