asianism
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Hi everyone
I would like some advice on getting into Cambridge to do maths. I am in year 12 and will do alevel maths at the end of the year and then further maths in year 13. I am considering doing step 1 at the end of this year for practice too.

I am very worried about getting into Cambridge as recently we did a test in school and I got the lowest mark in the class. Also I feel like I am lagging behind in class. I feel like my application will be quite **** cos I have only achieved bronze in past ukmt tests. The step tests also seem so hard.
How much do I have to study a day. I'm doing 2hrs everyday at the moment.
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Astaera
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Hi, I will keep saying this, but the time you study doesn't mean anything - it's how and what you do. I heard Cambridge put a lot of importance on their STEP, so you have to ace that (there's a chart somewhere that shows the offers, non-offers, and accepted with correlation to their score). I think you shouldn't let one bad test get you down, as it doesn't reflect your ability at all. However, UKMT challenges do. Try to get through in the senior challenge, and get into the olympiad (if that is how it works), or as high as possible. I think you *just* need to get high predicted grades, a good reference, very good interview and STEP paper.
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Ffddhbcfil
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You can definitely do it. I worked my ass off and got SSS in S.T.E.P. and I never got anywhere in U.K.M.T.
Now I'm doing maths Olympiads for recreation so it just takes hard work and dedication.

Work smart *and* hard. If you're doing A level maths this year then definitely go through the modules in the S.T.E.P. support programme. I also wouldn't worry about the difficulty too much. I know people who got a 1 in S.T.E.P. 3 this year having only answered 1 full question. If you want to do it - you can definitely do it.
Last edited by Ffddhbcfil; 6 months ago
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artful_lounger
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I'd probably say not to bother with STEP in year 12, you'll still be expected to sit STEP 2/3 as you're taking FM so a good score in STEP 1 may not be seen to improve your application, and a bad score may be viewed negatively. Just use past papers to practice independently; there are lots of papers and questions available, and here on TSR there are a very large number that have worked solutions to check your work against afterwards.

Also if you're in year 12 now then surely you've only been doing your A-levels for about 2 weeks? Getting a low score after you've just started doesn't necessarily mean anything, as you'll still be adjusting to the new course, both in terms of content and workload. Just make sure you take the time to go over it, see what you've done wrong, make sure you understand where you went wrong, and then practice more problems of a similar kind!

STEP is supposed to be hard, and it's supposed to be taken after you've done your A-level exams; trying to work on STEP problems when you've just started is probably not going to be enormously productive. Perhaps revisit some of them for topics you've covered over the winter break, if you really want; I'd probably suggest it's unnecessary to start preparing for it until at least the summer after year 12, if not actually just during the period between your A-level exams and the STEP papers.
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Ffddhbcfil
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
I'd probably suggest it's unnecessary to start preparing for it until at least the summer after year 12, if not actually just during the period between your A-level exams and the STEP papers.
You'd suggest people start preparing for S.T.E.P. in the week or so between the last A level paper and the first S.T.E.P. exam?
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asianism
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Ok thanks so do you think step overlaps with the senior Olympiad
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by Ffddhbcfil)
You'd suggest people start preparing for S.T.E.P. in the week or so between the last A level paper and the first S.T.E.P. exam?
I was under the impression the STEP exams were about a month after A-level exams; if they are closer then no, I'd probably suggest working on it in tandem with the A-level revision before the A-level exam.
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asianism
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(Original post by Ffddhbcfil)
You'd suggest people start preparing for S.T.E.P. in the week or so between the last A level paper and the first S.T.E.P. exam?
But I've heard that step takes months to prepare
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by asianism)
But I've heard that step takes months to prepare
I wouldn't know, IB exams are earlier than A-levels so the few people I know who did STEP had about 6-8 weeks to work on it exclusively after exams. I'm not sure how productive trying to prepare for STEP for "months" while you're, presumably, still in school and doing lessons, is (compared to just focusing on it exclusively for a month or so without other distractions).
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sweeneyrod
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
I wouldn't know, IB exams are earlier than A-levels so the few people I know who did STEP had about 6-8 weeks to work on it exclusively after exams. I'm not sure how productive trying to prepare for STEP for "months" while you're, presumably, still in school and doing lessons, is (compared to just focusing on it exclusively for a month or so without other distractions).
You definitely should not leave STEP till after A-levels. I think starting in roughly January (after you get an offer) is a sensible approach; you can leave it a few months later (or start earlier if you're keen) but starting after A-levels or even at the same time as A-level revision is way too late. Practising STEP is mostly a slow-burning process of learning problem solving skills; you need to give your brain time to digest stuff. Preparing for STEP at the same time as doing schoolwork should not be a problem, because if you are able to pass STEP then A-level Maths will not require much effort, and you will probably also find most of FM and Physics fairly easy.
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asianism
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Ok so after all your advice my plan is: focus on alevel maths for now and do maths challenge questions to work on problem solving. I will take step 1 to get a taster. During my summer holidays I shall work hard and revise step 2 and 3 while gaining a head start for alevel Further maths.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by asianism)
Ok so after all your advice my plan is: focus on alevel maths for now and do maths challenge questions to work on problem solving. I will take step 1 to get a taster. During my summer holidays I shall work hard and revise step 2 and 3 while gaining a head start for alevel Further maths.
Have a look at the Cambridge admissions thread. I'm pretty sure they said it's not recommended to take STEP a year early because you have to declare it, and if you've got a poor grade, then they've got a performance marker they don't ignore. Check it out.
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Ravenous Irelia
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Agreed, STEP exam is not equivalent to A-levels.
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GreenCub
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I know this thread is a few months old, but there seems to be some slightly dodgy advice getting thrown around in here.


  • Don't do any STEP exams early unless you're confident that you'll get at least a 1, otherwise it could be viewed negatively.
  • There is probably a weak correlation between UKMT challenge results and mathematical ability, but the maths challenges are generally not a very accurate measure of ability due to the multiple choice aspect and potential for careless errors. Also, Olympiads aren't a requirement to get an offer.
  • For STEP preparation, it'd be best to start looking at STEP I questions near the end of year 12, then move onto STEP II and after that STEP III once you cover more further maths content. Don't leave it till the last minute.
  • It's difficult to set an exact standard for who is qualified to apply for Cambridge maths, but if someone is severely struggling with A level maths then in all probability they would have difficulty coping with the Cambridge maths course and be unlikely to get an offer.
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asianism
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(Original post by GreenCub)
I know this thread is a few months old, but there seems to be some slightly dodgy advice getting thrown around in here.


  • Don't do any STEP exams early unless you're confident that you'll get at least a 1, otherwise it could be viewed negatively.
  • There is probably a weak correlation between UKMT challenge results and mathematical ability, but the maths challenges are generally not a very accurate measure of ability due to the multiple choice aspect and potential for careless errors. Also, Olympiads aren't a requirement to get an offer.
  • For STEP preparation, it'd be best to start looking at STEP I questions near the end of year 12, then move onto STEP II and after that STEP III once you cover more further maths content. Don't leave it till the last minute.
  • It's difficult to set an exact standard for who is qualified to apply for Cambridge maths, but if someone is severely struggling with A level maths then in all probability they would have difficulty coping with the Cambridge maths course and be unlikely to get an offer.
Thank you for this response it does certainly make sense to prepare for step early, it does make alevel maths seem alot easier
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Doones
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(Original post by asianism)
Thank you for this response it does certainly make sense to prepare for step early, it does make alevel maths seem alot easier
And use the TSR STEP prep thread.
2020 edition here: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6113252
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asianism
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(Original post by Doones)
And use the TSR STEP prep thread.
2020 edition here: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6113252
Oh thank you so much for this. This is so useful
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