Mathematics STEP

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Abithecat
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#1
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#1
I was 100% certain about doing a Maths degree. I'm enjoying my A-level Maths and especially my Further Maths. My grades are good, I am predicted A* and so I was advised to consider Cambridge. I've done 7 STEP foundation assignments on the Cambridge website and found them really tough. I'm not sure that I can afford tuition and my school don't help with STEP.

I've always found Maths easy, and so finding the STEP challenging has made me question whether I should continue with an application to Cambridge. Moreover, it has made me question if a Maths degree is right for me because I feel that a Maths degree will be more like STEP than A-level Further Maths.

So, my questions are whether I should continue with STEP? Or, should I see the challenge as meaning that I'm not right for Cambridge? In addition, does my inability to perform well at STEP mean that I should reconsider taking a Maths degree and instead think about Biology or Chemistry related degrees, where I think that I can just learn it all and regurgitate it for exams? I feel that if you are lost in Maths, it is difficult to learn and study your way out of it, like you can in other subjects.
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mqb2766
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#2
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(Original post by Abithecat)
I was 100% certain about doing a Maths degree. I'm enjoying my A-level Maths and especially my Further Maths. My grades are good, I am predicted A* and so I was advised to consider Cambridge. I've done 7 STEP foundation assignments on the Cambridge website and found them really tough. I'm not sure that I can afford tuition and my school don't help with STEP.

I've always found Maths easy, and so finding the STEP challenging has made me question whether I should continue with an application to Cambridge. Moreover, it has made me question if a Maths degree is right for me because I feel that a Maths degree will be more like STEP than A-level Further Maths.

So, my questions are whether I should continue with STEP? Or, should I see the challenge as meaning that I'm not right for Cambridge? In addition, does my inability to perform well at STEP mean that I should reconsider taking a Maths degree and instead think about Biology or Chemistry related degrees, where I think that I can just learn it all and regurgitate it for exams? I feel that if you are lost in Maths, it is difficult to learn and study your way out of it, like you can in other subjects.
You're currently in year 12?
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Paralove
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#3
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#3
Peterhouse Admissions?
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Abithecat
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#4
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#4
(Original post by mqb2766)
You're currently in year 12?
Yes, year 12
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mqb2766
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#5
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#5
(Original post by Abithecat)
Yes, year 12
Most people seem to start step proper in ~Jan Y13, so you've still got a reasonable amount of time to improve. A few things you could do
* Try some mat papers (oxford). Good practice/experience whatever you end up doing.
* Similar for tmua etc, ...
* For problem solving, have a bash at some of the ukmt smc/kangaroo/...
* Can you find someone to give some personal tutoring/support. Step/mat covers the a level syllabus,but the way the questions are asked are deeper. If someone can give the odd pointer, it will be useful.
* There is the step thread in the maths exam forum on here. Plenty of help and support.
The foundation exercises are generally the best to get you up to speed. Most people will find some difficulty when they start them
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Peterhouse Admissions
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#6
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Hi there! My advice for this would be not to worry! STEP is designed to be more challenging than A Level Maths/Further Maths, so it's no wonder that you're finding it hard at this stage of Year 12. If you haven't already, check out the STEP support resources: https://maths.org/step/welcome. In addition, some universities hold STEP support classes for Year 13 students, so if you're near Liverpool or Sheffield (and possibly others - these are the ones I'm aware of), you may be able to access support locally.

More generally, though, try not to give up even though you're finding it hard. I would be incredibly surprised to find a Cambridge student who found all aspects of their degree easy. At university, it's much less about learning the material and regurgitating it in the exams than it is at GCSE and A Level. You should apply for a subject that interests you, and one which you will want to work at even if you don't fully understand it. If you're not enjoying STEP because you're not interested in the content or thinking about how Maths works, then that might be an indication that you should look at applying for something else for university. If you're still enjoying Maths, not perfect at it but willing to work hard and try, then that's exactly what studying a subject at university is about!
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Abithecat
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#7
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#7
(Original post by Peterhouse Admissions)
Hi there! My advice for this would be not to worry! STEP is designed to be more challenging than A Level Maths/Further Maths, so it's no wonder that you're finding it hard at this stage of Year 12. If you haven't already, check out the STEP support resources: https://maths.org/step/welcome. In addition, some universities hold STEP support classes for Year 13 students, so if you're near Liverpool or Sheffield (and possibly others - these are the ones I'm aware of), you may be able to access support locally.

More generally, though, try not to give up even though you're finding it hard. I would be incredibly surprised to find a Cambridge student who found all aspects of their degree easy. At university, it's much less about learning the material and regurgitating it in the exams than it is at GCSE and A Level. You should apply for a subject that interests you, and one which you will want to work at even if you don't fully understand it. If you're not enjoying STEP because you're not interested in the content or thinking about how Maths works, then that might be an indication that you should look at applying for something else for university. If you're still enjoying Maths, not perfect at it but willing to work hard and try, then that's exactly what studying a subject at university is about!
Thanks for your help. In addition to the above my teacher has just emailed me to say that we do more STEP related type material as part of my A level Maths and Further Maths in Year 13.
I have looked at the online STEP resources. Unfortunately, the STEP support classes near me have been cancelled due to Covid-19. I do enjoy Maths, and love it when it all works and comes together.
At the moment I'm wondering whether the degree is a bigger leap up from STEP, compared to the leap from A-level to STEP?
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Peterhouse Admissions
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#8
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#8
(Original post by Abithecat)
Thanks for your help. In addition to the above my teacher has just emailed me to say that we do more STEP related type material as part of my A level Maths and Further Maths in Year 13.
I have looked at the online STEP resources. Unfortunately, the STEP support classes near me have been cancelled due to Covid-19. I do enjoy Maths, and love it when it all works and comes together.
At the moment I'm wondering whether the degree is a bigger leap up from STEP, compared to the leap from A-level to STEP?
That's good news! Hopefully the STEP classes will resume in some form in the autumn.

Unfortunately, not being a mathematician I can't really answer about the step up. If anyone has any advice, that would be appreciated! Otherwise, I have friends who did Maths at Cambridge, so I will ask them.
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davros
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#9
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#9
(Original post by Abithecat)
Thanks for your help. In addition to the above my teacher has just emailed me to say that we do more STEP related type material as part of my A level Maths and Further Maths in Year 13.
I have looked at the online STEP resources. Unfortunately, the STEP support classes near me have been cancelled due to Covid-19. I do enjoy Maths, and love it when it all works and comes together.
At the moment I'm wondering whether the degree is a bigger leap up from STEP, compared to the leap from A-level to STEP?
For this sort of question I would recommend starting a thread either in TSR's Mathematics Forum (under University Courses) or within the Maths Exams subforum of the Maths Forum. The former is more for dealing with queries such as yours about course content and comparisons with school exams, as well as general entrance exam requirements, while the latter is for posting specific questions about maths problems that you're struggling with.

You will also see in the Maths Exams subforum that there is currently a STEP 2020 Preparation thread (or something similar, along with threads for previous years) in which you can see what sort of questions current applicants are asking. Be warned though - it can get bogged down with details on specific maths problems, and at the moment there are obviously lots of students worried about this year's exam arrangements because of COVID 19.
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__DC
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#10
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#10
Step is about perseverence.

Just stick with it.

I'm also Y12. I've done all foundation assignments, all STEP 2 assignments, and am currently working through the STEP 3 assignments. Only recently have I been able to stand a good chance in actual STEP past papers! You have to persevere. The feeling will be amazing if you do.

The lockdown provides a great oppurtunity for your improvement, if you can use this to your advantage.
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