Edgar572
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How badly would having no competition/olympiad experience affect your chances at getting into maths at Cambridge? I've heard that almost everyone who applies to Trinity, Christs and the other top colleges will have some sort of competition experience.
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Chopinnocturne31
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I don’t know much but I know that Olympiad and maths challenges help immensely with the entrance exam papers (I think Cambridge does STEP) which are really hard so I would recommend maybe looking at the questions but i dont know if actually doing the competition would affect your chances. I’m sure if you were a good candidate they wouldn’t care that much, particularly as Cambridge don’t really care about extracurricular stuff, just grades unfortunately
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sweeneyrod
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(Original post by Edgar572)
How badly would having no competition/olympiad experience affect your chances at getting into maths at Cambridge? I've heard that almost everyone who applies to Trinity, Christs and the other top colleges will have some sort of competition experience.
It would affect your chances very little. As long as you have reasonable predictions etc. you should get an interview, if you do reasonably well in the interview you'll get an offer, and then it's all down to STEP. Because STEP is so hard (fewer than half of people actually achieve their offers (but quite a few people who miss get in anyway)), getting an interview/offer is a bit easier for maths than other subjects.
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Edgar572
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Okay thats good to hear, thanks guys.
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L-K
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Why don't you try doing a course on future learn to give yourself something extra to talk about in your personal statement and at interview?
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artful_lounger
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It's not necessary, and just a "bonus" really. While those applying to Trinity and St Johns (both of which by virtue of having very large maths cohorts and for historical reasons are considered to be "maths colleges") often have taken part in those things, the university realises not all applicants will have had the opportunity to take part in such things and so it won't disadvantage you to not have them.

I would also note there is little sense in the concept of a "top college" for any one subject. A lot of the teaching for most subjects is arranged centrally by the department (lectures, labs, etc), with only the supervisions being arranged by the college - also note that these are arranged by the college, not necessarily held by the college. You can (and probably will at some point) have supervisions in other colleges if your DoS determines that they have better tutors for a specialist area.

As above the real attrition point is STEP, which everyone who has an offer has to take. As far as getting an offer, that will depend mainly on interview performance, and Cambridge interviews a relatively large proportion of applicants. Provided you are predicted A*A*A with A*A* in A-level Maths and FM you are very likely to be interviewed.
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Just to add my experiences: I was a mathmo at a "maths college" to use the above poster's terminology, and I had no olympiad experience and was not alone in that. Ultimately it's all about demonstrating passion, dedication and ability, and whilst competition mathematics can do that it's not the only way. Additionally admissions surely know that not everyone has equal opportunities for that stuff.

Oh, and of course you need good academic grades.

If you want a college with lots of mathmos, an active college maths society and maybe a stronger "tradition" of maths then by all means apply to a particular college which you think meets that. But it doesn't necessarily matter because you can socialise with mathmos from other colleges, attend the events of any college or university maths society and there's little difference in education. Lectures are university wide. Your supervisions are arranged by your college, but will often be given by a PhD student or academic from a different college. In later years, owing to the smaller number of students studying a particular module, colleges pool together and arrange supervisions together anyway. In particular, you can expect to be supervised with students from other colleges at some point.
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R T
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(Original post by Edgar572)
How badly would having no competition/olympiad experience affect your chances at getting into maths at Cambridge? I've heard that almost everyone who applies to Trinity, Christs and the other top colleges will have some sort of competition experience.
No direct effect. A lot of people get in without any olympiad background.

The indirect advantage of Olympiad experience is simply experience solving problems that may take 20-60 minutes to do (or longer). So, the familiarity with independently exploring and thinking of approaches to boarder or more involved problems/ problems with less direct guidance. Someone with a background in this will perform better on harder questions (even if the topics have no relation whatsoever to olympiad topics) compared to someone who has only ever done 5 minute problems in A-Level modules which pretty much shout at you what you are supposed to do to solve them. Further to this, since STEP questions are typically 25-45 minutes (and 3 hours long in total, like many olympiad papers), that's another bonus for them

Lucky for you and anyone else - this kind of experience can be caught up on very quickly. A few months of longer style questions (STEP I perhaps or AEA/MAT or really anything) and you will have a very similar kind of exposure and familiarity with it.
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GreenCub
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I'm a maths offer holder and my only olympiad experience was MOG and BMO1 in year 13 which was after I sent in my application, so it's definitely not some kind of unofficial requirement to have olympiad experience. There will likely be lots of people who do have olympiad experience, but many of the ones who have done higher-level olympiads will have been doing olympiad maths for a long time - you usually have to start preparing very early if you want a shot at making the IMO team or training camps. It doesn't make you a worse mathematician for not having started doing lots of UKMT stuff in say year 9.

Also STEP, MAT and university maths have very little to do with olympiads as the question style is so different.
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Edgar572
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I appreciate the replies, was a bit worried. Thanks everyone.
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deathbySTEP
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(Original post by Edgar572)
How badly would having no competition/olympiad experience affect your chances at getting into maths at Cambridge? I've heard that almost everyone who applies to Trinity, Christs and the other top colleges will have some sort of competition experience.
Applied to Christs, got an offer from Christs and am probably nowhere near IMO standard. So don't worry
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