How are my chances for Cambridge Maths with A*A*AA achieved?

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melancollege
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I'm planning to apply for Sidney Sussex college (on a sidenote, is it competitive for Maths, ie. moreso than other colleges, I really don't want to get pooled as it would be super stressful so I would rather apply for a different one if so)

For context, here's some details on my application: (post A2, predicting my results, but should be accurate as I know my classes)
> A-Levels: Maths (A*, Year 12) ; Further Maths (A*) ; French (A, I think I was put in for an A* but moderated down - should have this explained on my reference as my college has historically few A*s in French) ; Chemistry (A, will hopefully get an A* in the Autumn series)
> GCSEs: 999999888655a (a in Add-Maths, no a* available ; 5s in Drama and RS and 6 in English)
> Gold in SMC, Distinction in BMO1 (only one to qualify in my college)
> Personal statement should be the best part of my application as I've done quite a lot, including extra maths classes, maths projects, STEP practice, maths competitions, etc. Same story with my reference.
> As for my interviewing skills, probably relatively good but I will have months to practice for that.

I recognise that my application will be very good compared to most people. I know the stereotype of TSR, but I also know that most post-A2 applicants for Maths at Cambridge will have A*A*A* or A*A*A*A* for A-Level, which, alongside STEP, is what Cambridge seem to care more about (rather than GCSEs etc).

I just want to know to what degree my As will affect my chances. I know these are good grades but realistically, these A-Level grades are worse than the average post-A2 applicant, and I'd rather people would be brutally - or pleasantly if it's good - honest with me about how I would be affected.

Edits that answer some questions:
> I'm not too worried about STEP, it is difficult yes but I am doing very well on my STEP papers and will still have months to practice. I have done a lot of prep for it already and can reliably get most questions done in about 35 minutes. (Which is plenty enough time). I am worried more about getting the offer, as I am reliably getting comfortably high enough in my STEP.
> Sidney Sussex is neutral towards gap years.
> I go to a state school - a standard state comp without a sixth form as secondary and a state comp sixth form college (ie. only Year 12s and 13s were there). Never been to any sort of private or grammar school.
> By extra classes, I mean I went to two extra maths courses run by the AMSP, one weekly one biweekly as well as online live lectures. I also did an online maths summer school and a problem-solving course. I have a few extracurriculars and many supercurriculars, but I don't want to go too much into them on a public forum post to keep some sort of anonymity.
> Also, I said I was going to do STEP I, which was cancelled. STEP II and III weren't, but were for Cambridge applicants only, but I said STEP I specifically.
> I didn't apply last year because STEP was very nebulous to me and I knew so little about it. I also hadn't yet learned the relevant content to be able to even attempt STEP II and III papers, so it seemed like too much of a risk to apply and get an offer based upon it, so I decided that I wouldn't apply last year. Now that I've done my A-Levels, I can attempt STEP papers, and since I'm finding success with them, I am less worried. Also my insurance last year was UCL, who only guarantee accommodation for those who firm them; whereas mine this year is St Andrews, who offer it for their insurance choice as well, so if I were rejected from Cambridge on results day, it isn't as problematic as last year.
Last edited by melancollege; 1 week ago
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Ki Yung Na
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You've got to perform on the step exam. That's all there is to it at this point tbh
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2500_2
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(Original post by melancollege)
I'm planning to apply for Sidney Sussex college (on a sidenote, is it competitive for Maths, ie. moreso than other colleges, I really don't want to get pooled as it would be super stressful so I would rather apply for a different one if so)

For context, here's some details on my application: (post A2, predicting my results, but should be accurate as I know my classes)
> A-Levels: Maths (A*, Year 12) ; Further Maths (A*) ; French (A, I think I was put in for an A* but moderated down - should have this explained on my reference as my college has historically few A*s in French) ; Chemistry (A, will hopefully get an A* in the Autumn series)
> GCSEs: 999999888655a (a in Add-Maths, no a* available ; 5s in Drama and RS and 6 in English)
> Gold in SMC, Distinction in BMO1 (only one to qualify in my college)
> Personal statement should be the best part of my application as I've done quite a lot, including extra maths classes, maths projects, STEP practice, maths competitions, etc. Same story with my reference.
> As for my interviewing skills, probably relatively good but I will have months to practice for that.

I recognise that my application will be very good compared to most people. I know the stereotype of TSR, but I also know that most post-A2 applicants for Maths at Cambridge will have A*A*A* or A*A*A*A* for A-Level, which, alongside STEP, is what Cambridge seem to care more about (rather than GCSEs etc).

I just want to know to what degree my As will affect my chances. I know these are good grades but realistically, these A-Level grades are worse than the average post-A2 applicant, and I'd rather people would be brutally - or pleasantly if it's good - honest with me about how I would be affected.
Actually your biggest problem is your gap year which Cambridge maths are very clear that they don't like. How are you planning on keeping up with your maths?
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melancollege
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(Original post by Ki Yung Na)
You've got to perform on the step exam. That's all there is to it at this point tbh
The STEP exam should be okay, I'm getting good mileage with it and have tons of time to practice - it's more just getting the offer that worries me.
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melancollege
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(Original post by 2500_2)
Actually your biggest problem is your gap year which Cambridge maths are very clear that they don't like. How are you planning on keeping up with your maths?
The college to which I'm applying is neutral towards gap years (I guess because I'd have to redo STEP regardless in the year of entry). I'm doing a whole bunch of MOOCs, undergraduate maths and hopefully Physics A-Level so I should be okay with regards to that front, it's more just getting the offer that I'm worried about.
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Ki Yung Na
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(Original post by melancollege)
The STEP exam should be okay, I'm getting good mileage with it and have tons of time to practice - it's more just getting the offer that worries me.
Yeah. But what I saying is, doesnt the step make up your application too? If you do well on there, then you'll get an offer, simple as that
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melancollege
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(Original post by Ki Yung Na)
Yeah. But what I saying is, doesnt the step make up your application too? If you do well on there, then you'll get an offer, simple as that
I was planning on doing STEP I, but it was cancelled. It will make up part of my offer, so I would have to do it in June 2021 if I got the offer, but the issue for me is getting the offer. I am not too worried about getting my STEP.
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by 2500_2)
Actually your biggest problem is your gap year which Cambridge maths are very clear that they don't like. How are you planning on keeping up with your maths?
This varies between colleges, but most are at worst ambivalent to gap years these days. Not sure what Sidney Sussex's specific attitude towards it is though.

(Original post by melancollege)
I was planning on doing STEP I, but it was cancelled. It will make up part of my offer, so I would have to do it in June 2021 if I got the offer, but the issue for me is getting the offer. I am not too worried about getting my STEP.
You should be less worried about getting an offer and more worried about achieving the STEP part of the offer, frankly. Roughly half of those made offers by Cambridge fail to achieve the STEP requirement. If you have those achieved grades then you will almost certainly be interviewed, and then whether you get an offer will depend primarily on your interview performance. As above though, the difficult part is really then meeting the STEP requirement for the offer.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by melancollege)
The college to which I'm applying is neutral towards gap years (I guess because I'd have to redo STEP regardless in the year of entry). I'm doing a whole bunch of MOOCs, undergraduate maths and hopefully Physics A-Level so I should be okay with regards to that front, it's more just getting the offer that I'm worried about.
Re post this when you get your actual results. How on earth can you even guess result will be moderated down and what your grades were estimated at? Are you at a state or Private school?

What UKMT results do you have? 50% of offers are missed on STEP so the offer guarantees nothing ...
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Muttley79
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(Original post by melancollege)
I was planning on doing STEP I, but it was cancelled. It will make up part of my offer, so I would have to do it in June 2021 if I got the offer, but the issue for me is getting the offer. I am not too worried about getting my STEP.
STEP wasn't cancelled - or do you mean you weren't allowed to do it?
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STEM.lover
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(Original post by Muttley79)
STEP wasn't cancelled - or do you mean you weren't allowed to do it?
Only students who had offers from Cambridge and Warwick (any unis who required it as part of the offer) this year were allowed to do it
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Muttley79
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(Original post by STEM.lover)
Only students who had offers from Cambridge and Warwick (any unis who required it as part of the offer) this year were allowed to do it
I know - I was just correcting the OP who said it was 'cancelled' which is not true
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2500_2
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(Original post by Ki Yung Na)
Yeah. But what I saying is, doesnt the step make up your application too? If you do well on there, then you'll get an offer, simple as that
You take STEP after you get an offer, not before you apply.
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sakura_23
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(Original post by melancollege)
I'm planning to apply for Sidney Sussex college (on a sidenote, is it competitive for Maths, ie. moreso than other colleges, I really don't want to get pooled as it would be super stressful so I would rather apply for a different one if so)

For context, here's some details on my application: (post A2, predicting my results, but should be accurate as I know my classes)
> A-Levels: Maths (A*, Year 12) ; Further Maths (A*) ; French (A, I think I was put in for an A* but moderated down - should have this explained on my reference as my college has historically few A*s in French) ; Chemistry (A, will hopefully get an A* in the Autumn series)
> GCSEs: 999999888655a (a in Add-Maths, no a* available ; 5s in Drama and RS and 6 in English)
> Gold in SMC, Distinction in BMO1 (only one to qualify in my college)
> Personal statement should be the best part of my application as I've done quite a lot, including extra maths classes, maths projects, STEP practice, maths competitions, etc. Same story with my reference.
> As for my interviewing skills, probably relatively good but I will have months to practice for that.

I recognise that my application will be very good compared to most people. I know the stereotype of TSR, but I also know that most post-A2 applicants for Maths at Cambridge will have A*A*A* or A*A*A*A* for A-Level, which, alongside STEP, is what Cambridge seem to care more about (rather than GCSEs etc).

I just want to know to what degree my As will affect my chances. I know these are good grades but realistically, these A-Level grades are worse than the average post-A2 applicant, and I'd rather people would be brutally - or pleasantly if it's good - honest with me about how I would be affected.
Oxbridge in general is always competitive, did you come from a state school? Your grades are decent, but nothing will stand out from the rest of the applicants, as virtually everyone successful I know has a track record of straight 9s or A*s in GCSE and A-Level, but that’s not set in stone. They may get you part way through the application process, but you must understand that should you make it through the rest, and it’s them selecting who gets a place, they will prioritise those with higher grades if that’s the only thing that sets you apart.

By extra maths classes, do you mean tutoring? And with the STEP practise, many many applicants will have done plenty of that, as well as all the competitions and projects. Do you have anything that is unusual or particularly difficult that would make you stand out here? Keep in mind that your personal statement needs backing, and so you will need to explain how all of these have helped you in some way, which is why many people consider extra curricular activities important as it shows the ability to multitask and persevere with other hobbies and talents of your own.

Your achievements in the SMC and BMO1 will hold you in good stead, so that’s worth putting more emphasis on. Regarding interview ‘skills’, I don’t think any particular skills can be learnt to help you, as they will give you a question that is university standard, and ask you to work through it and explain your thoughts. It will be application of prior knowledge that gets you through that, and then the rest will be asking you about your experience etc and love for maths I assume?

The biggest problem here is STEP. I’m not saying that you aren’t capable, but it is constantly underestimated. It is very difficult. Students in my school have perfect results and great personal statements and fly through the interview, and then miss out on the top STEP grade by 1-2 marks.

Good luck!
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Drogo Baggins
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(Original post by Muttley79)
I know - I was just correcting the OP who said it was 'cancelled' which is not true
STEP 1 was cancelled!
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Muttley79
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(Original post by Drogo Baggins)
STEP 1 was cancelled!
STEP wasn't though so the post was misleading.
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Drogo Baggins
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(Original post by Muttley79)
STEP wasn't though so the post was misleading.
The quote was "I was planning on doing STEP I, but it was cancelled" which is entirely correct, and I don't think it is misleading.

A perhaps more complete explanation would be "I was planning on doing STEP I, but it was cancelled, and you could only do STEP 2 or STEP 3 is you already had an offer requiring it".
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Muttley79
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(Original post by Drogo Baggins)
The quote was "I was planning on doing STEP I, but it was cancelled" which is entirely correct, and I don't think it is misleading.

A perhaps more complete explanation would be "I was planning on doing STEP I, but it was cancelled, and you could only do STEP 2 or STEP 3 is you already had an offer requiring it".
Exactly A mathematician would be more precise. The '1' is easily missed.
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melancollege
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(Original post by sakura_23)
Oxbridge in general is always competitive, did you come from a state school? Your grades are decent, but nothing will stand out from the rest of the applicants, as virtually everyone successful I know has a track record of straight 9s or A*s in GCSE and A-Level, but that’s not set in stone. They may get you part way through the application process, but you must understand that should you make it through the rest, and it’s them selecting who gets a place, they will prioritise those with higher grades if that’s the only thing that sets you apart.

By extra maths classes, do you mean tutoring? And with the STEP practise, many many applicants will have done plenty of that, as well as all the competitions and projects. Do you have anything that is unusual or particularly difficult that would make you stand out here? Keep in mind that your personal statement needs backing, and so you will need to explain how all of these have helped you in some way, which is why many people consider extra curricular activities important as it shows the ability to multitask and persevere with other hobbies and talents of your own.

Your achievements in the SMC and BMO1 will hold you in good stead, so that’s worth putting more emphasis on. Regarding interview ‘skills’, I don’t think any particular skills can be learnt to help you, as they will give you a question that is university standard, and ask you to work through it and explain your thoughts. It will be application of prior knowledge that gets you through that, and then the rest will be asking you about your experience etc and love for maths I assume?

The biggest problem here is STEP. I’m not saying that you aren’t capable, but it is constantly underestimated. It is very difficult. Students in my school have perfect results and great personal statements and fly through the interview, and then miss out on the top STEP grade by 1-2 marks.

Good luck!
I go to a state school - a standard state comp without a sixth form as secondary and a state comp sixth form college (ie. only Year 12s and 13s were there). Never been to any sort of private or grammar school.

By extra classes, I mean I went to two extra maths courses run by the AMSP, one weekly and one biweekly as well as online live lectures. I also did an online maths summer school and a problem-solving course. I have a few extracurriculars and many supercurriculars, but I don't want to go too much into them on a public forum post to keep some sort of anonymity, but I do have quite a lot in that regard.
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melancollege
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(Original post by Muttley79)
STEP wasn't cancelled - or do you mean you weren't allowed to do it?
I said I was going to do STEP I, which was cancelled. STEP II and III weren't, but were for Cambridge applicants only, but I said STEP I specifically.
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