Do I have a realistic chance at getting into Cambridge Maths

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dan140804
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My current UCAS predicted grades are:
Maths: A*
Further Maths: A*
Economics: A*
History: A*
At GCSE I received 5 9's and 5 8's (although this was COVID year so I think I could've done better)
What are my chances at receiving an interview and possibly an offer?
Also, since 2 other students from my school are applying for the same course with similar predicted grades and GCSE's (they however do a science A Level), should I consider applying to Oxford instead?
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Lej75
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I applied last year with very similar grades, predictions and subjects as you and without much extra curricular maths either, almost entirely self study of university maths topics. I currently have an offer and am anxiously waiting for STEP results.

Your chance of getting an interview are relatively high as I've heard around 80% of applicants get interviews for maths due to the lack of pre-interview admission assessment.

As for chance of getting an offer? That could be anywhere from 0% to 99% depending on interview performance if you get one, the quality of other applicants etc.

You have more than enough time to adequately prepare for am interview and then for STEP if you receive an offer, so yes, you have a realistic chance.

Deciding to apply for Oxford maths will mean you have less time to prepare for the MAT, which is quite crucial in the application, but if successful you'll have a much nicer summer and a level exam season. Also, you should only apply if you actually like the place and course.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by danm26)
My current UCAS predicted grades are:
Maths: A*
Further Maths: A*
Economics: A*
History: A*
At GCSE I received 5 9's and 5 8's (although this was COVID year so I think I could've done better)
What are my chances at receiving an interview and possibly an offer?
Also, since 2 other students from my school are applying for the same course with similar predicted grades and GCSE's (they however do a science A Level), should I consider applying to Oxford instead?
What else have you got? UKMT comps? What books have you read? How passionate are you about study ie what beyond your exam content?
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_gcx
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Yes, you will most likely be interviewed, at which point your interview will be the primary determining factor in getting an offer. (essentially you aim to show you could give a good showing on STEP) Once you've got your offer, your getting in will hinge mostly on STEP. A science A-level is not required, expected (at least university wide) or really even particularly useful.

Bear in mind the MAT is there for Oxford meaning they interview less people. You could reasonably read this as either having less, or more opportunity to prove yourself. Most people who get the offer meet the offer though, so there are still two distinct hurdles, you are just moving them around a bit.
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dan140804
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(Original post by Lej75)
I applied last year with very similar grades, predictions and subjects as you and without much extra curricular maths either, almost entirely self study of university maths topics. I currently have an offer and am anxiously waiting for STEP results.

Your chance of getting an interview are relatively high as I've heard around 80% of applicants get interviews for maths due to the lack of pre-interview admission assessment.

As for chance of getting an offer? That could be anywhere from 0% to 99% depending on interview performance if you get one, the quality of other applicants etc.

You have more than enough time to adequately prepare for am interview and then for STEP if you receive an offer, so yes, you have a realistic chance.

Deciding to apply for Oxford maths will mean you have less time to prepare for the MAT, which is quite crucial in the application, but if successful you'll have a much nicer summer and a level exam season. Also, you should only apply if you actually like the place and course.
Thanks!
The only reason i’m thinking of applying to Oxford is that 2 other people i know want to go do the same course.
Have you got any recommendations of preparing for the STEP or any good books that are worth a read?
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_gcx
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Also I wouldn't worry about other people if they are not applying to the same college as you. (and even then) That's two other people out of what, a thousand and a half applicants?
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dan140804
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(Original post by _gcx)
Yes, you will most likely be interviewed, at which point your interview will be the primary determining factor in getting an offer. (essentially you aim to show you could give a good showing on STEP) Once you've got your offer, your getting in will hinge mostly on STEP. A science A-level is not required, expected (at least university wide) or really even particularly useful.

Bear in mind the MAT is there for Oxford meaning they interview less people. You could reasonably read this as either having less, or more opportunity to prove yourself. Most people who get the offer meet the offer though, so there are still two distinct hurdles, you are just moving them around a bit.
(Original post by Muttley79)
What else have you got? UKMT comps? What books have you read? How passionate are you about study ie what beyond your exam content?
I received an A in FSMQ maths but during COVID. Unfortunately i didn’t take part in the Senior Maths Challenge but in year 11 i got Pink in whatever it was called for that age group and gold in year 10 and 9 as well as silver in 8 and bronze in 7. I also got bronze in british physics olympiad. I am currently reading “Towards Higher Mathematics” but i only decided i definitely want to study maths recently. I really do like maths and i want to spend my summer exploring content beyond the a level syllabus. Any recommendations?
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dan140804
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(Original post by _gcx)
Yes, you will most likely be interviewed, at which point your interview will be the primary determining factor in getting an offer. (essentially you aim to show you could give a good showing on STEP) Once you've got your offer, your getting in will hinge mostly on STEP. A science A-level is not required, expected (at least university wide) or really even particularly useful.

Bear in mind the MAT is there for Oxford meaning they interview less people. You could reasonably read this as either having less, or more opportunity to prove yourself. Most people who get the offer meet the offer though, so there are still two distinct hurdles, you are just moving them around a bit.
Thank you! Have you got any recommendations to be ready to do well at the interview. Will it simply be a level but harder or should i try to prepare with some higher level maths?
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dan140804
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(Original post by _gcx)
Also I wouldn't worry about other people if they are not applying to the same college as you. (and even then) That's two other people out of what, a thousand and a half applicants?
I heard Trinity is the absolute best for maths but also the most competitive? Is it still most worth applying for that one?
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_gcx
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(Original post by danm26)
I heard Trinity is the absolute best for maths but also the most competitive? Is it still most worth applying for that one?
Now that's a bit of a sticky one. They say "all colleges are the same" but that could only really be true once you've got your foot in the door with an interview. There is no re-allocation pre-interview meaning that if your chosen college does not want to give you an interview, that's it. (no opportunity for adjustment in this case either) The only pre-interview rejections (of suitably qualified applicants) I've ever seen (in albeit fairly limited experience, only a few cycles) for Cambridge maths have been of Trinity applicants. Since the colleges are not really that different (and there's the adage that you'll love wherever you end up) I wouldn't apply to Trinity for maths unless you were very confident in your ability or very brave.

[of course, I might be talking rubbish, but Trinity gets a lot of applicants [over double the next most popular college for maths] and I've seen not an insubstantial number of pre-interview rejections, which is very uncharacteristic of Cambridge maths and doesn't seem to happen at other colleges]
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_gcx
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(Original post by danm26)
Thank you! Have you got any recommendations to be ready to do well at the interview. Will it simply be a level but harder or should i try to prepare with some higher level maths?
The interview will be readily accessible from A-level maths but will test your thinking rather than your ability to follow a set method. Expect something accessible but different.
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Lej75
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(Original post by danm26)
Thanks!
The only reason i’m thinking of applying to Oxford is that 2 other people i know want to go do the same course.
Have you got any recommendations of preparing for the STEP or any good books that are worth a read?
Take this with a grain of salt as I don't have results of STEP yet, but I did well in my practice papers. Towards Higher Mathematics is pretty good and will allow you to answer questions on new concepts easier, but there is no substitute imo for working through past papers, the step prep questions (maths.org/step) and Advanced Problems in Mathematics by Stephen Siklos as you need to be able to solve step problems, not just maths problems.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by danm26)
I heard Trinity is the absolute best for maths but also the most competitive? Is it still most worth applying for that one?
No - they tend to love UKMT award winners ...
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Muttley79
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(Original post by danm26)
I received an A in FSMQ maths but during COVID. Unfortunately i didn’t take part in the Senior Maths Challenge but in year 11 i got Pink in whatever it was called for that age group and gold in year 10 and 9 as well as silver in 8 and bronze in 7. I also got bronze in british physics olympiad. I am currently reading “Towards Higher Mathematics” but i only decided i definitely want to study maths recently. I really do like maths and i want to spend my summer exploring content beyond the a level syllabus. Any recommendations?
OK so not a great record ... Rob Eastaway books are straighforward and might give you ideas - NRICH and Underground Maths -

Why Cambridge if you have only just thought about Maths? It might be a bit of a stretch ... most of the successful students will have done prep for at least a term already.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by _gcx)
Now that's a bit of a sticky one. They say "all colleges are the same" but that could only really be true once you've got your foot in the door with an interview. There is no re-allocation pre-interview meaning that if your chosen college does not want to give you an interview, that's it. (no opportunity for adjustment in this case either) The only pre-interview rejections (of suitably qualified applicants) I've ever seen (in albeit fairly limited experience, only a few cycles) for Cambridge maths have been of Trinity applicants. Since the colleges are not really that different (and there's the adage that you'll love wherever you end up) I wouldn't apply to Trinity for maths unless you were very confident in your ability or very brave.

[of course, I might be talking rubbish, but Trinity gets a lot of applicants [over double the next most popular college for maths] and I've seen not an insubstantial number of pre-interview rejections, which is very uncharacteristic of Cambridge maths and doesn't seem to happen at other colleges]
Yes, I think this is very sound advice.
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leviticus.
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(Original post by Muttley79)
OK so not a great record ... Rob Eastaway books are straighforward and might give you ideas - NRICH and Underground Maths -

Why Cambridge if you have only just thought about Maths? It might be a bit of a stretch ... most of the successful students will have done prep for at least a term already.
I would largely imagine that the personal statement isn't too important for Cambridge admissions, particularly for mathematics and OP would almost certainly be interviewed. As long as they do well in that they can expect an offer, I'm less sure on UKMT being a large factor in terms of admissions as oppose to just being the top candidates' self-selection anyway? - Although mathematics is certainly very difficult so I imagine the lack of preparation might hinder their actual interview a lot, the books/super curriculars may not necessarily play a role in getting an interview but the enrichment that comes from them may hinder their interview skills. Just my 2 cents. I said a similar thing about personal statements and maths admissions for cambridge on another post and got a rep from Peterhouse so imagine I wasn't too far off.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by leviticus.)
I would largely imagine that the personal statement isn't too important for Cambridge admissions, particularly for mathematics and OP would almost certainly be interviewed. As long as they do well in that they can expect an offer, I'm less sure on UKMT being a large factor in terms of admissions as oppose to just being the top candidates' self-selection anyway? - Although mathematics is certainly very difficult so I imagine the lack of preparation might hinder their actual interview a lot, the books/super curriculars may not necessarily play a role in getting an interview but the enrichment that comes from them may hinder their interview skills. Just my 2 cents. I said a similar thing about personal statements and maths admissions for cambridge on another post and got a rep from Peterhouse so imagine I wasn't too far off.
I support successful candidates every year so I think I do know what I'm talking about - how on earth does enrichment HINDER innterview skills? A;ll enrichment develops problem solving and working around with different ideas. All these things show passion for the subject - Cambridge does not just want high-achieving robots.
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_gcx
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(Original post by Muttley79)
OK so not a great record ... Rob Eastaway books are straighforward and might give you ideas - NRICH and Underground Maths -

Why Cambridge if you have only just thought about Maths? It might be a bit of a stretch ... most of the successful students will have done prep for at least a term already.
I don't really think this is true at all.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by _gcx)
I don't really think this is true at all.
In all the schools I know prep started at Easter ... schools with a good record may start even earlier.
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leviticus.
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(Original post by Muttley79)
I support successful candidates every year so I think I do know what I'm talking about - how on earth does enrichment HINDER innterview skills? A;ll enrichment develops problem solving and working around with different ideas. All these things show passion for the subject - Cambridge does not just want high-achieving robots.
My apologies, I meant the enrichment missed from not doing them would hinder their interview skills which follows my point of self-selection anyway. I think I did say the lack of preparation would hinder them earlier anyway but to clarify that's what I meant. I agree with what you're saying but due to the sheer volume of candidates they interview and the fact that they may not read the personal statement suggests you don't need it to be stacked with competitions like UKMT. OP has good chances for an interview as long as their personal statement isn't awful. My friend interviewed at Cambridge and his personal statement was pretty lack-luster for mathematics outside of a few competitions he did.

Additionally there's the possibility the statement won't be read at all. Mathematics admissions is pretty clear-cut imo with how the interviews normally go pretty technical and the STEP conditional offer. I don't think OP will be hurt at all with the lack of UKMT/allied competitions aside from the fact that not doing/preparing them might be detrimental to the interview performance. Though I'm not saying their personal statement should be terrible either. Ofc I think there is a way to declare competitions like BMO/UKMT separately on the UCAS form anyway but I definitely don't think the lack of these will negatively impact OP at all so long as they bump up their wider reading and demonstrate an effort to push themselves mathematically.
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