The Student Room Group

BMO & Trinity college

I have been looking at some examples of candidates applying for Trinity college for maths, and I have noticed every strong candidate I have seen has mentioned they did really well on the BMO. I am in year 12 currently and took the BMO at the start of the year, but due to some pretty bad personal issues at the time, I messed up really hard and didn't do great. Is there still any chance for me, or is applying to Trinity kind of out of the question? I have done more things since then, like the Ritangle competition and got to the last round + other stuff, but I have seen the BMO consistently in competitive applicants, so is it something informally 'Expected' in a PS?
I don't know if it's expected as such, but I thought I should add, as a Cambridge Maths student, why are you so sure on Trinity?
If you apply post A-Level, with your grades achieved at A*A*A or greater in Maths, Further Maths and Physics, then the STEP papers would need to 1,1 or even S,S to be guaranteed an offer. :smile:
Reply 3
Original post by melancollege
I don't know if it's expected as such, but I thought I should add, as a Cambridge Maths student, why are you so sure on Trinity?


I have been to a couple of the colleges in the past, and the one that stands out the most to me is Trinity, mainly due to both the general atmosphere for maths and the campus itself. From what I have heard, they are very good for maths and typically produce stronger mathematicians. I have been to a couple others such as Trinity hall and Kings, and to be honest, it is also down to gut feeling, I just kind of like it more if that makes sense, I was curious though, as you have brought it up, how else would you suggest picking the college to apply for? My college focuses more on the how to get in rather than the where, so I have had to decide on my own so there could be flaws in my judgement, so I am open to suggestions regarding whether I should look at any other colleges/how I should pick :smile:
Reply 4
Original post by thegeek888
If you apply post A-Level, with your grades achieved at A*A*A or greater in Maths, Further Maths and Physics, then the STEP papers would need to 1,1 or even S,S to be guaranteed an offer. :smile:


My grades are all good and I am predicted the needed grades and I can do STEP pretty well, I am concerned however that my personal statement lacks more 'Prestigious' achievements and is more so me doing things that are still challenging and shows my mathematical ability, what I was wondering was whether they care about how popular the thing is vs how much we have done in regards to harder math? It might be a dumb question but I want to make sure I cover all my bases and make sure I am not ignorant of any critical factors :smile:
Original post by Anonymous
I have been to a couple of the colleges in the past, and the one that stands out the most to me is Trinity, mainly due to both the general atmosphere for maths and the campus itself. From what I have heard, they are very good for maths and typically produce stronger mathematicians. I have been to a couple others such as Trinity hall and Kings, and to be honest, it is also down to gut feeling, I just kind of like it more if that makes sense, I was curious though, as you have brought it up, how else would you suggest picking the college to apply for? My college focuses more on the how to get in rather than the where, so I have had to decide on my own so there could be flaws in my judgement, so I am open to suggestions regarding whether I should look at any other colleges/how I should pick :smile:

The campus I can understand if you like a larger, older college (though King's and St Johns are also like this) but in terms of the Mathematicians they produce, it won't make a difference - the teaching is all organised by the department, with the exception of supervisions, but even in those the content is the same regardless of college, and frequently you would go to other colleges for supervisions anyway. Trinity does have a very large amount of mathmos each year though and is considered harder to get into, but once you're there, there is not really any difference, and the degree is virtually identical.

If you were interested in other colleges, what sort of thing were you looking for, e.g. size, location, age, reputation for friendliness et cetera?
Reply 6
Original post by melancollege
The campus I can understand if you like a larger, older college (though King's and St Johns are also like this) but in terms of the Mathematicians they produce, it won't make a difference - the teaching is all organised by the department, with the exception of supervisions, but even in those the content is the same regardless of college, and frequently you would go to other colleges for supervisions anyway. Trinity does have a very large amount of mathmos each year though and is considered harder to get into, but once you're there, there is not really any difference, and the degree is virtually identical.

If you were interested in other colleges, what sort of thing were you looking for, e.g. size, location, age, reputation for friendliness et cetera?


I think in regards to the college I would choose, I would enjoy one similar to the campus of Trinity, as you said, the appeal of the older colleges, but also one that has a mathematical community which is why I initially started having a look at Trinity because I heard it was what they were renowned for. Location does not matter for me exactly, I enjoy walks anyhow to be honest, and just kind of generally, going to Cambridge would be an achievement in of itself for my family given our general familial history. I think ideally Trinity would be good, but ultimately it is true that they have that reputation for being harder to get into, so it is worth considering my options. I have gone to a couple of the other colleges, most recently Trinity Hall but I went and had a look around a couple others a few years back, and I do think I just love those older style colleges. So in effect on with a larger mathematical/stem community on campus and one of the older ones is what I had in mind, I know a few people from my sixth form have gone there for maths, but something I was worried about potentially is that I recall something about the Cambridge colleges favouring private school kids? It may just be a dumb rumour but it is something I have heard, and being a state school student it is disheartening to hear, but nevertheless, if you have any input I would love the advice! :smile:
Reply 7
Original post by Anonymous
I think in regards to the college I would choose, I would enjoy one similar to the campus of Trinity, as you said, the appeal of the older colleges, but also one that has a mathematical community which is why I initially started having a look at Trinity because I heard it was what they were renowned for. Location does not matter for me exactly, I enjoy walks anyhow to be honest, and just kind of generally, going to Cambridge would be an achievement in of itself for my family given our general familial history. I think ideally Trinity would be good, but ultimately it is true that they have that reputation for being harder to get into, so it is worth considering my options. I have gone to a couple of the other colleges, most recently Trinity Hall but I went and had a look around a couple others a few years back, and I do think I just love those older style colleges. So in effect on with a larger mathematical/stem community on campus and one of the older ones is what I had in mind, I know a few people from my sixth form have gone there for maths, but something I was worried about potentially is that I recall something about the Cambridge colleges favouring private school kids? It may just be a dumb rumour but it is something I have heard, and being a state school student it is disheartening to hear, but nevertheless, if you have any input I would love the advice! :smile:


Something I was also curious about, as I saw you are a student at Cambridge yourself (Which might I say is awesome!) is if 4 A levels is pointless for Cambridge, as my teachers have warned my against it, but as somebody who has gone there, would you say there is any worth to it? Or it is better to get the grades then just get really really good at maths, STEP, etc?
Reply 8
Original post by Anonymous
Something I was also curious about, as I saw you are a student at Cambridge yourself (Which might I say is awesome!) is if 4 A levels is pointless for Cambridge, as my teachers have warned my against it, but as somebody who has gone there, would you say there is any worth to it? Or it is better to get the grades then just get really really good at maths, STEP, etc?

Maths, FMaths + 2 would be pretty common for Cambridge ... [state school]
Reply 9
Original post by Muttley79
Maths, FMaths + 2 would be pretty common for Cambridge ... [state school]


Ah ok, that is good to know, do you know if you are disadvantaged if you take 3? I am doing 4 right now, but to be honest I do not really enjoy A level computer science, just because the course we do is not very interesting, so I was thinking about dropping it, just because then I can do the things I enjoy more, that being more maths, but I was concerned it could affect my chances of getting into Cambridge, or if they more so care about the mathematical ability of the candidate, rather than just doing an extra A level for the sake of it.
Original post by Anonymous
Something I was also curious about, as I saw you are a student at Cambridge yourself (Which might I say is awesome!) is if 4 A levels is pointless for Cambridge, as my teachers have warned my against it, but as somebody who has gone there, would you say there is any worth to it? Or it is better to get the grades then just get really really good at maths, STEP, etc?

I don't know if you meant to respond to me but I'll answer anyway as I am a Cambridge student. I don't think there is merit taking four A-Levels to benefit your application, no. I know plenty of people with three and plenty of people with four. If you can redirect the time and energy towards Maths and STEP study, that will be vastly more useful for your application. However, I did do four A-Levels and I don't regret it at all (obviously this coming from someone who was successful, idk if I would feel differently if I felt it had affected my chances) because I enjoyed all four A-Levels. I had multiple interests and I'm glad I got to study more of them, and I sometimes wish I could have studied more.

Essentially, I don't think it will helped my application studying four, but I enjoyed doing so because I liked my subjects. Hope this helped :smile:
Original post by Anonymous
I think in regards to the college I would choose, I would enjoy one similar to the campus of Trinity, as you said, the appeal of the older colleges, but also one that has a mathematical community which is why I initially started having a look at Trinity because I heard it was what they were renowned for. Location does not matter for me exactly, I enjoy walks anyhow to be honest, and just kind of generally, going to Cambridge would be an achievement in of itself for my family given our general familial history. I think ideally Trinity would be good, but ultimately it is true that they have that reputation for being harder to get into, so it is worth considering my options. I have gone to a couple of the other colleges, most recently Trinity Hall but I went and had a look around a couple others a few years back, and I do think I just love those older style colleges. So in effect on with a larger mathematical/stem community on campus and one of the older ones is what I had in mind, I know a few people from my sixth form have gone there for maths, but something I was worried about potentially is that I recall something about the Cambridge colleges favouring private school kids? It may just be a dumb rumour but it is something I have heard, and being a state school student it is disheartening to hear, but nevertheless, if you have any input I would love the advice! :smile:

St Johns and King's are both old and large colleges and alongside Trinity make up the big three, but that doesn't make them better than any other college. You can see which colleges have more Mathematicians here: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/apply/statistics by searching for Maths and checking by college. The ones with the most in the most recent year are, by acceptances: Trinity (32), St John's (17), Churchill (14) and Queens' (13) with most others having around 6-10.

I don't think it's true that Cambridge colleges prefer private school students at all. They actively contextualise against them. That being said, private school students are significantly overrepresented as a share of the Cambridge student population. You can see which colleges have the highest proportion of state school students here: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/ug_admissions_statistics_2021_cycle.pdf on page 10 and Trinity is one of the worst for state school representation. If you want an old college with a relatively large number of mathmos, a good Maths community and good state school representation, I would recommend Queens', founded in 1448 with 13 mathmos last year, its own Maths society (I think, I don't go there) and 75% state school.
Reply 12
Original post by melancollege
St Johns and King's are both old and large colleges and alongside Trinity make up the big three, but that doesn't make them better than any other college. You can see which colleges have more Mathematicians here: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/apply/statistics by searching for Maths and checking by college. The ones with the most in the most recent year are, by acceptances: Trinity (32), St John's (17), Churchill (14) and Queens' (13) with most others having around 6-10.

I don't think it's true that Cambridge colleges prefer private school students at all. They actively contextualise against them. That being said, private school students are significantly overrepresented as a share of the Cambridge student population. You can see which colleges have the highest proportion of state school students here: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/ug_admissions_statistics_2021_cycle.pdf on page 10 and Trinity is one of the worst for state school representation. If you want an old college with a relatively large number of mathmos, a good Maths community and good state school representation, I would recommend Queens', founded in 1448 with 13 mathmos last year, its own Maths society (I think, I don't go there) and 75% state school.


Ah ok, reading that and looking at the links I totally agree, I'll see if I can get into a maths open day at some point, because that does look quite good from what I have seen, and it is good to know that states schools are not contextualised against, thank you for the advice man! :smile: Something I was also curious about, is how you yourself got into Cambridge, how the application/interview process was like, and what you did to get in. Because I would like to maximise my chances of getting in, because honestly my main goal currently is to become the best mathematician I can be, but I was worried that, because the only things available in my location, because I live in a pretty small village, which is kind of just a place where old people retire to, so is pretty far off from bigger places, is books and things I can find online, that in my PS, for example, I love number theory and complex analysis as two main areas that I have looked into and enjoyed, but because of my local community not having any other people who love maths to that degree I may not be able to write much stuff that is more 'Official' per se. So I was curious what you did, and what your advice would be for somebody aspiring to go to Cambridge, also I really wanted to thank you, I appreciate the advice! :smile: I have not been able to speak to lots of people about it because there isn't any people in my general area who know about it, so I really do appreciate it!
Reply 13
Original post by melancollege
I don't know if you meant to respond to me but I'll answer anyway as I am a Cambridge student. I don't think there is merit taking four A-Levels to benefit your application, no. I know plenty of people with three and plenty of people with four. If you can redirect the time and energy towards Maths and STEP study, that will be vastly more useful for your application. However, I did do four A-Levels and I don't regret it at all (obviously this coming from someone who was successful, idk if I would feel differently if I felt it had affected my chances) because I enjoyed all four A-Levels. I had multiple interests and I'm glad I got to study more of them, and I sometimes wish I could have studied more.

Essentially, I don't think it will helped my application studying four, but I enjoyed doing so because I liked my subjects. Hope this helped :smile:


Ah ok, that is good to know, I asked in regards to this for something you did actually bring up which I am very glad about, I am doing maths, FM physics and computing right now, but honestly the computing course is just theory and is very vocab specific, and I do not really enjoy it, but I still love doing programming, however I was just concerned that if I dropped it and did three, it could potentially harm my application because of all the people that did four (Or more, I spoke to a guy at an open day who actually did 6!). So that is good to know it is more so if you enjoy it, because I love the subject, but the qualification itself is not really 'Doing', more so than it is 'Knowing' how to answer questions in the exam, which could also just risk my chances of getting those grades. Honestly my main passion is maths anyhow, and honestly I find myself just wanting to do maths more and more, I actually have to remind myself to study the other two sometimes lol.

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