For context, I'm a year 12 Student studying Physics, Computer Science, Maths and Further Maths and got a 9 in GCSE Maths with an A in the OCR FSMQ. I'm also good at solving general mathematical problems, however I never seem to be able to get anything above a high silver/low gold in the UKMT challenge papers?

Should this be a reason to not apply to maths at a top university like cambridge, or do I still have a chance?

Should this be a reason to not apply to maths at a top university like cambridge, or do I still have a chance?

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Original post by reardfqrfdqwar

For context, I'm a year 12 Student studying Physics, Computer Science, Maths and Further Maths and got a 9 in GCSE Maths with an A in the OCR FSMQ. I'm also good at solving general mathematical problems, however I never seem to be able to get anything above a high silver/low gold in the UKMT challenge papers?

Should this be a reason to not apply to maths at a top university like cambridge, or do I still have a chance?

Should this be a reason to not apply to maths at a top university like cambridge, or do I still have a chance?

Not necessarily although Cambridge do love UKMT competitions. Later in the year look at MAT and STEP questions ... if you can't do those then look beyond Oxbridge.

Original post by Muttley79

Not necessarily although Cambridge do love UKMT competitions. Later in the year look at MAT and STEP questions ... if you can't do those then look beyond Oxbridge.

Source?

Original post by DaTrainAgain

Source?

Of what bit? I'm a Maths teacher and have supported many students to gain Oxbridge places.

Original post by DaTrainAgain

Source?

Muttley tends to oversell the influence of UKMT on applications. As an Oxbridge maths tutor, at this point of time, I think a much better indicator is how you're finding MAT or STEP papers. Longer term, university requires deeper understanding of mathematics. SMC can be a good thing to be involved in, but is too narrow a metric to judge your future on.

(edited 4 months ago)

Original post by RichE

As an Oxbridge maths tutor, At this point of time, I think a much better indicator at this point is how you're finding MAT or STEP papers. Longer term, university requires deeper understanding of mathematics. SMC can be a good thing to be involved in, but is too narrow a metric to judge your future on.

I said CAMBRIDGE love UKMT .... although Oxford used to host Summer schools until they hiked the price. The first time we spent ages sorting the IT system in lecture rooms for them!

(edited 4 months ago)

Original post by Muttley79

I said CAMBRIDGE love UKMT .... although Oxford used to host Summer schools until they hiked the price. The first time we spent ages sorting the IT system in lecture rooms for them!

I'm unconvinced of that too, Some may in Cambridge, but from experience maths faculty members rarely make mention of UKMT competitions.

Original post by RichE

I'm unconvinced of that too, Some may in Cambridge, but from experience maths faculty members rarely make mention of UKMT competitions.

I do know lecturers personally at both universities - some are my ex--students! Several Cambridge tutors have explicitly told me BMO success is vallued ... maybe you talk about other stuff? Dr Vicky Neale [RIP} was a big UKMT supporter for example ...

Original post by Muttley79

I do know lecturers personally at both universities - some are my ex--students! Several Cambridge tutors have explicitly told me BMO success is vallued ... maybe you talk about other stuff? Dr Vicky Neale [RIP} was a big UKMT supporter for example ...

I don't doubt there are some who value UKMT but it isn't commonly valued.

Original post by RichE

I don't doubt there are some who value UKMT but it isn't commonly valued.

Wrong - many Trinity, Cambridge offer holders have BMO on their application

Original post by Muttley79

Wrong - many Trinity, Cambridge offer holders have BMO on their application

Trinity is the obvious exception as they’re as invested in these competitions as you are. But Trinity aren’t exactly representative of Cambridge.

Original post by RichE

Trinity is the obvious exception as they’re as invested in these competitions as you are. But Trinity aren’t exactly representative of Cambridge.

My Cambridge experience was a long time ago, but I don't remember a single conversation there about "competitive maths" in 3 years of study. It really does seem to be a Trinity thing. If you're dealing with people at the top level (BMO, IMO etc) I can see why you'd want to nurture and develop that sort of thing (national pride etc), but I do feel uncomfortable when I see kids posting stuff like "it's school policy for everyone doing FM to take the SMC (or whatever)" - surely kids have enough pressures at school without being driven through maths competitions as if they're somehow necessary or relevant for uni study.

Original post by davros

My Cambridge experience was a long time ago, but I don't remember a single conversation there about "competitive maths" in 3 years of study. It really does seem to be a Trinity thing. If you're dealing with people at the top level (BMO, IMO etc) I can see why you'd want to nurture and develop that sort of thing (national pride etc), but I do feel uncomfortable when I see kids posting stuff like "it's school policy for everyone doing FM to take the SMC (or whatever)" - surely kids have enough pressures at school without being driven through maths competitions as if they're somehow necessary or relevant for uni study.

SMC requires NO further study - it's about problem solving. Have you looked at a paper? It's fun!

Original post by RichE

Trinity is the obvious exception as they’re as invested in these competitions as you are. But Trinity aren’t exactly representative of Cambridge.

So I'm right - other colleges do value it too. Why would Maths admission people lie to me or my students?

Original post by Muttley79

So I'm right - other colleges do value it too. Why would Maths admission people lie to me or my students?

How are you at all right? I said Trinity were invested in this as an exception. Davros has agreed with that assessment. I am not denying your experiences but they do seem to be parochial. For over a decade I presented alongside Cambridge academics to thousands of prospective maths students - a frequent question was "how should I be preparing for HE" and UKMT and competitions just never got mentioned by the Cambridge academics.

(edited 4 months ago)

Original post by Muttley79

Later in the year look at MAT and STEP questions ... if you can't do those then look beyond Oxbridge.

I don't think this is great advice - at best it's very incomplete.

It is very normal, nay expected, for people's first attempts at MAT/STEP questions to go badly - there's a significant jump from A-level, not just in difficulty, but in question style.

(from Dr Siklos's advpcm document)

Your first impression on looking at a STEP paper is likely to be that it looks very hard. Don’t be discouraged! Its difficult appearance is largely due to it being very different in style from A-levels.

Your first impression on looking at a STEP paper is likely to be that it looks very hard. Don’t be discouraged! Its difficult appearance is largely due to it being very different in style from A-levels.

So it would be very wrong to "look" at MAT/STEP questions, decide "oh, I can't do these" and give up on Oxbridge. People will improve with time and practice, the difficult question is to know how much someone is likely to improve with practice. But I'd say you should work hard at STEP for at least a couple of months before making a decision (this may be that's what you meant by "Look at ..." but I doubt it's how most people would take it).

Original post by DFranklin

I don't think

I think you misunderstood by 'look' I don't mean how you have interpeted it. We start prep at Easter in Year 12 and 'look' is all we do, then we tackle them as a group to start with. Most schools do this sort of stuff [state school] .. please don;t jump to conclusions

Original post by RichE

How are you at all right? I said Trinity were invested in this as an exception. Davros has agreed with that assessment. I am not denying your experiences but they seem to be parochial. For over a decade I presented alongside Cambridge academics to thousands of prospective maths students - a frequent question was "how should I be preparing for HE" and UKMT and competitions just never got mentioned by the Cambridge academics.

It's not just MY experience - why are admissions people telling teachers lies then? I don't believe they are ... STMC and SMC and follow-on rounds are part of discerning between candidates.

Maybe your experience is parochial?

So your "source" is your personal experience and you are basically saying "trust me bro" , then becoming extremely defensive

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