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What to do for a competitive application for Mathematics at top universities.

Hello, im currently an A-Level student in Y12. Maths is my passion and i feel i would like to study it at uni.
I would like to apply to unis like cambridge, bath, warwick , durham, bristol.
however. im unsure what to add on my applications. I have never had the opportunity to sit Olympiads and maths challenges as my school didnt deem me capable enough from Y7-Y11. in Y12 i sat the smc and only achieved bronze, due to my lack of experience and lack of time to prepare, as they informed us of the SMC a week before.

I want to make a very strong personal statement, but no idea what to put on it to get into top unis. Im starting an AMSP course in 2 weeks so thats something.

i need help please.

any ppl who got an interview for cambridge or are study mathematics at any of the unis listed above could help me?
Reply 1
Original post by Anonymous #1
Hello, im currently an A-Level student in Y12. Maths is my passion and i feel i would like to study it at uni.
I would like to apply to unis like cambridge, bath, warwick , durham, bristol.
however. im unsure what to add on my applications. I have never had the opportunity to sit Olympiads and maths challenges as my school didnt deem me capable enough from Y7-Y11. in Y12 i sat the smc and only achieved bronze, due to my lack of experience and lack of time to prepare, as they informed us of the SMC a week before.

I want to make a very strong personal statement, but no idea what to put on it to get into top unis. Im starting an AMSP course in 2 weeks so thats something.

i need help please.

any ppl who got an interview for cambridge or are study mathematics at any of the unis listed above could help me?

For cambridge, some typical supercurriculars are in
https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/super-curricular_suggestions.pdf
so the ukmt stuff isnt the only thing you can put on your ps by any means. Also for your ps that boat has sailed as it (smc) would occur about the application time for cambridge so forget about it.

Realy the main selective things for cambridge are the interview (test) and the entrance exam. Durham also encourages you to do one of the entrance exams (mat/step) and for Bath/Warwick it can give you a reduced offer. Not sure which amsp course your doing but it should be a start. There is the step foundation modules https://maths.org/step/assignments you can crack on with in y12 as they would be a starting point for both the interview and step (2 and 3). You could do a bit of background reading, so maybe a decent history book or one or two of the pop maths books. You could work through something like https://www.openbookpublishers.com/books/10.11647/obp.0168. If youre doing cs you could work through some of the project euler https://projecteuler.net/, just like you could do (your own) a project. You could do some of the ukmt/mat/... questions as they would probably help with the interview stuff and Bowlers questions about the interview is relevant https://www.drfrostmaths.com/downloadables.php?noid=917, https://www.drfrostmaths.com/worksheets.php?wdid=44. The mat (livestream) stuff is based on as maths (like tmua) and overlaps with the interview test https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/study-here/undergraduate-study/maths-admissions-test/mat-livestream.

Id honestly focus less on thinking about a very strong personal statement and more about making sure you get the grades in your normal a levels and skilling up in areas "around" the a level syllabus (interview test and entrance exam), so related areas and deeper than normal a level.
(edited 3 months ago)
Reply 2
This is not the US, I don't think anyone really reads the personal statement carefully. They only scan it, basically for any grammatical/spelling errors. A half decent one will honestly do. For me the Maths challenge was just a one sentence in my whole statement. I just made sure my passion for maths shone through.

For the top universities, the poster above is correct - focus on your grades and MAT/TMUA and areas around the A levels. Avoid the London Unis as they want mostly international students . Personally I think the Cambridge route is unnecessarily cruel (Oxford is easier and fairer) - I am glad I failed the Cambridge interview as I don't think I would have had the capacity to study STEP on top of the 4 A levels. I had a classmate who passed the Cambridge interview and focused so much on STEP, he didn't get the further maths grade he needed for his insurance (Warwick) and it didn't even make a difference as he didn't pass the STEP exam anyway - he had to go through clearing and went to Lancaster in the end. He went into clearing with 2 A*and 2 A!He is still feeling upset about it and keeps talking about doing his masters in Cambridge! He even appealed to Warwick saying that if the grade boundaries were the same as the prior year he would have had an A in further maths, but they said no. It was the same for me, if the same grade boundaries applied in 2023 as in 2022, I would have had 4A* but I did get into Bristol as my insurance choice and I am very very happy! With that in mind, make sure your insurance choice is a proper insurance, with actual lower grade requirements.
(edited 3 months ago)
Reply 3
Original post by Amonra
This is not the US, I don't think anyone really reads the personal statement carefully. They only scan it, basically for any grammatical/spelling errors. A half decent one will honestly do. For me the Maths challenge was just a one sentence in my whole statement. I just made sure my passion for maths shone through.

For the top universities, the poster above is correct - focus on your grades and MAT/TMUA and areas around the A levels. Avoid the London Unis as they want mostly international students . Personally I think the Cambridge route is unnecessarily cruel (Oxford is easier and fairer) - I am glad I failed the Cambridge interview as I don't think I would have had the capacity to study STEP on top of the 4 A levels. I had a classmate who passed the Cambridge interview and focused so much on STEP, he didn't get the further maths grade he needed for his insurance (Warwick) and it didn't even make a difference as he didn't pass the STEP exam anyway - he had to go through clearing and went to Lancaster in the end. He went into clearing with 2 A*and 2 A!He is still feeling upset about it and keeps talking about doing his masters in Cambridge! He even appealed to Warwick saying that if the grade boundaries were the same as the prior year he would have had an A in further maths, but they said no. It was the same for me, if the same grade boundaries applied in 2023 as in 2022, I would have had 4A* but I did get into Bristol as my insurance choice and I am very very happy! With that in mind, make sure your insurance choice is a proper insurance, with actual lower grade requirements.

I absolutely agree with you about Cambridge maths applications being cruel. They give out twice as many offers as they have places and then choose the STEP boundaries to make sure half the people with offers do not fulfil their conditions.

Oxford is much less traumatic. The MAT is used to cut down the applicants before interview. Then almost everyone who gets an offer makes it to Oxford. It is far less stressful than Cambridge.

Oxford and Cambridge however will read the personal statement very thoroughly so you need to be able to discuss anything you mentioned in it in detail. Other universities not so thoroughly.
Reply 4
Original post by JHK101
I absolutely agree with you about Cambridge maths applications being cruel. They give out twice as many offers as they have places and then choose the STEP boundaries to make sure half the people with offers do not fulfil their conditions.
Oxford is much less traumatic. The MAT is used to cut down the applicants before interview. Then almost everyone who gets an offer makes it to Oxford. It is far less stressful than Cambridge.
Oxford and Cambridge however will read the personal statement very thoroughly so you need to be able to discuss anything you mentioned in it in detail. Other universities not so thoroughly.
Yo, this could be a dumb question but I thought they never really ask anything related to the personal statement in an interview for mathematics, but a lot more in other subjects like english and classics. I still get your point tho, correct me if im wrong about that
Original post by mqb2766
For cambridge, some typical supercurriculars are in
https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/super-curricular_suggestions.pdf
so the ukmt stuff isnt the only thing you can put on your ps by any means. Also for your ps that boat has sailed as it (smc) would occur about the application time for cambridge so forget about it.
Realy the main selective things for cambridge are the interview (test) and the entrance exam. Durham also encourages you to do one of the entrance exams (mat/step) and for Bath/Warwick it can give you a reduced offer. Not sure which amsp course your doing but it should be a start. There is the step foundation modules https://maths.org/step/assignments you can crack on with in y12 as they would be a starting point for both the interview and step (2 and 3). You could do a bit of background reading, so maybe a decent history book or one or two of the pop maths books. You could work through something like https://www.openbookpublishers.com/books/10.11647/obp.0168. If youre doing cs you could work through some of the project euler https://projecteuler.net/, just like you could do (your own) a project. You could do some of the ukmt/mat/... questions as they would probably help with the interview stuff and Bowlers questions about the interview is relevant https://www.drfrostmaths.com/downloadables.php?noid=917, https://www.drfrostmaths.com/worksheets.php?wdid=44. The mat (livestream) stuff is based on as maths (like tmua) and overlaps with the interview test https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/study-here/undergraduate-study/maths-admissions-test/mat-livestream.
Id honestly focus less on thinking about a very strong personal statement and more about making sure you get the grades in your normal a levels and skilling up in areas "around" the a level syllabus (interview test and entrance exam), so related areas and deeper than normal a level.
are you in university for mathematics? thanks so much for all the help btw i really appreciate it. I read online that the average GCSE grades of a cambridge maths applicant is 8.7, i achieved 999987776 in my GCSEs so would i even stand a chance when applying. Im not trying to brag abouit m,y results by any means and I know i shouldve done better
Original post by Anonymous #1
Yo, this could be a dumb question but I thought they never really ask anything related to the personal statement in an interview for mathematics, but a lot more in other subjects like english and classics. I still get your point tho, correct me if im wrong about that
Will your school put on additional support sessions for STEP/MAT? Do they have some Maths books they can lend you? I'd start with books by Rob Eastaway such as "Why do buses come in threes?" or look at his website to see others he's written.
Reply 7
Original post by grade9mathsplz
are you in university for mathematics? thanks so much for all the help btw i really appreciate it. I read online that the average GCSE grades of a cambridge maths applicant is 8.7, i achieved 999987776 in my GCSEs so would i even stand a chance when applying. Im not trying to brag abouit m,y results by any means and I know i shouldve done better
Your gcse results are less important, though theyd probably expect a 9 in maths if youre applying for a maths related course.
https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=6033950
Its much more about your predicted a level grades, your supercurriculum stuff and the interview test(s) and step, assuming you get that far. So if youre thinking of applying, get your maths basics and problem solving in place, read/watch around the subject and maybe start with the y12 step foundation stuff.
(edited 3 weeks ago)
Reply 8
Original post by Anonymous #1
Yo, this could be a dumb question but I thought they never really ask anything related to the personal statement in an interview for mathematics, but a lot more in other subjects like english and classics. I still get your point tho, correct me if im wrong about that
My son was certainly asked at the Oxford interview for maths. They may not dwell on your personal statement for long but they would probably ask about something in it. And, since you don't know what, you need to be ready to discuss anything you have mentioned.
Original post by JHK101
My son was certainly asked at the Oxford interview for maths. They may not dwell on your personal statement for long but they would probably ask about something in it. And, since you don't know what, you need to be ready to discuss anything you have mentioned.
Would second this, I didn't get asked anything in mine but its not something you want to chance, especially since it would be easier than if they asked another maths question.
many thanks, not sure if my skl offers that yet as havent been informed. There isnt a proper library at my school so nots ure. but i can buy books if necessary, thanks for the book recoimmendation ill take a look
Original post by mqb2766
Your gcse results are less important, though theyd probably expect a 9 in maths if youre applying for a maths related course.
https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=6033950
Its much more about your predicted a level grades, your supercurriculum stuff and the interview test(s) and step, assuming you get that far. So if youre thinking of applying, get your maths basics and problem solving in place, read/watch around the subject and maybe start with the y12 step foundation stuff.
i achieved a 9 in maths so am i good? ty for the help ill take all this into account
Original post by JHK101
My son was certainly asked at the Oxford interview for maths. They may not dwell on your personal statement for long but they would probably ask about something in it. And, since you don't know what, you need to be ready to discuss anything you have mentioned.

good to know, im not going to lie or anything on my personal statement so it shouldnt be an issue if they ask me about anything on it
Original post by grade9mathsplz
i achieved a 9 in maths so am i good? ty for the help ill take all this into account

Its a starting point, so maybe think a bit about what youre doing in the next month/3 months/... and set yourself a few targets to learn some techniques/approaches, do some reading, watch some videos, do questions ...
Reply 14
Original post by Anonymous #1
good to know, im not going to lie or anything on my personal statement so it shouldnt be an issue if they ask me about anything on it
Just make sure if you mention a theorem or a book you have read you can talk about them.
Original post by Anonymous #1
Hello, im currently an A-Level student in Y12. Maths is my passion and i feel i would like to study it at uni.
I would like to apply to unis like cambridge, bath, warwick , durham, bristol.
however. im unsure what to add on my applications. I have never had the opportunity to sit Olympiads and maths challenges as my school didnt deem me capable enough from Y7-Y11. in Y12 i sat the smc and only achieved bronze, due to my lack of experience and lack of time to prepare, as they informed us of the SMC a week before.
I want to make a very strong personal statement, but no idea what to put on it to get into top unis. Im starting an AMSP course in 2 weeks so thats something.
i need help please.
any ppl who got an interview for cambridge or are study mathematics at any of the unis listed above could help me?
Hi, I’m currently studying maths at Cambridge. I’d say your main focus should be on creating a ps that shows your super curricular strengths and that you genuinely enjoy maths outside of your studies. Mentioning books you’ve read, why you enjoyed them and what topics in particular drew your attention, and then how you went on to pursue/ further research said topics and things like that are where you have most chance. Saying that you’re passionate about maths won’t be enough- you need to show them you are, and how you turn that into action. Don’t name books you haven’t properly read though and don’t just list them, the important bit is showing that in these papers/ books you’ve read you’ve taken stuff from them outside your curriculum because you wanted to.

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