The Student Room Group

chance & match Cambridge Math for intl

hi there,
I'm currently year 12 and really wanna apply to Cambridge for math! I'm international and live in eastern europe, my school is a rlly small one, with around 50 students graduating each year from the international program, and absolutely no one has gone to oxbridge before.

Yr 10 and 11 I did IGCSEs, school doesn't offer that many subjects and they only allow you to do 5. My subjects are EFL, German, Math, Physics and Chem and got all A*s, that was last year.

Now I'm doing the IB Diploma, have English Lit, German B, Math AA, Physics for HL and Business, Chem SL. So far everything looks good so hopefully can get a 45/45 or at least 43+ for predicted grades when I apply this year.

My extracurriculars are not that impressive, basically:
extra german courses & organize german competitions (my German is decent)
math club
debate club
a sport for fun
piano
organize donations to help ukranian children during war (that was some time ago)
But I heard Cambridge cares about supercurriculars more, which might give me a chance :biggrin:
I've been self-studying calculus and linear algebra for 2 years and I guess that definitely counts, and will read more books according to the mathematical reading list and supercurricular suggestion pdf I've found in this forum :smile:

As for awards my biggest regret is not to be able to do the SMC, in 2022 when I was doing the IGCSEs I missed the registration deadline so didn't tell my math teacher (yes I'm always the only one finding & doing these comps), and this time in 2023 when she emailed the test center, they said I could no longer participate as I was doing the IB which is not british curriculum ://

My school is pretty much non-competitive so had to find competitions on my own, have these:
AMC (american math competition) distinction (top 5% I guess, super hard test) in 2022 and 2023
Physicsbowl
CEMC (canadian math one, minor award I'd say)
best student of the year
German certificate (potential)

I've already started doing the STEP foundation modules, gotta prep myself for those hard questions, the good thing is I like math :biggrin:

However I have no idea which college I should apply to. How many spots for colleges do you get on the UCAS form?? And what's gonna happen if you get rejected from one, is there a chance to get picked up by another??? I'm looking into Trinity but I guess it's way too competitive, any recommendations??

And finally, do you guys think I can get a conditional offer? (does woman in STEM help at all hahaha)
Any advice & suggestions would be APPRECIATED!!!
Sorry for the extremely long post, and I'm really grateful for you to read until the very end!!
Original post by candydream
hi there,
I'm currently year 12 and really wanna apply to Cambridge for math! I'm international and live in eastern europe, my school is a rlly small one, with around 50 students graduating each year from the international program, and absolutely no one has gone to oxbridge before.

Yr 10 and 11 I did IGCSEs, school doesn't offer that many subjects and they only allow you to do 5. My subjects are EFL, German, Math, Physics and Chem and got all A*s, that was last year.

Now I'm doing the IB Diploma, have English Lit, German B, Math AA, Physics for HL and Business, Chem SL. So far everything looks good so hopefully can get a 45/45 or at least 43+ for predicted grades when I apply this year.

My extracurriculars are not that impressive, basically:
extra german courses & organize german competitions (my German is decent)
math club
debate club
a sport for fun
piano
organize donations to help ukranian children during war (that was some time ago)
But I heard Cambridge cares about supercurriculars more, which might give me a chance :biggrin:
I've been self-studying calculus and linear algebra for 2 years and I guess that definitely counts, and will read more books according to the mathematical reading list and supercurricular suggestion pdf I've found in this forum :smile:

As for awards my biggest regret is not to be able to do the SMC, in 2022 when I was doing the IGCSEs I missed the registration deadline so didn't tell my math teacher (yes I'm always the only one finding & doing these comps), and this time in 2023 when she emailed the test center, they said I could no longer participate as I was doing the IB which is not british curriculum ://

My school is pretty much non-competitive so had to find competitions on my own, have these:
AMC (american math competition) distinction (top 5% I guess, super hard test) in 2022 and 2023
Physicsbowl
CEMC (canadian math one, minor award I'd say)
best student of the year
German certificate (potential)

I've already started doing the STEP foundation modules, gotta prep myself for those hard questions, the good thing is I like math :biggrin:

However I have no idea which college I should apply to. How many spots for colleges do you get on the UCAS form?? And what's gonna happen if you get rejected from one, is there a chance to get picked up by another??? I'm looking into Trinity but I guess it's way too competitive, any recommendations??

And finally, do you guys think I can get a conditional offer? (does woman in STEM help at all hahaha)
Any advice & suggestions would be APPRECIATED!!!
Sorry for the extremely long post, and I'm really grateful for you to read until the very end!!
You get 5 choices on the UCAS form - only one can be Cambridge. I would look at colleges other than Trinity tbh.

The IB is taught in the UK so I think that statement about the SMC is wrong. Why not contact UKMT yourself and check?
Reply 2
Original post by Muttley79
You get 5 choices on the UCAS form - only one can be Cambridge. I would look at colleges other than Trinity tbh.

The IB is taught in the UK so I think that statement about the SMC is wrong. Why not contact UKMT yourself and check?
thanks for the reply!!! so what other colleges are good at math??

for SMC I guess what happened happened, SMC this year is gonna be in October or sth, by that time I should have already submitted the application
Reply 3
Original post by candydream
thanks for the reply!!! so what other colleges are good at math??

for SMC I guess what happened happened, SMC this year is gonna be in October or sth, by that time I should have already submitted the application
Youre correct that cambridge/maths wont care about extra curriculum and its really supercurriculum stuff that matters. Your reading sounds good, but is there any chance of doing some projects, either on your own or ...., so you can write about what you found/what interests you in maths? Similarly as well as reading ahead a bit (linear algebra), it might be good to make sure youve got a solid foundation as that would be more relevant for the interview and a small amount for step.

For the ukmt stuff, it might be relevant to think about doing some(thing similar) as practice in case you get invited to interview. Tom Bowlers book is a decent thing to work through for interviews and that has a reasonable correlation with smc/early bmo questions. But youre right that it wont be able to be included on your application/personal statement.
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by candydream
hi there,
I'm currently year 12 and really wanna apply to Cambridge for math! I'm international and live in eastern europe, my school is a rlly small one, with around 50 students graduating each year from the international program, and absolutely no one has gone to oxbridge before.

Yr 10 and 11 I did IGCSEs, school doesn't offer that many subjects and they only allow you to do 5. My subjects are EFL, German, Math, Physics and Chem and got all A*s, that was last year.

Now I'm doing the IB Diploma, have English Lit, German B, Math AA, Physics for HL and Business, Chem SL. So far everything looks good so hopefully can get a 45/45 or at least 43+ for predicted grades when I apply this year.

My extracurriculars are not that impressive, basically:
extra german courses & organize german competitions (my German is decent)
math club
debate club
a sport for fun
piano
organize donations to help ukranian children during war (that was some time ago)
But I heard Cambridge cares about supercurriculars more, which might give me a chance :biggrin:
I've been self-studying calculus and linear algebra for 2 years and I guess that definitely counts, and will read more books according to the mathematical reading list and supercurricular suggestion pdf I've found in this forum :smile:

As for awards my biggest regret is not to be able to do the SMC, in 2022 when I was doing the IGCSEs I missed the registration deadline so didn't tell my math teacher (yes I'm always the only one finding & doing these comps), and this time in 2023 when she emailed the test center, they said I could no longer participate as I was doing the IB which is not british curriculum ://

My school is pretty much non-competitive so had to find competitions on my own, have these:
AMC (american math competition) distinction (top 5% I guess, super hard test) in 2022 and 2023
Physicsbowl
CEMC (canadian math one, minor award I'd say)
best student of the year
German certificate (potential)

I've already started doing the STEP foundation modules, gotta prep myself for those hard questions, the good thing is I like math :biggrin:

However I have no idea which college I should apply to. How many spots for colleges do you get on the UCAS form?? And what's gonna happen if you get rejected from one, is there a chance to get picked up by another??? I'm looking into Trinity but I guess it's way too competitive, any recommendations??

And finally, do you guys think I can get a conditional offer? (does woman in STEM help at all hahaha)
Any advice & suggestions would be APPRECIATED!!!
Sorry for the extremely long post, and I'm really grateful for you to read until the very end!!


Don't apply to Trinity. Which college you go to won't make any difference in the teaching (lecturers are centrally organised and you can have supervisions at any college at the discretion of your director of studies). Cambridge has a pooling system so that strong applicants who are interviewed at one college but not able to be made an offer can be considered by other colleges, however this requires you get interviewed. Trinity is so vastly oversubscribed for that one subject (due to mistaken assumptions that it makes any difference to go there than any other college) that they reject pre-interview huge numbers of applicants who would almost certainly be interviewed at any other college. And in that case, if you are rejected pre-interview, you won't get pooled.

Just apply to literally any other college. If you want an old central college with a large maths cohort (e.g. similar to Trinity) there are plenty of other options (Queens, St Johns, etc). Applying to Trinity for maths is just a way to minimise your chances of getting in for no benefit whatsoever anyway.
Reply 5
Original post by mqb2766
Youre correct that cambridge/maths wont care about extra curriculum and its really supercurriculum stuff that matters. Your reading sounds good, but is there any chance of doing some projects, either on your own or ...., so you can write about what you found/what interests you in maths? Similarly as well as reading ahead a bit (linear algebra), it might be good to make sure youve got a solid foundation as that would be more relevant for the interview and a small amount for step.

For the ukmt stuff, it might be relevant to think about doing some(thing similar) as practice in case you get invited to interview. Tom Bowlers book is a decent thing to work through for interviews and that has a reasonable correlation with smc/early bmo questions. But youre right that it wont be able to be included on your application/personal statement.
hi, thanks for the detailed reply!
for projects I am doing the IB Extended Essay on math, however I don't think this research carried out on my own is that professional, the content won't be like college or IMO level etc.
I'm doing the STEP foundation modules and actually kinda enjoy them. For interviews you have to explain how you solved the problems right?? so even if you can't get them right you can still show your thinking process
what's the name of the tom bowlers book again, can't seem to find it anywhere lol, thanks again
Reply 6
Original post by artful_lounger
Don't apply to Trinity. Which college you go to won't make any difference in the teaching (lecturers are centrally organised and you can have supervisions at any college at the discretion of your director of studies). Cambridge has a pooling system so that strong applicants who are interviewed at one college but not able to be made an offer can be considered by other colleges, however this requires you get interviewed. Trinity is so vastly oversubscribed for that one subject (due to mistaken assumptions that it makes any difference to go there than any other college) that they reject pre-interview huge numbers of applicants who would almost certainly be interviewed at any other college. And in that case, if you are rejected pre-interview, you won't get pooled.

Just apply to literally any other college. If you want an old central college with a large maths cohort (e.g. similar to Trinity) there are plenty of other options (Queens, St Johns, etc). Applying to Trinity for maths is just a way to minimise your chances of getting in for no benefit whatsoever anyway.
hi, THANK YOU for replying!
so all Cambridge math students have the same professors regardless of their colleges?? didn't know that before!
yeah I also read somewhere online that literally everyone in trinity is doing either math or physics and the pressure is like incredible.
Reply 7
Original post by candydream
hi, thanks for the detailed reply!
for projects I am doing the IB Extended Essay on math, however I don't think this research carried out on my own is that professional, the content won't be like college or IMO level etc.
I'm doing the STEP foundation modules and actually kinda enjoy them. For interviews you have to explain how you solved the problems right?? so even if you can't get them right you can still show your thinking process
what's the name of the tom bowlers book again, can't seem to find it anywhere lol, thanks again
The step foundation modules are a decent place to start in y12. There is an enrichment section in the bottom right of
https://www.drfrost.org/downloadables.php
which covers ukmt/mat/step and bowlers booklet is on one of the links. Just have a flick through them.

The interviews certainly have a problem solving element.
Reply 8
Original post by mqb2766
The step foundation modules are a decent place to start in y12. There is an enrichment section in the bottom right of
https://www.drfrost.org/downloadables.php
which covers ukmt/mat/step and bowlers booklet is on one of the links. Just have a flick through them.

The interviews certainly have a problem solving element.
got it, thanks! :biggrin:
Original post by candydream
hi, THANK YOU for replying!
so all Cambridge math students have the same professors regardless of their colleges?? didn't know that before!
yeah I also read somewhere online that literally everyone in trinity is doing either math or physics and the pressure is like incredible.


Yes, lectures are departmentally arranged and all students all colleges have the same lectures with the same lecturers. You have supervisions which are in college but these can also be at other colleges - you may have supervisions at Trinity while at another college, and you may have supervisions at another college even if you were at Trinity.
Original post by artful_lounger
Yes, lectures are departmentally arranged and all students all colleges have the same lectures with the same lecturers. You have supervisions which are in college but these can also be at other colleges - you may have supervisions at Trinity while at another college, and you may have supervisions at another college even if you were at Trinity.
aha ok, so it seems like there's rlly no point of trying to get into the best college and there's no such thing as a "best college" after all!

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