I want to study maths at Cambridge and I've just realised that I will also have foreign competitions. I'm scared and I'm not sure what to do to get better at maths. I've done a lot of practice and I think I am currently comfortable with STEP I questions. However I read somewhere that a student took STEP II and III in Yr 12 and achieved SS. I've been a bit depressed because of how average I am at maths. Do you have any recommendations of what I can do to get better at maths and deal with the depression of facing better maths students than myself?

Original post by xzxz.mn

I want to study maths at Cambridge and I've just realised that I will also have foreign competitions. I'm scared and I'm not sure what to do to get better at maths. I've done a lot of practice and I think I am currently comfortable with STEP I questions. However I read somewhere that a student took STEP II and III in Yr 12 and achieved SS. I've been a bit depressed because of how average I am at maths. Do you have any recommendations of what I can do to get better at maths and deal with the depression of facing better maths students than myself?

I'm sure that somewhere "a student took STEP II and III in Yr 12 and achieved SS". Most Cambridge Maths students didn't, though. If you're doing well with STEP at this stage, that's probably a good sign.

For the most part STEP is not indicative of how well you'd fare at uni maths.

Also see Imposter Syndrome - you're probably better at maths than you think.

Anyhow, I think knowing you're not good enough is a good sign - ask your peers/lecturers/what not if you got stuck at anything!

Also see Imposter Syndrome - you're probably better at maths than you think.

Anyhow, I think knowing you're not good enough is a good sign - ask your peers/lecturers/what not if you got stuck at anything!

Original post by tonyiptony

For the most part STEP is not indicative of how well you'd fare at uni maths.

Also see Imposter Syndrome - you're probably better at maths than you think.

Anyhow, I think knowing you're not good enough is a good sign - ask your peers/lecturers/what not if you got stuck at anything!

Also see Imposter Syndrome - you're probably better at maths than you think.

Anyhow, I think knowing you're not good enough is a good sign - ask your peers/lecturers/what not if you got stuck at anything!

"STEP is a far better predictor of success in the Mathematical Tripos than A-levels." - from https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/undergrad/admissions/step

I agree it's not a perfect predictor but it's better than most, particularly for Cambridge.

I really don't mean to be disrespectful by saying this, but it's very clear that your perception of mathematical ability is extremely warped. Even someone merely being in a position to even consider a course like Maths at Cambridge is bound to be way, way above average at maths, let alone someone being comfortable with STEP I questions (which are absolutely not easy at all). Also, I really don't understand why someone achieving SS in Year 12 is a cause for concern. It doesn't change the fact that even among people who actually get into Cambridge for Maths often don't have SS. I think it would be beneficial for you to get mental health support of some kind and regain some perspective. I'm genuinely very sorry to hear about what you're going through, and I really do hope you overcome it. Just remember that your mathematical ability is absolutely brilliant, and is certainly not the issue here. I wish you all the best

Original post by Labradoodle1

I really don't mean to be disrespectful by saying this, but it's very clear that your perception of mathematical ability is extremely warped. Even someone merely being in a position to even consider a course like Maths at Cambridge is bound to be way, way above average at maths, let alone someone being comfortable with STEP I questions (which are absolutely not easy at all). Also, I really don't understand why someone achieving SS in Year 12 is a cause for concern. It doesn't change the fact that even among people who actually get into Cambridge for Maths often don't have SS. I think it would be beneficial for you to get mental health support of some kind and regain some perspective. I'm genuinely very sorry to hear about what you're going through, and I really do hope you overcome it. Just remember that your mathematical ability is absolutely brilliant, and is certainly not the issue here. I wish you all the best

Thanks. I guess I called my self average because of the internet ☹️ . Compared to UK 16/17 yr olds im definitely very good at mathematics, my fear is the foreign ones. They are more hardworking than my self and they have a more competitive environment making them improve faster, I was just looking for ways to close the gap between the mathematical abilities of my self and such people. I aim to use this holiday to read a Siklos' book about STEP and that's my final resort to improving in maths.. besides practice of course.

(edited 1 month ago)

Original post by melancollege

I'm sure that somewhere "a student took STEP II and III in Yr 12 and achieved SS". Most Cambridge Maths students didn't, though. If you're doing well with STEP at this stage, that's probably a good sign.

Thanks a lot. I used to find STEP I questions almost impossible earlier this year but now I think i can do well in a STEP I paper, thats the only good sign I have. Is it a good idea to take a STEP I paper later this month and see if i'm on track to a good STEP II/III score?

(edited 1 month ago)

Original post by xzxz.mn

Thanks. I guess I called my self average because of the internet ☹️ . Compared to UK 16/17 yr olds im definitely very good at mathematics, my fear is the foreign ones. They are more hardworking than my self and they have a more competitive environment making them improve faster, I was just looking for ways to close the gap between the mathematical abilities of my self and such people. I aim to use this holiday to read a Siklos' book about STEP and that's my final resort to improving in maths.. besides practice of course.

Yeah the Internet really warps things! Social media (and even sites like TSR tbh) are really not representative of real life at all, and unfortunately so many people can't help but feel inferior as a result. As for the international thing, yes some countries like China and India are notorious for students working unhealthily excessive amounts, but when it comes to studying alongside them the gap will seem a lot less significant, I promise. I study maths and cs at Imperial, which as you can imagine has a lot of very intelligent students, including a very large number of overseas students, but I've never really felt as though the UK students were in a worse position in comparison to them. But yeah I fully wish you the best of luck with getting better at STEP. No matter what happens, you did your best and you are absolutely brilliant at maths. And even if you don't get in, remember there are many ultra intelligent students who don't. I'm friends with an Imperial mathematician in my year who got SS in STEP but didn't even get an offer from Cambridge. Exams and admissions processes are bound to be limited in terms of being indicators of ability (and especially your capacity for success). So yeah, continue to try your best but please don't allow your self esteem to be so damaged. Many students (and grown adults) would kill to have your level of intelligence. You are a genuine inspiration and it's really upsetting to hear that you don't feel that way. I hope your self image improves because you absolutely deserve to feel better than this

Original post by Labradoodle1

Yeah the Internet really warps things! Social media (and even sites like TSR tbh) are really not representative of real life at all, and unfortunately so many people can't help but feel inferior as a result. As for the international thing, yes some countries like China and India are notorious for students working unhealthily excessive amounts, but when it comes to studying alongside them the gap will seem a lot less significant, I promise. I study maths and cs at Imperial, which as you can imagine has a lot of very intelligent students, including a very large number of overseas students, but I've never really felt as though the UK students were in a worse position in comparison to them. But yeah I fully wish you the best of luck with getting better at STEP. No matter what happens, you did your best and you are absolutely brilliant at maths. And even if you don't get in, remember there are many ultra intelligent students who don't. I'm friends with an Imperial mathematician in my year who got SS in STEP but didn't even get an offer from Cambridge. Exams and admissions processes are bound to be limited in terms of being indicators of ability (and especially your capacity for success). So yeah, continue to try your best but please don't allow your self esteem to be so damaged. Many students (and grown adults) would kill to have your level of intelligence. You are a genuine inspiration and it's really upsetting to hear that you don't feel that way. I hope your self image improves because you absolutely deserve to feel better than this

I feel much better now. Thank you!

Original post by xzxz.mn

I feel much better now. Thank you!

Glad to hear it

Another thing, that's sort of the reality - there's always someone better than you somewhere. Managing expectation is key, which is a common thing for new uni folks to learn anyway.

What you can do is to just try your best and have fun. Easier said than done, but do try your damn hardest, as maths is hard. I find talking maths with people who are better than me a very rewarding uni experience, and given how vastly different styles of maths are tackled in different modules, you'll almost surely find someone. The benefit is mutual, IMO.

What you can do is to just try your best and have fun. Easier said than done, but do try your damn hardest, as maths is hard. I find talking maths with people who are better than me a very rewarding uni experience, and given how vastly different styles of maths are tackled in different modules, you'll almost surely find someone. The benefit is mutual, IMO.

Try not to worry about the competition. Focus on submitting a good application that demonstrates your passion for the subject. And then keep doing lots of Maths. Step is hard but you will get better with practice throughout Y13. If you get into Cambridge, you'll be in the same position as everyone else - but there will always be people who are better than you, so enjoy doing Maths with them. If you don't get in to Cambridge, there are loads of other great places to study Maths. One of my son's supervisors did his first degree at Durham and now he's a Maths Fellow at Cambridge. Best of luck!

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