Anybody's DC doing Maths at Oxford

(9 Posts)
marnia68 Wed 26-Nov-14 11:22:27

DS is in Y12 at a grammar school and is one of 2 who are equally top of the yr group (the other passed GCSE at the age of 9!)
A natural passionate mathematician who gets virtually full marks in every maths and science test and is starting to wonder whether to apply 'aspirationally' to Oxford
Any tips or advice from successful applicants or their mums would be gratefully! What extra curricular maths stuff di tyour Dc do? Did they do the EPQ?

OP’s posts: |
RabbitOfNegativeEuphoria Wed 26-Nov-14 11:59:58

If she wants to do maths Cambridge or Imperial would be a more aspirational choice.

Secretsquirrels Wed 26-Nov-14 14:03:35

A natural passionate mathematician who gets virtually full marks in every maths and science test
This describes my DS who last year applied to Cambridge and got an offer there to do Maths.

What extra curricular maths stuff did your Dc do? Did they do the EPQ? He went to talks by Oxbridge admissions people who made it clear that for Maths in particular extra curricular is not essential. What they are interested in is grades. The higher the better. He did not do EPQ. He went to a sixth form college and received no special help.

What he did do
Went to Cambridge master classes held in January for Year 12 students.This was very useful.
Went on Villiers Park and Headstart residential courses.
Did additional maths/further maths modules to those included in his A levels which he taught himself at home.
Read everything he could lay his hands on about Maths, history of Maths etc.
Worked very hard and got an average of 95% UMS on every AS module.

If you apply to Oxford there is the admissions test (MAT) taken before you get an offer. Cambridge has a different test, also used by Imperial and Warwick called STEP. This is done after A levels.
(DS is not at Cambridge because he missed the required STEP exam grade).

uilen Wed 26-Nov-14 14:39:40

I don't agree that Imperial Maths is better than Oxford.

LeapingOverTheWall Wed 26-Nov-14 14:44:06

also think about Bath - a slightly lower STEP requirement than Warwick, but a v good course (DD1 is in her final year of a MMath there). The year in industry for the 3 years course has meant a lot of her friends have jobs to go to when they graduate, which is also something to consider.

uilen Wed 26-Nov-14 15:55:35

Bath is not (by academics) considered in the same league as the others mentioned; they have risen high in the tables through a number of factors. Their course is less academic than the others, although this could be viewed as a good thing by some students.

Getting very good jobs from Oxbridge or Imperial maths is not an issue; placement years are not necessary, although of course they have a number of benefits and might indeed be an important factor in choosing a course.

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 27-Nov-14 19:43:57

Has your ds done any of the UKMT maths challenges? When dd went on one of their summer schools in y10, her maths teacher told her to put that on her UCAS application!

Going by the 2008 RAE results, Imperial is arguably 'better' than Oxford. But having an achievable offer rather than worrying about STEP seems like a massive pro of Oxford to me.

(And the new maths institute building is lush.)


uilen Thu 27-Nov-14 20:22:02

I wouldn't take RAE results in 2008 seriously, since they are 6 years out of date. I wouldn't even take next month's REF results that seriously. (But Oxford invested heavily in the run up to the REF and I would be a bit surprised if Imperial beat them, especially since Imperial has some quite weak areas. Meanwhile Cambridge has to some extent declined, having lost high profile people to retirement, without being able to recruit comparable replacements, and they have also lost younger staff to other institutions. I would still judge in their favour but I am biased by my viewpoint - it's not so obvious that they are better than Oxford.)

REF isn't directly that relevant for undergraduate study, anyhow: Oxford will carry more prestige on a CV than Imperial, and at Oxbridge one has the huge benefit of two-to-one tutorials.

sablepoot Fri 28-Nov-14 01:50:28

fairly sure I read a recent external examiner's report on a set of Oxford maths exams by an imperial bod which said something along the lines of 'as expected from the intake ability, the exams were more demanding than at his own university'. certainly in terms of UCAS points the average entry to Oxford is higher than imperial. but imperial isn't far behind, Cambridge, Oxford, Warwick and imperial are widely acknowledged to be the top four for maths. Cambridge and Oxford difficulty is alleged to be pretty similar for the first 3 years, with camb being more selective over its very demanding fourth year (you pretty much need a first to stay on for fourth year at camb) whereas the Oxford fourth year is a bit less demanding and a far greater proportion of students stay on to do it.

OP, your Ds should give it a shot. Having near perfect maths scores is the most important thing! Try out some MAT past papers and compare results with those of the average shortlisted and selected candidates (info all on ox's website). If he struggles to get similar scores then consider Cambridge where its easier to get an offer (esp with very high AS scores), but harder to meet it.

extra curricular aren't especially important for maths, but good results at maths challenge/Olympiad are good to mention if achieved.

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