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STEP (maths!)

(13 Posts)
STEP234 Fri 27-Oct-17 08:42:05

Hi all,

(Long time member, different account created for this!)

If you know (or are) a student thinking of applying to study maths (or a maths heavy course) please point them to the STEP support programme www.maths.org/step.

STEP is a series of maths papers which are much harder than A-level. Many schools cannot provide support for students in preparing for these which is why the University of Cambridge started the STEP support programme up.

STEP has been a part of Cambridge Maths offers for a long time, but now several other universities are making reduced offers for those who get a certain grade in a STEP paper, including Warwick, Bath, Lancaster etc. This can be very useful for any very good mathematician who is uncertain of getting a grade A in their third subject.

All the resources are completely free, and available to anyone!

GnomeDePlume Mon 30-Oct-17 20:40:15

DD is studying maths and FM would STEP be useful? She is applying for chemical physics courses.

user918273645 Tue 31-Oct-17 08:18:54

STEP is not particularly useful for chemical physics courses. It is only done by students at the very top few university courses for maths, and sometimes included in offers for Cambridge physical Nat Sci/Engineering.

GnomeDePlume Tue 31-Oct-17 09:34:32

Thank you user. DD already has most of her offers in. Maths is her strongest subject so I wondered if she would find the STEP work interesting (she enjoys a challenge).

STEP234 Tue 31-Oct-17 09:57:39

GnomeDePlume your DD might like to have a look at the "Foundation modules" on the STEP support programme site. These introduce some areas of maths not in standard A-level (such as fractals and the "bridge of donkeys") as well as explaining where some of the formulae used in A-level maths come from. There are also some links to articles for further reading.

We have quite a few people using the resources "just for fun".

user918273645 Tue 31-Oct-17 09:58:12

If she likes maths then definitely worth a look - physics will do a lot more maths in the first year of university so thinking more deeply about A level topics can only be beneficial. But spending a lot of time preparing for STEP (if that affects A level courses) wouldn't be a good strategy for chemical physics.

GnomeDePlume Tue 31-Oct-17 10:38:58

Thanks both. There is no benefit to her in terms of grade or offer but I can see there would benefit in terms of deeper understanding. In my view understanding something a little better is seldom wasted effort.

roisin Tue 31-Oct-17 18:06:13

Most STEP students say they wish they had started prep earlier.

Many schools that specialise in Cambridge Maths applications will be setting STEP homework from the start of y12 and/or having special STEP prep classes.

Also Cambridge over offer (significantly) for Maths and then weed out on the basis of STEP results. This is not a hoop to jump through, it is a significant hurdle and I know some fab mathematicians with great potential who didn't make it.

But it is possible with perseverance, motivation and independent study, using the free materials available online. ds2 was successful this year. Happy to discuss off board, if you have Qs, PM me.

Good luck!

roisin Tue 31-Oct-17 18:08:31

FMSP also offer some regional support groups. furthermaths.org.uk

STEP234 Wed 01-Nov-17 09:15:38

Thanks roisin, I should have mentioned FMSP as well. I think that another factor is that some schools do a lot of "problem solving" and "resilience" stuff earlier on, so their pupils are more used to being stuck whereas in other schools some students have never been stuck on a maths problem and then meet STEP.

The SSP was designed to be started in Jan of year 12 (we haven't stressed that too much on the site as we don't want to worry anyone who comes to it later) and so hopefully build up confidence over a 18 month period. It would be great to have something for younger students, problem solving for able mathematicians, maybe along the links of the UKMT mentoring schemes etc.

I think any system of selecting for university will miss some great mathematicians unfortunately. I have known some really good ones who messed up MAT and then not get an interview at Oxford (they may have done better at STEP without any multiple choice "right/wrong" questions and 6 months extra maths maturity).

GnomeDePlume Wed 01-Nov-17 12:53:08

I 'discussed' this with DD last night. Probably picked the wrong moment as she bit my head off! Not sure she has time for this now as she is in y13 and the work (and stress) is starting to ramp up.

roisin Wed 01-Nov-17 18:48:16

ds2 benefited enormously from the UKMT and Olympiad programmes, including a summer school and their snr mentoring programme through yr12, I think.

It's a great charity and without that input to level the playing field somewhat, ds2 wouldn't have succeeded with STEP.

Having said all this, Cambridge maths course is very demanding, so STEP is excellent preparation!

Kez100 Wed 22-Nov-17 04:12:40

I know someone who is taking a gap year. She did brilliantly at GCSE Maths and 7 at SL in the IB. She's loving her gap year and working but "missing" maths. Is this STEP prep something she could do "for fun".

She's still not sure what to study at university (Or maybe an apprenticeship)
It's unlikely to be a Maths degree but her choice is almost certainly going to have maths content.

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