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STEP (maths at university)

(65 Posts)
STEP234 Thu 26-Oct-17 08:00:19

Hi all,

Long time member, but have set up a different account for this!

If you know of anyone in year 13 (or year 12) applying (or thinking of applying) to study maths at university then they should google "STEP support programme". This is a scheme run by the University of Cambridge to support students in preparing for STEP.

STEP is a maths exam taken at the end of year 13 which is MUCH harder than A-levels, and many schools cannot support their students (which is why the programme started up).

STEP forms part of offers to study Maths (and sometimes other subjects) at Cambridge, and quite a few other universities (including Warwick, Bath, Lancaster...) are making a reduced A-level offer if a student gets a certain grade in a STEP exam as well.

GHGN Thu 26-Oct-17 11:18:28

Also STEP has 3 papers with different contents and level of difficulty. They require different strategies and planning. I don't believe that a student who misses out on their grade can ace a STEP paper to compensate for that but happy to be proven wrong with anecdotes.

WishfulThanking Thu 26-Oct-17 11:46:48

Thanks for this!

LittleHo Thu 26-Oct-17 11:54:06

Thanks. ds wants to study maths and his school don't do STEP.

He is sending this to his maths class.

STEP234 Fri 27-Oct-17 08:21:06

Thanks LittleHo, that's great! GHGN the reduced A-level offers tend to be more useful to those who are brilliant at Maths but might not get an A in French (say, random example). STEP I and STEP II (for the exams in 2018) are based on a single A-level maths spec (+ a couple of bits) whereas STEP III has some Further maths bits in (but not all, e.g. contains Hyperbolic functions but not groups or matrices). Current spec etc can be found on the "admissions testing service" website, which is linked to from www.maths.org/step.

Specifications will change for the 2019 exams to reflect the changes in A-level specs.

STEP234 Fri 27-Oct-17 08:22:27

Wishful thinking no problem! Trying to make sure as many people know about them as possible (I am also haunting the Student Room).

GHGN Sat 28-Oct-17 05:05:45

I only had students needing STEP for Warwick and Cambridge. All the Warwick offers so far have been AA or A*A for Maths and Further Maths plus a grade in any STEP paper. A couple of years ago someone was offered AA for double Maths but it could go down to A*A if he was to achieve a grade 1 in any STEP paper. I haven't been aware of anyone that receives an offer with a lower grade due to STEP rather than Maths. I am still waiting to know anyone only achieve an A in FM but manage a meaningful grade in any STEP paper.

GHGN Sat 28-Oct-17 05:10:08

Please ignore some of my comment above as I didn't realise that Warwick need 3 A* as a standard offer. The students I taught had all been received lowered offers then. Lucky kids smile

Allthebestnamesareused Sat 28-Oct-17 14:52:40

It is so competitive for Maths now that you are unlikely to get maths offers for Cambridge or Warwick without 3x A* plus a 1 on STEP2 and 3.

STEP234 Mon 30-Oct-17 10:25:57

GHGN the standard offer for Warwick is A*(Maths) A*(F Maths) A* (third A level) or A*(Maths) A*(F Maths) grade 1 in STEP (any paper) and an A in the third A-level, or A* A* Maths and F maths and AA in third and forth A levels - so they still need A* A* in maths and F maths whether they offer STEP or not. The advantage of STEP for some is that if they are less certain of an A* in their non-maths A-level they have a safety net. I believe (might be worth double checking) that it doesn't matter which criteria you meet, so if you have A* A* A* and a grade 3 in STEP you still get in as you have met the first set of criteria.

At Lancaster the standard offer is AAA, but if you offer Further maths OR a grade 3 in any STEP paper this goes down to AAB and if you offer F maths AND a grade 3 in any STEP paper this goes down to ABB. The grade boundaries vary, but in 2016 the boundary for a grade 3 in STEP I was 41 (2 and a bit questions out of the 6 you are supposed to do) and in 2015 was 28 (1 and a half questions out of 6).

user918273645 Mon 30-Oct-17 10:44:33

The advantage of STEP for some is that if they are less certain of an A in their non-maths A-level they have a safety net.*

It is extremely rare for a student to get a strong grade in STEP and not get an A star in their non-maths A level.

BTW Lancaster and Warwick are not the only places giving alternative offers involving STEP - Bath, UCL, Southampton etc also do so.

STEP234 Mon 30-Oct-17 11:24:36

Allthebest the Cambridge standard offer is A* A* A and grades 1, 1 in STEP II and III. Usually there are some candidates who miss their STEP offer who still get accepted.

user918273645 I agree that it is rare, but it can happen!

Imperial will also ask for STEP if you missed taking MAT, and KCL say "Further Mathematics will be accepted at AS Level grade A only if you additionally achieve a 3 in any STEP paper or a Merit in AEA Mathematics." I picked Warwick and Lancaster as two examples!

pericat Mon 30-Oct-17 17:08:22

Ds1 is now doing the MMaths course at Warwick. Offers from other unis last year including STEP were Bristol and Southampton. Exeter did not include STEP in their offer.

user918273645 Mon 30-Oct-17 17:35:43

I do worry that you are giving pupils the impression that STEP is essential/very important for studying maths at university and that therefore if they find STEP difficult/do not have time to study for it they shouldn't do maths at university. You may well be putting people off university maths at the higher tariff (but not highest tariff) universities.

In reality places like Lancaster aren't actually going to enforce their offers for Maths in August - they simply cannot afford to turn away students who miss a grade in their third subject and only a very tiny fraction of incoming maths students at Lancaster will have attempted STEP. Lancaster and places like it include STEP in their offers to attract very strong students from the region to put them as insurance i.e. to give the impression that they are interested in very strong students.

Allthebestnamesareused Mon 30-Oct-17 17:53:42

STEP234 - not at the Cambridge college where I know the admissions tutor!

Very definitely 3 x A* plus a 1 in STEP 2 and 3.

Others may differ but they woukd have had to have performed spectacularly at interview.

Ontopofthesunset Mon 30-Oct-17 18:07:55

Well, the Cambridge maths admission page is giving out misleading information then, as it says the typical offer is A*A*A plus STEP.

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 31-Oct-17 06:54:49

Allthebest any chance you could point us towards the relevant college website, save is trawling through them all?

I'm sure there used to be a page which gave all the colleges' requirements for tests at interview and their usual offer (there does seem to be plenty of variation college to college at Cambridge - one reason why an Oxford application seems more appealing to me), but I can't find it atm.

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 31-Oct-17 06:58:58

Trinity - who would probably be expected to have the most demanding standards - say they ask for "A* A* A plus good grades (typically 1,1) in STEP Mathematics II and III" so I'd like to know who's fussier than them!

user918273645 Tue 31-Oct-17 08:31:12

Trinity don't give higher offers than other colleges for maths. They do occasionally ask for an S but the offer quoted is fairly standard across all colleges. There is some variation on what is accepted in August though - Trinity would rarely drop below STEP 1,1 while colleges towards the bottom of the Tompkins (league) table can be a bit more willing to take a STEP 2 in paper III.

Remember that a "typical" offer does not mean "all" offers. It does happen that A level grades higher than 2 A star in Maths/FM and an A in Physics are requested but across all colleges this is not typical.

BTW the difference between requiring 2 A star and 1 A (in specific subjects) and 3 A star is fairly minimal for most students getting maths offers, as they are very likely to get at least 3 A stars anyhow.

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 31-Oct-17 08:36:48

For current anecdotal info, dds Warwick offer is A* A* A with a 1 in any STEP. for MMath. The website says that it may be reduced for good scores in MAT or TMUA.

user918273645 Tue 31-Oct-17 08:49:02

Kitten: Warwick are completely transparent about their offers. They give standardised offers. I suspect that their offers are not actually decided in detail by academics but by admin teams (according to rules given by academics), although perhaps another poster knows more about that than me.

Since Cambridge looks closely at each candidate, interviews etc, and offers are made by colleges rather than departments, there is a bit more variation. Indeed somebody from one college may not know exactly what offers their counterparts at other colleges are giving! (Although of course there is discussion at departmental level....)

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 31-Oct-17 09:56:56

User, I was countering Allthebest who said “It is so competitive for Maths now that you are unlikely to get maths offers for Cambridge or Warwick without 3x A* plus a 1 on STEP2 and 3.” which clearly isn’t true. I suspect you are right, it’s such a large course that they can be very specific about their offers, without having to fine tune their pickings.

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 31-Oct-17 10:16:24

I'm not disagreeing with you user, I'm doubting allthebest!

STEP234 Tue 31-Oct-17 10:23:39

user918273645 I do worry that you are giving pupils the impression that STEP is essential/very important for studying maths at university and that therefore if they find STEP difficult/do not have time to study for it they shouldn't do maths at university.

I really hope that these threads will not put anyone off! My main aim is to try and make sure that all students who have STEP as part of their offer know about the (Free!) online course available, and know about it as early as possible so that they can start working through it.

The first 25 "Foundation" modules are accessible to anyone only doing A-level maths and also include a lot of maths beyond the Syllabus (both A-level and STEP) and links for further reading. Even those with no intention to sit STEP might find some of this interesting (and possibly useful re. personal statements etc.)

In reality places like Lancaster aren't actually going to enforce their offers for Maths in August - they simply cannot afford to turn away students who miss a grade in their third subject and only a very tiny fraction of incoming maths students at Lancaster will have attempted STEP. Lancaster and places like it include STEP in their offers to attract very strong students from the region to put them as insurance i.e. to give the impression that they are interested in very strong students.

I agree that most people applying to Lancaster will more likely get AAA A-levels rather than AAB and grade 3 in STEP I, but for any student getting an offer which includes STEP (which they don't know will not be enforced) knowing that there is some support out there for them can only be a good thing?

Do please have a look at the resources we have, and if you think they can be improved in anyway let me know.

In 2016 there were just over 500 offers for Maths at Cambridge, but almost 2000 people sat STEP I, over 1200 sat STEP II and over 800 sat STEP III. There are a lot of candidates without offers from Cambridge and/or Warwick sitting these papers! I would like to think that all of these candidates would find at least some of the resources we have on the site useful. If anyone thinks there is anything we can improve we are always grateful for suggestions smile

SuperPug Tue 31-Oct-17 10:29:14

On a different note...
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