STEP

Why STEP?

Well, apart from the need to support candidates whose offers require STEP grades, STEP papers provide rich problem solving questions to extend the high achievers. It is a respected qualification, and I find that not only potential mathematicians want to have a go, but so do physicists, engineers and computer scientists.

When STEP?

Traditionally, students take STEP alongside their A2 exams, and in order to meet UCAS requirements from Cambridge, Warwick, Bath, Bristol and an increasing (it seems to me) number of other universities. But by tackling it early, it could be used to enhance a UCAS application, and in any case, alongside MAT and PAT preparation, looking at STEP questions during the AS year can challenge students independently of any demands made by universities.

How STEP?

The best place to start is obviously the admissions website, the admissions website where you will find comprehensive guidance on the whys and wherefores of STEP, including a link to the STEP specification on the Cambridge Assessment website, where all the key dates, fees, test centres and other administrative details can be found.

There are also links from this site to the very useful Advanced Problems in Mathematics book can be downloaded – a collection of STEP problems with hints and worked solutions, written by Stephen Siklos. This can be used by students individually, or used as a class resource. The two-tier support – hint and then solution – provides excellent scaffolding (for the teacher, as well as student in some cases!) There is a similar booklet of problems – Advanced Problems in Core Mathematics – by the same author. Both contain a lot of Good Advice to students, many of whom will be facing problems outside their normal comfort zone.

Other useful sites include a new area on the Nrich website, the Nrich STEP site which gives students support with specific topics, as well as advice on preparation for interviews, and general problem solving support. It seems very much geared to individuals, and is comprehensive in its scope.

In addition to this, the Cambridge Mathematics Education Project‘s (CMEP) pilot site has a large selection of STEP, MAT and old O and A level questions sorted by topic, with full solutions. The site also contains resources that can be used at all levels of Post 16 mathematics. To gain access to the site your school will need to email and ask to become an affiliate school.

Meikleriggs website has long been providing worked solutions (handwritten at that) to STEP problems, giving us all a good model for how our answers should look. Integral, the FSMP website from MEI also has worked solution for STEP problems in its STEP area.

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