Applying for Mathematics at Oxford University

There are two Mathematics degrees at Oxford University, the three-year BA and the four-year MMath. Decisions regarding continuation to the fourth year do not have to be made until the third year. The first year consists of core courses in pure and applied mathematics (including statistics). Options start in the second year, with the third and fourth years offering a large variety of courses, including options from outside mathematics.

Academic Requirements:
- A-levels: A*A*A with the A8s in Mathematics and Further Mathematics (if taken). For those wome Further Mathematics is not available: either A*AAa with A* in Mathematics and a in AS-level Futher Mathematics or A*AA with A* in Mathematics
- Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
- IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL (the 7 must be in Higher Level Mathematics)

Why did you choose the Mathematics course at Oxford?

It's very flexible, and one of the most prestigious courses in the country. (Profile 592)

It was easy - perfect location and it had the tutor i wanted and besides, i was also tempted by lower application to places ratio which obviously doesn’t tell you how many geniuses flock into one college. (Profile 475)

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

The maths course is very appealing and is rated slighty lower than Cambridge, meaning that you can leave your room from time to time. (Profile 477)

Oxford seemed to have far more life than Cambridge and I thought I would have a more enjoyable 3/4 years. (Profile 572)

I went to an open day to Oxford and was pretty happy with what I saw. In all honesty, I also thought that applying to Cambridge to maths was going to be harder, and that I wouldn't get anything more out of going there. (Profile 469)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

Review curve sketching and basic calculus. Make sure you know a little about the area of mathematics that you are going to say that you are interested in. Wear what you are most comfortable in to your interviews. (Profile 

Know C1-3 inside out. Otherwise hints given in the interviews may be meaningless, and the questions on the written paper may well be impossible. (Profile 592)

Review curve sketching and basic calculus. Make sure you know a little about the area of mathematics that you are going to say that you are interested in. Wear what you are most comfortable in to your interviews. (Profile 469)

Make sure you know how to draw graphs. Don't be phased by being asked questions you don't know they'll help you through it. (Profile 493)

Simply be confident about talking to someone you haven't met before. If you're not sure about doing that then definitely arrange a mock interview in your school. (Profile 754)

Read on everything in maths you can -it might seem very superfluous after the interview and most importantly practice STEP questions! Maths is very much like sport - talent needs practice training to get to top. Public school people are much better coached than state school people- so don’t let them win. (Profile 475)

Did you have to take any exams as part of your interview(s)?

There was a two and a half hour test to do the day before interviews began. I looked at the specimens on the Internet beforehand and although the actual test was a bit different, they are well worth going through. If there are questions you couldn't do, it might be worth thinking/talking about them so that you might have something to say the next day when you are asked about them in your interview.(Profile 469)

The 2-and-a-half hour written test - 40% is (varying from easy to tricky) multiple choice questions, 60% is on longer style questions, covering geometry, calculus, logic, functions. Anything can come up!(Profile 592)

3 hour long maths exam with no calculator and no formula book. I learnt how to add without using a calculator and tried to learn the stuff in my formula book i.e. no real preparation (Profile 493)

We did take two and half hours maths test - i didnt realize that there was specimen paper on the Net, but again it was much harder and I think it depressed us all until someone told me above 60% is good...Relief.. - or so I thought… (Profile 475)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

Apart from reviewing the test I was asked questions on curve sketching, which appears to be a very common area of questioning. It’s probably worth going over that before your interview. I was asked about an area of mathematics that I was particularly interested in, so it important to have an area of specialism before you get there.(Profile 469)

One interview was based on curve sketching with the very same Biomath tutor whom i tried to impress by my knowledge of logistic equation (chaos theory). then late interview with tired professor based on very weird computer question - went through it like fog and didn't take all the hints he was trying to give and the only thing i got right was simple permutation question. The next day in Christ Church (amazing building!) a tutor started with question how bad was my hearing. After "Urgh.." he then asked which maths equation i could remember from book outside A-level syllabus and if i knew proof. I didnt know proof so there we went. In the end it turned out to be some consequence of the Taylor series of which i was still ignorant then. But it was about how i could approach to new things. And i got to the proof not without bored sighs of the tutor. Then it was another interesting number theory question to prove that if a large number is divisible by three then sum of its digits is divisible by three too- which went painfully slow again - more of him answering his own question than I did. (Profile 475)

First interview was mainly curve sketching, geometry, and combinatorics/probability. The questions were easier than I expected, but were still very much harder than the A-level syllabus required of us. Second interview was much harder than I expected, and was oriented about very abstract and logic-based problems. Third interview was based entirely about convergence and divergence and limits of series. (Profile 592)

St Johns:
- Draw a triangle, form inequality that the sum of any two sides is greater than or equal to the third side.
- Now draw a quadrilateral, draw in diagonals.
- Deduce that sum of the diagonals is greater than the sum of two opposite sides.
- There are a collection of points on a plane. Join them together to make a circuit. Uncrossed circuits can be made by finding crossings, and simply uncrossing them. Repeat until uncrossed.
- Deduce that there exists a shortest circuit - there are a finite number of points, hence there are a finite number of circuits. A finite set has a smallest member, hence there exists a shortest circuit. This circuit will not have any crossings, since the the length of the corresponding uncrossed circuit (created by uncrossing the crossing) would be longer (using result found above).

- Integration of some trigometric functions i.e. sin^2(x)cos^3(x)
- When f(x+y) = f(x)f(y), prove f(0) = 1 where f is a non-zero, real valued function.(Profile 839)