Calling all Mathematicians…

Date Posted: Tuesday 01 December 2020

Living internationally and thinking about applying for Maths, Physics or Computer Science at university? If so, you have to read this!

Studying at Cambridge changed my life. Not only was it a great academic challenge, but it propelled me from shy and retiring nerd to a confident and proud mathematician. Suddenly it was cool to talk about things that interested you – from algorithms to Molière – it was a different world from where I had grown up. One of the most satisfying things was to know that I had pushed myself and realised my potential.

People often talk about making use of university connections in the world of work; I’m not sure I’ve ever made use of the great network of friends I made, but my degree gave me the opportunity to teach at some of the best schools in London and Oxford. Since leaving university, I have always been involved in helping students to get there – including one key part – the interview. Over the past 15 years I have conducted many mock interviews with students from many schools – both private and public. 

Having recently moved to Geneva, last month I volunteered to interview some students in the area. It was a small sample, but their depth of mathematical knowledge and preparedness were not comparable at all to students I have interviewed in the past. To be honest, I can’t blame them. The French and the International Baccalaureates offer outstanding breadth, but the vast majority of Oxbridge dons do not care about breadth – they want to know about your ability in and passion for their subject.

If you apply to top UK universities for maths or a maths-related subject, you are going up against students who almost all take Maths and Further Maths A-level – spending half their academic time learning maths. Not only does this mean much more content, but also a much deeper understanding of the core material. If you are doing the IB, you spend one sixth of your time on maths. You cannot compete.

So, how to solve this problem? Choose A-levels, of course!

I am the Head of Maths at Geneva English School and we will be welcoming our initial A-level student intake in September 2021. I was trained by the Head Teacher of Kings Maths School, the most successful school in the UK and my department uses similar approaches to teaching. I have a team who are not only exceptional teachers but also have first-class maths degrees and many years of experience teaching Maths and Further Maths A-levels, as well as preparing students for entrance exams and interviews.

Students in the Geneva area deserve the chance to realise their potential at top universities. Speak to us about how we can help them achieve their ambitions.

Luke Pearce
Head of Secondary Mathematics, Assessment and Outdoor Education