I found myself yesterday in a small-town bookshop, kicking my heels for half an hour. Prompted by recent press discussion of the standard of A-levels (the UK 18+ end-of-high-school examination), I browsed through some books intended for A-level further maths students. I must say that they did seem really rather noddy to me, though of course it is only too easy to be seduced into the thought that things are going to the dogs!
Still, that prompted me, just for fun, to look out the papers I sat aged seventeen and a bit, to get into Cambridge, back when the world was young. So here’s a small selection of some of the shorter questions:1 click to enlarge. (There were four three-hour papers with ten questions apiece: as I recall you aimed to get out at least half-a-dozen a time).
The questions do seem tougher than anything I saw in the contemporary text for further maths. But it would be interesting to know from anyone with their finger more on the pulse how many reasonably bright school kids are in a position to tackle this sort of thing these days. Or indeed — though the answer could be depressing — how many of their teachers.
1 I don’t guarantee my proof reading in copying the questions!