How to tackle an exam question…

Dr Peter Davidson of the Maths Skills Centre has drawn my attention to a sequence of posts on Tim Gowers’s excellent blog, in which Prof. Gowers lets us into his thought processes as he tackles Cambridge maths exam questions. Well worth a read, if only as an antidote to the habit of reading every exam question as a request to reproduce an example you’ve already seen in class!

[A short glossary: “the Tripos” is the traditional name of the Cambridge degree course; Part 1A is first year (corresponding roughly to our second year); and the exam papers are divided into Section I (short questions) and Section II (longer questions). With luck, everything else in these posts should make sense…]


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