My Woodhouse Mathematics

Chandan Varsani
Chandan Varsani
Chandan Varsani came to Woodhouse from Park High School and lives in Stanmore. He studied mathematics, further mathematics and physics at A level and graduated in 2018 with A*AA. He is currently at the London School of Economics studying Financial Mathematics and Statistics.
He spoke to us during his second year of A levels... 
“When researching my sixth form options I visited lots of good colleges, but mathematics at Woodhouse really struck me, even though it’s quite far from my home. I knew it had good reviews, so I came on open day and met the maths teachers and students, who talked about their ‘open door’ maths office policy and all the extra help they get, which I hadn’t seen anywhere else.
We have our own study area, upstairs in the maths block, where everyone can just sit and do maths – it’s a really good environment. When I first started, I took advantage of mentoring from one of our maths teachers. He would go through really hard questions with me from UKMT. I don’t think it was in his salary to mentor me on top of his teaching, but he still did it. Our teachers are always open to help and support us, and they push you to go as far as you can.
A level maths is more to do with actually understanding the content than just remembering how to do a question; you have got to know why you are doing what you are doing. I’ve found it different to GCSE and quite interesting, but not a struggle. I chose maths and further maths because I enjoy them.
Having a good place to work is important, but so are resources, and we have great online resources here. The Woodhouse maths webpages are amazing, you don’t need to go anywhere else to find whatever you need – it’s the first thing that comes up when I open my web browser.
We have a Friday club where we can do extra work – harder maths, basically, at Oxford and Cambridge standard – to help us prepare for our entrance exams.
Lots of us take the UK Senior Maths Challenge at Woodhouse (for further maths it’s compulsory, for maths it’s optional) and I got a silver award. The Challenge is problem solving maths and like multiple choice, but it’s tough because if you get a wrong answer you get a negative mark and you lose marks. We take the challenge like an exam in the college hall and two weeks later get our results. I wanted gold… The grade boundaries are much higher than the exam but lots of people did well this year. In any other year, the grade I got would have been a gold…
Straight away I felt very welcomed into the college, it’s a nice atmosphere. There’s all the learning zones, the library – that’s just amazing, they’ve got everything you need. There’s nice spaces and green areas where you can work after class. I usually stay until 5pm and if it’s good weather I work outside – it’s like a university campus.
I plan to study maths with statistics at university and have applied to Oxford, Imperial, LSC, Kings and UCL. Oxford would be my first choice and alongside my class work I’m preparing for the entrance exam and interview.
I did work experience in the summer at the fourth largest reinsurer in the world. SCOR is a global reinsurance company providing its clients with a broad range of innovative solutions and services and a solid financial base. I worked with a team of actuaries and the work was heavily maths and statistics based. It’s a career path that I want to follow. During my time there I was set a project making my own insurance product for young people. I learnt how companies calculate insurance premiums depending on the customer using census data.
I also took part in a Young Enterprise Scheme at college which lasted all year. We worked as a group and ran our own company with a real bank account. Our product was a waterproof wireless speaker with a suction cup so you could stick it on the wall anywhere you like. I was part of the finance team dealing with costs and profits. We made sales and promoted it in Woodhouse, and took surveys and analyzed the data.
I was quite poor at maths when I was in year 8, in the lowest set at my school. Then I got a good tutor who showed me maths is not just the way it is in text books, there’s much more to understand. That’s why I came to Woodhouse, it is known for it’s maths department. I knew that I wouldn’t have got that extra understanding anywhere else – I just want to know what is the furthest that I can go with maths.
I value my learning more at Woodhouse and don’t get bored. I’m doing the subjects that I want to do – so I enjoy coming to college.”