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Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing
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by Ellie Darlington, Senior Assessment Manager
Are you planning to study Maths or a Maths-related subject at university? You might be thinking about taking a Maths admissions test as part of your application.
Mathematics is a competitive and demanding subject, and therefore universities use admissions tests as a way to ensure they have the right applicants on their course. Typically, tests are used for one of three reasons:
From looking at universities’ websites or speaking to teachers and friends, you may already be aware of some of the Maths admissions tests. We’re going to take a look at the following three:
It is important to check the details of the course(s) you’re thinking of applying to, to see which ones are accepted or required.
STEP is used by the University of Cambridge, the University of Warwick and Imperial College London. Other universities sometimes ask candidates to take STEP.
There are also a number of candidates who take STEP as a challenge.
There are two STEP papers; each takes 3 hours and is based on different A Level knowledge:
The papers are graded on a 5-point scale. For more information, visit the STEP ‘Scoring and results’ web page.
STEP papers are typically taken in June. See key dates and costs for STEP.
We provide free STEP preparation materials on our website, including past papers. We recommend starting your preparation by downloading the STEP specification as it provides a detailed overview of the test content.
To download all of our free materials and access others from the STEP Support Programme, visit the STEP preparation web page.
TMUA is used by 10 UK universities: University of Bath, University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, Durham University, University of Nottingham School of Mathematical Sciences, Lancaster University, University of Sheffield, London School of Economics and Political Science, University of Southampton and University of Warwick. Some of these universities make reduced offers to applicants who have done well on TMUA. Check their websites for details.
For most of the courses the test is not compulsory, however you’re encouraged to take TMUA when applying to study Mathematics and Mathematics-related courses.
TMUA is based on AS Level and Higher Level GCSE Mathematics. There are two TMUA papers; each takes 75 minutes and has 20 multiple-choice questions:
You are given a score based on your overall performance on both papers, which is given on a scale of 1.0 to 9.0. For more information, visit the TMUA ‘Scoring and results’ web page.
TMUA is typically taken at the end of October/beginning of November. See key dates and costs for TMUA.
Your results are sent directly to you. It is then up to you whether or not to share your results with universities. Therefore, it’s risk-free – you have nothing to lose by taking TMUA because, if you’re not happy with your result, your universities will never need to know.
The test uses Mathematics you’ve already learned in your school studies, so there’s no need to take a preparation course or to do much preparation beyond familiarising yourself with the test format and style of questions.
We provide the test specification, notes on Logic and Proof, and past papers with explained answers. To access all our free resources, visit the TMUA preparation web page.
MAT is the University of Oxford’s admissions test for undergraduate degree courses in Mathematics, Computer Science and their joint degrees. In conjunction with your UCAS application, Oxford uses MAT scores to shortlist applicants for interviews.
Imperial College London also uses MAT for all of its undergraduate Mathematics courses. Other universities also consider MAT.
MAT is based on AS and A Level Mathematics and takes 2 hours 30 minutes.
Raw marks are given for MAT, which you can request from the universities as part of their feedback processes.
MAT is typically taken at the end of October/beginning of November. See key dates and costs for MAT.
You will find everything you need to prepare for MAT on the universities’ websites. Ensure you are familiar with the syllabus and test format by downloading specimen tests and past papers.
Ultimately, it depends on the universities you apply to.
Some universities require you to take a specific test, while others recommend tests that they accept, and therefore it’s up to you which one you take. If you have the choice, you should consider which assessment will work best for you. However, you can take multiple tests if you want to.
Make sure you check the entry requirements of the course with the university you plan to apply to.
If your chosen university doesn’t require you to take a test and doesn’t make reduced A Level offers, then there’s no need to take any of these tests.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take one, and there are plenty of reasons why you should: