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STEP (Sixth Term Examination Paper) Mathematics is a well-established mathematics examination designed to test candidates on questions that are similar in style to undergraduate mathematics.
STEP is used by the University of Cambridge, the University of Warwick and Imperial College London. Please check the details of your course(s) to confirm if you are required to take STEP as part of the application process. If you are in any doubt, please contact the university directly.
Other universities sometimes ask candidates to take STEP as part of their offer – in such cases, the university can advise on which papers to take.
There are also a number of candidates who sit STEP papers as a challenge.
From 2021, STEP 1 will no longer exist and only STEP 2 and STEP 3 will remain.
If you were planning to take STEP 1 as part of your university application, please check with your chosen university to see which alternative option(s) they will accept.
The test consists of up to two 3-hour paper-based examinations: STEP 2 and STEP 3. Candidates are usually required to sit either one or two of the examinations, depending on the requirements of the universities they have applied to.
Graph paper is not needed, as the test requires only sketches, not detailed graphs. There is no longer a formulae booklet for STEP Mathematics examinations.
For more detailed information about the format of STEP, see the 2023 STEP specification.
STEP Mathematics 2 (9470)
The paper consists of 12 questions.
Candidates choose 6 questions to answer
STEP Mathematics 3 (9475)
You are advised to choose no more than six questions to answer, but there’s no restriction on which questions you choose. All questions carry equal marks and your final mark will be based on the six questions for which you gain the highest marks.
The following changes will be implemented for the 2019 examinations:
STEP 1 has now been discontinued.
STEP 2 is based on A Level Mathematics and AS Level Further Mathematics. The paper has 12 questions across three sections: the first contains 8 pure questions, the second contains 2 mechanics questions, and the third contains 2 probability/statistics questions.
STEP 3 is based on A Level Mathematics and A Level Further Mathematics. The paper has 12 questions across three sections: the first contains 8 pure questions, the second contains 2 mechanics questions, and the third contains 2 probability/statistics questions.
The style of the questions will remain unaltered, and most of the STEP questions from previous papers can be used for preparation.
As before, each question will have the maximum mark of 20. In each paper, candidates will be assessed on the six questions best answered; no restriction will be placed on the number of questions that may be attempted from any section and all questions attempted will be marked.
The marking scheme for each question will be designed to reward candidates who make good progress towards a complete solution. Correct answers always receive full marks, whatever the method used.
Questions may test a candidate’s ability to apply mathematical knowledge in novel and unfamiliar ways and will often require knowledge of several different specification topics. Solutions will frequently require insight, ingenuity, persistence and the ability to work through substantial sequences of algebraic manipulation.