Alas, poor STEP 1...

Thursday 25th March 2021

Cambridge Assessment announced last October that STEP 1 will no longer exist and only STEP 2 and STEP 3 will remain available to students. Although this information was sent to ‘interested parties’, it doesn’t seems to have permeated down to some schools and university admission offices. It is thus important that university applicants check the relevant admission expectations if they were intending to present a STEP qualification alongside their A levels.

Since STEP 2 assumes AS Further Mathematics as well as A level, students not taking Further Mathematics will have a restricted choice of question (probably six from eight as opposed to the previous six from twelve). STEP 3 assumes A2 Further Mathematics, so the choice would be even more restricted (probably to six from six). Consequently, STEP is now really only feasible to students taking Further Mathematics.

Since the arrangements for this year’s exams (and next year’s too quite possibly) are unclear at the moment, students might like to think about entering for TMUA (Test of Mathematics for University Admission) instead of STEP. There are two big advantages. Firstly, a TMUA grade would be independent evidence of a student’s achievement in addition to school assigned grades (and universities will be very keen on this). Secondly, TMUA results are sent to students who may then choose whether or not to send their TMUA grade to the universities to which they have applied. So, if a student does well in TMUA it’s to their advantage to tell their preferred universities of their grade but, if they do poorly, they need not mention it. Although only a few universities currently specify TMUA in their offers, it’s likely more and more will do so in light of the current exam uncertainties.

The TMUA examination is scheduled for late October/early November of a student’s Year 13, so now is the time to think about it. (Students may take MAT and TMUA even if they occur on the same day.)

You can view more information about TMUA on the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing websiteOpens a new window, and details about how the AMSP can help preparation for TMUA on our website or by contacting your local Area Coordinator.

By Martyn Quigley

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