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What are STEP, MAT and TMUA?

Several more selective universities ask students applying to their maths-related degree courses to take admission tests. These tests may form part of the offer for a place on the course or may reduce the UCAS points score required. These are generally required in addition to specific A level grades (or alternative qualifications). 

The maths admissions assessments they may require are: 

The questions in these tests are longer and less structured than most A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics examination questions. 

Are there other admissions tests that involve maths?

Some universities require applicants to take admissions assessments for other types of degree courses. 

Often, the level of mathematical knowledge needed for these is no more advanced than GCSE Mathematics; however, they may involve quite challenging problems. 

There are several different types of these assessments. Some examples are the ESAT (Engineering and Science Admissions Test), which requires knowledge of A level mathematics, and the GAT (Geography Admissions Test), which assumes no content beyond GCSE mathematics. 

Which tests do universities ask for?

Details of the admissions requirements for specific courses are detailed on the universities’ websites. 

Some universities use admissions tests to help them decide who to interview, some make them a condition of offer, and some use them to make a reduced offer. 

Check the pages about applying for the courses you are interested in. Please note that this information may have changed since you last looked!

How do I know which test to take?

Here’s a decision table for Mathematics courses only to help you decide which test is right for you: 

UniversitySTEPMATTMUAAEA
University of CambridgeCompulsory.Take this if you are also applying to Imperial College London. Consider taking if also applying to the University of Warwick (although the TMUA is also acceptable for Warwick). If not taking the MAT, this can be a useful experience (and maybe a better choice than the MAT for Warwick); it may result in lower offers from your other university choices.
University of OxfordUseful for the experience.Compulsory (including for joint honours courses). 
Imperial College LondonA high score in STEP may be required if the MAT deadline is missed. Compulsory unless you miss the deadline. Not accepted for mathematics courses (except mathematics and computer science; see below). 
University of WarwickEither the MAT or the TMUA is compulsory for mathematics courses.Either the MAT or the TMUA is compulsory for mathematics courses.
Durham UniversityDo not take the MAT unless you are also applying to the University of Oxford or Imperial College London or the University of Warwick, but note that a MAT score may be used in place of taking the TMUA.Reduced offer for a good score in the TMUA.
LSEA good score may make an application more competitive
Other universitiesSeveral universities will give lower offers if you score well in STEP.Do not take the MAT unless you are also applying to the University of Oxford or Imperial College London (or possibly the University of Warwick), but note that a good score may give a lower offer at several universities as an alternative to STEP and TMUA.Several universities will give lower offers if you score well in the TMUA.Some universities will give lower offers if you score well in AEA
Other universitiesUniversities which have in the past encouraged STEP, MAT and/or TMUA include Bath, Durham, Kings College London, Lancaster, LSE, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton and UCL 
University of WarwickThe University of Warwick strongly encourages students to take an admissions assessment and gives lower offers to students who are successful in them. The MAT is available to students applying to Warwick (as well as to Oxford and Imperial, but no other institutions). TMUA, MAT and STEP are all accepted. 

Other courses requiring the MAT: 

University of Oxford: Computer Science courses 

Courses requiring the TMUA: 

University of Cambridge: Computer Science; Economics (October sitting) 

Imperial College, London: Courses in the department of Computer Science, including Mathematics with Computer Science; Economics, Finance and Data (Imperial College Business School) (October or January sitting) 

London School of Economics: Economics; Econometrics with Mathematical Economics (October or January sitting)

How can the AMSP help prepare students for STEP, MAT, and TMUA?

The AMSP provides tuition to support to students preparing to take the STEP, MAT and TMUA admission tests. This can be delivered in various formats to help you to access it easily: 

  • Our Setting Out In Problem Solving (SOIPS) course is ideal for Year 12 and 13 students interested in beginning to develop their problem-solving skills or wanting to learn more about university entry examinations. 
  • For students interested in sitting the MAT or TMUA examinations, the AMSP, in partnership with Bath University, Durham University, Imperial College London, The University of Oxford, Manchester University and The University of Warwick, runs the Problem Solving Matters Course each year. The course is designed to prepare students for the way they will have to think to achieve success in the MAT, TMUA and other problem-solving mathematics examinations by developing their mathematical thinking and problem-solving skills. 
  • The AMSP provides online support for students sitting the STEP, MAT and TMUA examinations. The MAT andTMUA courses run from September to the end of October each year. (A second TMUA course will run from 2024 for those taking the exam at the second sitting in January.) The STEP courses run from February to May each year. 
  • AMSP Area Coordinators run a number of regular problem-solving classes designed to support students sitting the STEP, MAT and TMUA examinations. 
  • We offer limited free places for students at state-funded schools and colleges in AMSP Priority Areas

Your local AMSP Area Coordinator can advise you on the best options for circumstances. 

If you want to work on developing your problem-solving skills, here are some resources to help you:

Administrative changes 

In early October 2020, the Admissions Testing Service announced that from 2021, STEP 1 will no longer exist. STEP 2 and STEP 3 will continue to be offered and, from 2024, will be administered by OCR. Entries are handled by schools; consult your Examinations Officer. 

Administrative arrangements for the MAT for 2024 (along with Oxford’s other admissions assessments) have not yet been announced, but the content and style of the paper will be unchanged. Entries are handled by schools; consult your Examinations Officer. 

The TMUA will be administered by Pearson VUE from 2024, and students will need to enter for the test themselves. Candidates are encouraged to create an account as soon as possible, and booking opens 10 weeks before the exam dates. The earlier you book, the more chance you have of getting the appointment you want at your local test centre.

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