University admissions tests: STEP, MAT and TMUA
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 form part of the offer for Mathematics at Cambridge University.
What are STEP, MAT and TMUA?
Several prestigious universities ask students applying to their maths-related degree courses to take admission tests. These tests may form a 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 admission tests they may require are:
- STEP (Sixth Term Examination Paper) Mathematics
- MAT (Mathematics Admission Test)
- TMUA (Test of Mathematics for University Admission)
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 admission tests for other types of degree courses.
Often the level of mathematical knowledge needed for these is no more advanced that GCSE Mathematics; however they may involve quite challenging problems.
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.
How can the AMSP help with preparing 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:
- For students interested in sitting the MAT or TMUA examinations, the AMSP in partnership with Oxford University, Imperial College, Warwick University, Durham University and Bristol University 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 course and the TMUA course run from September to the end of October each year. 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 a limited number of free places for students at state-funded schools and colleges located 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:
- The legacy Further Mathematics Support Programme (FMSP) produced a range of problem-solving materials for post-16 students. These can be found in the FMSP Legacy Resources Archive and include:
- A level problem-solving materials
- Materials from the Senior Team Maths Challenge (STMC)
- Year 12 Problem Solving Summer School
- As part of the support MEI provides for STEP, it also provides access to sample materials and access to past paper worked solutions.
- If your school/college has registered with the AMSP, your teachers should be able to access additional materials from Integral®.
- Further materials for practicing your problem-solving skills are available from the Cambridge University STEP Support Programme, the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT) and NRICH.