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It’s spring and the annual cycle is becoming particularly apparent: the days are rapidly lengthening, daffodils are in full bloom, and migratory birds are returning north. As nature awakes, our thoughts inevitably turn towards autumn’s university entrance exams such as MAT and TMUA. Wise students give themselves six or seven months to prepare for these challenging tests; they give themselves even longer to prepare for STEP. For this reason, dozens of Year 12 students from across the East Midlands region have been applying for the AMSP’s ever popular extended course, Preparing for MAT, TMUA and STEP.

Last year, the AMSP ran weekly classes over 16 weeks for over fifty Year 12s. Many of the students who took the course subsequently received offers to read Maths or Computer Science from Oxbridge colleges and other first-class institutions. The vast majority enjoyed the course, a fact evinced by the very high retention rates, the obvious delight students showed in the online lessons, and the feedback comments we received, including:

  • I really liked the delivery of the lessons and how interactive they were.
  • Really enjoyed the structure and the style of the lessons. I felt confident to speak within the group and not pressured if I got anything wrong. It was a great learning environment.
  • I thought that the collaborative problem-solving sessions were extremely valuable – they aren’t something I’ve ever really had the chance to do before, but I think they allowed me to think about the problems myself, with others suggesting ideas to help as we went. It was great. Also, the direct teaching at the start was extremely useful, providing some context and methods before we tackled the problems.
  • I think the whole process of discussing things together, then going into groups and then going over any things we struggled on at the end, was effective and a good way of structuring the sessions.

This year’s course begins in the final week of March and will end in July. So far, we’ve accepted over forty students for the free course. There are therefore very few free places left.

My thoughts on the advisability of early exposure to challenging university admissions test questions were confirmed and also shaped by an email from a student who took two of our East Midlands AMSP courses last year. Writing about STEP, he said, “Initially in Year 12 I was actually quite scared to attempt STEP questions due to their difficulty, but looking back I wish I would have done more STEP questions early on. The inclusion of STEP questions in the Year 12 course has definitely helped and even if a question perhaps takes 2 hours to complete early on, it goes miles to build confidence that they are completely doable. I [think] that preparing for STEP takes a year, maybe even more and the structure of the course to introduce these questions early on is definitely beneficial.

If you’re the teacher of, the parent of, or indeed are yourself, a very good Year 12 student who wants to prepare for the MAT, TMUA or STEP, please get in touch with me ([email protected]).

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