High Stakes
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I was talking to a friend about the admission test Oxford uses for their mathematical degrees.

I wanted to know how hard the MAT is in comparison to the STEP exam? Also what is the highest marks that have been achieved on either paper. Is full marks a realistic outcome?

Thanks!
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sweeneyrod
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MAT is easy peasy (in comparison to STEP)! You can probably prepare well for MAT in a few days of hard work. STEP requires months. You can see how many people get each mark on the MAT here. Some people do get above 90%, but not many. Full marks are certainly not required to get an offer. Unlike AS/A2 maths papers, you probably shouldn't be aiming for full marks. Why not try a paper and find out how hard it is?
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Doones
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(Original post by High Stakes)
I was talking to a friend about the admission test Oxford uses for their mathematical degrees.

I wanted to know how hard the MAT is in comparison to the STEP exam? Also what is the highest marks that have been achieved on either paper. Is full marks a realistic outcome?

Thanks!
You can see detailed distribution charts of marks for STEP here:
http://www.admissionstestingservice....g-and-results/

e.g. 2015
http://www.admissionstestingservice....of-results.pdf

It looks like nobody got full marks (120) in any STEP paper this year.

BTW STEP consists of 3 papers, usually STEP II & III are required for Maths applicants.
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High Stakes
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(Original post by jneill)
You can see detailed distribution charts of marks for STEP here:
http://www.admissionstestingservice....g-and-results/

e.g. 2015
http://www.admissionstestingservice....of-results.pdf

It looks like nobody got full marks (120) in any STEP paper this year.

BTW STEP consists of 3 papers, usually STEP II & III are required for Maths applicants.
Do you happen to know how Cambridge looks at STEP results? For example, with A levels I know Cambridge look at your UMS in particular because they see it as a strong indicator of performance. Does Cambridge only look at the grades achieved for STEP? (S,1,2, etc.) or do they also look at the individual score?

Thanks for the links btw. Quite interesting.
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Indeterminate
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Personally I'm not a fan of the MAT; I just think it's too simplistic

STEP is way more interesting and enjoyable! :yep: It's also harder.
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Doones
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(Original post by High Stakes)
Do you happen to know how Cambridge looks at STEP results? For example, with A levels I know Cambridge look at your UMS in particular because they see it as a strong indicator of performance. Does Cambridge only look at the grades achieved for STEP? (S,1,2, etc.) or do they also look at the individual score?

Thanks for the links btw. Quite interesting.
They get the full transcripts. But don't forget you normally sit STEP to meet the Offer, not before the Offer. So if your Offer condition is 1,1 in STEP II & III that's "all" you need to get.

But if you only achieve, say, 1,2 instead of 1,1 then they will look at your marks to see how close you were to the boundary. They *might* decide to relax the offer if you are a near miss.

Also they might use your STEP score to help pair up supervision partners etc when you start at Cambridge.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by High Stakes)
Do you happen to know how Cambridge looks at STEP results? For example, with A levels I know Cambridge look at your UMS in particular because they see it as a strong indicator of performance. Does Cambridge only look at the grades achieved for STEP? (S,1,2, etc.) or do they also look at the individual score?

Thanks for the links btw. Quite interesting.
Quite a few Maths offers aren't achieved because of STEP requirements not being met.
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TeeEm
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MAT is based on C1 and C2 only
I do not like MAT.
STEP is comprehensive and has stood the test of time.
AEA is better than MAT in my opinion, and the only reason MAT exists is University politics
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sweeneyrod
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(Original post by Muttley79)
Quite a few Maths offers aren't achieved because of STEP requirements not being met.
In fact, most maths offers are technically failed, because of STEP. IIRC, Cambridge makes 450 offers, for 250 places. Only 150 people actually achieve the required STEP grades, so they also let in the next best 100 people (who probably only narrowly missed the required grades).
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Muttley79
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(Original post by sweeneyrod)
In fact, most maths offers are technically failed, because of STEP. IIRC, Cambridge makes 450 offers, for 250 places. Only 150 people actually achieve the required STEP grades, so they also let in the next best 100 people (who probably only narrowly missed the required grades).
It varies between colleges - I've seen A*A*A* and a narrow miss on one STEP not get in.
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RichE
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(Original post by TeeEm)
MAT is based on C1 and C2 only
I do not like MAT.
STEP is comprehensive and has stood the test of time.
AEA is better than MAT in my opinion, and the only reason MAT exists is University politics
If you mean by the bold that Oxford should be using STEP as well, then one reason they don't is because its timing means it could not be used to shortlist the field of applicants. If you didn't mean that, could you elaborate?
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TeeEm
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(Original post by RichE)
If you mean by the bold that Oxford should be using STEP as well, then one reason they don't is because its timing means it could not be used to shortlist the field of applicants. If you didn't mean that, could you elaborate?
The main reason why MAT exists is purely so Oxford does not "humiliate" themselves in using a test administered by Cambridge. In order to disguise this fact the claim is that MAT is not competing with STEP as it is a test before an interview rather than a test after an interview and an offer.
(to an extend this is a valid reason but the Cambridge selection procedure is better for Maths true worth)

All the best
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RichE
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(Original post by TeeEm)
The main reason why MAT exists is purely so Oxford does not "humiliate" themselves in using a test administered by Cambridge. In order to disguise this fact the claim is that MAT is not competing with STEP as it is a test before an interview rather than a test after an interview and an offer.
(to an extend this is a valid reason but the Cambridge selection procedure is better for Maths true worth)
You're of course welcome to opinions on the relative merits of the MAT and the STEP for selecting candidates, but most of the above comment is uninformed prejudice. The Oxford admissions process works around shortlisting down to 3 applicants per place prior to interview, something Oxford couldn't ever use STEP for. It is also the case that the MAT is "administered" by Cambridge Assessment and some of the Oxford tests (ELAT) are actually set by Cambridge, so I don't think the use of any of the tests boil down to matters of university pride.
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Chief Wiggum
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(Original post by RichE)
You're of course welcome to opinions on the relative merits of the MAT and the STEP for selecting candidates, but most of the above comment is uninformed prejudice. The Oxford admissions process works around shortlisting down to 3 applicants per place prior to interview, something Oxford couldn't ever use STEP for. It is also the case that the MAT is "administered" by Cambridge Assessment and some of the Oxford tests (ELAT) are actually set by Cambridge, so I don't think the use of any of the tests boil down to matters of university pride.
Lol, this. The post you quoted was nonsense.
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Colmans
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(Original post by Chief Wiggum)
Lol, this. The post you quoted was nonsense.
It may be nonsense that Oxford would mind using a test devised elsewhere, but it might be embarrassing if one university routinely accepted say Step 1,2 and the other usually insisted on step 1,1. I think at least a few people suspect the average calibre of Cambridge mathematicians is higher.
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Willfourie
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Personally, I feel the MAT is much less stressful than the STEP. The overall difficulty of getting into either of Oxford of Cambridge is the same, but Oxford is, IMO, much less stressful. It's the reason I decided to go there.
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duonglisa
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I want to study E&M at Oxford and it does not require STEP. But would the university be impressed if I sit STEP exam ?
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Doones
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(Original post by duonglisa)
I want to study E&M at Oxford and it does not require STEP. But would the university be impressed if I sit STEP exam ?
Cambridge might be, I doubt Oxford would be that fussed. And note, its risky to sit STEP early, I wouldn't recommend it unless you are very well prepared.

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duonglisa
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(Original post by jneill)
Cambridge might be, I doubt Oxford would be that fussed. And note, its risky to sit STEP early, I wouldn't recommend it unless you are very well prepared.

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okay then thanks for your help!
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by TeeEm)
The main reason why MAT exists is purely so Oxford does not "humiliate" themselves in using a test administered by Cambridge. In order to disguise this fact the claim is that MAT is not competing with STEP as it is a test before an interview rather than a test after an interview and an offer.
(to an extend this is a valid reason but the Cambridge selection procedure is better for Maths true worth)

All the best
The reason for STEP and MAT is that back in the dark ages both Oxford and Cambridge set proper admissions exams for all subjects designed to be capable of being taken in both 4th and 7th terms of VIth forms ie there were a mix of difficulty on the questions.


There was pressure from state schools against the entrance examination. Oxford switched to a 4th term only admissions examination and Cambridge switched to a Sixth Term Entrance Paper.

Oxford then abolished its entrance exam and moved to a conditional offer system and Cambridge did likewise for all subjects except maths.

Oxford then found that as the pass rate for A levels climbed inexorably that A levels did not adequately discriminate between applicants. Rather than being chased down the road of requiring ever higher grades in irrelevant subjects Oxford introduced a series of short aptitude tests. MAT is one of these.

STEP is thus a legacy of a system that used to be universal at Oxbridge. MAT is part of a much newer system with a much more limited remit.
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