The Student Room Group

MAT importance

how much does the maths admissions exam influence your chances of getting a place at a university?
Specifically universities like Oxford, Cambridge and Warwick, to study mathematics.
in GCSE i got 99988866655 (9s in maths and further maths) and im predicted A*A*A*A at A level (A* in maths and f.m) and i was wondering if i got a good MAT score with those grades would it be to ambitious to hope to get into Oxford or Cambridge?
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Mertzy3739
how much does the maths admissions exam influence your chances of getting a place at a university?
Specifically universities like Oxford, Cambridge and Warwick, to study mathematics.
in GCSE i got 99988866655 (9s in maths and further maths) and im predicted A*A*A*A at A level (A* in maths and f.m) and i was wondering if i got a good MAT score with those grades would it be to ambitious to hope to get into Oxford or Cambridge?


MAT is probably more important than GCSE grades. A level predictions are one of the most important factors, as if your teachers think you won’t meet the entry requirements, Oxford probably won’t either.

Usually, offer-holders at Oxford get something like 70% on the MAT. You can access the past papers here: https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/study-here/undergraduate-study/maths-admissions-test/mat-past-papers

The chances are, you have a very strong chance to get in. Your GCSE’s are fantastic and your A level predictions surpass the entry requirements. Practice the past papers and get an idea of how much you do/don’t know and where to improve.

If you want to go to Cambridge, you need to do STEP.
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 2
Original post by TypicalNerd
MAT is probably more important than GCSE grades. A level predictions are one of the most important factors, as if your teachers think you won’t meet the entry requirements, Oxford probably won’t either.

Usually, offer-holders at Oxford get something like 70% on the MAT. You can access the past papers here: https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/study-here/undergraduate-study/maths-admissions-test/mat-past-papers

The chances are, you have a very strong chance to get in. Your GCSE’s are fantastic and your A level predictions surpass the entry requirements. Practice the past papers and get an idea of how much you do/don’t know and where to improve.

If you want to go to Cambridge, you need to do STEP.

thank you very much.
what is the difference between STEP and the MAT, also is it true that cambridge care less about GCSEs than oxford, also do cambridge still do an interview like oxford do?
Original post by Mertzy3739
thank you very much.
what is the difference between STEP and the MAT, also is it true that cambridge care less about GCSEs than oxford, also do cambridge still do an interview like oxford do?

I’m not entirely sure about GCSE expectations at either uni, as I’m not an admissions tutor at either uni.

MAT is basically just the year 12 content of normal A level maths, with the difficulty ramped up to 11.

STEP is a fair bit more, with additional content needing to be learned independently of the A level syllabus.

I applied to Oxford to study chemistry, though I had considered both Oxford and Cambridge for maths, did my research and decided against studying maths.

Also, have you heard of AEA maths? It may be a nice idea to speak with your exams officer and get yourself entered.
Reply 4
Original post by Mertzy3739
thank you very much.
what is the difference between STEP and the MAT, also is it true that cambridge care less about GCSEs than oxford, also do cambridge still do an interview like oxford do?

For maths, neither Cambridge nor Oxford particularly focus on GCSEs. For Oxford the MAT is the main (but not only) criterion for shortlisting and offers are mainly made on MAT and interview scores. But there is a fair bit of individual contextualizing that goes on around the bald marks.
Cambridge don't consider MAT at all, they make offers with STEP conditions instead.

For Oxford I gather it's a pretty important part of determining whether you are invited to interview, and the interview then is pretty important (although MAT may well still be considered after interview).

Warwick require STEP if you don't get a good score in MAT. Getting a good result in MAT may mean you won't have a STEP requirement in your offer.

While in general Cambridge do care less about GCSEs than Oxford, for maths at Oxford I gather GCSEs are of secondary importance to MAT.
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 6
Original post by artful_lounger
Cambridge don't consider MAT at all, they make offers with STEP conditions instead.

For Oxford I gather it's a pretty important part of determining whether you are invited to interview, and the interview then is pretty important (although MAT may well still be considered after interview).

Warwick require STEP if you don't get a good score in MAT. Getting a good result in MAT may mean you won't have a STEP requirement in your offer.

While in general Cambridge do care less about GCSEs than Oxford, for maths at Oxford I gather GCSEs are of secondary importance to MAT.


thank you. do you know if GCSEs are of secondary importance to STEP when applying to cambridge or are they of equal importance?
Original post by Mertzy3739
thank you. do you know if GCSEs are of secondary importance to STEP when applying to cambridge or are they of equal importance?


Don't think Cambridge cares much about GCSEs at all. They tend to interview the majority of applicants, and the interview is more likely to be the main deciding factor in whether you get an offer.

Spoiler




Then STEP comes after you have an offer - you take it towards the end of the A-level exam period/after A-levels. So it's a condition of an offer, and by that point you'll have already been interviewed and have an offer. Then the STEP condition is what usually most (about half) miss out on...
Reply 8
Original post by artful_lounger
Don't think Cambridge cares much about GCSEs at all. They tend to interview the majority of applicants, and the interview is more likely to be the main deciding factor in whether you get an offer.

Spoiler




Then STEP comes after you have an offer - you take it towards the end of the A-level exam period/after A-levels. So it's a condition of an offer, and by that point you'll have already been interviewed and have an offer. Then the STEP condition is what usually most (about half) miss out on...

wait so how does the STEP help if you take it after having an offer?
Original post by Mertzy3739
wait so how does the STEP help if you take it after having an offer?


Because your offer will specify you must attain a certain result in STEP (just like for your A-levels). For Cambridge for example they normally require 1,1 in STEP. This is because the majority of applicants there will achieve the grades for the offer - so it's STEP that will determine whether they meet their offer or go to their insurance option.

This does however put a lot of pressure on the applicant after getting the offer because they need to do very well in STEP on top of very well in their A-levels (although usually the latter is less of a concern and is a given). Thus some people choose to apply to Oxford for maths specifically for that reason - if they get an offer they just need to achieve it (which is usually quite straightforward for them) and so it's a lot less pressure after getting through the whole interview process in the first place!
Original post by artful_lounger
Because your offer will specify you must attain a certain result in STEP (just like for your A-levels). For Cambridge for example they normally require 1,1 in STEP. This is because the majority of applicants there will achieve the grades for the offer - so it's STEP that will determine whether they meet their offer or go to their insurance option.

This does however put a lot of pressure on the applicant after getting the offer because they need to do very well in STEP on top of very well in their A-levels (although usually the latter is less of a concern and is a given). Thus some people choose to apply to Oxford for maths specifically for that reason - if they get an offer they just need to achieve it (which is usually quite straightforward for them) and so it's a lot less pressure after getting through the whole interview process in the first place!


oh okay i understand, thank you.
please can you explain the application process for oxford, with regards to the interview, MAT and A levels and how that all works.
Original post by Mertzy3739
thank you. do you know if GCSEs are of secondary importance to STEP when applying to cambridge or are they of equal importance?


50% of Cambridge offer holders for Maths miss the STEP requirement. Bear that in mimd when deciding between the two.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Mertzy3739
oh okay i understand, thank you.
please can you explain the application process for oxford, with regards to the interview, MAT and A levels and how that all works.


Have you looked at this: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/course-listing/mathematics

You sit the MAT in November of Year 13 - they review your application and decide whether to interview you.

They then may offer you a place conditional on A level grades so all you focus on is your A levels.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Mertzy3739
oh okay i understand, thank you.
please can you explain the application process for oxford, with regards to the interview, MAT and A levels and how that all works.


You can find a lot more info about the MAT here: https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/study-here/undergraduate-study/maths-admissions-test

It's taken after you apply but before you are interviewed (but you need to register beforehand, which is much earlier!).

Then as I understand they use this to determine who to shortlist for interview, and then you have your interview (assuming you are taking the required subjects and are predicted the standard offer). The interview is probably the main determinant for getting an offer I would guess, although as I'm not an admissions tutor at Oxford I couldn't say with absolute certainty!

If you do get an offer, you then just need to achieve those A-level grades to meet it. No STEP nonsense to worry about :smile:

For the interview itself I'd suggest looking on the Oxford webpages, as they have a lot of information about the nature of their interviews and what they are (and aren't!). Basically though, it's an academic, technical interview where you'd spend most of the time working through maths problems with the interviewer, explaining your thinking about how you approach it and how you get to your answer etc. They'll usually aim to ask you things that are unfamiliar but that can approached using what you know. It's not a test of social charm or whatever, so you don't need to be especially charismatic or anything, just be able to communicate your ideas clearly as you go along.
Original post by Muttley79
Have you looked at this: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/course-listing/mathematics

You sit the MAT in November of Year 12 - they review your application and decide whether to interview you.

They then may offer you a place conditional on A level grades so all you focus on is your A levels.


okay thank you, why do you take it so early, wouldnt it make more sense to do it in november of yr13?
Original post by Mertzy3739
okay thank you, why do you take it so early, wouldnt it make more sense to do it in november of yr13?

Oh sorry I meant Year 13 - will edit. Talk to your teachers as many school start additional help around Easter of Year 12.
Original post by Muttley79
Oh sorry I meant Year 13 - will edit. Talk to your teachers as many school start additional help around Easter of Year 12.


okay, thank you very much
Original post by artful_lounger
You can find a lot more info about the MAT here: https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/study-here/undergraduate-study/maths-admissions-test

It's taken after you apply but before you are interviewed (but you need to register beforehand, which is much earlier!).

Then as I understand they use this to determine who to shortlist for interview, and then you have your interview (assuming you are taking the required subjects and are predicted the standard offer). The interview is probably the main determinant for getting an offer I would guess, although as I'm not an admissions tutor at Oxford I couldn't say with absolute certainty!

If you do get an offer, you then just need to achieve those A-level grades to meet it. No STEP nonsense to worry about :smile:

For the interview itself I'd suggest looking on the Oxford webpages, as they have a lot of information about the nature of their interviews and what they are (and aren't!). Basically though, it's an academic, technical interview where you'd spend most of the time working through maths problems with the interviewer, explaining your thinking about how you approach it and how you get to your answer etc. They'll usually aim to ask you things that are unfamiliar but that can approached using what you know. It's not a test of social charm or whatever, so you don't need to be especially charismatic or anything, just be able to communicate your ideas clearly as you go along.


ah okay that makes sense, ill do some more research on it now. thank you.
Original post by Mertzy3739
okay, thank you very much


I teach Maths and am preparing students for Oxbridge. Have you done any UKMT challenges? Other stuff? There are videos on youtube of Oxford Year 1 lectures by Dr Vicky Neale.
Reply 19
Original post by Mertzy3739
okay, thank you very much

If you're thinking about Oxford for maths, I'd suggest working through some past MAT papers over the summer. There are plenty online together with average marks for all/shortlisted/successful applicants. Don't expect to find it straightforward immediately, just make what progress you can, then make sure to do some papers timed to improve your exam strategy.

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