What Is The Oxford MAT (Mathematics Admissions Test)?

The MAT is a difficult test of your mathematical abilities. We cover everything you need to know about the test such as what it tests, how to prepare and what a good score is.

Last Updated: 8th June 2022

Author: Rob Needleman

You are here:

Table of Contents

The Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) at Oxford can seem intimidating, as it’s a fairly advanced exam.

It’s a difficult test of your mathematical abilities and it can be hard to understand the place of the test in the overall application process. So, to provide clarity, this guide will explain what the MAT is and its place in the application process. 

What Is The Oxford MAT?

The MAT is a test used by the University of Oxford, Imperial College London and the University of Warwick. Each university uses the MAT in a different way as some require you to submit a score (like Oxford) while others provide it as an option to support your application. Here are the courses that require or accept the MAT as part of the application process:

The test was previously paper-based and operated by Oxford itself. However, in 2023, Oxford gave operational responsibilities to a firm called Tata Consultancy Services. The exam was presented as a hybrid between computer-based and paper-based, but this led to applicants facing severe technical difficulties and a second MAT test being offered

In 2024, MAT operations were moved again to Pearson VUE, a global computer-testing provider that delivers a wide variety of university admissions tests in the UK. This means that applicants will now need to register for their test using Pearson VUE’s dedicated system and sit their test at specific Pearson VUE testing centres.

What Does The MAT Test?

The MAT is designed to be approachable to students in their fourth term of A-levels and it tests the depth of your mathematical understanding, not the breadth of your knowledge. This means you don’t have to study Further Maths A-level (or equivalent) to be able to score well on the test. 

The test is used to help Admissions Tutors to differentiate between candidates when shortlisting for Interviews due to the high A-level predicted grades (or equivalent) and strong GCSE grades of the applicants. 

The specification of the test changed in 2018, so past papers before then contain areas that won’t be tested in upcoming year’s Admissions tests. Access all of our MAT past papers here.

Searching for MAT support to strengthen your application?

The MAT is a vital component of your Mathematics and Computer Science application so scoring highly can mean the difference between an offer or rejection. At UniAdmissions, we are experts at boosting your MAT score and maximising your chances of gaining a place.

Discover our MAT Programme by clicking the button below to enrol and triple your chances of success.

What is the test format?

The MAT lasts two and a half hours and consists of 27 questions. Of these questions, the first 25 are multiple choice questions in which you’ll be presented with a problem and 5 answer options. 

The last two questions are longer, multiple-part questions where applicants must type their solution on the digital testing platform. These questions are split into multiple sub-questions, each of which provides marks. Applicants are expected to clearly demonstrate their method in order to gain full marks on these questions. 

Due to the limitations of the standard computer keyboard, Oxford has stated that applicants won’t need to type complex mathematical expressions beyond what’s possible on the provided computers (letters, numbers, basic operations, etc). It is expected that applicants will receive paper to perform rough working out during the test (you may need to provide your own pencil).

Do I need to take the MAT?

At Oxford, the test is required for any application to study Mathematics, Computer Science, or any joint honours courses, such as Mathematics and Philosophy or Mathematics and Computer Science at undergraduate level. You’ll need to sit it regardless of which college you’re applying to at Oxford.

The MAT is also used by Imperial College London and the University of Warwick and is taken into consideration by other universities in the UK, including Bath and Durham for particular courses.

Can I take the TMUA instead?

No. Although the Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA) is used by a few other universities, it is not required for Oxford. This is the same for the STEP too. 

MAT 2024 Format Changes

The format stated above was introduced in 2024 following Oxford’s partnership with Pearson VUE to deliver all of its admissions tests. This format is significantly different from previous years in two ways.

Firstly, the test is now fully computer-based, which has never been the case previously. All previous tests have been paper-based, excluding 2023 which was presented in a hybrid approach and suffered severe technical issues

Secondly, in 2024, the amount of questions has been altered to focus more on multiple-choice questions. Previously, the MAT contained 6 distinct questions that followed this format: 

Applicants weren’t required to complete all questions on the paper as some questions were reserved for applicants of specific subjects. 

MAT Key Dates

The two most important dates that you need to be aware of for the MAT are the registration and testing dates, which both run over multiple days.

MAT Testing Dates

  • 15th August and 4th October 2024 – Registration dates
  • 21st – 31st October 2024 – Test dates

(MAT scores for Oxford applicants are sent out automatically to colleges and students can request further feedback from the college they applied to).

When you register for the MAT, you’ll be able to pick from any day within the range shown above (provided slots are available and the testing centre is open). What day you take the test doesn’t affect your score, but you should aim to book your test as soon as you can after registrations open, as testing slots can get taken quickly.

How Much Does The MAT Cost?

The MAT doesn’t have any fee attached, so you can sit the test for free. 

Access "The Big Book Of Oxbridge Applications" For FREE

The MAT is important to prepare for, but there’s even more that you need to know for your Oxford application. Discover everything you need to know in The Big Book Of Oxbridge Applications, available for free here! Through over 350 pages, you will find:

Fill in your details below to claim your digital copy today!

Is the MAT harder than STEP?

As the MAT is based on the A-level syllabus, the STEP is considered to be harder because the MAT doesn’t require as advanced mathematical knowledge.

However, the MAT is designed to stretch you by applying the concepts you’re familiar with in unusual ways, so if you’re a less creatively inclined mathematician, you may find the MAT harder.

How is the Test Scored?

It’s currently unknown how many marks each question is worth and how many marks are available in total. In previous years, the MAT was marked out of 100 marks, and partial marks were given for working out on Questions 2 – 6 only. Question 1 (multiple-choice) had 10 parts each worth 4 marks; so there were no partial marks given. Questions 2-6 were each worth 15 marks.

MAT Historical Results

To determine what a good score is, we’ll look at the average score on questions for applicants that were shortlisted for Interviews and for those that were successful. 

MAT Avergae Scores (shortlisted Applicants)

Questions
Avg. Score 2019
Avg. Score 2020
Avg. Score 2022
3 – Year Avg,
Q 1 – 5
63.6
75.2
69.5
69.4
Q 1 – 6
71.7
82.3
69.9
74.6

MAT Average Scores (Offer holders)

Questions
Avg. Score 2019
Avg. Score 2020
Avg. Score 2022
3 – Year Avg,
Q 1 – 5
69.3
81.7
73.5
74.8
Q 1 – 6
76.2
87.5
74.3
79.3

What is a good MAT score for Oxford?

To give a rough idea of a good score, looking at average results for successful candidates will help give you an insight into the score you should be aiming for. So this means scoring around 74.8 if you are taking Questions 1 – 5, or 79.3 for those answering Questions 1 – 6. 

It’s important to remember that answering what a good score is for an Admissions Test is difficult because there is never a straightforward answer. It always depends on a number of different factors such as the quality of applicants applying that year and the importance of the Admissions Test to the degree or university you are applying to. 

How to prepare for the MAT?

Starting Early

Early practice is absolutely crucial to prepping for the test. It might seem silly to start so early but taking a look through MAT questions from early in the year onwards will help familiarise yourself with the style of questions examiners tend to ask. This will allow you to begin thinking logically about the problems they set.

Create A Plan

Make sure you create a revision timetable and strategy, especially when you start early revision. This will help you stay on track with working through the syllabus and working consistently on your revision. Anything to avoid last minute cramming is ideal. If there are topics in the syllabus that you find harder, then make sure you start with these first. Try using a simple colour code (red, amber and green) to rank the topics to help you decide on where to start your revision. 

Practice Questions

Our usual advice with Admissions Tests is to complete timed practice exams in exam like conditions. Mock exams like these will prepare you for the actual day. Some candidates taking the MAT are very capable but end up scoring lower than expected because of timing issues. The exam is both a test of ability and, most importantly, your ability to competently answer questions and find solutions to problems in a short space of time.

Maximise your MAT score through effective MAT preparation.

The MAT is a vital component of your Mathematics and Computer Science application so scoring highly can mean the difference between an offer or rejection. At UniAdmissions, we are experts at boosting your MAT score and maximising your chances of gaining a place.

Find out more about our MAT Programme by clicking the button below. 

0 +
UniAdmissions students placed
at Oxford And Cambridge
uniadmissions-successful-students-collage
0 +

UniAdmissions students placed at Oxford And Cambridge

Continue learning about Oxbridge...

ESAT vs PAT & MAT: What’s The Difference?
ESAT vs PAT & MAT: What’s The Difference?

Depending on if you apply for a STEM course at Oxford or Cambridge, you’ll likely have to take either the…

Oxford Announces Partnership With Pearson VUE For 2024 Admissions Tests
Oxford Announces Partnership With Pearson VUE For 2024 Admissions Tests

After a number of changes within the Oxbridge admissions test space, the University of Oxford has announced its partnership with…

ESAT Specification Guide: What You Need To Know
ESAT Specification Guide: What You Need To Know

The ESAT tests applicants on four major subjects; Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Within each of these subjects, there are…

ESAT vs NSAA & ENGAA: What's Changed?
ESAT vs NSAA & ENGAA: What’s Changed?

The Engineering & Science Admissions Test (ESAT) is the replacement exam for Cambridge's NSAA and ENGAA. While they're both science-based…

ESAT Basics: The Complete Guide
ESAT Basics: The Complete Guide

The Engineering & Science Admissions Test (ESAT) is the brand new admissions test for Cambridge and Imperial College London applicants.…

Oxford Announces Biomedical Sciences Admissions Test (BMSAT)
Oxford Announces Biomedical Sciences Admissions Test (BMSAT)

Oxford is actioning various changes to its admissions testing process, including the introduction of a new admissions test for Biomedical…