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.

Author: Rob Needleman

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The Mathematics Admissions Test at Oxford can seem intimidating.

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. To provide clarity, we’ll explain what the MAT is and its place in the application process. 

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. 

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What is the test format?

The MAT lasts two and a half hours and consists of 7 questions, of which you should answer 5 depending on the subject you’re applying for.

Candidates will sit the test at their school, college or local test centre. 

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.

Which MAT questions do you need to do?

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 Key Dates

  • 15 October 2022 – Registration deadline
  • 02 November 2022 – Test date

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

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?

The MAT is marked out of 100 marks, and partial marks are given for workings out on questions 2 – 7 only. Question 1 is usually a short multiple choice question with 10 parts each worth 4 marks, so there are no partial marks when you’ve already been given the answers. Questions 2-7 are 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 average results for short-listed candidates 

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 results for successful candidates 

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.

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

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