TMUA Basics: The Complete Guide

If you are applying to study Mathematics and mathematics-related courses at Cambridge and other universities you have likely come across the TMUA, but what actually is it?

Author: Chloe Hewitt

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Several different universities in the UK use the TMUA as part of their admissions process.

But what is the TMUA, and why do you have to sit it?

We go over everything you need to know for the TMUA.

What is the TMUA?

The Test of Mathematics for University Admissions (TMUA) is designed to allow you to demonstrate that you have the essential mathematical thinking and reasoning skills needed for a demanding undergraduate Mathematics or mathematics-related course.

You are encouraged to take the TMUA when applying to study Mathematics or mathematics-related courses such as Economics and Computer Science at certain universities.

In most cases, the test is not compulsory; however, a good performance on this Admissions Test may result in a reduced offer.

Which Universities Accept The TMUA?

Applicants to Computer Science and Economics at Cambridge are required to sit the TMUA as part of the application process.

Other universities which accept results from the TMUA are:

Enrolling on our Cambridge Economics comprehensive Programme will give you access to TMUA support. 

Your tutor will give you actionable feedback with insider tips on how to improve and score highly on the Admissions Test for the best chances of success.  

What Is The Format Of The TMUA?

The TMUA is two and half hours long, made up of two papers which are taken consecutively. Since 2021 the test is computer-based.

Paper 1 assesses applications of Mathematical knowledge and focuses on assessing your ability to apply your knowledge of Mathematics in new situations.

You have 75 minutes for this paper to answer 20 multiple-choice questions.

Paper 2 assesses Mathematical reasoning and focuses on assessing your ability to deal with Mathematical reasoning and simple ideas from elementary logic.

As with Paper 1, you have 75 minutes to answer 20 multiple-choice questions.

No calculators or dictionaries are allowed.

Why Do I Have To Sit The TMUA?

Cambridge Economics and Computer Science applicants tend to be a bright bunch and therefore usually have excellent grades, with many having over 90% in all of their A-Level subjects.

Subsequently, competition is fierce, so Cambridge uses the TMUA to help differentiate between applicants who are otherwise academically indistinguishable.

Furthermore, the TMUA helps determine a candidate’s potential to achieve in an academically demanding undergraduate course.

As already mentioned, if you are applying for a university where the TMUA is considered but not compulsory, a high score may mean you get a lower offer.

When And Where Do I Sit The TMUA?

Candidates need to be registered to sit the TMUA by 15th October (UCAS deadline day), with the assessment usually taking place in the first week of November.

You can only sit the TMUA once per admissions cycle, meaning you cannot resit the Admissions Test. This also means if you are reapplying the following year, you will have to take the TMUA once again.

Usually, you will sit the TMUA at your school or college if they are a registered test centre. However, if your school is not a registered test centre or you are not attending a school or college, you can sit the TMUA at any authorised test centre.

In 2022, the TMUA will be sat on 18th October. In line with this, there are different dates to be aware of which you can read about here.

How To Prepare For The TMUA

The focus of the TMUA is on Mathematical thinking.

It uses Mathematics you will have already learnt in your school studies, so there is no need to do much preparation beyond familiarising yourself with the test format and style of questions.

Reading the test specification and ‘Notes on Logic and Proof’ and answering practice questions under timed conditions are good places to start.

The ‘Notes on Logic and Proof’ document written by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing introduces and works through the Mathematical logic and methods of proof that you need to be comfortable with when sitting the TMUA.

Make sure to read and work through the examples and exercises, especially before attempting any Paper 2 questions, as this is assumed knowledge.

Before attempting any papers under timed conditions, make sure you are comfortable with the question format and style. This way, you can concentrate on getting more correct answers over how quickly you finish the paper.

Work through it step-by-step so that you thoroughly understand how to get to the answer, which will enable you to improve each time you tackle a past paper.

Once confident, move on to answering them under time conditions. This will allow you to gauge what sort of pace you need to work at in order to have enough time to answer each question.

You need to find a balance where you are not rushing but neither are you taking too long. Your pace will naturally increase with practice.

How Is The TMUA Scored?

There is no pass or fail for the TMUA.

Your final scores are based on the number of correct answers you give. There is no negative marking, so it is always worth making a guess.

Your score on the test will be based on your overall performance on both papers and will be given on a scale of 1.0 to 9.0, with 1.0 being the lowest and 9.0 the highest.

You will also be given a score for each of the two papers that make up the test, both on the 1.0 to 9.0 scale, but these two scores are for information only and do not form part of your formal test result.

How Is The TMUA Used?

Interestingly to note, you can decide if you want to share your results with universities or not after you have received them. The test gives you a risk-free opportunity to prove your potential and, in some cases, to receive a reduced offer.

The exception to this is the University of Cambridge, where results will be sent directly to the university so it will not be in the list of universities you can share the results with.

Your TMUA score will be used in different ways by universities as part of this admissions process. Most use your TMUA results alongside all aspects of your application. Others may use the results as a way to filter out candidates who did not achieve a certain score.


You should now have a better idea of what the TMUA is and begin preparing for the Admissions Test.

The application process is highly competitive, and the TMUA is an effective way for the Admissions Tutors to gauge a realistic representation of you.

It is best to think of the Admissions Test as another opportunity to show the Admissions Tutors how impressive your Maths skills are rather than as another hurdle.

Our expert tutors are on hand to help you with all aspects of the Cambridge Economics application.

With our Cambridge Economics Premium Programme, we help you craft the perfect Personal Statement, perform strongly on the TMUA and teach you how to Interview effectively.

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

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