How to apply - Maths Admissions Test (MAT)
Applicants for Computer Science, for Mathematics and Computer Science, and Computer Science and Philosophy are asked to sit a written test, shared with candidates for Mathematics and other joint degrees. The Maths Admissions Test is often referred to simply as the MAT, but has previously also been know as the Maths Test and the Maths Aptitude Test. They are all the same thing.
You need to register to sit the MAT by the 15th October, 18:00 (UK time) deadline. Information on how to do this can be found here. This is in addition to filling out a UCAS form. We recommend that you register for the MAT as early as possible so that any last-minute difficulties can be resolved.
The MAT will take place on Thursday 2 November 2017.
Most students sit the test at their own school, although open test centres are available internationally. It takes place on one date in early November each year.
The test is designed to assess mathematical ability. In particular, there are some questions assessing the particular mathematical skills that are most important for Computer Science. Note that candidates applying for different degrees should answer different questions on the test: this is explained in the rubric of the test paper.
The Maths Admissions Test is taken by candidates applying for Computer Science, Mathematics, and joint schools. Candidates answer slightly different questions depending upon the subject applied for. In particular, there are three questions on discrete mathematics and logical thinking, specifically aimed at assessing aptitude for Computer Science.
The MAT lasts 2½ hours. The mathematical knowledge and techniques required to do the questions are taken from a syllabus roughly corresponding to the C1 and C2 modules from A-level maths, though the questions are set more variously than A-level questions. A syllabus (PDF format) for the test has been published. Some specimen papers and recent past papers are available below.
The first question on the test is multiple choice and contains 10 parts each worth 4 marks. Marks are given solely for the correct answers, though applicants are encouraged to show any working in the space provided. From November 2015 onwards the test will be in a similar format as it was in 2014, with the modification from 2014 which included 5 answer choices for each multiple choice question, rather than 4, seen prior, in 2007–13. Questions 2–7 are longer questions, each worth 15 marks, and candidates will need to show their working. Candidates should each attempt 4 questions from 2–7, the selection depending on the degree for which they are applying. Details of precisely which questions you should attempt are given in the rubric on the front page of the test and throughout the paper.
- No calculators, formula sheets or dictionaries are permitted during the test.
- Only answers written in the booklet will be marked. There are spare blank pages at the end of the test paper.
- Further credit cannot be gained by attempting questions other than those appropriate to the degree applied for.
The MAT is set with the aim of being approachable by all students, including those without Further Mathematics A-level, and those from other educational systems (e.g. Baccalaureate and Scottish Highers). It aims to test the depth of mathematical understanding of a student in the fourth term of their A-levels (or equivalent) rather than a breadth of knowledge. Applicants are encouraged to attempt some of the specimen/past tests provided below, so that they might have a sense of the format and style of the test, but no further preparation or practice, beyond work for A-levels, is intended. Whilst two of the tests are specimens, almost all the questions on them were set on previous years' entrance tests.
Specimen and past tests
These specimen papers and past tests are all provided in PDF format.
- Specimen Test 1 issued March 2009: Test paper, sample solutions.
- Specimen Test 2 issued March 2009: Test paper, sample solutions.
- Entrance Test 2006 (note this was set on a previous, slightly extended syllabus): Test paper.
- Entrance Test 2007: Test paper. Sample solutions (PDF).
- Entrance Test 2008: Test paper. Sample solutions (PDF).
- Entrance Test 2009: Test paper. Sample solutions (PDF).
- Entrance Test 2010: Test paper. Sample solutions (PDF).
- Entrance Test 2011: Test paper. Sample solutions (PDF).
- Entrance Test 2012: Test paper. Sample solutions (PDF).
- Entrance Test 2013: Test paper. Sample solutions (PDF).
- Entrance Test 2014: Test paper. Sample solutions (PDF).
- Entrance Test 2015: Test paper. Sample solutions (PDF).
- Entrance Test 2016: Test paper. Sample solutions (PDF).
- Entrance Test 2017: Test paper.
- Specimen Instructions for Supervisors.
- Specimen Instructions for Candidates.
How to prepare for the MAT
We strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with the format of the MAT and look at the specimen and past papers provided above. You should practice doing the test under exam conditions, as time management is an important skill. Before the test you should be very familiar with C1 and C2 material; some students also find that looking at STEP can help them to prepare (although the questions are quite different in style).
We recommend taking a look at some of the following online resources to help develop your problem-solving skills and expand your mathematical knowledge:
- Underground Mathematics
- NRICH Advanced Problem Solving Modules
- University of Cambridge STEP Support Programme
- FMSP Problem Solving Events
- Dr Frost Maths: MAT Preparation Resources
- STEP videos from the Further Maths Centre at Warwick
Arrangements for the test
The date for the test is normally early November. (The 2017 test will be on Thursday 2 November.) All applicants for Computer Science undergraduate degrees (including those applying for joint honours courses and international applicants) will be required to take the test on the designated day. The test will normally be sat in your school or college. (In the UK it's at 9am GMT, but the scheduled start times for international centres will vary, depending upon where they are in the world. You won't be required to sit the exam in the middle of the night.) The test date is deliberately chosen to coincide with other test dates, e.g. BMAT, so hopefully this will not be a problem for your school/college.
There is no special fee charged for sitting this admissions test, but test centres may charge applicants their standard fees for administering the test.
Applications will be shortlisted on the basis of the test score, together with information from applicants' UCAS forms, and those shortlisted will be invited to Oxford in mid-December for interview.
For teachers, test centres and administrators
A Test Centre may be any school or college, British Council office or other institution where the test can be appropriately invigilated under good exam conditions by a professional, disinterested party.
There is no fee payable to the University, for taking the test, but test centres may charge applicants their standard fees for administering the test.
If an applicant normally has special arrangements, there will be an opportunity to record this on the MAT registration form. However, in line with the University's English Language requirements, we do not permit the use of foreign language dictionaries during the test (nor extra time solely for the use of dictionaries).
In case of difficulties on the day or prior to the test contact the Admissions Office at +44 (0)1865 288000 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org