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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 deadline, which is 18:00 (UK time) on 15 October. Important information on how to register for the test 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 2018 MAT will take place on Wednesday 31 October 2018.

Most students sit the test at their own school, although open test centres are available internationally. It takes place on one date in late October or 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.

Contents

Important information regarding the October 2018 MAT

Due to A-level reform in the UK, and specifically syllabus reform of A-level Mathematics, the syllabus for the MAT is changing from 2018. This change will affect prospective applicants currently in Year 12 (or equivalent) who will be sitting the MAT in October 2018. In order to reflect the new syllabus of AS-level Mathematics, we will be removing the following topics from the syllabus: the remainder theorem, radians, the trapezium rule. We will be adding the following topics to the syllabus: combinations and binomial probabilities, derivative of \(e^{kx}\), differentiation from first principles, graphs of \(\log_a(x)\). Please note that we will continue to include sequences and series on the MAT syllabus, including: arithmetic and geometric progressions and their sums, convergence condition for infinite geometric progressions. As such, if there is flexibility in when a teacher is covering sequences and series, we would recommend that students are taught this material either at the end of year 12 or at the beginning of year 13 (prior to October half-term). The new syllabus may be viewed below.

Test format

Sitting the MAT 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 Pure/Core Mathematics content of AS-level Mathematics, though the questions are set more variously than A-level questions. A syllabus (PDF format) for the test has been published; this was updated in January 2018 to take into account syllabus reform for A-level Mathematics in the UK (see above). 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 below. From 2013 onwards, a summary of the admissions process is provided, which contains a bar graph showing MAT scores by admissions outcome. All of these documents are provided in PDF format. Please note that test papers up to and including 2017 were set on a previous, slightly different syllabus; this has been updated from 2018 onwards to take into account changes to the syllabus for Mathematics A-level in the UK.

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 the Pure/Core Mathematics material from AS-level Mathematics; 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:

Arrangements for the test

The date for the test is normally late October or early November. (The 2018 test will be on Wednesday 31 October.) 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

For the attention of mathematics teachers: as discussed above, the syllabus for the MAT is changing with effect from 2018 due to changes to the syllabus for A-level Mathematics in the UK. The new syllabus continues to be broadly based upon the Pure/Core Mathematics content of AS-level Mathematics. However, please note that we will continue to include sequences and series on the MAT syllabus, including: arithmetic and geometric progressions and their sums, convergence condition for infinite geometric progressions. As such, if there is flexibility in when a teacher is covering sequences and series, we would recommend that students are taught this material either at the end of year 12 or at the beginning of year 13 (prior to October half-term).

For the attention of examinations officers: a test centre may be any registered institution such as a 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.

Information about becoming a test centre is given on the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing website. If you wish to become a test centre for 2018 admissions tests, you must apply to do so by 30 September 2018. More general information on registering to sit the MAT test is available here.

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. Please note that a candidate is not considered to be registered for the MAT until they have a five-digit candidate number from Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing.

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 undergraduate.admissions@admin.ox.ac.uk