YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE

The Definitive Guide To The MAT (Maths Admissions Test) 2022

In this definitive MAT guide we will go through all of the information you’ll need to begin preparing for the exam. 

The MAT is an admissions assessment required for applicants who wish to study Maths or a related course at some universities. 

In this guide we’ll cover the essential test information, the different sections of the MAT and how to prepare for the test, along with some practice questions to get you started.

Practice Dogo Section 1

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

We’ll cover the essential MAT information including the different test sections, key dates, scoring, results and more.

There’s a lot of information to process but we have broken down your MAT questions so you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Let’s get started.

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What is the MAT?

The MAT stands for Mathematics Admissions Test, and this is exactly what it is – a test you sit if you are applying to study Mathematics, Computer Science, or any joint honours courses, such as Mathematics and Philosophy or Mathematics and Computer Science at undergraduate level.

It is a written test, made up of some multiple-choice questions, and some longer, written questions. The MAT is designed to be approachable by all students, including those without Further Mathematics A-Level or the equivalent.

Exams.Ninja Tip: The specification of the test changed in 2018 which means past papers before 2018 contain questions that won’t be tested in upcoming admissions tests. Be careful to make sure that you’re preparing with the new specification. The new specification can be found on the Oxford site

What is the structure of the MAT?

Key MAT dates and structures to be aware of

The MAT is a 2-hour 30-minute non-calculator test.

Question 1 is a multiple-choice question, with ten parts, each worth 4 marks.

Questions 2-7 are longer, written questions, each worth 15 marks and you should attempt four of these depending on which degree you are applying for (we’ll explain this here). This might seem like a lot, but don’t worry; the questions are broken down into smaller parts for you to work through.

This means question 1 is worth 40 out of a total 100 marks so it’s worth spending a good chunk of your time on.

Here’s some Maths for you: 40/100 × 2.5 = 1 so if you split your time proportionally, question 1 should get a whole hour!

Why is the MAT used?

The MAT is designed to test the depth of your understanding, and your ability to solve problems. Universities use it to differentiate between candidates who might look similar on paper otherwise – e.g. to decide between two applicants with similar A-Level predictions and GCSE grades. Universities can see your overall mark and how you did on the parts of each question. They use this to identify your strengths and weaknesses and how you think which helps them see if you would thrive on their courses.

The test requires you to think more deeply than your A-Level (or equivalent) papers, and so at first it is likely to seem harder – but don’t worry, this is on purpose! Unlike A-Levels, it is very rare that people get 100 on the MAT, as they don’t want to set a paper that people will find easy – this won’t help them to differentiate between candidates.

Universities want to make you think, so that they can see how you think.

Who needs to sit the MAT?

The MAT is sat if you are applying to study Mathematics, Computer Science, or any joint honours courses, such as Mathematics and Philosophy or Mathematics and Computer Science at undergraduate level.

Which universities and courses need the MAT?

There are three universities that require the MAT:

1. University of Oxford require you to sit the MAT if you are applying to study Maths, Maths and Statistics, Maths and Philosophy, Maths and Computer Science, Computer Science, or Computer Science and Philosophy.

2. Imperial College London expect you to sit the MAT if you are applying to any of the Maths courses and submit your UCAS application before the 15th October. If you apply after this date, you are still encouraged to sit the MAT, and you should indicate on your test paper for your results to be sent to Imperial.

If you do not sit the MAT, it is likely that an offer from Imperial will include a grade STEP– this is a different Maths test which you sit in the summer at the end of high school.

3. University of Warwick encourages everyone applying to their BSc Mathematics or Master of Mathematics courses to sit one of the MAT, the TMUA (another Maths test), or a STEP. They don’t specify which they’d prefer you to take – they leave this up to you.

The main difference is that the MAT and TMUA are both in November, so a good mark in one of these is likely to mean you will receive a reduced offer from Warwick, but STEP is in the summer, so after you have received all your offers.

Applicants to Durham and/or Bath:

The MAT results are sent automatically to Durham University and the University of Bath after completion of the admissions test. The results are encrypted so if you would like the university to consider your MAT score, you must provide them with your MAT registration number which allows the university to view your score.

How to see the MAT results

Which MAT questions should I answer?

  • If you are applying to Imperial College London, the University of Warwick, or for Mathematics, Mathematics and Statistics, or Mathematics and Philosophy and the University of Oxford, you should answer questions 1,2,3,4,5.
  • If you are applying to the University of Oxford for Mathematics and Computer Science, you should answer questions 1,2,3,5,6.
  • If you are applying to the University of Oxford for Computer Science, or Computer Science and Philosophy, you should answer questions 1,2,5,6,7.

How hard is the MAT?

The MAT is designed to test you by applying the concepts you’re familiar with from A-Levels but in unusual ways. You are expected to think more deeply than your A-Level (or equivalent) papers, and so initially the MAT is likely to seem harder. Also, you may find the MAT harder if you are a less creatively inclined mathematician, but with the right preparation you won’t need to worry!

What are the key dates for the MAT?

  • Registration opens: 1st September
  • Requests for modified question papers: 30th September
  • Registration deadline: 15th October at 18.00
  • Test date: usually 4th November but for 2021 it’s 3rd November
Registration opens September 1, Requests for modified question papers September 30, Registration deadline October 15 at 18.00, Test date usually November 4 but for 2021 03 November

How much does the MAT cost to sit?

There is no entry fee to sit the MAT, but some test centres may charge an admin fee for running the test, so you should check this with them.

Can you resit the MAT?

If you aren’t happy with your MAT score, unfortunately you are not able to resit later in the year, as the test is run only once a year. If you decide to reapply to these universities next year, you will have to sit the MAT again just as you do this year.

How is the MAT scored?

The MAT is scored out of 100 marks. Question 1 is multiple choice with 10 parts each worth 4 marks. Marks are awarded only for correct answers but you are encouraged to show any working in the space provided. There is no negative marking.

Questions 2-7 are each worth 15 marks. These are longer questions and part marks are available. Candidates will need to show their working.

Where is the MAT sat?

You need to sit the MAT somewhere which is registered as an exam centre with Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing. For most people this is your school or college. It is your responsibility to tell your school that you want to take the MAT, and make sure you check with your Exams Officer whether your school is a registered centre or not. If it isn’t, it has until September 30 to register. If you can’t sit the exam in your school/college, you will need to take it at another centre – you can look for one local to you here.

You then need to register as a candidate with your test centre. Registration is open September 1 – October 15 at 18.00 but some centres will have their own internal deadlines, so don’t leave it to the last minute! Registration is separate from your UCAS form, but you will need to know your UCAS number.

If you have a disability or special requirement, and are normally entitled to support for exams, let your centre know when you register as there will be access arrangements available for you. If you are requesting modified question papers (e.g. large print), the deadline for this is 30 September.

screenshot of a map showing the ECAA authorized test centre locations

How do you get your MAT results?

You do not automatically receive a result for the MAT. If you want to find out how you have done you should email [email protected], [email protected], or the Oxford college to which you applied, with your name, UCAS ID, and MAT registration number and request feedback. They will not be able to give you any feedback until the admissions cycle is over, so you should email after March 31 next year.

What is a good score for the MAT?

The average score of MAT candidates applying to the University of Oxford for Mathematics, Mathematics and Statistics, and Mathematics and Philosophy combined was 44.9 in 2019, 50.8 in 2018, and 51.3 in 2017. The average scores of successful candidates were a bit higher at 69.3, 72.9, and 73.6 respectively.

The average scores of MAT candidates applying to the University of Oxford for Mathematics, Mathematics and Statistics, and Mathematics and Philosophy combined.
The average scores of MAT candidates applying to the University of Oxford for Mathematics, Mathematics and Statistics, and Mathematics and Philosophy combined.

WHAT TO EXPECT

MAT Overview

The MAT is designed to be accessible to any Maths student at the start of their second year of A-Levels, or equivalent. All you need is knowledge from the first year of A-Level Maths, and a couple of topics from the beginning of the second year (see the section on sequences and series later). 

It is also designed to be accessible to students studying for other qualifications, such as the IB or Scottish Highers.

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What will be on the MAT?

The MAT syllabus covers the following ten areas, so it’s a good idea to make sure you are familiar with them early on in your preparation:

  • The quadratic formula
  • Completing the square
  • Discriminant
  • Factorisation
  • The Factor Theorem

Click here for a worked example

  • Simple simultaneous equations in one or two variables
  • Solution of simple inequalities
  • Binomial Theorem with positive whole exponent
  • Combinations and binomial probabilities

Click here for a worked example

  • Derivative of xa, including for fractional exponents
  • Derivative of ekx
  • Derivative of a sum of functions
  • Tangents and normals to graphs
  • Turning points
  • Second order derivatives
  • Maxima and minima
  • Increasing and decreasing functions
  • Differentiation from first principles

Click here for a worked example

  • Indefinite integration as the reverse of differentiation
  • Definite integrals and the signed areas they represent
  • Integration of xa (where a ≠ -1) and sums of these

Click here for a worked example

  • The graphs of quadratics and cubics
  • Graphs of sin x, cos x, tan x, √x, ax, logax
  • Solving equations and inequalities with graphs

Click here for a worked example

  • Laws of logarithms and exponentials
  • Solution of the equation ax = b

The relations between the following graphs:

  • y = f (ax)
  • y = af (x)
  • y = f (x – a)
  • y = f (x) + a
  • y = f (x)

Click here for a worked example

  • Co-ordinate geometry and vectors in the plane
  • The equations of straight lines and circles
  • Basic properties of circles
  • Lengths of arcs of circles

Click here for a worked example

Solution of simple trigonometric equations. The identities:

  • tan ⁡x = sin ⁡x / cos⁡ x
  • sin2 ⁡x + cos2 x = 1
  • sin⁡ (90° – x) = cos ⁡x

Periodicity of sine, cosine and tangent. Sine and cosine rules for triangles.

Click here for a worked example

  • Sequences defined iteratively and by formulae
  • Arithmetic and geometric progressions
  • Their sums
  • Convergence condition for infinite geometric progressions

Click here for a worked example

Sequences and series are the only topics which you may not come across until the second year of A-Level Maths. Ask your teacher if you can cover these before October half-term, or if you can borrow a textbook to teach yourself these bits.

You won’t get a formula booklet when you take the MAT so you should make sure you have all the formulae and identities here memorised for when you sit it.

To check you are comfortable with all of these areas, try working through these questions published by the University of Oxford.

These were published to help people check they’ve covered enough material – if you can answer these questions then you’re all set to start tackling MAT questions! You can find solutions to these questions here.

You can find all MAT past papers, fully worked solutions and extra MAT practice questions on Exams.Ninja.

PRACTICE MEANS PERFECT

How do I prepare for the MAT?

Once you are comfortable with the material on the syllabus, there’s only one thing for it – practice!

Let’s do this.

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How do I practice for the MAT?

You should try to work through as many past papers as possible before you sit the MAT. This won’t just help you become familiar with the format of the test and style of the questions, but it will probably make you a better mathematician too. The more time you spend thinking deeply about tricky maths problems the better!

You can find effective MAT preparation on Exams.Ninja.

It’s a good idea to keep a couple of papers back and do them under exam conditions close to the real thing. You’re not allowed a calculator, a dictionary, or a formula booklet when you take the exam, so sit down with just your brain and a pen and paper for 2.5 hours and see what you can do! You can then go back through it a bit more slowly if you need.

The syllabus changed in 2018 so keep in mind that if you can’t do a question from one of the older papers, it might be because it’s not on your syllabus anymore – check the syllabus to make sure!

Now we’ll work through questions on a range of topics, some multiple-choice and some long answer, to give you an idea of the techniques you might want to use.

Some questions can be answered in more than one way, so as long as we end up in the same place, don’t worry too much if you took a different approach.

MAT worked examples

Here we’ll work through questions on a range of topics, some multiple-choice and some long answer, to give you an idea of the techniques you might want to use.

Some questions can be answered in more than one way, so as long as we end up in the same place, don’t worry too much if you took a different approach.

Polynomials PRACTICE QUESTION & SOLUTION

Algebra PRACTICE QUESTION & SOLUTION

Differentiation PRACTICE QUESTION & SOLUTION

Integration PRACTICE QUESTION & SOLUTION

GRAPHS PRACTICE QUESTION & SOLUTION

Logarithms and powers PRACTICE QUESTION & SOLUTION

Transformations PRACTICE QUESTION & SOLUTION

Geometry PRACTICE QUESTION & SOLUTION

Trigonometry PRACTICE QUESTION & SOLUTION

Sequences and series PRACTICE QUESTION & SOLUTION

Our final Exams.Ninja Tips For MAT

Practice makes perfect

Try not to panic if the past papers all seem hard to you – they are hard but that’s the point! Stick at it and soon enough you’ll notice some similarities in questions and how to approach them.

Get it down on paper

If you’re stuck on a question, it’s always a good idea to write down what you do know or draw a diagram if you can. Hopefully this will spark something in your brain and give you a new avenue to go down, and at the very least it might get you some marks for working out.

Enjoy it!

If Maths is your thing, once you get over the nerves that come with this being an exam, you should have some fun! Try to enjoy solving the problems and wrestling solutions from where you didn’t know there were any.

Exams.Ninja’s intelligent platform provides you with hundreds of practice questions and fully worked solutions (just like you’ve seen throughout this guide).

You can get 100% free demo access to the entire platform. We’ve designed this carefully to be THE most convenient way to ensure you get the score you need for your maths application. Start your demo today.

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