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Your complete guide to the MAT test

Everything you should know before taking the MAT test and how to be successful!

WHAT IS THE MAT?
The Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) is a 2-hour 30 minute examination designed to rank applicants to certain UK universities, as part of the admissions process.
WHO NEEDS TO SIT THE MAT EXAM?
Oxford for the following subjects:
  •       Mathematics
  •       Mathematics and Computer Science
  •       Mathematics and Philosophy
  •       Mathematics and Statistics
  •       Computer Science
  •       Computer Science and Philosophy
WHICH UNIVERSITIES REQUIRE THE MAT?
The MAT is required by some of the UK’s top universities including Oxford University, Imperial and Warwick University.
Taking the MAT test at Oxford University
Students applying for the courses listed above are required to sit the MAT in the year that they apply to Oxford.
Taking the MAT test at Imperial College London
Students that apply to Imperial before the 15 October UCAS deadline are also required to sit the MAT test. If applicants are unable to take the MAT then Imperial typically includes a Sixth Term Examination Paper (STEP) requirement in any conditional offer.
Taking the MAT test at Warwick, Durham or Bath University
Warwick, Durham and Bath University also encourage Maths applicants to take the MAT or an alternative maths test such as the STEP or Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA). Students who perform well in the MAT test may benefit from a reduced conditional offer from these universities.
HOW IS THE MAT STRUCTURED?
The MAT is structured as follows; it begins with 10 multiple-choice questions worth four marks each. Test-takers then answer 4 longer questions (depending on which course they are applying for), consisting of roughly 3-5 related sub-questions and worth 15 marks each. These longer questions require free-form answers and marks are included for workings and clear mathematical argument. The test is out of a total of 100.e.
CAN I CHOOSE WHICH QUESTIONS I ANSWER IN THE MAT?
No, all test-takers answer section 1 which is made up of 10 multiple-choice questions. They then answer 4 longer questions, stipulated at the start of the paper and based on which course they are applying for.
HOW IS MY SCORE IN THE MAT TEST USED?
Oxford University uses the MAT as a standardised format for assessing and benchmarking their applicants. The exam rewards problem solving over mathematical knowledge, so that students taking different qualifications at school can access the syllabus.
Oxford University uses students’ marks in the MAT to make decisions about which applicants they should invite to interview. Oxford shortlists between a quarter and a third of their applicants for subjects such as Mathematics and Computer Science, and an applicant’s MAT test score heavily influences this decision.
Other universities use the MAT score as additional context in their decision-making process for admissions to maths-based courses.
WHAT IS A GOOD MAT SCORE?
Scores in the MAT vary year to year but students should aim to score a mark of 65 or above in order to feel confident about being invited to interview. The average score for the MAT is usually around 50, but those that are invited to interview typically score 60 or above.
Since the MAT test is used as an assessment tool among a wider context of factors, such as your academic grades and teacher reference, there is no fixed pass mark or automatic threshold. However, ranking highly correlates heavily with being awarded an offer.
Overall, the MAT is marked out of 100. The longer questions are worth 15 marks each whilst each of the ten multiple-choice questions is worth 4 marks. Our tried-and-tested strategy for success in the MAT is to prioritise marks in the multiple-choice section (without compromising the rest of the paper, of course!) since each question counts for a high number of marks relative to knowledge and effort level. Since candidates don’t receive marks for their workings in this section, it’s vital to check for errors. It’s also worth noting that there is no negative marking in the MAT, so if in doubt – guess!
DO I NEED TO KNOW A-LEVEL MATHEMATICS?
The MAT syllabus is designed so that students taking a wide variety of qualifications  or have a background in international education systems can access the mathematical content. However, the MAT is undoubtedly written from the A Level and IB perspective and there are certain mathematical concepts which will be less familiar to students taking different qualifications. We recommend that students cross-reference their syllabus with the official MAT syllabus. We also have specialist tutors who have experience of advising students taking other qualifications and help them fill in knowledge gaps.
DO I NEED TO KNOW A-LEVEL FURTHER MATHEMATICS TO DO WELL IN THE MAT?
Since the MAT serves as an objective test of mathematical skill, regardless of a student’s qualifications, knowledge of Further Mathematics A Level is not required. However, we notice that students taking Further Mathematics typically study the relevant MAT content earlier and at an accelerated rate. This can be an advantage as there is more time before the MAT to consolidate and revise the material.
HOW DO I REGISTER FOR THE MAT? 
OK so you think you need to sit the MAT exam? Find out how to register for the MAT here.

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