MAT Oxford Maths Admissions Test

Is your child an aspiring mathematician or computer scientist and studying A-level Mathematics? If so, read our ultimate guide to the Oxford Maths Admissions test (MAT). 

What is the Oxford MAT?

  • The MAT is a two hour and 30 minute paper consisting of multiple choice questions and longer problems.
  • It forms part of a student’s application to study Mathematics at Oxford University. Computer Science applicants also sit the test, as do teenagers hoping to take a joint honours degree – for example, Maths and Philosophy.
  • It is not just Oxford that values the MAT. Imperial College London also uses it to put candidates through their paces and Warwick University encourages applicants to sit the exam. Cambridge University, however, uses a different type of assessment. 
  • Don’t panic: the MAT doesn’t require getting to grips with an entirely new syllabus. Instead, it tests teenagers on what they have learnt in Year 12 and some of what they have learnt in Year 13. 
  • Applicants need not have studied Further Maths – although they are likely to have done so – and students from other educational systems (eg Baccalaureate and Scottish Highers) are also very welcome to take the assessment. 

Key points: 

– Length: two and a half hours.

– Required by: Oxford and Imperial College London. Warwick advises students to sit the test.

– Sat by: mathematicians, computer scientists and those applying for joint honours.

– Knowledge needed: primarily Year 12 Maths syllabus. 

Is the Oxford MAT like an A Level Maths paper?

  • In short: no. Calculators are not allowed in the exam and neither are formula sheets. It is also slightly longer than a school exam. 
  • The types of question are different too, requiring deeper understanding of the subject matter than your typical A Level paper. As you will see below, some questions are worth up to 15 marks. 
  • It is worth bearing in mind, however, that the questions a teenager answers will depend on which university course they are hoping to study. 

Key points: 

– No calculators and no formula sheets – unlike A Level Maths.

– Questions vary depending on course.

– Questions are worth up to 15 marks. 

How is the MAT structured?

  • The first question on the test paper is multiple choice and contains ten parts, each worth four marks. Don’t think this is the easy part of the paper – multiple choice questions can be fiendishly difficult, as you will see when you read our examples questions below. 
  • In Question 1, marks are given solely for correct answers, although candidates are encouraged to show their working out. If nothing else, this is an important habit to get into. 
  • Questions 2–7 are longer problems, each worth 15 marks. It is even more important to show working out here as part marksareavailable for the longer questions. 
  • All teenagers answer the multiple choice problems and attempt four questions from 2–7depending on which course they hope to study. 
  • No bonus marks are awarded for doing extra questions – so now is not the time for showing off!  

Key points: 

– There are both multiple-choice and written questions.

– You do not get extra marks for doing extra questions. 

How can teenagers prepare for the Oxford MAT? 

  • There are lots of past papers and detailed solution sheets available online. Oxford’s Mathematical Institute’s webpage is a great place to start.
  • It is crucial to know the Maths AS and A Level syllabus back to front. To find a basic breakdown of what topics will be assessed in the MAT, look at this recently updated syllabus.
  • Sit some exams under test conditions – the assessment is bound to be nerve wracking but it is a very good idea to get used to the time pressure and to find our how long different sections typically take.
  • Our MAT Maths tutors will help your child perform the very best they can with specialist, tailored tuition. 
  • Learn not to panic. Often long Maths questions can seem impossible to start with. However, planning a way through the problem and setting subgoals can be helpful. Remember: candidates can still attain marks even if they do not arrive at the final answer. 
  • Do not to leap into questions too quickly. Practice taking time to plan and think – and breathe!

Key points: 

– Practise with past papers.

– Learn the Sixth Form Maths syllabus.

– Get used to test conditions. 

What is the pass mark?

  • Frustratingly, there is no set pass mark – it varies year on year depending on the difficulty of the paper. 
  • According to Oxford University, however, 35% of students who sit the test are interviewed and one in three of them will be offered a place. 
  • The test helps Oxford decide who to shortlist – it is not a be all and end all. 
  • Oxford will look at your child’s total score and how well they performed in different sections.
  • And remember – depth of knowledge is more important than breadth of knowledge, according to experts at the University.

Key points: 

– There is no pre-fixed pass mark.

– 35% of Oxford candidates will be asked for interview.  

Key dates for the diary

  • Students need to have registered for the MAT by 15th October 2019 – late registrations are not accepted. On 30th October 2019 everyone will sit the MAT.
  •  In early December 2019 teenagers will be told whether they have been shortlisted for interview or not, on the basis of their MAT score and UCAS application.
  • In January 2020 your child will find out whether they have received an offer. After that, they can ask for feedback from Oxford, including what MAT score they achieved.

Where will my child take the MAT? 

        Teenagers must sit the MAT in a registered test centre. Most students sit the exam at school, but it is worth checking your child’s school is registered to provide the assessment. Registration takes 24 hours. 

Example questions: 

Fancy yourself as a Mathematician? Try your luck with these questions. 

1) The area of the region bounded by the curve y= √x , the line y= x–2 and the x-axis equals

(a)2,  (b)2/5,   (c)3,   (d)10/3,  (e)16/3                                                                                                                                                                                         

2) A particle moves in the xy- plane, starting at the origin (0,0). At each turn, the particle may move in one of two ways. It may move two to the right and one up, that is, it may be translated by the vector (2,1), or it may move one to the right and two up, that is, it may be translated by the sector (1,2). 

What is the closest the particle may come to the point (25,75)? 

(a)0,   (b)5√5,   (c)2√53,   (d)25,  (e)35

3a) Alice, Bob, and Charlie make the following statements:

Alice: Bob is lying. 

Bob: Charlie is lying. 

Charlie: 1+1= 2.

Who is telling the truth? Who is lying? Explain your answer. 

3b) Now Alice, Bob, and Charlie make the following statements:

Alice: Bob is telling the truth. 

Bob: Alice is telling the truth.

Charlie: Alice is lying.

What are the possible numbers of people telling the truth? Explain your answer.

3c) They now make the following statements:

Alice: Bob and Charlie are both lying.

Bob: Alice is telling the truth or Charlie is lying (or both)

Charlie: Alice and Bob are both telling the truth.

Who is telling the truth and who is lying on this occasion? Explain your answer.