MAT tips and advice

GuruMe
2 May 2016


MAT introduction

The MAT is an entrance exam which any student wanting to study Mathematics, Computer Science, or a joint degree involving maths. You need to register to take the test by 15th October 2016, 6pm BST.

2.5 hour examination where 5 questions out of 7 are needed to be answered. The test is set by the University of Oxford. The following university/ courses requires applicants to sit MAT:

[Oxford]
Mathematics
Mathematics & Statistics
Mathematics & Computer Sciences
Mathematics & Philosophy
Computer Sciences
Computer Sciences & Philosophy

[Imperial] 
Mathematics


What is the level/standard of MAT exam? Is Further Maths enough or would you say beyond?

The MAT is set to test the depth of mathematical understanding you have, rather than the breadth of knowledge you have. The syllabus is roughly based on the C1 and C2 A-level course, but the questions generally vary more, and are more involved. However, I definitely don't think it is necessary to have studied anything beyond the Further Maths course, as it will most likely not appear on the test.


What are the techniques needed in MAT exam? 

The test is formed of 2 parts. The first part is 10 multiple choice questions, each with four possible answers. In these questions, I always found it a good strategy to try to find reasons why a particular option couldn’t be the answer, as opposed to picking the correct answer straight away. Then if you are left with the choice of 2, if you don’t know the answer at least you can have an educated guess, and have a better chance of getting it right. Section 1 is generally mostly about functions - recognising its graph or finding when it has roots or maxima/minima, for example. Sometimes, there is also some kind of question requiring logical thinking – for example asking what we can deduce from some information. Of course, there will still be questions on other areas.

The second part is 4 longer questions, each with a few different parts. Generally, there will be a question based on geometry/trigonometry, and another more logical type question, for example, based on sequences, although this could change. For this part of the test, try to get through as many parts as possible, but if you get stuck on a later part of a question, I wouldn’t advise spending too much time on it, as you need to make sure you leave time for the other questions. You can always go back to it later!


How to prepare for MAT?

The test is quite a difficult one to prepare for – it is testing your mathematical aptitude; however, there are things you can do to get ready for it! Firstly, and definitely most importantly, is attempting past papers. This is the way to get used to the types of questions that will come up in the real thing! You can do this in a variety of ways though. You could go through a whole paper in timed conditions or perhaps focus more one particular section of the exam, taking as long as you need on a question and seeing if you can work it out, without looking at the answer.

However, as well as this, it’s worth looking at the syllabus for the exam, which you can find on the Oxford Maths department website. This just gives you an idea of the types of concepts which come up again and again. It also means that you can familiarise yourself with anything you don’t know very much about before it’s too late! Generally though, the exam is based on maths you will have learnt in the first year of an A-level maths course, but you need to apply it in the right way. Another thought would be to look at a few STEP questions – to get you used to the style of question –although I would definitely focus mostly on the MAT past papers – which you can find here: https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/study-here/undergraduate-study/maths-admissions-test

In terms of when to start preparing for the test – that is entirely down to you, but make sure you leave yourself enough time to get used to the style of question that is asked. I started working towards the exam when I went back to school for the new year, at the start of September.

Remember that you aren’t expected to get 100% or anything like it, so don’t panic if you find parts you can’t do! On the Oxford Maths website, you can see average marks for successful candidates in previous years and these range from 60.6% to 71.5% in the last six years.


When do the results come out? Is it possible to know the results before the Oxford interviews?

After sitting the exam, generally in early November (2nd November in 2016) you will have a little while until you are told whether you have made it to interview. You're normally told this in Early December, not long before the interview(s) are scheduled to take place. It isn't until early January that you can ask for feedback from the college you applied to, including asking what your score was in the MAT.


FAQ

Where can I download past papers?
https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/study-here/undergraduate-study/maths-admissions-test

When and where do I register for MAT?
Registration deadline is 15th October and can be done either through your school (if registered as a test center) or an authorised test center which can be found at http://www.admissionstestingservice.org/find-a-centre

Where can I take MAT?
Either at your school (if registered as a test center) or at an authorized test center which can be found at http://www.admissionstestingservice.org/find-a-centre




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