MAT (Mathematics Admissions Test) | University of Oxford

MAT (Mathematics Admissions Test)

If you are applying for one of the following courses you will be required to sit the MAT: Computer ScienceComputer Science and PhilosophyMathematicsMathematics and Computer ScienceMathematics and PhilosophyMathematics and Statistics.

The Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) is a subject-specific admissions test, lasting 2 hours and 30 minutes and sat under timed conditions.

The MAT is designed to be approachable for all students, including those without Further Mathematics A-level or equivalent. It aims to test the depth of mathematical understanding of a student rather than a breadth of knowledge. The mathematical knowledge and techniques required to do the questions are taken from a syllabus roughly corresponding to AS-level Maths, with a few extra topics from A-level Maths. If you're unsure what this covers, you can see the full MAT syllabus on the How do I prepare? tab. 

Which questions you answer in the test depends on the course you are applying for. Details of precisely which questions you should attempt are given below. (Don't worry, you can also find these details in the instructions on the front page of the test, and throughout the paper.)

  • Mathematics, Mathematics and Statistics, and Mathematics and Philosophy applicants should attempt questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Mathematics and Computer Science applicants should attempt questions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6
  • Computer Science and Computer Science and Philosophy applicants should attempt questions 1, 2, 5, 6, 7
  • Oxford applicants who are also applying to courses at Imperial College London and/or the University of Warwick should attempt the questions required by the Oxford course they are applying for.

The first question on the test is multiple choice and contains ten parts, each worth four marks. Marks are given solely for the correct answers, though you are encouraged to show any working out. Questions 2–7 are longer questions, each worth 15 marks, and again, you will need to show your working. Part marks are available for the longer questions. You should attempt four questions from 2–7, the selection depending on the degree for which you are applying as above.

Please be aware that 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.

Why do I have to take a test?

Most applicants to Oxford University have great personal statements, excellent references, and are also predicted top grades. It can therefore be difficult for us to choose between so many well-qualified candidates, especially as applicants come from all over the world and take different qualifications.

Tests give us an extra piece of information for every student who has applied for a given course, wherever they are from. Considered together with the other elements of the application, this helps us to identify the very best candidates. However, there is no specific mark that will guarantee your application will be shortlisted. The tests vary each year, and your test score will be considered alongside the scores of other students who apply for your course.

Do I have to pay?

We do not charge candidates to take this test. However, please be aware that some independent test centres do charge an administration fee to candidates; you should contact your centre for details.

How are the tests designed and reviewed?

When a department wishes to introduce a new admissions test for their course, there is a substantial consultation process within the University, including a pilot testing phase, designed to ensure that the test is suitable. Where appropriate, subject departments are encouraged to share common tests, or elements of tests, to ease the process of application for the student and administration for the school or college. A report for each admissions test is produced every five years and we undertake substantial statistical evaluation of each test.

How do I register?

The University's admissions tests are administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT). Registration isn't automatic and just completing your UCAS application won't register you for the test. You cannot register yourself for a test, but must do so through an authorised test centre. For most candidates this is their own school or college, but can also be an open test centre.

You must provide your centre with the following information:

  • your name, gender, date of birth and UCAS number exactly as they have been entered on your UCAS application
  • the name of the University, course and course code
  • details of any access arrangements you require, along with the evidence to support your request. (Requests for modified question papers must be submitted by your centre by 30 September.)

Taking your test in school or college:

Please ask your Exams Officer whether or not your school or college is registered as a test centre. If they are not, they can follow this advice on how to become a test centre. Institutions can register to become test centres at any time before the deadline of 30 September. Registration for candidates to take tests opens on 1 September and you must have your candidate entry number(s) as proof of entry by 6pm UK time on 15 October. You are strongly advised to begin making arrangements as soon as possible.

Taking your test in an open test centre:

If for any reason your school cannot become a test centre, or your circumstances make this impractical, you can take your test at an open centre. You can find your nearest test centre via the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) website. Registration for candidates to take tests opens on 1 September and you must have your candidate entry number(s) as proof of entry by 6pm UK time on 15 October. You are strongly advised to begin making arrangements as soon as possible. If you cannot find a test centre within reasonable travelling distance of your home town, please contact the Support Team at CAAT.

Can I apply for access arrangements?

Your test centre will be able to apply for access arrangements for you if you have a permanent or long-term disability which might affect your performance such as a sight impairment, dyslexia or cerebral palsy. You may also be eligible for access arrangements if you have a short-term difficulty, such as a broken arm.

The access arrangements you are eligible for will depend on the exact nature of your condition and most often will be the same as those you would get while taking a public examination at your school. These could include modified materials (i.e. large print or braille exam papers), extra time, or the use of a laptop.

You should let your school or test centre know of any requirements you may have as early as you can and provide them with medical evidence to support your application. Please note the deadline for applying for modified papers is 30 September, while all other access arrangements can be arranged by the normal deadline of 15 October.

When do I take the test?

The University's admissions tests are administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT). These tests are taken on specific dates each year, a few weeks after the application deadline on 15 October. The next test dates are:

  • Wednesday 31 October 2018
  • Wednesday 30 October 2019
  • Wednesday 4 November 2020

We are aware that sometimes tests fall during school half terms which vary by region each year. Unfortunately due to the tight timeframes for processing applications, it is not possible to avoid this but we hope that by giving considerable notice of test dates, schools will be able to make plans for their students to sit tests either at their school or at an alternative test centre and candidates will make sure they are available to take the necessary test(s).

If you don't take the admissions test(s) required for your course, either because you didn't register or didn't attend on the test day, then your application will be significantly affected. Your UCAS form will still be viewed by our admissions tutors. However, as the admissions test forms an important part of our selection process it will be extremely difficult for your application to be competitive when viewed against other candidates who have fulfilled all the admissions criteria.

It is not possible to re-sit a test. If you feel you did badly due to extenuating circumstances, for example: if you were ill on the day of the test, your test centre can submit a special consideration form for you; or if there was some form of disruption at the test centre you can submit the form yourself. Application forms must be received within 5 days of the test date.

How do I get my results?         

Results for the MAT are not automatically published but they can be requested as part of the usual feedback process. Admissions tutors will receive the results of all tests directly from CAAT in time make their shortlisting decisions in November, so candidates do not need to send their results to us separately.

How do I prepare? 

Taking any type of test or exam can be stressful, but you can help build your confidence by doing a bit of preparation ahead of time. You may also do better in the real test if you've had a chance to practise some sample or past papers, and got used to the format and timings of the admissions test you have to take. Here are our top tips for preparing for the MAT:

  1. Review the sample papers for the MAT. This will help you to feel familiar with the test paper and know what to expect.
  2. Sit at least one past paper in test conditions. This is really important as it will help you get used to the questions you are required to attempt, how much time to allocate to each question and how to keep within the overall time limit.
  3. Check the syllabus: we strongly recommend that you check the details and ensure that you have covered the relevant material. Please note, the syllabus for the MAT is changing from October 2018 in line with A-level reform: please see the relevant section below for further information.
  4. Read through the further resources provided below and practise doing the problems provided there. This will help you to develop your problem-solving skills and expand your mathematical knowledge.

Don't worry if you find the past or specimen papers very difficult – they're supposed to be! All our tests are designed to stretch you further than you have been stretched before – most candidates will find them really hard. You can find the solutions with the papers in the list below.

Past and specimen papers

Past papers

Specimen papers

MAT syllabus

In order to reflect the new syllabus of AS-level Mathematics, we will be removing the following topics from 2018 onwards: the remainder theorem, radians, and the trapezium rule. We will be adding the following topics to the syllabus: combinations and binomial probabilities, derivative of ekx, differentiation from first principles, graphs of loga (x). Please note that we will continue to include sequences and series on the MAT syllabus, including arithmetic and geometric progressions and their sums, and the convergence condition for infinite geometric progressions.

You can find the updated MAT syllabus for 2018 onwards here

Further resources

You may wish to take a look at the following online resources to help expand your mathematical knowledge. Please note that candidates are not required to take STEP, but may find it useful in helping them prepare for the MAT (although the questions are quite different in style.

General admissions statistics

These reports provide summaries of the admissions process for the subjects of Mathematics, Mathematics and Statistics, Mathematics and Philosophy and Mathematics and Computer Science:

These reports provide summaries of the admissions process for the subjects of Mathematics and Computer Science, Computer Science and Computer Science and Philosophy.

The following report provides a summary of the admissions process for the subjects of Mathematics, Mathematics and Statistics, Mathematics and Philosophy, Computer Science and Mathematics and Computer Science: