Maths Admissions Test

MAT 2020

The MAT 2020 test paper is available to download here; PDF icon MAT 2020

MAT 2020 in 10 minutes or less

A quick look at the solutions for MAT 2020.

Typographical error in MAT 2020 Q4

Unfortunately, there was a typographical error in question 4 of the 2020 MAT paper. The question defined an odd function as one for which $f(-x)=-f(-x)$ rather than the intended (and conventional) $f(-x)=-f(x)$. The printed definition only permits the zero function $f(x)=0$ as an odd function. We hope that most candidates did not notice the extra minus sign, or assumed that the standard definition was intended, and continued with the question. But we know that some students will have worked with the definition as printed, so we would like to apologise for any confusion or distress caused to those candidates, and explain how we are going to mark attempts at question 4.


In general, marks will be given either for attempts using the conventional definition of an odd function, or alternatively for using the definition of an odd function printed in the question (from which we can deduce that the only odd function is the zero function).


For 4(i)(a), the symmetry of an odd function we expected was “rotation by 180 degrees about the origin” (which the zero function does have). Any candidate who uses the printed definition to deduce that odd functions are symmetric under reflection in the $x$-axis, or symmetric under reflection in the $y$-axis, will be given credit for this part, since these are symmetries of the zero function.


For 4(i)(b), candidates using either definition can show that the derivative of an odd function is an even function. For candidates using the printed definition, we will award each of the marks for this part based on their work to show that the derivative of an odd function is an even function.


Parts 4(ii)(a) to (ii)(c) stand independently from the definition of an odd function.


For part 4(ii)(d), candidates are not required to use the identity they found in part (ii)(a), and we will accept any method that identifies the rotational symmetry of the graph. Candidates have sketched this graph in the previous part of the question, and so will have seen that it is not the zero function (or some translation of the zero function).


For part 4(ii)(e), candidates are not required to refer back to the properties of an odd function.


With these marking guidelines, candidates who have used the printed definition will still be able to get full marks for this question, in a way that is based fairly on their work. We would also like to reassure candidates who used the standard definition of an odd function that they will not be penalised for correcting the mistake in the question, and they will also be able to get full marks, based fairly on their work. 

About the test

Why is there a test?

We can't interview all our applicants in the time available, so we shortlist around three applicants for every place to interview. To help us decide who to shortlist, we set the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) which all applicants for Maths, Computer Science, or joint honours courses must take. There is no "pass" mark for the MAT; we use the information from the test, together with all the details of your UCAS application and information about school background to decide who to shortlist.

What does the MAT test?

The MAT aims to test the depth of mathematical understanding of a student in the fourth term of their A-levels (or equivalent) rather than a breadth of knowledge. It is set with the aim of being approachable by all students, including those without Further Mathematics A-level, and those from other educational systems (e.g. Baccalaureate and Scottish Highers).

The PDF icon MAT syllabus is based on the first year of A level Maths, and a few topics from the fourth term of A level Maths which we think students will have covered by the time of the test.

How do I register?

You will sit the test in either your school or college or a local test centre. Any school or college can register to become a test centre, following the instructions on the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing website. Please note that schools must apply to become new test centres by the 30th September. The school must then register you for the test via the Entries Extranet. Although your school has to do this, it is your responsibility to make sure your school knows that you should be sitting the MAT.

If your school or college cannot register to become a test centre, you will instead sit the test at a local test centre. You can use the Find a Test Centre service to locate eligible test centres nearby.

In the course of registering for and sitting the MAT, you will provide information about yourself. If you are applying to the University of Oxford, the University is the "data controller" for this information, which means we decide how to use it and are responsible for looking after it in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation and associated data protection legislation. You can read our privacy notice here.

Can I take the TMUA instead?

No. The Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA) is used by several universities, but is not used by Oxford. We recommend that you check the course pages of the other universities you plan to apply to. The TMUA took place at the same time as the MAT on 30th October 2019, and is likely to be on the same date in future years. If you are expecting to sit both of these tests, please ask your school/ college/ test centre to complete a timetable variation form, which allows the tests to be taken on the same day, but at different times. (For more information please see the CAAT website.) As both the MAT and the TMUA test problem-solving skills in maths, it is likely that your preparation for both will overlap.

Can I take STEP/ BMO/ IMO instead?

No.

Please note

  • No calculators, formula sheets or dictionaries are permitted during the test.
  • Space is provided throughout the test paper for your solutions, and there are spare blank pages at the end of the test paper for you to continue if necessary.
  • Further credit cannot be gained by attempting questions other than those appropriate to the degree applied for.
  • If you normally have special arrangements when taking a test we would expect any such arrangements (e.g. extra time, writing aids, etc.) to be allowed as per usual. When your school or test centre registers you, they can select any access arrangements that need to be in place during the registration process.

Marking FAQs

How is the test marked?

The MAT is marked by University of Oxford graduate students. For the multiple-choice questions, there are no marks available for working out. For the long questions, our markers will look carefully at what you've written and give you an appropriate number of marks following an agreed mark scheme.

Do I get marks for working out?

Yes, on questions 2-7 there are marks for working out.

Do I have to use the method in the solutions document (or in the solutions video)?

No- if you follow the instructions in the question and you do correct mathematics, then you should get the marks. Sample solutions are given in the table below, but we give marks to any correct attempt. Our markers develop conventions and special cases during the marking process. You should not be worried while practicing if your answer does not exactly match the sample solutions below; provided you've followed the instructions in the question and it's clear what you're doing, you should get the marks.

I forgot to write my answers for Q1 into the grid, will I get any marks?

Don't worry- our markers will look through your working for Q1 to see if you clearly indicated answers, perhaps by circling options or by showing working out concluding in one of the options. (Note for future test-takers; please don't do this intentionally, it slows the marking down!).

Use of MAT by other universities

The MAT is also used by Imperial College London and the University of Warwick; applicants for particular courses at those universities can take the MAT, even if they are not applying to Oxford (such candidates should attempt Q1,2,3,4,5).

The MAT is also taken into consideration by other universities in the UK, including Bath and Durham for particular courses. Please note that candidates can only take the MAT if they are also applying for a relevant course at Oxford, Imperial, or Warwick which asks for the MAT.

Applicants to Imperial and/or Warwick

When you register for the MAT, your test centre should tick the box on the registration form to indicate that you are applying to Imperial College London and/or the University of Warwick. Your MAT score is then shared automatically and securely with Imperial and/or Warwick as appropriate; you do not need to do anything else.

If your test centre did not tick the box, or you made changes to your applications after 15 October, then you can contact Imperial and/or Warwick to give them permission to see your MAT score and take this into consideration. You will need to provide that university with your MAT registration number. This is the letter M followed by a 5-digit number (e.g. M01729), which you were given when your test centre registered you for the MAT, and which you wrote on the front of your MAT test paper. If you experience difficulty locating your MAT registration number, please contact your test centre for assistance.

Applicants to Durham and/or Bath

The MAT results are sent directly to Durham University and the University of Bath securely and automatically, with encryption that prevents them from reading your MAT score without your permission. If you wish that university to take your MAT score into consideration, you must provide them with your MAT registration number. This is the letter M followed by a 5-digit number (e.g. M01729), which you were given when your test centre registered you for the MAT, and which you wrote on the front of your MAT test paper. Durham and Bath will each have a process to collect your MAT registration number. If you experience difficulty locating your MAT registration number, please contact your test centre for assistance.

Applicants to other universities

There is no process to share MAT scores with other universities. Please note that all Oxford applicants are automatically sent an email in January with their MAT score.

 

MAT livestream

Are you thinking of applying to study Mathematics at university? Every Thursday afternoon we'll be livestreaming maths problems and discussing problem-solving strategies, with a particular focus on the MAT.

MAT livestream every Thursday

Key dates

15 October 2020, 6pm BST Registration deadline
4 November 2020 Test date
late November/ early December 2020 Oxford's shortlisting decisions sent to applicants
January 2021 Oxford's final decisions sent to applicants. MAT scores for Oxford applicants sent out automatically. Applicants can request further feedback on admissions from the college they applied to.

How to prepare for the MAT

The video above is a workshop on the MAT that Dr James Munro (Admissions Coordinator) recorded to introduce you to the style of questions on the MAT. You can download the problems used in this workshop here.

We strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with the format of the MAT. The test lasts 2½ hours; candidates are encouraged to practice a past paper under timed conditions as time management is an important skill. Candidates should attempt five of the questions, the selection depending on the degree for which they are applying. The instructions below are printed on the front page of the test, and throughout the paper.

  • Mathematics, Mathematics & Statistics, Mathematics & Philosophy applicants should attempt questions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
  • Mathematics & Computer Science applicants should attempt questions 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6
  • Computer Science, Computer Science & Philosophy applicants should attempt questions 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7

Question 1 is multiple choice, and contains 10 parts each worth 4 marks. Marks are given solely for the correct answers, though applicants are encouraged to show any working in the space provided. Questions 2-7 are longer questions, each worth 15 marks, and candidates will need to show their working. Part marks are available for the longer questions.

The MAT syllabus contains the mathematics that we expect you to know by the time of the test. To check that you know the mathematics on the syllabus, you might find these syllabus practice questions useful;

You might also like to look at some of the following online resources for problem-solving practice

The AMSP organises Problem Solving Matters, hosted at universities around the UK. This problem-solving course aims to help students prepare for university mathematics.

MAT past papers

The table below contains past papers and solutions, as well as general feedback on the admisisons round for each year from 2010 onwards. Three averages are given for each year; $\mu_1$ is the average score of all Oxford applicants for Maths, Maths & Stats, and Maths & Philosophy, $\mu_2$ is the average score of those applicants who were shortlisted for interview, and $\mu_3$ is the average score of those applicants who were made offers.

Please note that the syllabus for the MAT was updated for the 2018 test; the new syllabus is available PDF icon here.

Test paper Solutions ($\mu_1$, $\mu_2$, $\mu_3$) Feedback

PDF icon MAT 2020

PDF icon Solutions 2020

$\mu_1$=57.9  

PDF icon MAT 2019

PDF icon Solutions 2019

(44.9, 63.6, 69.3)

PDF icon Feedback 2019

PDF icon MAT 2018

PDF icon Solutions 2018

(50.8, 67.1, 72.9)

PDF icon Feedback 2018

PDF icon MAT 2017

PDF icon Solutions 2017

(51.3 ,68.7 ,73.6)

PDF icon Feedback 2017

PDF icon MAT 2016

PDF icon Solutions 2016

(50.3 ,66.7 ,73.1)

PDF icon Feedback 2016

PDF icon MAT 2015

PDF icon Solutions 2015

(43.7 ,56.3 ,62.7)

PDF icon Feedback 2015

PDF icon MAT 2014

PDF icon Solutions 2014

(48.4 ,63.1 ,71.5)

PDF icon Feedback 2014

PDF icon MAT 2013

PDF icon Solutions 2013

(44.8 ,54.2 ,60.6)

PDF icon Feedback 2013

PDF icon MAT 2012

PDF icon Solutions 2012

(52.1 ,63.0 ,68.2)

PDF icon Feedback 2012

PDF icon MAT 2011

PDF icon Solutions 2011

(50.3 ,63.3 ,71.3)

PDF icon Feedback 2011

PDF icon MAT 2010

PDF icon Solutions 2010

(49.0 ,61.4 ,69.3)

PDF icon Feedback 2010

PDF icon MAT 2009

PDF icon Solutions 2009

(51.3 ,61.2 ,70.5)  

PDF icon MAT 2008

PDF icon Solutions 2008

(58.7 ,68.0 ,77.0)  

PDF icon MAT 2007

PDF icon Solutions 2007

(56.9 ,63.0 ,75.2)  

PDF icon MAT Specimen 1

PDF icon Solutions Specimen 1

   

PDF icon MAT Specimen 2

PDF icon Solutions Specimen 2

   

 

Videos of MAT solutions

Syllabus changes in 2018

Due to A-level reform in the UK, and specifically syllabus reform of A-level Mathematics, the PDF icon MAT syllabus was updated in 2018. In order to reflect the new syllabus of AS-level Mathematics, we removed the remainder theorem, radians, and the trapezium rule from the syllabus. We added combinations and binomial probabilities, derivative of $e^{kx}$, differentiation from first principles, graphs of $\log_{a}(x)$.

Note for teachers: We will continue to include sequences and series on the MAT syllabus, including: arithmetic and geometric progressions and their sums, convergence condition for infinite geometric progressions. As such, if there is flexibility in when a teacher is covering sequences and series, we would recommend that students are taught this material either at the end of year 12 or at the beginning of year 13 (prior to October half-term).

Minor test paper layout changes for 2020

In order to give candidates more space to answer the questions, we have made two minor changes to the layout of the MAT 2020 test paper, to be taken on 04 November 2020. We expect that most candidates won't notice these changes, but for candidates who have taken MAT before, or who have become very familiar with the layout of past papers, there are two minor differences to note.

Firstly, we have removed a page inside the test paper which asked for additional candidate details (including UCAS number). This was causing confusion for a few candidates with more than one UCAS number, and it is no longer necessary for our process to collect this information in this way. This page, and the preceding blank page, have been removed for MAT 2020. For reference, the 2019 version of the page is shown below. This means that the answer grid for Q1 will appear immediately on the reverse of the front cover of the test, with Q1A on the right as you open the test paper.

Secondly, we have included three blank pages between each long question, rather than the previous normal of one blank page between questions. It is still perfectly acceptable for candidates to continue their work on the blank pages at the end of the test paper, but we hope that this will not be necessary quite so often for candidates.

To avoid confusion, we stress that there are no changes to the syllabus of the MAT, or to the style of the test.

Mathematics at University

Find out whether you want to study maths at university by learning more about our research and how maths at university differs from maths at school.

Which Course?

See which of our four undergraduate degrees (Mathematics, Mathematics and Statistics, Mathematics and Philosophy, Mathematics and Computer Science) interests you the most.

How to Apply

A guide to the application process for applicants, as well as key dates.

Our Offer

A guide to the conditional offers made by our department for all undergraduate courses.