How to prepare for and do well in MAT 2024

Preparing for admissions tests such as MAT can seem like a daunting task, especially since university offers often depend on them. But this article aims to shed some light on what I believe are the best ways to prepare for MAT and to hopefully allow you to feel more confident during your preparation.

1. Familiarise yourself with the style of questions in MAT

With MAT there are 2 types of question: Multiple Choice and Long Answer. The multiple choice questions are often shorter problem solving exercises whereas the Long Answer questions are usually more complex and require more thought and working.

When first beginning MAT, I would suggest initially working through the Specimen Papers with no time restrictions. Start with the multiple choice and spend as much time as necessary problem-solving to get the right answer for each. This will give you a good idea of what the style of questions are like and allow you to properly give each one a go, rather than rushing and worrying about time. Once you’ve worked through all the multiple choice, mark your answers and for any you get wrong, work through the question using the worked solutions. This will allow you to reflect and consolidate thoroughly on the question, enabling you to improve each time you tackle the multiple choice. Then move onto the longer answer questions. These don’t all have to be done in one sitting when you’re first preparing. If you get stuck at any point, take a look at the worked solutions and see if a small hint will allow you to progress and then try and continue working through the question. 

For extra practice on multiple choice questions, the TMUA Papers are a good resource to make use of. They assess similar material and require the same problem solving skills you see in MAT multiple choice questions. However, be careful with the Paper 2’s as some of those questions are less relevant as they require an understanding of Logic.

2. MAT Style Questions from Textbooks

One particular textbook I can recommend for MAT preparation is the Hodder Education “Skills in University Admissions Tests for Mathematics“.

Of the many textbooks I have tried, this one has the best selection of challenging multiple choice and longer answer questions that are similar to those you will find in the official papers. They are a good way of developing your problem-solving skills and exam technique whilst saving the past papers for a later stage of your preparation. 

There are worked solutions to all the questions online here:

3. Past Paper Practice

Once you’re happy with the style of MAT questions and feel more confident and comfortable tackling them, start attempting timed past papers. Begin with the oldest and work your way through to the most recent papers. This will allow you to gauge what sort of pace is necessary in order to complete the paper in the allotted time. If you don’t finish within the time limit, make a note of where you got up to and then complete the rest of the questions so you can see how much extra time you needed.  Once finished, mark your answers and for any you got wrong, work through them using the worked solutions. You should see that as you attempt more and more timed past papers, you are able to complete them more quickly. 

You can find all MAT Past Papers below, along with worked solutions and the scores previous candidates achieved who were shortlisted for interview, invited to interview and received an offer from Oxford.

4. One-to-One Tuition

MAT is a challenging admissions test and as a result it is not unusual to struggle with the styles of question presented in the exam. Both the multiple choice and longer answer questions require a strong understanding of the content and good problem-solving skills, yet they require different approaches in order to maximise efficiency in the exam.

If you would like to enhance your exam technique and mathematical intuition for MAT, I offer one-to-one tuition. You can find more information on this here: