The MAT is a compulsory admissions test for students applying for mathematical courses at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London.
The MAT is designed to test a student’s ability to apply the ideas they have learned in their mathematical studies to novel problems and unfamiliar settings. The exam presents a fiendish combination of question difficulty and time pressure, and requires thorough practice to master. It does not test breadth of knowledge beyond first year A level, IB, or equivalent syllabuses.
The results of the test are used in different ways by different universities. For example, scores are considered when shortlisting candidates for interview and giving reduced grade offers. Good MAT scores generally support a student's university applications by providing additional standardised information.
Our MAT Handbook is a free resource for students, parents, and teachers. It details the precise admissions test requirements for each university, our recommended exam preparation plan, our timing recommendations, and many useful exam technique tips. It also contains a comprehensive MAT syllabus, enhanced with useful examples, in Appendix 1. The MAT Handbook is downloadable from the button above.
To many students, the MAT seems like an overwhelming obstacle in the university admissions process, far surpassing any of their previous exams in difficulty and time pressure. With rigorous preparation and practice, students can reliably improve their score. Vantage programmes provide MAT tuition and personalised preparation strategies, which have led many students to admission at their first-choice university. All of our MAT tutors are experts who hold an Oxbridge degree in additional to experience as an examiner, professional teacher or Oxbridge interviewer.
Vantage programmes consist of six key elements which enable students to excel on the MAT:
Unique to Vantage, the MAT Primer Course is the most comprehensive MAT preparatory course, tailored to the most recent version of the syllabus. It bridges the gap between A level (or equivalent) content and the MAT, both introducing new techniques that go beyond the A level and offering new perspectives on the school-level material used in the exams. The course includes 10 lessons, in video and written form, each providing a systematic and thorough introduction to a prominent theme of MAT questions. Each lesson has an accompanying worksheet with detailed solutions, and in total there are more than 200 original questions to ensure students master the necessary skills.
Our MAT preparation courses include solution videos and booklets to all publicly released past papers (2007-2023) and ten years of legacy papers (1996-2006). The solutions were written and delivered by our founding director, Rowan Wright, and designed in consultation with our team of qualified teachers, admissions test examiners, and Oxbridge supervisors. Rather than merely presenting a method which works, the solutions focus on how a student can generate the required ideas and think through a problem systematically. This enables students to gain the full benefit of past paper practice, coming away from each question with a complete understanding and ready to tackle variations in future.
In our experience, students lose an average of 2-3 marks (out of 15) on each long form question solely due to poor written presentation and explanation. Our mock exam marking service is provided exclusively by Vantage team members who have been admissions test examiners, who therefore understand precisely what’s required to gain all the marks. With each marked mock, students receive an accurate estimation of score and a detailed report with actionable feedback.
Many Vantage students opt for MAT tuition as part of their MAT preparation. It is the most personalised support we offer and ensures that all doubts can be addressed, whether they pertain to specific questions or broader topics and concepts. It also provides an opportunity for students to work with an expert MAT tutor to explore questions further, pursue their own interests, and – most importantly – ask questions. Beyond merely understanding a successful approach to a question, it’s crucial for students to understand why their approach to a question didn’t work, which is uniquely well-served by one-to-one discussion.
All Vantage students have the benefit of regular mentoring sessions over the course of their MAT preparation, ideally attended along with their parents/guardians. All meetings are held with our founding director and are completely tailored to the student’s specific goals. The aim of these sessions is to review students’ progress, address doubts or concerns, provide motivation, and create actionable plans to resolve any difficulties. Personalised mentoring enables students to ensure they are staying on track for success and provides vital support over what is often a long process of preparation.
All Vantage students are invited to attend our interactive online problem solving workshops over the summer. Hosted each week by Olympiad enthusiast, problem solving aficionado and expert MAT tutor Carlo Scarian, these classes provide a fun change of pace from the more technical focus of our Primer Courses and the rigidity of past paper problems, instead focusing on general problem solving principles and cultivating the mindset of a mathematician. Students are given access to some problems to think about before each session to gain the most benefit.
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"Rowan from Vantage is the real deal, a rare blend of being a sufficiently brilliant mathematician to have a complete, deep and intuitive grasp on the difficult problems set in admissions tests, but also a great teacher who is able to explain the thought process in a way students can understand. I cannot recommend him highly enough."