Sixth Term Examination Paper (STEP)
STEP Mathematics is a series of examination papers used to assess aptitude for university study in Mathematics and mathematical subjects.
STEP is based on material that's common to the core syllabus of A Level Mathematics (or equivalent) and so requires no further knowledge. The questions are designed to test qualities like insight, originality, and the ability to use standard techniques in unusual ways and situations. Colleges can also read applicants' examination scripts and so assess particular strengths or weaknesses which may not be conveyed in the overall mark.
STEP is used as part of almost all conditional offers in Mathematics (including Mathematics with Physics) and Computer Science with Mathematics. Some Colleges may use STEP for other courses:
- Christ's College ask for STEP as part of conditional offers for Chemical Engineering via Engineering and Engineering
- Peterhouse may occasionally ask for STEP as part of conditional offers for Chemical Engineering via Engineering and Engineering
STEP is graded S (Outstanding), 1 (very good), 2 (good) and 3 (Satisfactory) and U (unclassified). The grades required as part of an offer vary by College – see individual College websites for typical STEP requirements.
There are three STEP papers (I, II and III) but candidates only take two – either papers I and II, or papers II and III. Applicants taking Mathematics A Level are normally asked to take papers I and II, while those taking Mathematics and Further Mathematics A Levels normally take papers II and III.
STEP is administered by the Admissions Testing Service and papers are sat immediately after the A Level examination period (in June). You need to speak to your school or college about registering for the examinations, which is done through the Admissions Testing Service's secure online entry system.
Past papers are available on the STEP website and from the STEP Support Team at the Admissions Testing Service. We encourage you to look at these to familiarise yourself with the style, format and time constraints of the exams.
The University has launched a free online STEP Support Programme at www.maths.org/STEP designed to help potential university applicants develop their advanced problem-solving skills and prepare for the STEP exams. The Programme is a series of modules, with a new module released weekly from September 2017. Each module consists of warm-up exercises and preparatory work that leads to a STEP question, as well as follow-up self-evaluation and development material to help you assess your progress. There's also an online discussion forum where you can ask for help and hints from Cambridge students.
- For 2019 entry onwards, A Level Further Mathematics will be an essential entry requirement for our Mathematics course, and for Computer Science with Mathematics.
- The change reflects the value of Further Mathematics in preparing students for study at degree level and will ensure that students are equipped to meet the demands of these courses.
- We hope that this advance notice will give schools/colleges time to factor the requirement into their teaching provision. If your school/college is unable to provide teaching for Further Mathematics, the Further Mathematics Support Programme (www.furthermaths.org.uk) may be able to help.
- Please note that IB Higher Level Physics will be the required alternative to A Level Further Mathematics.