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STEP Mathematics are exam papers used that test your maths skills. STEP helps us to understand whether you have the maths ability needed to study your chosen course.

STEP content is based on core A Level Mathematics and AS/A Level Further Mathematics material (or equivalent).

It’s used as part of almost all conditional offers from Cambridge for Mathematics and Mathematics with Physics. Some Colleges may require STEP for other courses needing strong mathematical ability.

When you should take STEP

You take STEP towards the end of the A Level examination period (in June). You must speak to your school or college about registering for the STEP exams.

What STEP will test

STEP is based on material from the A Level Mathematics and Further Mathematics specification (or equivalent).

The questions are designed to test qualities like:

  • insight
  • problem solving
  • ability to use standard techniques in unusual ways and situations

Colleges can also read applicants' examination scripts. This allows Colleges to assess strengths that may not be conveyed in the overall mark.

There are two STEP papers (2 and 3). Applicants for Mathematics are normally asked to take both.

STEP scoring

STEP is graded:

  • S (Outstanding)
  • 1 (Very good)
  • 2 (Good)
  • 3 (Satisfactory)
  • U (Unclassified)

The grades required as part of an offer vary by College. See individual College websites for typical STEP requirements.

Offers are normally made on qualifications taken in Year 13 (or equivalent).

How to register for STEP (2024 entry)

STEP is administered by OCR.

You need to speak to your school or college about registering for the examinations. Find out more about what information your school or college will need on the STEP website.

You should also check the key STEP dates and deadlines.

OCR charges a registration fee for each STEP paper. Details about dates and costs are available on the STEP website. Your school or college might ask you to cover the cost of the STEP registration fee and/or an administration fee.

You should check with your school or college exams officer about any costs you may need to meet.

How to prepare for STEP

Past papers and other resources are currently available on the STEP website.

You should look at these to familiarise yourself with the style, format and time constraints of the exams. Please note that some changes to STEP were introduced in 2019 to reflect changes to A Levels.

STEP Support Programme

The University provides a free online Support Programme.

This will help you develop your advanced problem-solving skills and prepare for STEP exams.

The STEP Support Programme consists of a series of modules, and is designed for individual self-study through Years 12 and 13. Each module includes warm-up exercises and preparatory work that leads to selected STEP questions.

There are guidance notes and solutions to help you assess your progress. Additional post-offer support is given to all UK State school students with a STEP offer from Cambridge. Recently, this has included a series of webinars.

Further Mathematics

A Level Further Mathematics is an essential entry requirement for our Mathematics course (for students taking A Levels). This reflects the value of Further Mathematics in preparing A Level students for study at degree level. It ensures that students are equipped to meet the demands of this course. If your school/college is unable to provide teaching for Further Mathematics, the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme (AMSP) may be able to help.