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Undergraduate Study


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). Some Colleges may use STEP for other courses:

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 are not normally asked to take all three. Applicants for Mathematics are normally asked to take papers II and III. Some Colleges ask applicants for Engineering to take paper I.

STEP is administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, 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 Cambridge Assessment's secure online entry system. Cambridge Assessment charges an entry fee for each STEP paper - details are available on the STEP website. Some schools and colleges require candidates to cover the cost of the STEP entry fee and/or an administration charge set by the school/college. You should check with your exams officer about any costs you may be required to meet.

Past papers are available on the STEP website and from the STEP Support Team at Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing. We encourage you to look at these to familiarise yourself with the style, format and time constraints of the exams. Please note that there will be some changes to STEP for the 2019 exams.

The University has launched a free online Support Programme at: designed to help potential university applicants develop their advanced problem-solving skills and prepare for STEP exams. The STEP Support Programme consists of a series of weekly modules, and is designed for individual self-study from the summer of Year 12 onwards. Each module includes warm-up exercises and preparatory work that leads to selected STEP questions, with guidance notes and partial solutions to help you assess your progress. There's also an online discussion forum where you can ask for additional help and hints from Cambridge student mentors.

Offers are normally made on achievement in the qualifications taken in Year 13 (or equivalent) – if relevant, please see the FAQ on qualifications taken early.

Further Mathematics

  • For 2019 entry onwards, A Level Further Mathematics is an essential entry requirement for our Mathematics course (for students taking A Levels).
  • The change reflects the value of Further Mathematics in preparing A Level students for study at degree level and will ensure that students are equipped to meet the demands of these courses.
  • If your school/college is unable to provide teaching for Further Mathematics, the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme (AMSP) ( may be able to help.