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全面解读剑桥STEP考试
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优易国际教育-谢涛老师-形象照

Xie Tao

An independent teacher, Master of Engineering, Oxbridge tutor, with more than 17 years' teaching experiences on high school Maths and Physics and competitions. Helped more than 100 students engaged in Ivy League, Oxbridge and G5 universities, along with hundreds of students awarded with top awards from international Maths and Physics competitions by far.

The acronym STEP stands for Sixth Term Examination Paper, It is a written test conducted to assess the mathematical abilities of applicants. Up to and including the year 2023, the STEP exam was organized and administered by the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT). Starting from 2024, the administration of the exam has been taken over by the OCR Examination Board.

Taking STEP is as part of the application process for mathematics, computer science and other related courses in several top universities in the UK, including the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London, University of Warwick and other institutions. Although for those applicants who applying to read maths and computer science related courses at Oxford are not asked to take STEP, it is still recommended by Oxford.

II.Key Dates for STEP 2024

1 March 2024 STEP registration opens
4 May 2024 STEP registration closes
5 June 2024 STEP paper 2 test date
24 June 2024 STEP paper 3 test date
15 August 2024 STEP test results released
21 August 2024 Last date for results enquiries

Please note: OCR reserves the rights to make changes to these dates.

Special reminder:

Please make proper arrangements in advance in case possbile conflicts with A Level exams.

III.Registration Process

i.Candidates must register for the STEP examination through an authorized examination center:

  • If the candidate’s school is an authorized center, they can register and take the STEP examination there.
  • If the school is not an authorized center, candidates can register on the British Council (China) official website as independent candidates.
  • In some cities, external organizations can register independent candidates and organize the STEP examination.

ii.Candidates must provide the following information to the examination center at the time of registration:

  1. Name, gender, date of birth, and UCAS number.
  2. Names of the universities applied to, chosen majors, and subject codes.
  3. If special accommodations are needed due to physical reasons, relevant proof must be submitted.

IV.What are the Changes in the 2023 Examination Policy?

The 2023 Cambridge STEP examination will continue the policies from 2022, including:

  • Cancellation of STEP 1, retaining only STEP 2 and 3 examinations.
  • Continuation of the 2021 syllabus, following significant reforms in 2019.
  • Topics from the former STEP 1 will still be covered in STEP 2 and 3.
  • The examination remains open to all candidates (including those without an offer).
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However, there is a minor change to note:

  • Bilingual dictionaries are no longer permitted during the examination.

Note: Cambridge reserves the right to change the STEP 2023 examination policy.

V.Which Universities and Majors Require the STEP Exam?

i.University of Cambridge

Courses Professional name UCAS code
Mathematics mathematics G100
Mathematics with Physics Mathematical Physics G100
Economics Economics L100
Engineering Engineering H100

Typically, Cambridge requires STEP scores of grade 1 or higher for conditional offers. For Mathematics, the usual requirement is STEP 2 and 3 grades of 1,1 or even 1,S.

Since 2018, the following Cambridge courses no longer require STEP:

  • Natural Sciences (UCAS Code: BCF0), but the NSAA is required.

Since 2019, the following majors at the University of Cambridge no longer require the STEP exam:

  • Computer Science (G400 BA/CS), but requires the TMUA exam.

ii.University of Warwick

Courses Professional name UCAS code
Mathematics mathematics G100
Mathematics (Master of MATH) Mathematics (Master of MATH) G103
Mathematics and Philosophy Mathematics and Philosophy GV15
Mathematics and Statistics Mathematics and statistics GG13
Mathematics and Statistics (MMathStat) Mathematics and Statistics (MMathStat) GGC3
MORSE (Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics) MORSE (Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics) G0L0
MORSE (Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics andEconomics) MORSE (Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics andEconomics) GLN0
Data Science (Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science) Data Science (Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science) G103

Warwick generally requires a STEP grade of 2 or higher. Although Warwick accepts MAT or TMUA scores in lieu of STEP, many candidates opt for STEP in June due to missing the MAT or TMUA exams in late October or early November.

Warwick’s official minimum for TMUA is 6.5 (out of 9.0). For MAT, the minimum score varies annually and cannot be predetermined.

Since 2018, the following Warwick courses no longer require STEP:

  • Mathematics and Business Studies (G1NC)
  • Mathematics and Economics (GL11)

iii.Imperial College London

Courses Professional name UCAS code
Computing Computing G400
Computing Computing G401
Computing (International Programme of Study) Computing (International Programme of Study) G402
Computing (Management and Finance) Computing (Management and Finance) G501
Computing (Software Engineering) Computing (Software Engineering) G600
Computing (Security and Reliability) Computing (Security and Reliability) G610
Computing (Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning) Computing (Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning) G700
Computing (Visual Computing and Robotics) Computing (Visual Computing and Robotics) GG47
Mathematics and Computer Science Mathematics and Computer Science GG14
Mathematics and Computer Science Mathematics and Computer Science GG41

Typically, Imperial’s conditional offers for Computing include STEP requirements.For Mathematics, MAT is usually required, with STEP as an alternative.

Generally, Imperial requires STEP 2 or 3 grades of 2 or 1, or both STEP 2 and 3 grades of 2 or even 1.

Other Universitie

Universities that require STEP (or MAT, TMUA) include:

  • University College London (UCL)
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Bath
  • King’s College London

Specific STEP exam and grade requirements for relevant courses are detailed on the official websites or in the admission criteria of these universities.

For Mathematics and Computer Science at Oxford, the MAT (Mathematics Admissions Test) is mandatory. Although STEP scores are not a prerequisite for Oxford, the university encourages candidates to take the STEP exam and provide scores for a comprehensive academic assessment.

For a detailed comparison between STEP and MAT, refer to:

全面对比-STEP和MAT如何选

VI.What is the Exam Format?

Basic Information

Method of Answering Offline, paper-based written examination.
Duration: 3 hours.
Formula Sheet No formula sheet is provided; students must know all formulas in the syllabus. Additional formulas, if any, will be provided in the exam paper.
Calculator Calculators are not permitted.
dictionary Calculators and bilingual dictionaries are not allowed (new rule for 2023).

2. Question Types

Since the cancellation of STEP 1 in 2021, only STEP 2 and STEP 3 exams are offered.

Questions are problem-solving based, and candidates choose 6 out of 12 questions to answer.

Since the 2019 reform, the number of questions in STEP 2 and 3 has been reduced from 13 to 12.

Test Paper STEP 2 STEP 3
Section A Pure Mathematics – 8 questions Pure Mathematics – 8 questions
Section B Mechanics – 2 questions Mechanics – 2 questions
Section C Statistics – 2 questions Statistics – 2 questions
Total: 12 questions 12 questions

VII.Past Papers for the STEP Exam

Click below to browse the collection of past STEP 2 and STEP 3 exam papers.

优易牛剑备考|剑桥STEP 2历年真题集(1987-2023)
优易牛剑备考|剑桥STEP 3历年真题集(1987-2023)

VIII.What is the Scoring Method?

Scoring Method

• Candidates answer 6 questions, each worth 20 points, making the total possible score for the paper 120 points. While only 6 questions are required, there is no restriction on the number of questions candidates can attempt.

If a candidate answers more than 6 questions, each question is scored, but only the top 6 scoring questions are counted towards the total score.

The grading system is as follows:

Grades Meaning Proportion
S Outstanding approximately top 5-15%
1 Very Good approximately top 15-30%
2 Good approximately top 30-50%
3 Satisfactory approximately top 50-80%
U Unclassified remaining roughly 20%

Historical Grade Standards

It’s important to note that while the full marks and grade levels for STEP 2 and 3 are the same, the score thresholds for each grade vary annually for each exam.

Click on the images below to view the historical STEP exam grade distribution standards and the percentage of candidates in each grade category. Historical Performance – Cambridge STEP Mathematics Exam

历年成绩-剑桥STEP数学考试

IX.What is covered in the exam?

Exam Contents Notes
STEP 1 The scope included pure mathematics, mechanics, and probability and statistics from A Level mathematics, along with additional content required by the STEP syllabus. This has been canceled but still serves as knowledge points for STEP 2 and 3.
STEP 2 The scope includes pure mathematics, mechanics, and probability and statistics from AS-level further mathematics, along with additional content required by the STEP syllabus. This also serves as knowledge points for STEP 3.
STEP 3 The scope includes pure mathematics, mechanics, and probability and statistics from A Level further mathematics, with additional content as required by the STEP syllabus.

To align with recent A Level course reforms, the STEP exam underwent significant adjustments in 2019, primarily in the scope and structure of the STEP 2 and 3 exams, though the question types remained unchanged. The main changes are summarized as follows:

  1. The STEP syllabus was revised following the Department for Education’s reforms to A Level mathematics and further mathematics.
  2. The number of questions on the STEP 2 and 3 papers was reduced from 13 to 12.
  3. The style of the questions remains unchanged, and past papers can be used for preparation.

The 2024 STEP exam will follow the 2023 syllabus. Other than the prohibition of bilingual dictionaries,only two minor revisions have been made to the mechanics section; all other sections remain unchanged.

X.How to prepare STEP Exam?

For information on preparing for the STEP exam, please refer to:

Cambridge STEP preparation guide

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