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优易国际教育-谢涛老师

XIE TAO

Independent Teacher

How to prepare for TMUA

Table of Contents
How to prepare for TMUA
Table of Contents

After confirming that the university and course you apply for require you to sit the TMUA test and start to prepare for TMUA, you must be wondering how to plan your preparation time and which preparation method is more effective. Here, this blog will help you with the questions.

I. Before you start preparing for TMUA

Firstly, learning the basic information about the TMUA test is important, which may include:

  • Test date
  • Which courses require the TMUA test
  • Test format
  • Scoring method
  • Scope of the TMUA test

Secondly, download the latest preparation resources from the TMUA official page, including:

  • The latest TMUA specification
  • Past questions and solutions
  • Other sample materials, including sample questions, etc.

What’s more, you need to know that since 2024, TMUA has changed the test organizer and changed to an online computer-based test, and some contents of the test specification have been revised. Therefore, it is necessary for you to know the latest exam policies to avoid misunderstanding of the test format, scoring method and test scope, so as to improve the efficiency when you prepare for TMUA test.

UE Oxbridge Prep – TMUA Past Papers (2016-2023)@ueie.com

You may download our collections of past papers via the test prep page as follows.

For more information and further understanding about the TMUA test, please refer to the blog “TMUA Test: A Comprehensive Guide”.

II. What knowledge is required when I prepare for TMUA test?

For the scope of knowledge, the TMUA specification covers most knowledge in A Level maths and a lot of knowledge on GCSE/IGCSE level maths (equivalent to domestic junior high school maths). On the other hand, there is no worry for students not studying A Level Maths because the TMUA specification does not go beyond the knowledge of AP Calculus, IB SL Maths, or other equivalent high school maths. However, this does not mean that achieving an A*, AP 5 or IB 7 is enough to get a high TMUA score. You should realise that the scope of knowledge (breadth) and the difficulty (depth) of the test are two different things.

1. Do I need to study A Level Further Maths in advance?

No. However, if you take preparing for the interview into consideration, I highly recommend that you study Further Maths in advance if time permits.

2. Can STEP or MAT test covers the knowledge required in TMUA test?

A small amount of knowledge are not covered. The knowledge tested in STEP pure maths and MAT can cover most of the content of TMUA paper 1. The knowledge that are not covered include three-dimensional graphics, statistics, etc. In addition, the proof method and logical reasoning focused on by TMUA paper 2 are quite different from those two exams.

3. Do I need to have a foundation in maths competitions?

Yes. In recent years, the difficulty of the TMUA test has been increasing. Not only are the questions more and more like maths competition questions, but also the conventional knowledge and methods of maths competitions such as number theory, combinatorics, and recursion are more likely to be tested. Therefore, students with experience in maths competitions will have an advantage when taking TMUA. For students who have not learned the knowledge and methods for maths competitions, it is recommended to supplement the content when preparing for TMUA test.

III. How to score high on TMUA test?

The TMUA test comprehensively tests students’ mathematical literacy and question-solving skills. Students who achieve high scores in TMUA must have excellent abilities in mathematical calculation, mathematical reasoning, and flexible adaptability.

1. Excellent mathematical calculation ability

The TMUA test does not allow calculators, and students need to finish a large amount of calculations, which may equal the math calculation requirements for Gaokao or even the middle-level high school math competition. Generally speaking, students from the domestic curriculum system can basically meet the requirements of the TMUA test. In contrast, many students under A Level, AP and IB curriculum systems cannot meet the requirements, affecting their problem-solving speed. Therefore, these students often need specialised training in calculation skills and speed.

2. Excellent mathematical reasoning ability

Most students do not undergo systematic training in logical reasoning and are unfamiliar with common mathematical proof methods. Therefore, they basically rely on intuition when solving TMUA questions and can be easily stuck when the questions have complicated conditions and logic. To easily deal with TMUA questions, students need to strengthen their mathematical reasoning ability, which usually includes but is not limited to:

  • Proficiency in proof methods commonly used in high school mathematics.
  • Familiarity with basic mathematical logical reasoning.
  • Have a strong awareness of classification discussion.
  • Make rigorous logical inferences about classification problems.

3. Excellent and flexible adaptability

When solving TMUA multiple-choice questions, you must choose the correct answer quickly. Sometimes, you don’t have to calculate every question completely. Flexible use of multiple-choice answering techniques can often achieve twice the result with half the effort and save a lot of time. We can’t expect that all the questions in the test are familiar. When encountering a question type you have never seen before, the ability to adapt flexibly can help you effectively improve your TMUA score.

IV. 5 steps to set a reasonable goal for TMUA test

Setting a reasonable goal is the first step towards success. It is recommended to follow the steps:

1. Understand the requirements of your target universities and courses

Most courses that require TMUA scores, such as Cambridge and LSE, do not have actual TMUA score lines. Only the University of Warwick explicitly requires a score of 6.5 or above. Some courses at Imperial College will require TMUA scores for the first time in 2024, and there are no requirements or explanations for TMUA scores. Generally speaking, the admission requirements for TMUA scores mainly depend on the intensity of competition among applicants. According to what I have seen over the years, the requirements for TMUA scores for relevant courses in various universities are as follows: Cambridge computer science courses > LSE maths and economic related courses  Cambridge economics courses  Imperial College computing and finance related courses  Warwick maths courses.

2. Taking an assessment test

Considering that most students have yet to learn all mathematics knowledge before they prepare for TMUA test, the assessment test is more about diagnosing the problems in the current mathematics learning process and making a preliminary assessment of their mathematics ability. It is recommended to:

  • Use past papers from three years ago instead of the last three years, as these will be used for pre-exam practice and are extremely valuable.
  • Print the paper in advance with pens and other materials ready. If you have to take an online computer-based test, you can take the online assessment test through the diagnostic test link below.
  • Simulate actual exam scenarios and paper I and paper II are each limited to 75 minutes to complete.
  • Score according to the answers or automatically by the online system. Keep the assessment test papers well to facilitate the teacher’s evaluation.

3. Evaluate your assessment test scores

View the score lines of TMUA tests in previous years through the link below and check which grade you achieved on the assessment test. It is important to remember that your assessment test scores do not indicate the scores you can achieve when taking the real TMUA test. By working hard to prepare for TMUA test, you will be able to achieve a better score than the assessment test.

4. Understanding how difficult the test is and it's changing trends

After taking the assessment test, you may have a rough idea about the TMUA test’s difficulty and your current mathematics level. At this time, you may also have a preliminary evaluation of how many scores you will achieve in the future.

But I still recommend you to have a further understanding of the difficulty of the TMUA test and the changing trend of test difficulty in recent years before setting your goals. For more information, I will write a blog later and publish it simultaneously on the official account and official website.

5. Improve your mindset and set a reasonable goal

How many TMUA scores are needed to meet the admission requirements? As mentioned above, except for the University of Warwick, other universities have not released the TMUA score lines. However, many students and parents still ask me to estimate the admission scores every year. I can only combine the admission cases of previous years and the analysis of TMUA scores over the years to give a set of TMUA score lines suitable for Chinese students:

Universities and courses
TMUA minimum score (for reference)
About 7.8
About 7.5

Around 7.2

About 7.5
About 7.0
6.5

There are four points to emphasize regarding the above score lines:

  • Except for the TMUA score line for Warwick maths courses, other scores are not from official data and only represent the personal opinion of Professor Xie Tao.
  • There is a possibility that some Chinese students applying for these courses will be admitted with TMUA scores lower than the above.
  • Imperial College first requires TMUA in 2024, so the above score lines are predicted based on the distribution of student scores in previous years.
  • Achieving the above scores does not mean you will definitely be admitted to the relevant courses. The TMUA test scores are not the only factor that determines the admission.

As a teacher, I hope every student can get a score of 7.5 or even above 8.0 on the test and then be admitted to a G5 university. But this is obviously unrealistic – only about 2% of students can get a score of 8.0 or above each year, and about 15% of students can get a score of 7.5 or above. Therefore, it is recommended to set a reasonable goal for TMUA based on your actual situation, math level, and the time and energy you can spend on preparing for TMUA test after understanding the distribution pattern of TMUA scores.

When you prepare for TMUA test, excessively high goals will increase your frustration. In serious cases, students may doubt themselves and give up halfway. Such cases are not rare among students I have taught in previous years. Reasonable goals can increase your fighting spirit and allow you to continuously make improvements in preparation until you finally achieve the goals.

V. What are the strategies for preparing for TMUA test?

There are no more than three ways to prepare for the test: systematic training, question practice , and mock exams. The usage scenarios and expected effects of these three methods are analyzed below.

1. Systematic training

This method is usually based on the requirements of the TMUA specification and systematically comprehends each knowledge block in a reasonable order. This method takes the longest time, but it is also the most basic and effective method when students prepare for TMUA test and is suitable for those with enough time and reasonable planning.

2. Question practising

The question practice training method is to prepare for TMUA test by practicing past papers and questions. The advantages of this method are obvious: quick familiarity with the test and saving preparation time. However, the results of using this method vary from person to person.
Several types of scenarios and expected effects using this method are as follows:

  • The exam is approaching, and the students only have a little time to prepare and practice, so they can only use this method. In this case, practicing questions can only help students familiarize themselves with the test format and question difficulty, but it will have little effect on improving their scores.
  • Some students who have participated in various international competitions and have considerable experience using this question practice training method may feel that mastering the core skills of the TMUA test can be easy by practicing past questions. For students with such point of view, rich experience in mathematics competitions, and excellent competition results, this method is perfectly suitable, and the training effect is often immediate. Otherwise, using this method to prepare for TMUA test is generally not recommended.
  • According to the scientific TMUA preparation time plan, after completing the first stage of systematic training, the question practice training method should be used for the second stage of the preparation. In this case, this method can help you achieve the best preparation results.

3. Taking mock exams

Undoubtedly, the mock exams are most suitable when there are 3-4 weeks before the test. It is generally recommended to arrange one mock exam every 1-2 weeks, and three exams in total. The mock exam must strictly simulate the actual exam scenario. Refrain from blindly pursuing high scores in the mock exam, and the main purpose is to find knowledge loopholes and adjust your mentality before the test. What’s more, use the online computer-based system for mock exams if conditions permit.

4. Which preparation strategy is better for you?

When planning the preparation for the TMUA test, I will flexibly use a combination of the above methods according to the student’s preparation time:

  • For students with plenty of time to prepare for TMUA test, using three methods of systematic training + question practice training + mock exams will lead to the best results.
  • However, most students have limited time but can also achieve good results by skipping the question practice part and using the methods of systematic training + mock exams.
  • For students with extremely limited time or high level of mathematics, it is advisable to use the methods of question practice training + mock exams.
  • There are still a few students who are crammed and have no choice but to use the question practice method and practice a few sets of past papers. As for the effect of such preparation, they can only leave it to fate.

5. Why is it not recommended to replace systematic training with question practice?

By this point, many students may still be confused – why can’t they prepare for TMUA test by only practicing the TMUA questions? It’s normal to have this question due to a lack of understanding of the TMUA test. In fact, there are many reasons, but I only need to point out one of them to convince you – there are only 8 sets of TMUA past papers, and each set has 40 multiple-choice questions, a total of 320 questions; at the speed of finishing one past paper every 2.5 hours to 3 hours, you can finish it in 2 days at the fastest.

Therefore, you may wonder where to find more practice questions for TMUA preparation after realizing this problem. Finding a professional teacher can effectively solve your questions – you can click the link below to learn about the “TMUA Standard Course” (or “TMUA Question Practice”) written by me, which contains more than 1,100 exercise questions and multiple sets of simulation questions (all with complete solutions), and is equipped with an online answering system.

VI. How to plan the time when you prepare for TMUA test?

Generally speaking, the longer the preparation time is and the more thorough the preparation is, the higher the TMUA scores will be. The preparation time varies from person to person and is related to whether the student has experience in STEP preparation, mathematics competitions, and the curriculum system they have learned.

1. Have experience in STEP preparation

If the STEP exam can reach grade 2 or above, it is generally recommended to start practicing TMUA past questions and exercise questions by classification around August.

2. Having no STEP preparation experience, but competition foundation

If AMC can be promoted to AIME, or SMC to BMO 1, it is generally recommended to start preparing for TMUA test around July.

3. Having no competition foundation and studying A Level curriculum system

It is generally recommended to start the preparation no later than June, and a large amount of targeted training is needed.

4. Having no competition foundation and studying AP or IB curriculum system

The AP and IB mathematics syllabus differs from the TMUA specification, but the difference is not significant. A small amount of unlearned knowledge can be made up in a relatively short time. However, AP and IB mathematics focus on the students’ understanding and application of mathematical knowledge, while TMUA focuses on the ability of mathematical logical reasoning and calculation skills. It is generally recommended to start preparing for TMUA immediately after the AP and IB exams or final exams, that is, at the end of May or early June.

VII. Conclusions

As a senior Oxbridge admission test preparation professor, I would like to emphasize that there are no shortcuts in preparing for the TMUA test. In addition to long-term planning and scientific and efficient preparation strategies, getting a high score also requires persistence and hard work.

Still need more TMUA preparation resources? In addition to the “TMUA Standard Courses” and “TMUA Question Practice” written and developed by me, our blog “TMUA Preparation Resources Recommendations and Usage Suggestions” (soon to be released) will also give a detailed introduction.

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