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Each STEP paper is a 3-hour, paper-based exam and has 12 questions. The final grade for the paper is based on the student's six best answers only. Students must choose 6 of the 12 questions to answer on each paper and there's no restriction on which questions one should choose (i.e. your 6 chosen questions can be from any of the 3 sections). There is no limit to the number of questions one can attempt. The university you’re applying for will explain to you which paper you’ll need to take. They’ll do so when they send you your conditional offer letter. All STEP questions are marked out of 20. Your offer will usually include grades in papers 2 and 3.
The STEP exam is used by the University of Cambridge, the University of Warwick and Imperial College London. The following universities may require you to take the STEP exam as part of their conditional offers:
King's College London (required if you only have an AS-Level in maths and not an A-Level)
UCL (University College London)
University of Bath
University of Bristol
University of Southampton
Changes have been implemented since 2020. The style of the questions will remain unaltered, and most of the STEP questions from previous papers can be used for preparation. The following changes have occurred: • the specifications will be updated to reflect the reforms in A Level Mathematics and Further Mathematics
the number of questions in each paper has decreased.
STEP 1 has now been discontinued
STEP 2 is based on A Level Mathematics and AS Level Further Mathematics. The paper has 12 questions across three sections: the first contains 8 pure questions, the second contains 2 mechanics questions, and the third contains 2 probability/statistics questions.
STEP 3 is based on A Level Mathematics and A Level Further Mathematics. The questions are intended to be about the same level of difficulty as those of STEP 2. The paper has 12 questions across three sections: the first contains 8 pure questions, the second contains 2 mechanics questions, and the third contains 2 probability/statistics questions.
As before, each question will have the maximum mark of 20. In each paper, candidates will be assessed on the six questions best answered; no restriction will be placed on the number of questions that may be attempted from any section and all questions attempted will be marked. The marking scheme for each question will be designed to reward candidates who make good progress towards a complete solution. Correct answers always receive full marks, whatever the method used.
Questions may test a candidate’s ability to apply mathematical knowledge in novel and unfamiliar ways and will often require knowledge of several different specification topics. Solutions will frequently require insight, ingenuity, persistence and the ability to work through substantial sequences of algebraic manipulation.
STEP tests a more advanced level of mathematical thinking and problem solving than does A-level, although uses the core syllabus of the Mathematics and Further Mathematics A-level to do so. The examinations are held in the A-level examination period in June and are taken in your school.
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