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What is STEP?

STEP (Sixth Term Examination Paper) is a maths admissions test used primarily by the University of Cambridge and the University of Warwick. Other UK universities sometimes ask for STEP as part of their offer. STEP questions are designed to reflect the difficulty of undergraduate maths.

Taking STEP

STEP comes at a difficult time. You’re in the middle of all your other A-Levels and exams, and it’s hard to know when to fit in STEP preparation, and how much you actually need to do. Obviously, all the preparation you are doing for your A-Level Maths and Further Maths exams will also come in handy here, as you will be familiarising yourself with the content covered.

But you need to take some time to go over the new content, as outlined in my introductory guide to STEP. See if you can find any practice A-Level style questions on these topics online, and, if you’re lucky, see if your teacher will go through some of them with you.

STEPMaths Courses

Here at STEPMaths we run lots of courses that will help with your preparation for STEP. Details of all of these can be found at, but here’s a quick summary:

  • We have a STEP Summer School that covers STEP 1, 2 and 3:
    • Here we go through integer problems, solving case by case, proof by contradiction and counterexample, taking care with inequalities, and the necessary and sufficient condition
  • We also have an October course that covers STEP 1, 2 and 3
    • In this we explore advanced trigonometric identities, chain quotient, product rules, advanced graph sketching, and multivariate polynomials
  • We have another STEP 1, 2, and 3 Course in February
    • This covers integration tricks and ubiquitous integrals, clever substitutions to simplify trigonometric integrals, differential equations and dealing with vectors in a variety of contexts. 
  • Finally, we host an Easter course dedicated to Step 3
    • This goes over complex numbers and Argand geometry, polar co-ordinates in STEP questions, manipulating hyperbolic functions, advanced integration and differential equations and parametric equations and conic sections

In all of these courses, you will get one-to-one advice and attention from expert tutors, an opportunity to meet and learn from your peers sitting the same exams, and exposure to lots of new STEP questions, expanding the pool from which you can practice and prepare

The Summer, February, and October courses, where we go through STEP 1, 2 and 3 are three days long. If you are only planning to sit one or two of the STEP modules, you can come to the relevant days instead of coming to the entire three-day bundle. 

“The partner discussions and mini whiteboard sessions on the STEPMaths STEP course were fun and interesting, as I engaged in other people’s methods for solving problems. The preparatory questions were cool too; I learnt many neat tricks from these and discovered how useful they could be come the STEP Maths Exams.”

– Tobias E

Online Resources

We also offer a wide variety of online resources: 

  • Comprehensive support: STEP 1,2 and 3 solutions from the last 6 years.
  • Trick tutorials: these help you to become familiar with common techniques for simplifying STEP problems.
  • Topic-based video solutions to the problems.
  • Extra in-depth questions arranged by topic: these come with carefully crafted explanations and solutions, helping you work through the questions and learn methods for solving them. 
  • Unlike with a tutor, you can work at your own pace, accessing the solutions whenever and wherever you want. 

Final Tips

As with the MAT and the TMUA, try and do as many of the STEP past papers as you can. This is the best way to prepare, as familiarising yourself with the structure of the paper and the style of the questions is the most important thing. 

“The past papers are particularly useful preparation. They are sometimes confusing ar first, but as you gain experience you start to see what they’re looking for before you’ve even put your pen to paper, simply through the wording of the question.”

Nick C, Maths, Cambridge 

Another way to prepare for STEP is to categorise all the questions by topic once you have completed the paper. Then, a couple of nights before your exam, you can go through all the past paper questions you have done topic by topic. This will help you see patterns in terms of what the admissions tutors are testing in each topic. It also means that if you are particularly weak in one area, you can do preparation just before the exam by looking at questions specifically for that topic. 


Hopefully that’s given you an idea of how you can best prepare for STEP. Many of the techniques outlined in our MAT and TMUA revision posts will also be extremely useful for your STEP preparation. Good luck!

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