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Maths admission test (MAT)

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by briancant, Sep 27, 2019.

  1. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    Have any of you maths tutors been asked to tutor a student to sit the Oxford MAT test? I have and have just done one of the tests myself. I am now lying in a darkened room with a cold flannel on my forehead. They do seem very hard and I really have no idea how to help a student prepare to do them. Any suggestions?
  2. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    I've never tutored this. I had a look at a couple of past papers, they certainly look more *interesting" than A level questions. I would only take something like this on if I could answer most of the questions without preparation. It would be more difficult to teach than A level. They are not the kind of questions where you can just teach a method which the student can regurgitate.

    I would get the student to attempt a paper before each lesson and then spend the lesson going through questions they couldn't do or had got wrong. Presumably if they are applying to Oxford they would be keen enough to do this. Of course this would only work if you are confident about doing the questions yourself.
    Piranha likes this.
  3. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    Are they taking the exam this year? The exam is on October 30th so it doesn't give you much time. I doubt if you could achieve very much except perhaps boost their confidence a bit.
  4. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    In reality I would have to do the questions first myself with a great deal of thought and time. The student is the child of a friend. My honest opinion is that it will be too difficult for them but I don't want to seem negative. There are lots of papers and mark schemes available on the site my feeling is she should work through them and email me any she is unsure about. I think to be confronted by questions this hard without having tried them would be too much.
    Piranha likes this.
  5. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    That seems sensible. The website gives the average mark obtained each year by those who were offered a place, usually around 70. They could see if if they have a realistic chance by trying a paper under timed conditions.
  6. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah Occasional commenter

    Maybe ask her to do a paper and Mark it herself. Then tell her unless she can get 50%/ 60% ( whatever you feel is reasonable) then you wouldn't be able to help her. It could be worth investing your time in then you could offer it for other students. I never taught A level maths mechanics units before I was a tutor and I didn't study them when I was doing a level so when I taught my first student who wanted tutoring in it I had to teach myself first but now I can offer it so it was worth the time.
  7. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    The Oxford MAT test is based mainly on first year A level maths. It's not a matter of learning a new topic like mechanics. It's rather a matter of applying existing knowledge in more difficult and unconventional questions. To quote the blurb it "tests depth of mathematical understanding rather than breadth of knowledge". The Cambridge STEP papers are similar but even harder.
  8. adamcreen

    adamcreen Occasional commenter

    I would not "help" students with MAT or STEP in the way I would with A Level. If they can't do it themselves, they shouldn't be applying to Oxbridge. You can support them, but it has to come from them. It's notable that the AMSP/MEI and other orgs run lots of "Problem Solving Masterclasses" which is a great great thing - I have students attending those on a Saturday morning, and that will really help them with the MAT. I would also use MAT questions (and JMC/IMC/SMC questions) in single Maths classes at the end of a topic for extension. Dr Frost Maths has a great thing on his website where all the past questions are in a database linked to A Level topics. His Edexcel chapter powerpoints also use them as extension questions. But I would not try and "do" a MAT paper myself as a way of preparing to help the student. There are plenty of online hint sheets and solutions and I would work through those with the student instead. Rant over.

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