This guide is for anyone applying to a university programme where applicants must first complete the Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA). In the sections below you can find out if you need to sit the test and how you go about doing that. There is also some advice on how best to prepare for the test and how important the test will be to your application to study mathematics at university.
What is the TMUA?
The TMUA is a two and a half hour mathematics exam which seeks to test mathematical ability when using mathematics in novel applications and using reasoning and deduction, both important skills for any aspiring (applied) mathematician.
Which universities require TMUA?
Select courses at Bath, Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Lancaster, LSE, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton, and Warwick require applicant to sit the TMUA.
What is the TMUA test format?
There are two sections: I – Applications of Mathematical Knowledge and II – Mathematical Reasoning which test these skills respectively. Each paper contains 20 multiple choice questions and is one hour and fifteen minutes long.
Is TMUA easier than MAT?
The TMUA is considered to be easier than the MAT; indeed many MAT resources encourage students to ‘warm-up’ with TMUA questions! While there is nothing stopping students sitting both MAT and TMUA papers, many universities specify a choice and many others only require one or the other so be tactical in your university selection accordingly!
Is TMUA non-calculator?
You cannot use a calculator for the TMUA.
When should I take TMUA?
To sit the TMUA you (or your school on your behalf) need to apply to sit the TMUA in September, the test is undertaken in the first week of November, with the results released towards the end of November, in time for interview decisions, which usually occur at the same time.
How difficult is TMUA?
Though it may look daunting the mathematics content of the TMUA is not any more challenging than that encountered at school. Indeed, given that the syllabus is based on A Level content, the answers are multiple choice, and there are no calculators one may expect the questions to in fact be easier than conventional A Level maths questions. The TMUA challenges a different set of skills: time management, analytical thinking, and problem solving. Hence, practice and time is critical.
What is a good score on the TMUA?
The test is scored on a scale from 1.0 to 9.0 but there is no fixed fail mark. Unlike in school where grades lower than 90% might not even correspond to the highest grades, the TMUA is designed to differentiate between already very intelligent students and so a score of 90% would be very exceptional rather than the norm. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests 60% is a good score to aim for (though the data is not available for Cambridge the average grade on the MAT, the Oxford equivalent, for invitation to interview is 55-60% and for acceptance is 60-65%). If you can answer 80% of the questions in the time with 80% accuracy that exceeds this 60% goal.
How important is the TMUA?
The universities do not state the weight they place on the TMUA score in weighing applicants. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is some benchmark against which students are compared and must exceed to be considered for interview or admission. This being said, the TMUA is designed to enable you to demonstrate your mathematical ability in contrast to your personal statement or interview which might focus on more qualitative aspects of your application. Rather than causing anxiety, it can be helpful to think of the TMUA as the most preparable aspect of your application and a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate quantitative skills you have been developing since starting school!
Is the TMUA an online test?
In 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic the TMUA was sat online but it has not yet been confirmed whether this will hold true for 2022 too.
Where can I find practice tests/past papers for TMUA?
All past papers and worked answers can be found on this website. There are papers for every year 2017-2021, specimen papers, and two practice papers, totalling eight sets of past papers.
What are the best ways to prepare for the TMUA?
To best prepare for the TMUA you can access the TMUA Test Specification and notes on Logic and Proof on the Cambridge Admissions Testing website. First, read through the specification and identify any areas that you may be unfamiliar with and investigate these to make sure you understand all the content that can be asked of you. The ancillary benefit of doing this is that if you are asked an unusual-looking question in the exam you can think critically about which of the limited topics it can be alluding to, which will be quicker if you know the limits of the scope of the exam. I stress this step should be taken first as there are limited past papers, so it is preferable to only attempt them once you are fully au fait with the content!
Second, practice papers! Do these under strict timed conditions as timing is as important an exam technique as answering the questions correctly. When you are marking the papers don’t simply tick and cross and compare your score; think critically about why you are not getting all the questions right – could it be a fundamental mislearning of a key topic or is it careless and how can you fix it?
If you are heavily reliant on your calculator in Maths at school, try to challenge yourself to do more simple operations without a calculation during your school maths lessons (but not tests!). It will also help you to learn all the key trigonometric ratio values e.g. cos0, cos30, cos45, cos60, cos90; sin0, sin30, sin45, sin60, sin90; tan0, tan30, tan45, tan60, tan90.
Finally, there is no negative marking so all questions should be attempted as you could get marks by guessing questions, but you certainly will get zero if you leave these blank.
Tutors for the TMUA
Keystone has a range of specialist tutors who can assist students approaching university aptitude tests including the TMUA. Our TMUA tutors have extensive experience with the TMUA, both through having successfully sat the test and then gone on to tutor it. Contact us to find out more.