What is STEP?
STEP is an additional mathematics examination, taken at the end of Y13, which forms part of conditional offers to applicants for mathematics and some related degrees at Cambridge and some other universities. STEP is designed to test candidates on questions that are similar in style to undergraduate mathematics. Although demanding, preparing for STEP gives you a chance to engage with interesting, challenging mathematics, to stretch yourself and to develop the mathematical reasoning, independence and confidence needed in an undergraduate mathematics degree.
The University of Cambridge offers a number of free online resources to help potential university applicants develop their advanced mathematical problem-solving skills and prepare for STEP mathematics exams. You can find out more about STEP and Cambridge mathematics admissions here.
Free online resources to support STEP preparation
Developed by the Faculty of Mathematics and NRICH, this new online STEP Support programme is designed to help potential university applicants develop their advanced problem-solving skills and prepare for sitting STEP Mathematics examinations. It builds on an earlier national pilot, led by Dr Stephen Siklos and funded by the DfE.
The STEP Support programme includes online modules for individual additional study, starting in the summer of Y12, and an online discussion forum. The resources are free and open to everyone.
Each module assignment starts with some warm-up exercises, followed by preparatory work leading to a STEP question. Supportive self-evaluation and development material will be published after each assignment, to help you assess your progress and identify areas that need more work.
The programme also includes an online discussion forum to support students preparing for STEP. You can ask for help and hints if you’re stuck, share what you have tried so far, offer advice to others and get guidance from Cambridge University students who’ve taken STEP themselves.
Find the free STEP Support programme at maths.org/STEP.
Additional supporting resources
These additional complementary resources are designed to help you develop your advanced problem solving skills and mathematical thinking.
- Free online Advanced Problem-Solving resources from NRICH The NRICH project, based at the University of Cambridge, has published a collection of free online advanced problem solving resources. The material has been carefully selected to provide an accessible and supportive introduction to advanced problem solving, and to help you build your confidence, fluency and speed.
- STEP questions with solutions at Underground Mathematics The Underground Mathematics website, funded by the DfE and based at the University of Cambridge, offers free resources to support the teaching of A level mathematics. The website includes selected past STEP questions with fully worked solutions and explanations.
- Advanced Problems in Core Mathematics book A book by Dr Stephen Siklos, analysing recent STEP questions selected to address the syllabus for Papers I and II, which is the A-level core (i.e. C1 to C4) with a few additions. Each question is followed by a comment and a full solution. The comments direct the reader’s attention to key points and put the question in its true mathematical context. The solutions point students to the methodology required to address advanced mathematical problems critically and independently. The book can be downloaded as a free pdf; this revised and extended version can also be bought as a paperback.