This free online STEP Support Programme is offered by the University of Cambridge to help university applicants develop their advanced mathematical problem-solving skills and prepare for STEP mathematics exams.
What is STEP?
STEP is an additional mathematics examination, taken at the end of Year 13, 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.
STEP Support Programme - free online resources
The STEP Support programme is designed to help university applicants develop their advanced problem-solving skills and prepare for sitting STEP Mathematics examinations. The programme is developed by the Faculty of Mathematics and NRICH. It consists of online modules for individual additional study, and an online discussion forum.
The resources are free and open to everyone.
The Foundation modules provide a structured introduction to solving STEP problems. The modules also introduce mathematical ideas beyond the syllabus with lots of opportunities for extra reading, and they include supportive self evaluation materials to help you assess your progress. They are designed to be studied weekly over about 6 months. If you are planning to take STEP II and III at the end of Year 13, we recommend you start studying the Foundation modules in Year 12. They are also useful for Year 13 students who want to take STEP I.
The STEP II and STEP III modules assume that you have already worked through the foundation modules. We recommend that you start these in Year 13 (ideally you would start working on the STEP II modules soon after the beginning of Year 13, and the STEP III modules around January of Year 13).
To give additional help and support as you work through the assignments, the programme also includes an online discussion forum, mentored by current Cambridge University mathematics students. You can ask for help and hints if you’re stuck, share what you have tried so far, and get expert guidance from university students who’ve taken STEP themselves.
Please see here for more detailed advice on how to use the STEP Support Programme.
Additional supporting material
These resources complement the STEP Support Programme and 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 Mathematics book
A book by Dr Stephen Siklos, analysing STEP questions selected to address the syllabus for Papers I and II, which is the A-level core (i.e. C1 to C4) plus some mechanics and statistics. 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 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; it can also be viewed online or bought as a paperback at cost price (no profits, no royalties).
The STEP Support Programme is developed by NRICH, part of the University of Cambridge's Millennium Mathematics Project - maths.org, on behalf of the Faculty of Mathematics. (c) University of Cambridge.