How are TSA scores calculated?

Advice & Insight From TSA Specialists

TSA scores are calculated by assigning raw scores to each section of the exam.

Section 1 score

Section 1 comprises 50 multiple choice questions and is scored out of 50 since each question is worth 1 mark:

Section 1:
Problem solving questions

25 marks

Section 1:
Critical thinking questions

25 marks

Section 1:
Aggregate score

50 marks

Section 2 score

Section 2 is an essay marked out of 100.

What happens to the raw scores?

Each raw score is then converted into a scaled score using a special statistical technique which factors in the question and overall test difficulty, allowing candidates’ scores to be compared directly.

Who marks each section?

Section 1 is marked by Cambridge University and the standardisation of the scores is undertaken by them, before they send all the results to the University of Oxford. Section 2 of the TSA is reviewed by the admissions tutors of the Oxford College you have applied to. It is thought that the essay is marked in a similar way to undergraduate essays at Oxford, where 60 or more represents a good performance, and 70 or more would be very good. However, it is not entirely clear how the standardisation of the essay score takes place.

Important to note is that although the essay is marked out of 100, it doesn’t mean that it is weighted double that of section 1; in fact, section 1 is usually weighted more highly.

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Can I predict how raw scores will be converted to scaled scores?

It is not possible to predict how raw scores will be converted until after the whole cohort has taken the test, but it is possible to look at results from previous years to see what sort of correlations are made.

So, what scores will I receive?

The TSA scale usually runs from about 0 – 100 (although this varies from year to year) with scores given to one decimal place. You will receive a scaled score for each component of section 1, a composite score for section 1 as well as a scaled score for section 2.

How will I know if it is a good score?

Competitive scores vary from year to year, but, according to historical data, a scaled score of 65 or more is usually considered competitive. The best applicants will score more highly, with 70 representing a comparatively high score. Only a very few exceptional applicants will achieve scores higher than 80; extreme scores are rare.

How are TSA scores calculated?

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