How can I improve my TSA Oxford score?

Advice & Insight From TSA Specialists

Throughout your preparation you will want to see that you are gaining in confidence and achieving better scores.

There are a number of ways that you can achieve this.

Section 1

For this section you need to be disciplined in a number of ways. You need to read the questions and instructions carefully; in fact, always start by having a quick read of the question before you start reading the passage or start interpreting the table, graph etc. As you read the passage, you should highlight important parts. Work through the question in a systematic way, adopting a step by step approach. Move methodically through section 1 and do not lose focus. Remember that you have 50 questions to get through and at the end of the section, you still need stamina to write your essay. So let us look at how what this means in practice in the question below (important words have been underlined).

Example question

Sourdough, an ingredient of many bread products, is a fermented mixture of flour and water. At 8:00am on Monday morning, I start with a mixture of 50g flour and 50g water. Each morning at 8:00am I double the weight of the sourdough by adding equal weights of flour and water. I know that 1g of the water content evaporates every hour.

The bread recipe that I would like to use requires 500g of sourdough. I also want at least 50g of sourdough left over so that I can continue growing it for next week’s bread.

On which day am I going to have the necessary amount of sourdough?

A        Tuesday
B        Wednesday
C        Thursday
D        Friday
E        Saturday

Working out: 500 + 50 = 550g of sourdough is required.
Mon – (50g x 2) – 24 = 76g
Tues – (76g x 2) – 24 = 128g
Weds – (128 x 2) – 24 = 232g
Thurs – (232 x 2) – 24 = 440g
Fri – (440 x 2) – 24 = 856g

So the answer is E – Friday.

Section 2

The purpose of section 2 is to provide you with an opportunity to show how well you can:

– Select, develop and organise ideas

– Communicate them effectively in writing

So if you want to improve your score in this section, you absolutely need to practise how you choose, think and develop your ideas. After all, you want to show that you stand out from other candidates. The first place to start, therefore, is by developing how you plan an essay. A good way of doing this is to choose some past questions and practise analysing exactly what the question is asking, and in turn, writing a plan for an essay (which you could go on to write or simply leave it as a plan to refer to).

Optimise Your TSA Performance

Learn the best TSA strategies and practice with reflective TSA questions & worked solutions.

For example, let us look at the following question:

– Should parking fines be based on the driver’s income?

First of all, you need to work out the hook word. The key word here is “should”. This needs to become the focus and you will need to define this word in your essay near the start. A simple yet effective plan for this essay question could take the following form:


1 – A short introduction in which you state your answer (e.g. Yes, parking fines should be based on the driver’s income…)

2 – Give a definition of the hook word “should” and also give some information about the nature of fines. You could state that parking fines are a form of punishment for illegal parking meant as a deterrent but also a form of raising money for local councils.

3 – Give a reason in support of the “yes” argument. For example, you could give a scenario where a very wealthy person illegally parks their car while they pop to the shops. When they return, they receive a parking fine but relative to their income they can easily afford it and it does not deter them from repeating the offense in future. Compare this to a pensioner on a low income who has quickly popped into a pharmacy to obtain an urgent prescription, where receiving a large fine could mean they don’t have enough money at the end of the week to pay their bills.

4 – Your next point could argue that parking fines are a form of tax and should be linked to income as this is a progressive way of raising revenue. It could therefore work effectively as a deterrent for wealthier people.

5 – Give some balance. What would critics of the “yes” argument say? That it is not fair to give a different punishment for the same crime. You could even think of situations where it wouldn’t be fair to levy fines based on income, because there are very wealthy people who may not draw an income but have huge amounts of assets.

6 – State your conclusion.

So practising writing plans and turning them into essays under timed conditions, is going to help you improve your TSA score.

How can I improve my TSA Oxford score?

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