How Long is the TSA Test?

Advice & Insight From TSA Specialists

The Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) is a test used by a select group of universities in the United Kingdom, including Oxford, Cambridge, and UCL. It assesses the critical thinking and problem-solving abilities of prospective students, aiming to identify applicants who possess the skills necessary to excel in university-level study. The TSA is particularly relevant for courses such as law, economics, philosophy, and other social sciences. The test evaluates a candidate’s ability to understand and analyse information, make deductions, form conclusions, and effectively communicate ideas. The test is divided into two sections: one focused on problem-solving and critical thinking, and the other on essay writing.

TSA Test Format and Structure

The TSA is a paper-based test, with the exception of UCL’s TST, which is an equivalent online version. It comprises two sections, with the first lasting 90 minutes and the second 30 minutes.

Section 1: Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking

This section consists of multiple-choice questions and is relatively time-pressured, with 50 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. This means there is less than two minutes per question. Candidates are required to analyze passages of text, data, graphs, and other forms of complex information, applying their critical thinking skills to provide logical answers.

Section 2: Essay Writing

In this section, candidates must demonstrate their ability to communicate ideas effectively through essay writing. This part of the test evaluates the cognitive abilities of the test-taker and requires clear, well-structured, and persuasive essays in response to given prompts.

Therefore, the total test time is 120 minutes if you are required to sit both sections, or just 90 minutes if you are required to sit Section 1 only.

 Effective time management is crucial for success in the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) test, as it allows candidates to maximise their performance and showcase their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. This guide will provide tips and strategies on how to prepare beforehand and manage time during the test.

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TSA Test: Time Management Preparation

First, yourself with the test format, as understanding the structure and format of the TSA is essential for efficient time management. Familiarise yourself with the types of questions, the time allocated for each section, and the overall test duration. This knowledge will help you create a realistic plan for managing your time during the test. Then, develop a study schedule. Consistent and focused practice is key to building your skills and improving your time management. Develop a study schedule that allocates sufficient time for both sections of the test, and adhere to it strictly. Make sure to include regular practice sessions, review periods, and breaks to maintain balance and prevent burnout. Make sure you practise under timed conditions, and that you Identify your strengths and weaknesses – analyse your performance during practice tests and identify areas where you excel and those where you need improvement. This insight will enable you to allocate your time effectively during the test, focusing more on the sections or questions that require extra attention.

TSA Test: Time Management During the Test

First, allocate time for each section. Before starting the test, allocate a specific amount of time for each section or each type of question based on the test format and your strengths and weaknesses.You might know that you struggle with certain questions, so spend less time on them therefore. Similarly, ensure that you prioritise questions – answer easier questions first, as this will help you gain confidence and build momentum. After completing the simpler questions, return to the more challenging ones. Likewise, use a process of elimination – multiple-choice questions in Section 1 can be guessed more efficiently and quickly if you work to eliminate obviously wrong answers as quickly as you can.

Make sure to manage your pace – keep track of your progress throughout the test and adjust your pace accordingly. If you find yourself spending too much time on a particular question or section, remind yourself of your time allocation plan and make necessary adjustments. Avoid getting stuck on a single question, as this can consume valuable time and hinder your performance in other sections.Be mindful of the time remaining and regularly check and adjust your approach if necessary. If you’re running short on time, prioritise the questions you’re most confident in and try to answer them quickly. If you have extra time, use it to review your answers and ensure you haven’t missed any questions.

How Long is the TSA Test?

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