How to do well in the TSA
Advice & Insight From TSA Specialists
Getting a high score in the TSA is the result of practice, dedicated preparation – and an efficient performance on test day itself. Here, we will consider tips for both Section 1 and 2, covering prep and the test.
TSA Section 1: How to Do Well
Firstly, you must understand the test format. The first step should therefore be working to familiarise yourself with the structure of the test and the types of questions that will be asked. The TSA website provides detailed information about the test format, including sample questions and past papers. Make sure to review these materials carefully and understand the different types of questions that may appear on the test. You can also find guidance on each section through our Complete Guide to the TSA.
When you are familiar with the test format, ensure that you are confident in critical thinking and analysing arguments. To develop your performance here will require practice, rather than rote learning. You will need to become familiar with terms like ‘sufficient’ or ‘necessary’ as applied to a condition, and be able to quickly notice assumptions or conclusions of passages.
Section 1 will also involve problem solving – in other words, mathematical puzzles. Whilst the mathematical level here is not high, the problems themselves can require creative and detailed thinking. Once again, practice is the best way to ensure that you are at the level required here.
You may also encounter some spatial reasoning questions. These ‘non-verbal reasoning’ type questions are once again best tackled through dedicated and specific preparation.
Practice should include:
- Past papers. This should be your first port of call when establishing the level that you need to be at. You can get worked solutions for most of the TSA papers through our site, although we recommend that you first work through papers alone, so that you are able to get a true gauge of your level and ability.
- Question banks. You should make use of a question bank that is specific to the TSA, and that will allow you to check your performance and highlight areas of weakness or strength. Our question bank is the result of both years of experience across admissions tests in Medicine and for Oxbridge, and dedicated research into the TSA and the level of its questions.
- If you find that you have worked through both all the past papers and our entire question bank (which is unlikely), you could also make use of BMAT past papers. Just remember to only focus on the first section of the BMAT. Similarly, the IMAT will also offer past papers that will cover the same types of critical thinking and problem solving.
In the test itself, remember that you will not be able to solve every question – and certainly not within the time limit provided. You must therefore:
- Make guesses where needed. This will require elimination of options that are clearly incorrect
- Allocate your time carefully during the test and prioritise the questions that you feel most confident about.
- Remain calm and work efficiently through the questions – accept some questions as ‘lost’ in order to move on to others and increase your overall average. Be strategic.
Optimise Your TSA Performance
Learn the best TSA strategies and practice with reflective TSA questions & worked solutions.
TSA Section 2: How to Do Well
TSA Section 2 is less commonly required than Section 1. You will need to write a two page essay within half an hour on one of a set of questions. The questions are designed to be provocative and inspire debate for students from different academic backgrounds – i.e. they are essays for generalists, not requiring specific knowledge of one particular academic subject.
Preparation should therefore cover:
– Current affairs. Ensure that you read sources of news that feature opinion, well-argued. This should include broadsheet newspapers, the BBC, magazines like the New Yorker or the Atlantic, etc.
– Develop a strategy for formulating essays that ensures that you provide a balanced argument each time, and that you are coherent and concise
On the day, ensure that you:
– Plan your essay beforehand. This will save valuable time, although it might not feel like it at first! Try to spend a maximum of 5-7 minutes planning.
– Write formally, in academic language, and watch your spelling and grammar. You will make a far more positive impact in this manner.