TSA Oxford Answers Explained
Advice & Insight From TSA Specialists
In this article you will find four example questions that appear in section 1 of the TSA exam, with a step by step explanation of how the answers have been found.
Problem solving example 1
The table below shows the times of sunset and sunset and moonrise and moonset for certain towns on the same day (in hours: minutes).
In which of the towns are the sun and the moon in the sky together for the shortest time?
You can deduce from the question that the only columns you need to look at are those of “Sunset” and “Moonrise” (since those will be the times when there is an overlap between the sun still being in the sky when the moon appears).
Since you have five options to consider, you can ignore the towns not mentioned in the question. So there is no need to look at the times for Hull or Liverpool in the table.
Now calculate the durations for each of the five remaining towns that the sun and the moon are in the sky together for:
Time in sky together
2 hours 44 mins
2 hours 37 mins
2 hours 29 mins
2 hours 28 mins
2 hours 44 mins
The shortest duration is D, Leith.
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Problem solving example 2
A 250g bag of mixed nuts lists the ingredients on the packet as follows:
As they are my favourite, I eat all the almonds in the packet and then re-weigh it. I find that the almond content was the minimum it could have been whilst being consistent with the labelling.
What is the largest possible peanut content of the nuts remaining in the bag after I have eaten the almonds?
The full bag weighed 250g. Since it states that the almond content was the minimum amount (20%) we need to find 20% of 250, which is 50g. So without the almonds, we know that the bag weighs 200g.
The maximum peanut content is 40% of the original bag (250g).
Calculate 40% of 250g = 100g.
We know that 100g out of the newly reduced bag (200g) is peanuts. So the answer must be C – 50%.
Critical thinking example 1
Your cake will be tasty only if you use fresh ingredients which you can buy at the market. You did not go to the market, so your cake will not be tasty.
Which one of the following most closely parallels the reasoning used in the above argument?
A You can only be happy if you are healthy. To be healthy, you have to eat a lot of vegetables. You eat a lot of vegetables so you must be happy.
B She either went to school or the playground. She is not in the playground, so she must have gone to school.
C If you light a candle, there is light and, if there is light, I am able to read to you. You must have lit a candle because I can read.
D Listening to loud music through earphones damages hearing. His hearing is fine which means that he must not have listened to loud music through earphones.
E Good knowledge of the car is necessary for fixing it. Without fixing the car, we will not arrive at the wedding in time. We will surely be late as we do not have good knowledge of the car.
You need to identify what type of argument is in the statement. You can represent it using letters which is a common method for this type of question, or you may have a different way.
“Your cake will be tasty only if you use fresh ingredients which you can buy at the market. You did not go to the market, so your cake will not be tasty.”
Not P therefore not Q.
Go through each option and decide which type of logic is being used for each one:
P therefore Q
Not P therefore Q
P therefore Q
Not P therefore Q
Not P therefore not Q
You can now match which statement is the same type as in the question. In this case it is option E.
Critical thinking example 2
Costs of health care in the UK are shared through taxation, but some of those who can afford to pay for a higher standard of care choose to do so. Some think it is immoral for rich people to receive better health care simply because they can afford to pay for it. But the whole point of money is to enable those who have it to improve the quality of life of themselves and their families. If money did not offer such advantages, it would not motivate people to develop their skills or to work harder to earn more. Since people are morally entitled to use their money to buy advantages for themselves and their loved ones, there can be no objection to private medicine.
Which of the following illustrates the principle used in the above argument?
A People who have been born rich should not waste their inherited wealth in gambling, self-indulgence and extravagant living.
B It is a good thing for people from rich countries to take foreign holidays, because the income generated by tourism benefits the local economy.
C People who are born talented are under a moral obligation to develop their talents and to apply them energetically for the good of humanity.
D Rich people should give away some of their wealth to benefit those less fortunate than themselves.
E Inheritance tax should be set at a fairly low rate so that children of rich parents inherit enough money to make a substantial difference to their lives.
We are looking for the principle. We read in the passage that: “But the whole point of money is to enable those who have it to improve the quality of life of themselves and their families.” Therefore, we can say that the principle is that “money enables”.
Now read through each option and see if the principle is the same.
E is closest in principle to the argument that money enables.
Remember that in some of the questions there will be extra information given to try to confuse you or tire you out. Whatever method you decide to use, try and ensure it is as efficient as possible so that you do not use up too much time. Also, before you read through the passage, have a quick look at the question itself as it will help you understand what you need to look for and focus on when reading the passage or when extracting information from the tables, graphs and diagrams.