What is the TSA Test?

Advice & Insight From TSA Specialists

Here, we will work through some of the most important questions around the TSA test – covering what it is, its format, where it’s used, and more.

What is the TSA Test?

The Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) is a test used by a select group of universities in the United Kingdom (Oxford, Cambridge, UCL) to assess critical thinking and problem-solving abilities of prospective students. The test was designed to identify applicants who possess the skills necessary to succeed in university-level study, particularly in courses such as law, economics, philosophy, and other social sciences. The TSA Test is designed to assess a candidate’s ability to understand and analyse information, make deductions, and form conclusions, in addition to their ability to communicate ideas effectively. The test is split into two sections, one for problem-solving and for critical thinking, and a second that focuses on essay-writing – both of which evaluate the cognitive abilities of the test-taker

What is the format of the TSA Test

The TSA Test is a paper-based test (note that UCL has used an online version of the TST, equivalent to the TSA), that consists of two sections, with the first lasting 90 and the second being 30 minutes. The first section consists of multiple-choice questions, and is relatively time-pressured, with 50 questions to be answered in 90 minutes – in other words, there is less than 2 minutes per question. You will need to analyse passages of text, data, graphs, and other forms of complex information and apply critical thinking skills in order to provide logical answers.

Which universities use the TSA Test

The TSA Test is used by a small group of universities in the United Kingdom, consisting of the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, and UCL (University College London). Each school uses the test only for a set group of degree programs, with Oxford making the most use of the test, Cambridge using it for certain programs at certain colleges, and UCL using it only for its EISPS programs.

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When was the TSA Test developed?

The TSA Test was developed by the University of Cambridge’s Admissions Testing Service in 2001. It was initially developed for use in the university’s undergraduate admissions process, specifically for candidates applying for social sciences courses. Since its introduction, the TSA Test has become adopted by other universities as a way of assessing a candidate’s critical thinking and problem-solving abilities in a relatively unbiased manner – especially when compared to an interview.

Who writes the TSA Test?

The TSA Test is written by the University of Cambridge’s Admissions Testing Service, which is responsible for developing and administering the test. The Admissions Testing Service is part of the University of Cambridge’s Assessment Operations division and is responsible for developing and administering a range of assessments for universities in the UK and around the world. The Admissions Testing Service works closely with universities to ensure that the TSA Test meets their specific needs and is an accurate reflection of the skills required for success in their particular courses. CAAT (Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing) also writes various other tests, including the BMAT, for example.

Who needs to sit the TSA Test?

Candidates applying to specific undergraduate courses at universities that use the TSA Test as part of their admissions process will be required to sit the test. The test is typically used for social sciences courses, such as economics, law, and philosophy. Oxford uses the TSA Test as a way of assessing candidates for a range of courses, while Cambridge and UCL use it much less frequently. You should check with the specific college and course that you are applying to for more information on how the test is used, and whether you will be required to sit Section 1 only, or both Section 1 and Section 2. If you are required to sit the test, ensure that you prepare thoroughly, and use both past papers and an online question bank – like that offered at BlackStone Tutors – to build up your ability and confidence in the exam. Preparation should ideally begin around six weeks in advance, allowing you to understand the test and practise gradually, rather than try to familiarise yourself with the format at the last minute.

What is the TSA Test?

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