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What is the TSA?
The Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) is an aptitude test taken by students who are applying to certain courses at Cambridge, Oxford and UCL. Cambridge applicants sit the TSA Cambridge, Oxford applicants sit the TSA Oxford and UCL applicants (surprise, surprise) sit the TSA UCL.
What does it test?
Although the sections used differ from university to university, this is outlined here;
Why is the TSA used?
The TSA is considered by tutors alongside your grades (both achieved and predicted), personal statement, references, and interview, in order to determine whether you should get an offer. Different colleges and admission tutors will give different weighting to each of these components, and therefore there is no sure-fire way to know how much consideration will be given in each application.
It is used because applicants to these prestigious universities tend to be very closely matched on paper, with the majority of candidates receiving all A – A* grades. This is an extra differentiator for admissions tutors to look at.
It isn’t uncommon to have the TSA referred to in your interview. You may be asked how you think the test went, or they may disclose your score to you. For Oxford, you may be asked about the content of the essay you wrote. It’s used to gain a better understanding of how you think.
When do I sit the TSA?
- The TSA Oxford takes place in the first week of November every year, normally on a Wednesday morning.
- The TSA Cambridge is taken during the interview period, this is usually in the first two weeks of December.
You cannot resit the TSA, you can only do it once per admissions cycle.
How is the TSA scored?
The TSA Section 1 is marked by a computer and scored on a scale of 1-100. The average score for an applicant to Cambridge is in the high 50s. Only around 10% of students score above 70.
Section 2 (for Oxford only) is marked by the college you are applying for; the mark is at their discretion.
When will I get my results?
TSA Oxford results are released in early January of the following year. TSA UCL & Cambridge results vary from college to college and it is best to ask your college admissions officer.
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