Information on the TSA Cambridge Exam

TSA Cambridge - This year, the TSA Cambridge exam was held on 31 October 2018 at your local exam centre at 9:00 am GMT. As discussed in our other articles, the Thinking Skills Assessment is an entrance exam that many Oxbridge candidates sit as a pre-requisite for interviews and forms an important part of the selection criteria.

Author: Zayra Morales

You are here:

Table of Contents

TSA Cambridge – What’s that?

This year, the TSA Cambridge exam was sat 31st October 2018 at your local exam centre (often this is simply just your school!) at usually 9:00 am GMT.

As covered by our other articles, the Thinking Skills Assessment is an entrance exam sat by many Oxbridge candidates as a prerequisite before interviews and forms a significant part of the selection criteria.


Who sits the TSA Cambridge Exam?

With the declining availability of UMS, many Cambridge applicants are now subjected to an entrance exam; it is the case that there are many candidates with stellar GCSEs, A-levels, and personal statements and thus an extra assessment is used to differentiate between the candidates.

At Cambridge, there is only one course which currently requires the TSA:

Land Economy (Section 1 Only)


The Format

Whilst the TSA is a two-part paper, only Section 1 is relevant to Land Economy applicants.

Section 1 – a multiple choice exam (90 minutes) that tests your verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Questions fall into the camp of either problem solving or critical thinking skills questions. More details are provided in our article on the critical thinking skills assessment.

More information, in general, about the TSA can be found online including our overview on the TSA 2018: Read all about it!


Example Question: (Q19, Specimen test)

In an effort to monitor my fuel bills last winter I recorded the readings on the gas and electricity meters on the first of each month as follows (diagram on the right):


During which month did I use the most gas?

A November

B December

C January

D February

E March


There are a couple of pitfalls present to avoid in this question. The first is the presence of the electricity column, which is not used in answering the question.

Secondly, note that the meters are cumulative and thus the amount used up in a month is actually the value for the next month subtracted by the value at the start of the month.

Doing this, it becomes apparent that the correct answer is A, November. In this month, a total of (3029 – 2842) = 252 units were consumed.


How important is the TSA exam?

The Cambridge admissions process is a holistic one; a wide range of your academic performances are considered including exam scores, interview performance and, of course, the TSA score. Performance in the TSA is hence not entirely indicative of a candidate’s success.

Please see the following quote which truly emphasises the point.

 ‘Please note that your performance in the pre-interview assessment will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.’

University of Cambridge Admissions


The TSA is an area that many applicants are worried about; it is quite different from anything that has been encountered before! Whilst the questions may seem foreign at this stage of the TSA Cambridge application, it is a case of cultivating the required skill set through practice.

UniAdmissions and their team of expert tutors help students refine and demonstrate their skill set so that they’re confident on the test day for all aspects of the TSA exam. More information on the available packages can be found here on our tuition packages page. Or, get in touch to find out which courses are available which could help you in your admissions process to Cambridge.

Read More on this Topic

Whether you want to learn more about the problem solving and critical thinking skills of section one of the TSA. Or, whether you’re anxious about getting your results in the new year and want to know what happens next. You can find a lot more information on the exam and your application to Cambridge on our blog. Written by the experts themselves, we have all the advice and top tips you need to know about.

Book An Expert Application Consultation