The Complete TSA Guide | UniAdmissions

What Is The TSA? The Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) is an aptitude test taken by students who are applying to certain courses at Oxford and UCL. Oxford applicants sit the TSA Oxford and UCL applicants (surprise, surprise) sit the TSA UCL.

Author: Rob Needleman

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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 Oxford and UCL. Oxford applicants sit the TSA Oxford and UCL applicants (surprise, surprise) sit the TSA UCL.

What does the TSA test?

The TSA consists of two sections:

 

  • Section 1: consists of 50 multiple-choice questions and assesses problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, and the ability to reason using everyday language. The time allowed for this section is 90 minutes. 
  • Section 2: is a writing task, that evaluates an applicants ability to organise ideas and communicate them effectively in writing. Applicants answer one question from a choice of four and the time allowed for this section is 30 minutes.
tsa-test-structure

The sections used are different from university to university:

UCL TSA 

Only section 1 is used (problem-solving, numerical and spatial reasoning, critical thinking skills and reasoning using everyday language (50 multiple-choice questions, 90 minutes)).

Oxford TSA

Section 1 and 2 are used. Section 1 is problem-solving, numerical and spatial reasoning, critical thinking skills and reasoning using everyday language (50 multiple-choice questions, 90 minutes) and Section 2, organised, concise written communication essay (1 question, 30 minutes).

Economics and Management or History and Economics applicants only take Section 1.

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.

 

The TSA 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.

You cannot resit the TSA, you can only do it once per admissions cycle.

bridge-of-sighs-oxford
Hertford Bridge, often called the Bridge of Sighs, University of Oxford

How is the TSA scored?

Section 1 is marked by a computer and scored on a scale of 1-100. 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. The “mark scheme” will vary from admissions tutor to admissions tutor but regardless of marking style, all the tutors are looking for the ability to organise ideas in a clear and concise manner.

When will I get my TSA results?

TSA Oxford results are released in early January of the following year. TSA UCL results vary so it is best to ask the Admissions Officers.

For UCL, the scoring is 1 mark per question, scores are calculated on a TSA scale to one decimal place (0-100 scale). The scale estimates an applicant’s ability by factoring in the question and overall test difficulty using the Rasch statistical technique.

Looking to boost your TSA score?

The UniAdmissions TSA Programme will rapidly boost your score and triple your chances of succeeding in your application.

 

Our expert tutors will guide you through past papers in mock exam scenarios so that you are well-prepared by the time your exam comes around. UniAdmissions helps students refine and hone their abilities so that they’re exam-ready on test day for all aspects of the TSA exam.

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