Thinking Skills Assessment
The TSA is an admissions test used for undergraduate courses at the University of Oxford and University College London. Historically it has been used also by the University of Cambridge for applicants looking to study Land Economy, however, there seems to be no setup for the TSA for 2023 Cambridge applications.
Oxford candidates are required to take this test if applying to study one of the following courses:
- Experimental Psychology
- Human Sciences
- Philosophy, Politics and Economics
- Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics
If you are applying for Economics Management or History and Economics at Oxford, you will also have to take the TSA, but only Section 1.
For practice materials, click on our official Oxford TSA website link provided below. Here you will find workshop videos, past papers for both sections of the test, a question guide, explanations of results, and further reading.
For UCL candidates, you will be required to take this test if you are applying to study one of the following courses:
- R990 European Social and Political Studies
- LV01 International Social and Political Studies
There will be two sittings of the test: one in January and one in March. You will need to register for one of these options via Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT). For more information see https://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/thinking-skills-assessment/tsa-ucl/how-to-register/ .
Outline of the TSA
The TSA is administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT). It is a computer-based test divided into two parts. It is divided into two sections: UCL applicants need only take Section 1, while Oxford applicants are required to take Section 1 and Section 2.
Section 1 is a 90-minute multiple choice Thinking Skills Assessment. There will be 50 questions, each question being worth one mark. In this section the aim is to assess problem-solving skills (e.g. numerical reasoning), and critical thinking skills (e.g. understanding argument and reasoning).
Section 2 is a 30-minute writing task. Here you will be asked to answer one question from a choice of four. Questions are not subject-specific. The word limit for this section is 750 words. The aim of this section is to assess your ability to clearly organise ideas and to communicate them well in writing. Admissions tutors assess this section. They are looking for:
- Critical thinking skills
- Excellent analytical reasoning
- Good consideration of possible counterarguments
- Excellent and accurate use of language
- Well-organised answer
- Clear communication of ideas
Marking is automated and calculated on the TSA scale to one decimal place. Results are released in early January by CAAT and are only available to download for 60 days. Admissions tutors will receive all results directly from CAAT and will use these to make shortlisting decisions for interviews in November.
Please note that the TSA is but one part of your entire application; admissions tutors will also be looking at your academic record, UCAS application form, additional recent work submitted (if this has been requested) and performance at interview (if you are invited to attend). Therefore, look upon the TSA as an exciting opportunity to challenge yourself and build on your skills.
Registration for the TSA:
You will need to register yourself for the TSA through an authorised test centre. This could be your school/college or an open test centre. You can find your nearest test centre via Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing at https://www.admissionstesting.org/find-a-centre/ . It is worth inquiring into whether your school/college is already registered as a test centre. If it is not, members of staff could arrange to register it any time before the 30th September. Some advice for how to do so is here: https://www.admissionstesting.org/administering-our-tests/. You must be registered by the 15th October. The test will take place before interviews are organised – so in November for Oxford candidates, and January or March for UCL applicants.
When you register, you will be asked to provide:
- Your name, date of birth, and gender
- Your UCAS number
- The name of the university, course, and course code you are applying to
- Details of any access arrangements
How Mayfair Consultants can assist you:
Outline of the TSA: https://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/thinking-skills-assessment/tsa-oxford/about-tsa-oxford/
Oxford website: outline of the TSA (including practice materials): https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford/guide/admissions-tests/tsa
Oxford Admissions tests information: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford/guide/admissions-tests
Outline of the TSA:
Preparing for the TSA: https://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/thinking-skills-assessment/tsa-ucl/preparing-for-tsa-ucl/
TSA question guide: https://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/thinking-skills-assessment/tsa-ucl/preparing-for-tsa-ucl/
How to register: https://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/thinking-skills-assessment/tsa-ucl/how-to-register/
European and International Social and Political Studies: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/european-international-social-political-studies/study/european-social-and-political-studies-ba/apply
For a variety of past papers and mark schemes: https://studymind.co.uk/resource/tsa-past-papers/
TSA example questions and answers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nm2bdoZj8lE
Cambridge Resources (just in case)
Outline of the TSA:
Preparing for TSA Cambridge: https://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/thinking-skills-assessment/tsa-cambridge/preparing-for-tsa-cambridge/
TSA question guide: https://www.admissionstesting.org/Images/47832-tsa-question-guide.pdf
TSA – Thinking Skills Assessment Tutors