Thinking Skills Assessment. Three little words that put the fear into Oxbridge applicants. The admissions test is used to test your ability to think under pressure and is useful for colleges in being able to separate natural ability from coachable interview ability. The TSA has different elements designed to test your problem solving and ability to think critically. There are some differences between the Oxford and Cambridge TSA – the Oxford TSA includes an essay section and is taken in November. The Cambridge TSA is taken on the day of the interview and does not include the essay section.
The good news is that it is possible to practice for the test and to increase your chances of performing well on the day. The test itself only requires GCSE level maths so you do not need to study complex maths equations but the complication arises from the limited time and the fact that you may need to use several concepts in one question.
How to do well in the TSA:
There are online tests that you can practice so try one and see what type of questions you are weak on and need to practice. The average result of a successful applicant is around 65% (although this does fluctuate) so do not worry if you are not getting very high marks. If you are taking the Oxford TSA, practice essay writing but keep it concise. Choose two or three points to make and ensure you can do a solid introduction, body and conclusion in half an hour without waffling. Most of all, when you do your TSA, keep your workings out tidy so that you can come back to them if necessary and stay calm!
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