For both Oxford and Cambridge, doing well on the TSA where it is required is of the utmost importance. To make sure you do as well as possible on the day, here are 6 top tips to do your very best and secure that interview for December!
Look back over your GCSE notes to refresh your memory on long division, areas and volumes to ensure that you have the best chance at being able to work through questions. 90 minutes for 50 questions means that you have under 2 minutes per question so the quicker you can do your sums, the better.
Many students are caught out by questions that require multiple steps. As you are under time pressure, it is likely that you will get caught up in the sums and risk forgetting the order in which you do them.
Make sure your scribbles are legible and make sense so that if you make a mistake, you do not have to start from the beginning again.
The longer text part of the TSA is new to most students so it is a good idea to practice summarising arguments into one sentence so that you learn how to identify the main argument within a text.
Use newspaper articles as an easy way to do this – try and summarise each paragraph into one sentence and check with a friend if they agree that you’ve managed to identify the crux of the argument.
The TSA asks students to identify how an argument could be weakened or what assumption has been made to hold the argument up. The question is normally accompanied by a large chunk of text so to avoid being bogged down in the detail, you want to make sure you have learnt how to do this.
Read articles or opinion pieces and identify the one statement that would weaken the argument or stop it being true. The TSA can catch you out by using information that you know is not true so remember your answer must be based purely on the information you have in the text in front of you!
The TSA presents certain questions that can test your brain in ways you aren’t used to at school. The TSA may ask questions on shapes fitting inside one another, the side view of a building or how to cut out shapes in a manner that creates a certain profile.
It is easiest if you have spent a little time working out what shapes fit in to each other and how to cut out pieces from paper to create a design so that you are able to envisage things easily on the day.
The TSA does not require knowledge beyond your GCSEs but it does test your ability to work under time pressure and to be able to calculate quickly and carefully. There are many practice tests available on time so make sure you try a few (in timed conditions!) before the day as it will mean you’ve trained your brain to think in the correct way.
Remember to move on if a question is too difficult – you don’t want to risk not finishing the test because you’ve stayed on one question for too long. Keep an eye on the time and ask for lots of scrap paper so that you can work out calculations. The test is not negatively marked so at the end, make sure you at least have an answer written down for each question.
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