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TSA and Related Assessments (ECAA, GAA, PBSAA)

TSA Summer Course

Subject Lesson date Time
TSA Course 1
(6 hours)
26th June 2021 (Sat) 10:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00
TSA Course 2
(6 hours)
17th Jul 2021 (Sat) 10:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00
TSA Course 3
(6 hours)
21st Aug 2021 (Sat) 10:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00

What is TSA?

The Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) is a test used by specific Oxbridge and UCL programs to assess if a candidate has the qualities needed to excel in their courses. Programs that require TSA include

  1. University of Oxford
    • Economics and Management
    • Experimental Psychology
    • Human Sciences
    • Philosophy and Linguistics
    • Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)
    • Psychology and Linguistics
    • Psychology and Philosophy
    • Chemistry (Section 1 only)
    • History and Economics (Section 1 only)
  2. University of Cambridge
    • Land Economy (Section 1 only)
  3. University College London
    • European Social and Political Studies (Section 1 only)
    • International Social and Political Studies (Section 1 only)

The test takes 120 minutes in total and consists of two main sections:

Questions (Timing)
Section 1: Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) tests your Problem-solving skills, including numerical reasoning, and Critical thinking skills, including understanding argument and reasoning using everyday language. 25 problem solving Qs
25 critical thinking Qs
(1.5hour)
Section 2: Writing Task requires students to write an essay out of four given topics. It tests your ability to organise ideas in a clear and concise manner and communicate them effectively in writing. Questions are not subject-specific. One essay (30min)

How is the TSA Scored?

Section 1 scores 1 mark per question. Scores are calculated on the TSA scale to one decimal place (running approximately 0–100). The scale is an estimate of the candidate’s ability, which makes scoring comparable by factoring in the question and overall test difficulty, using the Rasch statistical technique .

Section 2 essay is not marked by Cambridge Assessment. It is reviewed by the admissions tutor(s) of the Oxford College the candidate has applied to.

What is a good TSA score?

The scale has been designed so that typical applicants to the most highly selective undergraduate university courses in the UK (who are by definition academically very able) will score around 60. The best applicants will score more highly, but 70 represents a comparatively high score and only a few very exceptional applicants will achieve scores higher than 80. A score of 0 could be attributable to the candidate not being matched as an Oxford University applicant.

Ref: https://results.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/candidates/Explanation_of_TSA_Results.pdf

When is TSA and how do I register for TSA ?

For Oxbridge, the TSA is hosted only once in that year’s application cycle, usually in late October or early November. The TSA results will be announced online in mid-January. For UCL, students do not need to register; they will be advised to take the test on an assessment day by the university, usually between December to March. Different from Oxbridge, the TSA results are not released to candidates and will be passed to UCL directly. Information about taking TSA for admission to Oxford, Cambridge and UCL could be found on the official website: https://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/thinking-skills-assessment/

6 Top tips for TSA success

Begin your preparation for the TSA S1 by consulting the TSA test specification on the official website. It explains what the TSA is testing, and sets out the types of questions you will be asked. Take the time to read through the example questions and answers in detail. Here are 6 top tips to do your very best: 

ECAA, GAA and PBSAA contains a significant portion of TSA questions

ECAA, GAA and PBSAA contains questions extracted from the same year’s TSA paper. Below table shows the breakdown.

Assessment Test Section Questions common to TSA Subjects applicable
TSA
Section 1 and 2
(Full)
25 Critical Thinking Questions
25 Problem Solving Questions
30-min Essay
Oxford: Economics and Management; Human Sciences; Philosophy, Politics and Economics; All Philosophy, Psychology and Linguistics Combinations; Experimental Psychology
TSA
Section 1 only
25 Critical Thinking Questions
25 Problem Solving Questions
Oxford: Chemistry ; History and Economics
Cambridge: Land Economy
UCL : European Social and Political Studies ; International Social and Political Studies
GAA#
Section 1A
11 Critical Thinking Questions
11 Problem Solving Questions
Cambridge: Geography
PBSAA*
Section 1A and 2
11 Critical Thinking Questions
11 Problem Solving Questions
40-min Essay
Cambridge: Psychological and Behavioural Sciences
ECAA^
Section 1A
20 Problem Solving Questions Cambridge: Economics

# GAA contains 3 components – Candidates are required to complete Section 1A (Thinking Skills Assessment), Section 1B (Reading Comprehension) and Section 2 (Interpretation of graphical data).

*PBSAA contains 3 components – Candidates are required to complete Section 1A (Thinking Skills Assessment), option to choose either completing Section 1B (Mathematics and Biology) or 1C (Reading Comprehension), compulsory to complete Section 2 (Essay) (same skills required as TSA).

^ ECAA contains 3 components – Candidates are required to complete Section 1A (Problem Solving Questions), Section 1B (Advanced Mathematics) and Section 2 (Essay responding to a text).

How to Score High in TSA

We offer private individual lessons and a group crash-course for TSA candidates in the summer. The crash course provides an overview of the test and techniques for all sections comprehensively. Meanwhile, individual lessons are personalized based on your specific needs, targeting areas of weakness. Both the crash course and private lessons are led by experienced TSA instructors who have taken the test themselves, and/or been educated in top UK universities.

For more information about our private lessons and crash course, leave us a message here or contact us at (852)2302-6500 or  cana@canaelite.com. In the meantime, check out our free  UCAS Application Guide  to begin your journey to a university education in the UK.


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