TSA Cambridge: Thinking Skills Assessment

TSA Cambridge

What is a thinking skills assessment?

The University of Cambridge has many more applicants than there are places available. The Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) Cambridge has been developed to help the admissions team to choose between candidates, many of whom are predicted top grades at A-Level.

Which courses require the TSA Cambridge?

The TSA Cambridge is used by 27 of the 29 Cambridge colleges for a variety of courses, including:

  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • Engineering
  • Human, Social, and Political Sciences
  • Land Economy
  • Natural Sciences

What is the format of the TSA Cambridge?

The TSA Cambridge is not subject specific and so can be used to test suitability for a broad selection of courses. The test consists of a 90 minute multiple choice exam, with 50 questions:

  • 25 problem solving questions: Including spatial reasoning, numerical skills and logical thinking
  • 25 critical thinking questions: Including understanding an argument, reasoning and deduction and the use of language

Each question is awarded one mark, with results adjusted for question difficulty using the Rasch statistical technique to give a score out of 100. The average score for Cambridge applicants is between 55 and 60, with just 10% gaining a score of 70 or more.

How and when do you take the TSA Cambridge?

You will take the TSA Cambridge as part of your interview. If your chosen college requires you to take the test for your course, they will arrange for the test and let you know. You cannot enter yourself for the TSA Cambridge test.

Unlike pre-interview admissions tests, by the time you take the TSA Cambridge, you will have already been selected for interview. This takes some of the pressure off prospective students, although the results of the test are still a critical part of the selection process. 

What does the TSA Cambridge cost?

The TSA Cambridge is free to take, as it is organised at your chosen college as part of your interview visit.

How to prepare for the TSA Cambridge

The TSA Cambridge is not designed to test for any subject specific knowledge, so there is little you can do to revise for the test. Instead, it has been created to test for the skills that you have developed throughout your education, such as analytical thinking, logic and problem solving skills, which cannot be ‘crammed’ for a test.

You should, however, familiarise yourself with the test by reading the TSA Cambridge website and trying the sample tests under controlled conditions. This will show you the kind of questions to expect and get you thinking along the right lines. The University of Cambridge do not recommend paying for coaching as this will offer nothing more than the practice tests, which are freely available online.