Student Advice

What is the TSA Admissions Test?

Ben Maples  · Sep 12th 2023  · 4 min

The Thinking Skills Assessment admissions test (known as the TSA)is a test designed as part of the admissions criteria for specific universities. It is not an easy test, but if you study hard, you may just stand a chance.


For select universities, you are required to sit the TSA admissions test It is an admissions exam that tests your problem-solving, critical thinking, reasoning, and writing abilities.

Not all universities require it. Only three universities in the UK use the TSA in its current format, but other universities will likely have their own take on the exam.

What is the TSA?

What is the TSA Admissions Test?

The TSA Admissions Test is a Thinking Skills Assessment administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT). It is an aptitude test and an admissions test taken by students who are looking to study at certain universities.

A number of universities offer the TSA. However, it is most commonly associated with the University College London, the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. Some foreign universities are also famous for their use of the TSA, such as the Hanoi University of Science and Technology.

What is the format of the TSA?

The test is taken over two hours and tests various core skills and abilities.The TSA has two sections.

The two sections are:

  • Section 1: 50 multiple choice questions. These questions assess your problem-solving, critical thinking, and reasoning skills. This section takes 90 minutes.
  • Section 2: This is a writing task. The task is created in order to evaluate your ability to communicate organised ideas. You will choose one question out of a possible four and answer it within30 minutes.

The TSA is studied at a registered test centre under exam conditions. It is possible to sit the test online, though it is generally preferred if you study it in person. Section two is used in conjunction with section one by the University of Oxford for certain courses.

What is the Thinking Skills Assessment?

How is the TSA scored?

The TSA is marked in two separate ways. The first section of the test is marked with one point per question, and is marked by CAAT. The final scores are then calculated on the TSA scale to one decimal place and uses the Rasch statistical technique.

Admissions tutors generally mark section two. The overall score of the TSA is usually out of 100, with students scoring 70 or above typically finding themselves in the top 10% of candidates.

What are the test dates for the TSA?

The TSA is officially set on Wednesday, 18th October 2023. Despite this, there are various other deadlines that students should be aware of.

Students can officially apply for the TSA from Friday, 1st September 2023. Students who are applying for the modified papers (i.e. enlarged print papers) will need to have their applications in by Friday, 15th September 2023. The official deadline for TSA applications is Friday, 29th September 2023.

If you are attending UCL, then the dates may be different. This is because UCL requires students to sit the exam at the interview stage.

Do I need to sit the TSA if I want to attend Oxbridge?

Students who are attending Oxbridge will usually need to sit the TSA. The TSA is almost always held in October, but may occasionally be held in November. This is because Oxbridge application dates are set for October, and both universities require students to sit the exam as part of their application.

Students who are attending the University of Oxford will need to sit the TSA if they sit:

You may not be required to sit the TSA, however. There are various other admissions tests that both universities require students to sit for specific subjects, meaning that you may not have to sit the TSA depending on your course.

What is the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA)?

When do I get my results?

The release date for results largely depends on where you’e applying. For students who are attending Oxbridge, results are usually released in January, immediately after you have sat the test.

Students do not receive their results if they are attending UCL. This is because the results for the test are sent to the university only and cannot be accessed by students.

How much does the TSA cost?

You are not charged to study the TSA. The test itself is completely free for students to sit, as neither the CAAT nor the university you are applying to will have any charges to set.

Despite this, there may still be some money to pay. Test centres have been known to charge students for use of their facilities, so make sure you find out if you have to pay for use of the test centre before you apply.

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