The University of Oxford TSA


The Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) is used by the University of Oxford for entry to highly subscribed subjects such as Entry to philosophy, politics and economics (PPE), economics and management (E&M), experimental psychology (EP) or psychology and philosophy. It is a two-hour examination, which must be entered before or on the 14th of October 2011. This year’s test will be conducted on the 2nd November 2011, and the results will be available on January 13 2012. Particular faculties within Oxford also use other tests, such as the History Aptitude Test, and the Physics Aptitude Test, for example. 

The TSA is split into two papers. One paper contains 50 multiple choice questions. It lasts for ninety minutes and it attempts to assess problem solving skills, including numerical and spatial reasoning and critical thinking skills. It also tests whether candidates can understand arguments and reasoning using everyday language.

A second paper consists of 4 essay questions, of which a candidate must choose one. Thirty minutes are allowed for this section. The requirement of the examiners is that an essay-answer contain clear, straightforward prose which conveys the expressive and evaluative qualities of the candidate. Essays may be set on any general topic. 

Though the results and administration of the test are online, it is a pen and paper test, and candidates should be prepared to write a clear, structured essay at some length.

The intention of the assessors is that the papers are sat from 9am on the designated day at the candidate’s own school or college. A network of other places where the test can be sat is available online. The first, multiple choice paper, is marked mechanically with one point for each correct answer; the second is conveyed to admissions tutors at colleges to which a candidate has applied.

Specimen papers, past papers, and research material are available online, and can be accessed at ;