About TSA Cambridge

Young student. Photography: Stephen Bond.

About the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) Cambridge

The University of Cambridge has been using the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) as part of its admissions process since 2001. The TSA is used alongside A Levels and a structured interview, as part of the admissions process.

The test was designed, developed and extensively researched by the Admissions Testing Service.

The next TSA (University of Cambridge) session will take place during interviews for 2014/15 entry to the University of Cambridge.

Colleges have their own policies on which courses require the TSA. Please refer to the University of Cambridge for each College’s requirements.

Test format

The TSA is a pen-and-paper test. It is a 90-minute, multiple-choice test consisting of 50 questions. The standard TSA contains:

  • 25 problem-solving questions
  • 25 critical thinking questions.

What does it test?
Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA)
Problem-solving skills, including numerical and spatial reasoning. Critical thinking skills, including understanding argument and reasoning using everyday language.
50 multiple- choice questions
90 minutes


The TSA is a multiple-choice test giving 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 scores comparable by factoring in question and overall test difficulty, using the Rasch statistical technique.

The average TSA score of an applicant to the University of Cambridge is in the high 50s, with only around 10% of applicants scoring over 70.

Marking of this section is automated. The Admissions Testing Service does not accept requests for re-marks.


Candidates take the test at interview. Most applicants taking the TSA will take it at the College they have applied to. Candidates will be informed by the College where and when they need to take the TSA.


The Admissions Testing Service does not release TSA results directly to candidates. Results will be passed to the Cambridge College you applied to. How the results are used varies – to find out more, contact the College you applied to.