The Oxford TSA thread - 2015 applicants - 5th Nov 2014

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Mez24
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Hey everyone, just been thinking about the TSA, and I've looked at some past papers and was thinking there needs to be a tsr thread for us.

Does anyone have any advice on the essay section because I don't really understand what style we're meant to answer the essays in etc. ? If there were any model answers that would be perfect.



EDIT BY COMMUNITY TEAM

Seems to be a lot of consensus that this book is extremely helpful for the TSA: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Think-You-C...lls+Assessment
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Rick M
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(Original post by Mez24)
Hey everyone, just been thinking about the TSA, and I've looked at some past papers and was thinking there needs to be a tsr thread for us.

Does anyone have any advice on the essay section because I don't really understand what style we're meant to answer the essays in etc. ? If there were any model answers that would be perfect.

I forgot about the essays for a while. But I'm also taking the TSA this year for PPE - what are you applying for? Model answers would be great but generally I think it's just a discursive/ argumentative essay where you put forward your point of view and I think it is 4 sides max (not entirely sure about that though).
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laiiiii
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Anyone suggest me some ways to improve my TSA results? They were all over my head. I did three papers but got only about half correct. Someone told me we need about 65% to get an interview offer from Oxford.
Please help!
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kurofune
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I was told a score needed for an interview was at minimum 61...

Anyways, I am a bit concerned about the essay portion of the TSA. Are there any sample answers for it. (I'm an international student, so I don't really have anyone to refer me for this stuff.)
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fzehra1
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(Original post by samthemiller)
Yo can find the adjusted marks for each past paper if you google "tsa oxford [year] grade conversions"

How good do you need to get if you want an interview?

Been getting 70s+, but my essay skills are poor
How do you check your essays? My scores are in 50s but I have no idea how to weigh the essay
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kat265
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(Original post by fzehra1)
How do you check your essays? My scores are in 50s but I have no idea how to weigh the essay
I got in to do Geography for this coming year, with a score in the 50s- the essays are more for the tutors to see your potential/what your thought process is so it's hard to weigh it up.
I prepared for the essays by printing out every single essay title of previous TSAs and then just annotating around it with current examples I could include or just opinions. I'd worry more about the first section to be honest, you can't really find out how well you're doing in the essay because you don't know if the tutor reading the essay will share your opinions, more luck of the draw
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AliceWilcock
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Starting to look over the TSA today, really am quite scared to be honest. From what I've heard it's a thing that either comes naturally or doesn't. Professors say the maximum amount you can revise for it is four hours and then after that the revision levels off...
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AKell17
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Hey guys, I'll be starting a Geography degree at Hertford college this year if you wanna ask any questions about sitting the TSA I'll do my best to answer them!
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sellerofdreams
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(Original post by AKell17)
Hey guys, I'll be starting a Geography degree at Hertford college this year if you wanna ask any questions about sitting the TSA I'll do my best to answer them!
How did you prepare for the tsa?
Would you say your marks generally improved with an increasing number of past papers? Cos right now I'm not averaging a very high score

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AKell17
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(Original post by sellerofdreams)
How did you prepare for the tsa?
Would you say your marks generally improved with an increasing number of past papers? Cos right now I'm not averaging a very high score

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A book that I bought to help prepare was called "Think You Can Think?: Cracking the Thinking Skills Assessment" the Amazon link is here. It broke down the types of questions that you will be answering and also has a couple of mocks in the back...
In terms of the essay I found some past questions and practiced writing in the time limit: they don't give you extra paper in the exam and you get two sides of A4 to write on so practicing being concise will help you

Doing some past papers definitely helped, especially getting to grips with time constraints I'd hang fire on the actual past papers for now and do them a bit closer to the time, but you could always nick some Cambridge TSA questions and there's also the mocks in the book above
Last edited by Professor Oak; 1 year ago
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LeJennifleur
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I'd definitely second the recommendation for the book mentioned above, I didn't need to use another one in the end as it gives you thorough guidance on how to answer literally every type of question that you'll be asked. I think it's particularly good for critical thinking as it can be quite tricky deciphering exactly what those questions are asking for, but the book has some really good tips on how to approach them and I became pretty quick at answering them in the end.

Problem solving can be harder to prepare for as it relies on your natural ability to a greater extent, but I would definitely recommend brushing up on your mental maths skills wherever possible, as the calculations can be quite fiddly and you're incredibly time pressured.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Think-You-C...lls+Assessment
Last edited by Professor Oak; 1 year ago
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carns
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Do Oxford get your results before you for the TSA?
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LeJennifleur
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(Original post by carns)
Do Oxford get your results before you for the TSA?
Yes - they use them when shortlisting candidates for interview in December. Results aren't available for students to access until January.
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Nickbonista
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What score is the median for candidates given an interview?
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Kerpal
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(Original post by Geniusmiss)
Hey guys can you pls suggest any good books for TSA Oxford ( other than the Rhinking skills by butterworth)


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So my teacher from last year released the material he wrote to teach us last year. He was amazing and his material was much better than Butterworth and the Oxbridge Applications one.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B00M...&pi=SY200_QL40

He taught 8 of us and 6 got significantly higher scores after 6 weeks of practice
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Kerpal
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Hey Django,

I know exactly what you mean - it's not enough to be able to answer the questions in a microcosm - the time pressure is so important too!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cracking-The...s=mitesh+desai

This book deals very effectively with both strategy on how to approach the questions (so that some word based questions don't feel vague or confusing) and how to speed up in the exam!

Good luck dude
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groovyd97
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When did people start preparing for the TSA? Also, is it worth doing some A level critical thinking papers as well as the TSA past papers?
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LeJennifleur
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(Original post by groovyd97)
When did people start preparing for the TSA? Also, is it worth doing some A level critical thinking papers as well as the TSA past papers?
I had a look through it just to get an idea of what it was about September time when I knew for definite I was going to apply. From about October I started going through how to answer each type of question (I used 'Cracking the Thinking Skills Assessment' for that) and used the last three weeks or so to do all the past papers and practice some timed essays.

Make sure you pace yourself with the past papers and don't do them all too early - if you do run out though, the Critical Thinking papers may be worth a look as they're fairly similar
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Julian Hirst
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(Original post by groovyd97)
When did people start preparing for the TSA? Also, is it worth doing some A level critical thinking papers as well as the TSA past papers?
My daughter took the TSA last year. She did well and will be going to Keble College next month. She started preparing during the month of September. Looking at past papers is the best way to get familiar with the TSA. The only problem is that, while the answers are provided, they only tell you which answer is correct (A, B, C, D or E) without providing any explanation. This then requires some time-consuming reverse engineering to work out why that answer is correct and the other four ones are wrong! There are courses available that help out and my one (Thinking Skills Academy) trains TSA students how to improve processing speed and accuracy. The main focus is on dissecting previous questions and getting familiar with the pattern of the test which is predictable. There are also two 50 question interactive practice tests available that can be done online that give detailed explanations. See what you think.
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Kerpal
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(Original post by LeJennifleur)
I'd definitely second the recommendation for the book mentioned above, I didn't need to use another one in the end as it gives you thorough guidance on how to answer literally every type of question that you'll be asked.
I agree that Think you can think was good for this but what I thought was pretty disappointing was the lack of strategy in it. I personally didn't think it was that great to just get an explained answer because there were so many more aspects to the TSA which were required in order to let you complete the test in time (and get a high mark).

I used Cracking the Thinking Skills Assessment by Mitesh Desai (Amazon Link here) and was really pleased with the focus on strategy this added to Think you can think. I also liked the question and answer section - my favourite thing was how he tries to make you see that some questions can take three minutes or thirty seconds.
Last edited by Professor Oak; 1 year ago
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