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    I don't know whether this will take off, but while searching through old theads, I saw that there had been a 2008 TSA thread so I thought we could do we a 2009 one...

    So, to all PPE, E+M, EP and PPP applicants,

    how are you planning on preparing for the test this year?

    People often suggest past papers but how can we access these? Only one seems to be available on the TSA site...

    I also did Critical Thinking AS level and the questions seem quite similar so I suppose I'll be looking through my old notes...

    Has anyone (past applicants) found the suggested reading useful for preparation?

    Thanks!

    ................................ ................................ ...............................
    Okay, so I've decided to compile a list of applicants posting on this thread so we know who everyone is:

    PPE applicants
    Graphix (Univ)
    Kneechuh (Univ)
    trollman (Exeter)
    Buffyboy (St. Peter's)
    Mia:X (Oriel)
    PaddyD15 (Oriel)
    Caerus (New)
    Merk that Sike of a Mike (New)
    izinku (Wadham)
    moreiniho (St. Anne's)
    Salparadise (Manchester Harris)
    Coughsplutter (Balliol)
    pokerplayer1191 (Balliol)
    amiparanoid (Balliol)
    Ilyusha (Balliol)
    matija_v (Balliol)
    PNEJOE (Trinity)
    TopSlacker (Jesus)
    randythedude (Lady Margaret Hall)
    marie303 (Magdalen)

    EP applicants
    Melaie (St John's/Wadham/Balliol)
    Retrospect
    llacerta (Brasenose)

    E&M applicants
    Adam92 (Pembroke)
    Clements- (Hertford)
    *shooting*star* (Hertford)
    Kwinten (Brasenose)
    j1991 (St Edmund Hall)
    kaderk (Wadham)
    MrBosley (Trinity)
    Stanton-12 (Exeter)

    PPP applicants
    Rophy (St. John's)
    musty129 (Hertford)
    Nilu (LMH)
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    The best way to help with getting to know the test format is by doing the sample test from the website. But like you said, there is indeed only one full practice test available.

    However, there are still things you can do to help your score:

    Try to find IQ-test style brainteaser-questions. This is crucial if you haven't done much of the sort of problem-solving questions as you encounter on the sample test, as it will allow you to get familiar with those types of questions (which figure comes next, etc.). This helps with the problem-solving component.

    AS-level Critical Thinking is helpful for the Critical Thinking component, but I found IB ToK to also be of some help. Most of the questions in this component of the TSA revolve around assessing flaws in arguments and determining main points in paragraphs.

    For the essay part, try and write a few timed essays to know at what pace you need to be writing in the real exam. You might find some good practice essay topics from the American SAT tests, which have a 25-minute essay component.

    All in all, doing the aforementioned things (or other things that you may find are of use) might help bring your score up, but don't think that you can't do well if you choose to not prepare that much. I barely did anything to prepare and still did just fine.
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    (Original post by Roundabout)
    The best way to help with getting to know the test format is by doing the sample test from the website. But like you said, there is indeed only one full practice test available.

    However, there are still things you can do to help your score:

    Try to find IQ-test style brainteaser-questions. This is crucial if you haven't done much of the sort of problem-solving questions as you encounter on the sample test, as it will allow you to get familiar with those types of questions (which figure comes next, etc.). This helps with the problem-solving component.

    AS-level Critical Thinking is helpful for the Critical Thinking component, but I found IB ToK to also be of some help. Most of the questions in this component of the TSA revolve around assessing flaws in arguments and determining main points in paragraphs.

    For the essay part, try and write a few timed essays to know at what pace you need to be writing in the real exam. You might find some good practice essay topics from the American SAT tests, which have a 25-minute essay component.

    All in all, doing the aforementioned things (or other things that you may find are of use) might help bring your score up, but don't think that you can't do well if you choose to not prepare that much. I barely did anything to prepare and still did just fine.
    Thanks Roundabout!

    Oh that's good - the IB TOK and SAT tests both apply to me so that'll be useful. Although, with the SAT essays, you've gotta pick one side and argue only for that - for the TSA perhaps you have to be more balanced...?

    Also, don't be upset - I've decided to apply to Univ :p:
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    Yo! (Prospective) PPE applicant here!

    I'm gonna need to nail the TSA to get an interview, I reckon. I think I remember finding some resources posted somewhere a while ago.. (I like to be specific.. :rolleyes:). I'll try and find as much as I can tomorrow and post it here

    Thanks for the thread btw.

    edit edit edit, etc: Thanks a bunch for that info, Roundabout, and congratz on your offer. Don't enjoy your military service too much.
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    (Original post by Kneechuh)
    Yo! (Prospective) PPE applicant here!

    I'm gonna need to nail the TSA to get an interview, I reckon. I think I remember finding some resources posted somewhere a while ago.. (I like to be specific.. :rolleyes:). I'll try and find as much as I can tomorrow and post it here

    Thanks for the thread btw.

    edit edit edit, etc: Thanks a bunch for that info, Roundabout, and congratz on your offer. Don't enjoy your military service too much.
    Yay!

    Oooh...find them...I've been looking at the TSA 2008 thread. I remember seeing some links to files on that so I might check that out again.

    But yeah, post away! The more the better...

    ... and no problem - I figured we could all worry about the TSA together...
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    from what i can gather the multiple choice is almost identical to critical thinking AS just with some maths/problem solving questions. I think practice is the best way to prepare but i cant find any :'( however the essay bit is difficult, i have some questions that ive found in the forum....

    1 Freedom of speech does not mean you are allowed to say anything you want. discuss

    2 why are so many people afraid of flying when statistically they are more likely to die in a car accident?

    3 should fines on parking be proportional to the income of the offender?

    4 The blame for gender inequality lies in patriarchy but the solution lies in the hands of women. Discuss

    5 forgiveness is always right. discuss

    6 to be a successful leader is it better to be loved or feared?

    7 privacy is only good because people arent good. do you agree?

    8 is ethical consumerism a solution to poverty or a dangerous distraction
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    (Original post by tom gavin)
    from what i can gather the multiple choice is almost identical to critical thinking AS just with some maths/problem solving questions. I think practice is the best way to prepare but i cant find any :'(
    The only practice I did was the specimen paper and it went fine. The real issue for the multiple choice bit, I can almost guarantee, will be timing. 50 questions in 90 minutes is not always easy. That's 1.8 minutes per question, 108 seconds per question etc. Some questions will come to you instantly, and you'll spend no more than 15 seconds on them. Others will take more time, but are certainly achievable in 100 seconds. The important thing is knowing your weaknesses and not wasting much time on them. I, for instance, can simply not deal with cube net patterns and all that spatial rubbish, so I skipped them without a second's thought, and invested that surplus time in harder questions which I could solve. Simply go back to the remaining questions when you've gone through the whole paper once. I did this, and had about 7 minutes left on the 4 spatial questions I skipped. I ended up getting 2 of them correct. I can't recommend this strategy enough

    however the essay bit is difficult, i have some questions that ive found in the forum....

    1 Freedom of speech does not mean you are allowed to say anything you want. discuss

    2 why are so many people afraid of flying when statistically they are more likely to die in a car accident?

    3 should fines on parking be proportional to the income of the offender?

    4 The blame for gender inequality lies in patriarchy but the solution lies in the hands of women. Discuss

    5 forgiveness is always right. discuss

    6 to be a successful leader is it better to be loved or feared?

    7 privacy is only good because people arent good. do you agree?

    8 is ethical consumerism a solution to poverty or a dangerous distraction
    The essay section is all but impossible to prepare for. The lucky thing for you, as a PPE applicant, is that you can choose any to do, whereas E&M applicants such as myself are probably 'expected' to do the economics question of the bunch. The 2008 paper, which is the one I sat, had questions 3, 4 and 5 from your list. Broadly speaking, those questions are economics-, politics- and philosophy-based respectively, and I did the parking fines one.

    As it turns out, I had very little knowledge about parking fines at the time (except the one I'd recently received from a very pugnacious traffic warden), so it was a challenging but (strangely) enjoyable essay to write. In fact, the only thing I did know was that many countries actually do scale parking fines to your income, so I wrote about how successful the schemes were in these countries (I don't know if they are or not), and then, after a bit of thinking, came up with many other advantages of such a scheme. I then discussed the disadvantages (is it fair for two people committing the same crime to be punished differently based on income, how costly would such a scheme be to implement etc.).

    The important thing with the essay is to act as if you know what you're talking about, even when you may be far from an expert on the subject of the essay. As long as you write persuasively, authoritatively and constantly tie it back to the subject (politics, philosophy or economics), you should be fine. I believe the multiple choice bit is FAR more important in deciding who gets interviews.
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    (Original post by Deipnosophist123)
    The only practice I did was the specimen paper and it went fine. The real issue for the multiple choice bit, I can almost guarantee, will be timing. 50 questions in 90 minutes is not always easy. That's 1.8 minutes per question, 108 seconds per question etc. Some questions will come to you instantly, and you'll spend no more than 15 seconds on them. Others will take more time, but are certainly achievable in 100 seconds. The important thing is knowing your weaknesses and not wasting much time on them. I, for instance, can simply not deal with cube net patterns and all that spatial rubbish, so I skipped them without a second's thought, and invested that surplus time in harder questions which I could solve. Simply go back to the remaining questions when you've gone through the whole paper once. I did this, and had about 7 minutes left on the 4 spatial questions I skipped. I ended up getting 2 of them correct. I can't recommend this strategy enough



    The essay section is all but impossible to prepare for. The lucky thing for you, as a PPE applicant, is that you can choose any to do, whereas E&M applicants such as myself are probably 'expected' to do the economics question of the bunch. The 2008 paper, which is the one I sat, had questions 3, 4 and 5 from your list. Broadly speaking, those questions are economics-, politics- and philosophy-based respectively, and I did the parking fines one.

    As it turns out, I had very little knowledge about parking fines at the time (except the one I'd recently received from a very pugnacious traffic warden), so it was a challenging but (strangely) enjoyable essay to write. In fact, the only thing I did know was that many countries actually do scale parking fines to your income, so I wrote about how successful the schemes were in these countries (I don't know if they are or not), and then, after a bit of thinking, came up with many other advantages of such a scheme. I then discussed the disadvantages (is it fair for two people committing the same crime to be punished differently based on income, how costly would such a scheme be to implement etc.).

    The important thing with the essay is to act as if you know what you're talking about, even when you may be far from an expert on the subject of the essay. As long as you write persuasively, authoritatively and constantly tie it back to the subject (politics, philosophy or economics), you should be fine. I believe the multiple choice bit is FAR more important in deciding who gets interviews.
    Wow, that's awesome help/advice. Thanks a bunch.

    However, I disagree with you in regards to you thinking that the multiple choice has more of a weighting in the pre-interview selection (although of course, I'm just guessing). Surely if you wrote a really good essay that was constructed and written really well, they'd give you an interview, regardless of your multiple choice score, as the admissions tutors actually read the essays - whereas the multiple choice is marked by a computer. If, however, you were to write an absolutely awful essay that wasn't in proper sentences, etc., but did well on the multiple choice, I doubt you'd be as likely to get an interview..

    :shrug:
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    (Original post by Kneechuh)
    However, I disagree with you in regards to you thinking that the multiple choice has more of a weighting in the pre-interview selection (although of course, I'm just guessing). Surely if you wrote a really good essay that was constructed and written really well, they'd give you an interview, regardless of your multiple choice score, as the admissions tutors actually read the essays - whereas the multiple choice is marked by a computer.
    I'm very sceptical about exactly how the essay marking process goes. If you think about it, every single applicant for PPE and E&M writes an essay. We're talking many thousands of people here. For each essay to be thoroughly read over and critiqued is more than just unlikely, it's nigh on impossible. Last year the TSA was November 5th, and some people had their interview letters by December 1st, having been sent out a few days beforehand. This gives the admissions tutors three weeks to make a decision, and - when you consider that time frame - a full analysis of your essay is improbably at best.

    If, however, you were to write an absolutely awful essay that wasn't in proper sentences, etc., but did well on the multiple choice, I doubt you'd be as likely to get an interview..
    This may be true, but it's unfair to compare a good multiple choice and awful essay with a good essay and a decent multiple choice. I firmly believe that if you as an applicant had the choice of 'good multiple choice and average essay' or 'average multiple choice and good essay', the former would be more beneficial to you in terms of securing an interview for a number of reasons.

    Firstly, the multiple choice segment tests your reasoning, analytical and mathematical skills, whereas the essay doesn't test you to the same extent. For this reason, the multiple choice section is more representative of your overall skills.

    Secondly, the multiple choice segment is simply right or wrong, there isn't the subjectivity involved with essay writing. For this reason, it is more attractive and efficient as a method of filtering applicants.

    Thirdly, Cambridge has undertaken research where it compares finalists' overall results (1st, 2.i, 2.ii, 3rd) with their performance at the TSA. They have found a statistically significant correlation between performance at the TSA and performance at Cambridge, suggesting that it is indeed a valid measure of future performance on TSA-related degrees. At Cambridge, they don't have an essay writing segment, so these conclusions are drawn purely from the multiple choice segment of the paper.

    Thus, whilst I don't disagree that the essay section is important, they're probably just expecting an ability to argue on the spot, structure effectively and persuasively, and reach a solid conclusion. On the other hand, a truly excellent multiple choice score (45+) will stand you in very good stead when you begin your interviews.
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    (Original post by Deipnosophist123)
    I'm very sceptical about exactly how the essay marking process goes. If you think about it, every single applicant for PPE and E&M writes an essay. We're talking many thousands of people here. For each essay to be thoroughly read over and critiqued is more than just unlikely, it's nigh on impossible. Last year the TSA was November 5th, and some people had their interview letters by December 1st, having been sent out a few days beforehand. This gives the admissions tutors three weeks to make a decision, and - when you consider that time frame - a full analysis of your essay is improbably at best.



    This may be true, but it's unfair to compare a good multiple choice and awful essay with a good essay and a decent multiple choice. I firmly believe that if you as an applicant had the choice of 'good multiple choice and average essay' or 'average multiple choice and good essay', the former would be more beneficial to you in terms of securing an interview for a number of reasons.

    Firstly, the multiple choice segment tests your reasoning, analytical and mathematical skills, whereas the essay doesn't test you to the same extent. For this reason, the multiple choice section is more representative of your overall skills.

    Secondly, the multiple choice segment is simply right or wrong, there isn't the subjectivity involved with essay writing. For this reason, it is more attractive and efficient as a method of filtering applicants.

    Thirdly, Cambridge has undertaken research where it compares finalists' overall results (1st, 2.i, 2.ii, 3rd) with their performance at the TSA. They have found a statistically significant correlation between performance at the TSA and performance at Cambridge, suggesting that it is indeed a valid measure of future performance on TSA-related degrees. At Cambridge, they don't have an essay writing segment, so these conclusions are drawn purely from the multiple choice segment of the paper.

    Thus, whilst I don't disagree that the essay section is important, they're probably just expecting an ability to argue on the spot, structure effectively and persuasively, and reach a solid conclusion. On the other hand, a truly excellent multiple choice score (45+) will stand you in very good stead when you begin your interviews.
    Yeah. Good call. From what you've said, I guess they'd use something like the essay only in a negative fashion (like how they're rumoured to do with the PS (I know York do this)). Meaning that really, it's only a 'yes' or a 'no'; 'pass' or 'fail'. I guess you'd need to 'pass' the essay, and then it comes down to your multiple choice score -- like you said: (average essay & good multiple choice) > (good essay & average multiple choice).
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    I may well be wrong, to be honest, but I do think the evidence suggests that the multiple choice is more important. And yes, a pass/fail or even a grade system like A/B/C seems likely, but I don't really know.
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    Thanks tom gavin and Deipnosophist for the help and advice.

    It's all been really useful
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    no problem its useful to talk about it for me as well as i will be applying for ppe at oxford in september i'm so nervous about it! the personal statement is death lol!!!

    and the tsa but i actually like the test for some reason.

    i'm looking forward to an interview (if i get one fingers crossed)
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    (Original post by tom gavin)
    no problem its useful to talk about it for me as well as i will be applying for ppe at oxford in september i'm so nervous about it! the personal statement is death lol!!!

    and the tsa but i actually like the test for some reason.

    i'm looking forward to an interview (if i get one fingers crossed)
    Same same!

    I'm drafting my PS now and it is really difficult to make yourself stand out a really express why you want to study PPE so much...

    Which college are you applying to?
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    im not sure yet, i dont do maths you see so im trying to find a less mathsy college, but my headmaster went to exeter so i might give that a shot! Or perhaps Balliol because its the place to be for ppe (u love my rhyme lol)
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    (Original post by tom gavin)
    im not sure yet, i dont do maths you see so im trying to find a less mathsy college, but my headmaster went to exeter so i might give that a shot! Or perhaps Balliol because its the place to be for ppe (u love my rhyme lol)
    Ahh - Exeter and Balliol are both great colleges. Especially Balliol for PPE.

    And yes - I do love the rhyme
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    (Original post by Graphix)
    Ahh - Exeter and Balliol are both great colleges. Especially Balliol for PPE.

    And yes - I do love the rhyme
    both really old nice buildings, balliol is huuuge with lots of ppe-ists so would be a nice community loads of people to talk to! where as exeter is very small quite pretty with nice views etc. i dont know, to be honest i would go to any college that accepts me lol!
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    (Original post by tom gavin)
    im not sure yet, i dont do maths you see so im trying to find a less mathsy college, but my headmaster went to exeter so i might give that a shot! Or perhaps Balliol because its the place to be for ppe (u love my rhyme lol)
    I'm gonna apply to Exeter .

    I haven't even started my personal statement. I don't even know for sure if I'm going to be applying for Oxford. If I get an AAA prediction, I'll apply .
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    exeter is a very nice college and the added bonus of having my headmaster go there makes it a solid choice however they only accept a few ppe-ists so its probably very competative!

    my teachers said unless i get a C in anything they will predict me AAA so i'm covered. I worked on mine some more today i'm loads over the character count and i still want to add more :'(
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    (Original post by tom gavin)
    exeter is a very nice college and the added bonus of having my headmaster go there makes it a solid choice however they only accept a few ppe-ists so its probably very competative!

    my teachers said unless i get a C in anything they will predict me AAA so i'm covered. I worked on mine some more today i'm loads over the character count and i still want to add more :'(
    Yeah. I'm not going to play the numbers game. I'm just applying to the college which I think suits me best :p: . I'll probably go to the open day in September and have a look around the colleges then.. :cool:
 
 
 
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