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Cambridge Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) | Critical Thinking Overview

Planning to take admission in NSW Selective Schools Test? Are you fully prepared for the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA)? If not, you still have time to excel in your TSA. All you need is to follow the most comprehensive Thinking Skills Assessment guidelines on the internet, provided below by Scholarly.

We have covered every possible section of the Thinking Skills Assessment, so you don’t need to go anywhere else to search for more details. Just keep reading!

What is Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA)?

Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) is a critical thinking ability test that students have to take as part of their university application.

In 2020, the Department of Education announced that the old General Ability exam was to be replaced by Thinking Skills.

Keep in mind that the Thinking Skills test has been utilised by well-reputed institutes such as Cambridge University, Oxford University, and the University of London conduct TSA every year to assess whether you have the abilities and skills to successfully complete the courses you are applying for or not.

Why did the General Ability Test get replaced by TSA?

While the old selective schools’ test model was good, it only assessed a candidate’s aptitude in reading, mathematics, and general ability in isolation. When it comes to TSA, it allows candidates to think out of the box, which is a critical 21st century skill. 

As per the Review of Selective Education Access, NSW Education, here are some of the prominent reasons as to why the General Ability Test was replaced by Thinking Skills Assessment.

Too Easy

According to the review, the old selective schools’ test model is way too easy. For the cohort of students who are willing to study in top-notch educational institutes, the old model targets an easier level of ability, and that should definitely be changed.

Overweighting Mathematical Ability

Of course, weighted towards ability in mathematics is reasonable, but to overshadow other abilities such as English is clearly unfair. In the old selective schools’ test model, there was a high correlation between mathematics and general ability tests. Together, both tests were worth 50% of the overall placement score.

Predictability & Repetitive Test Structure

With the same old format of the test, the test structure became predictable and repetitive. It was difficult to find out between students of the highest level of ability and candidates with high ability who are experienced in test-taking.

Thinking Skills Assessment is better than the General Ability Test. Why?

This is because
  • It gives less weighting to numerical reasoning questions and that the number of challenging questions has increased to better differentiate candidates.
  • The structure of the test has changed to decrease the factor of predictability.
  • It has ensured that mathematical, as well as English ability, is correctly weighted.
  • The entire process of TSA has encouraged more gifted students from under-representative communities to apply confidently.
  • TSA has become the most efficient and accurate criteria of selection.

Breakdown of Common Question Types in TSA

While preparing for your TSA, make sure to keep in mind two important types of questions:
  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking

Problem Solving

The problem-solving question type assesses numerical ability and spatial ability. Also, it analyses and extracts info from data presentations and graphs. Furthermore, there are three main types of problem-solving questions, including:

Relevant Selection

To find the relevant information from the given question (based on graph, table, or diagram) is the key here. Often, many redundant words or sentences can be used in a question, so the method of how to avoid the unnecessary and select the relevant information only is the concept the students have to learn.

Finding Procedures

It happens when you can easily find the relevant information from the given question but unable to find the exact solution, so you manipulate the info to formulate a procedure for a solution. The example includes numerical reasoning questions involving 3 to 4 numbers.

Identifying Similarity

It is quite an interesting type of problem-solving question because you have to select a data set with a look-alike structure to the given info. Graphical representations, tables, and charts are often used for this type of problem.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking gives someone a reason to think beyond traditional ways. It helps to increase the IQ level of a human, and it allows knowledge seekers to think from a different perspective. Like problem-solving, critical thinking has various types, including:

Summarising the main conclusion

In the given text, you have to find the main conclusion and summarise it. Keep in mind the conclusion is always situated within the text, so avoid all incorrect options, assumptions, and over-generalizations and stick to the main conclusion.

Identifying an assumption

Something that is not stated in the argument is called an assumption. To identify an assumption in the text or passage, you need to first find the conclusion, then the reasoning behind the question, and you must consider any unstated portions.

Assessing the impact of Additional Evidence

Finding additional evidence from the answer options is the key solve such questions. You need to carefully analyse which option has the greatest impact on weakening the argument.

Drawing a conclusion

After critically analysing the passage or a given text, you need to draw a conclusion because it is not clearly stated in the question.

Detecting Reasoning Errors

Identifying reasoning errors is not a challenging task if you read and interpret the text thoroughly. All you need to do is to figure out logical flaws, skipped information, deceived assumptions, and over-generalisations.

Matching Arguments

Another simple type of critical thinking question is to match an argument with a similar logical structure as provided in the text or a passage.

Applying Principles

You should know how to identify the underlying principle of the argument in the given passage and pick the right statement from the options that demonstrates a similar principle.

How to Prepare for the TSA?

Need a perfect strategy to start your TSA preparations? We would like to highlight some highly important points here that will help students to take their start.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is learning by doing. Sounds simple? Indeed, it is. It comes by doing experiments. Concrete experience, along with reflective observation, is essential if you want to learn through experiments. Moreover, abstract conceptualization, as well as active experimentation, will enhance the skills of a candidate in no time.

Familiarity with structure

All those students who are willing to grow intellectually must get familiarity with the structure of the pattern of the questions. Also, time management skills and all the generic info are included.

Progressive overload

Progressive overload means to start from an easier level of learning and then move towards the difficult one step by step. For instance, at Scholarly, students first learn the basics by taking tests & experiments, then we switch them to the medium level and then to the advanced level of learning. It is the best approach to learn not only TSA but any assessment in the world.
Thinking Skills Assessment is not a piece of cake, but at the same time, it is not something you can’t do at all. With enthusiasm, dedication, and consistency, anything is possible. Moreover, if you want more info related to TSA, the team of Scholarly is always here to help.
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