Select Page

The TSA, used by Oxford for admissions to Chemistry, PPE, and several other subjects, is a very unique exam. As it is not testing what you know there is not a syllabus to revise, which can make it difficult to figure out how to prepare. However, preparation is still essential to secure a good TSA score.

We have here a few ways to prepare for the TSA:

Past Papers

As the TSA is so unlike any other exam, past papers are the best way to prepare. It is important to do at least a couple of past papers in timed conditions, as time management is so important. You could also set a timer for 108 seconds on loop, to make sure that you are never spending more than this on a question. If you can get into the habit of racing through as many of the questions you get as quickly as possible, and coming back to those you don’t instantaneously get later, this will serve you very well.

If you’re preparing for the TSA, why not trying setting a timer for 108 seconds on a loop? You’ll get used to the speed you need to be working at, and you’ll learn to work as efficiently as possible under extreme time pressure.

At we also have video solutions for all the TSA papers. These are extremely useful, as you can learn and develop your problem solving and critical thinking skills from expert tutors, and learn an armoury of methods for solving for the questions. 

TSA preparation courses

At STEPMaths we also run TSA preparation courses, where you are given unique TSA questions not accessible online. You will then get one-on-one attention from an expert tutor, who will work with you to improve your critical thinking and problem solving abilities. 

Critical Thinking Improvement

To improve your critical thinking, in preparation for the TSA, it is useful to read and listen to a lot of speeches: for example politicians talking on the news. Reading is more useful, as this directly mirrors what you will have to do in the TSA, but it is also useful to listen too, just whilst you’re in the car or getting ready for school. At the end, pick out the key argument, ask yourself what premises were used, and try to provide as brief a synopsis as you can. Regular practice at this will serve well as preparation for the TSA. 

Undeniably the best preparation for the TSA is practice, practice, practice. This is the only way you will get used to the style of questions asked, and it is through familiarity that you will be able to shave off time, and power through as many questions as possible. Do as many papers as you can, and use the STEPMaths website to find even more questions and resources to help you prepare. 


If you’re looking for more information and more preparation materials, we have a comprehensive guidebook to the TSA – and best of all, it’s free to download! If you’re up to scratch with your preparation, take a look at our expert technique for actually sitting the TSA, and maximising your time in the exam room.