On the road to Cambridge

September 26, 2003

A new test to identify the very best Cambridge University candidates was unveiled this week.

The "thinking skills assessment" is being piloted at 17 colleges. It was launched by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate to provide extra information to assist with admissions decisions.

The test assesses problem-solving ability using numerical and spatial skills and critical thinking using everyday language.

Problem-solving is assessed by three types of question: candidates are tested on their ability to select relevant information from an overdetailed question, their ability to devise a method to answer the question and their ability to identify similarity.

For example, a candidate might be given information on how far a tin of paint can stretch when painting various different road markings, along with information on which road markings are required, and be asked to calculate how many tins of a certain volume will be required for the job.

The critical thinking section examines the language of arguments and how premises lead to conclusions.

This year's pilot will test applicants for computer science, natural sciences, engineering and economics. They will sit the test, which comprises 50 questions to be answered in 90 minutes, when they come for an interview.

Details: tsa.ucles.org.uk/about.html

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