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TSA and other required testing

FakeCatFakeCat Registered User Posts: 45 Junior Member
Im an American student currently in high school

So ive done a little research. Correct me if I'm wrong. Applying LSE(econ w/ econ history) doesn't require an extra test, but if I wish to apply to Oxford PPE, the Oxford TSA is necessary.

Should the TSA be taken senior year (year 13) or junior. Also, can my school register to administer the test, or, since my school is foreign, do i need to go to a test center.

Replies to: TSA and other required testing

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,101 Senior Member
    Yes, Oxford has it's own aptitude test for PPE, whereas LSE only want your APs, PC, LOR, etc.

    The TSA can only be taken in November of the year you apply. Your school can register to be a test center - it's a little bit of hassle, so be sure that they will agree to do it, and that they have the registration completed by Oct 15 (which is also the deadline for the Oxford application).

  • elguapo1elguapo1 Registered User Posts: 369 Member
    Remember, PPE at Oxford is perhaps the most competitive course at one of the worlds top universities. Your academic record needs to be unblemished with a great personal statement and a good performance on the TSA to get to the interview stage. Be honest with yourself. There are other alternatives such as History and Politics, I am not saying it will be any easier but pause for thought. Also when applying to Oxford you apply to a college rather than the university, some colleges are very popular indeed Christ Church, Magdalen and Oriel for example, you might want to research those that are the road less travelled. I am not saying they will be any easier but if it comes down to you and pooled applicant and you applied directly to the 'less popular' college you might get the nod.

    As for the LSE. I will get howled down for this, but I don't see the attraction. I would say LSE is best known for its research rather than undergraduate teaching. London is uber expensive so take take a wheel barrow full of cash. You will still burn through it despite spending 10 hours a day in the library. Expect a fair bit of commuting especially after your 1st year as student housing in central London is borderline extortion (thats where the wheelbarrow of cash comes in handy). Also your social life will tend to revolve around halls of residence, and in year two the friends you make might be scattered all over London. Commuting is expensive (wheelbarrow lightening a bit), and many London kids will probably commute from home to save money. Entertainment is expensive except for subsidized student bars. If you want to play sport again be prepared to travel, you don't get university sporting grounds in the middle of London. Did I mention take plenty of cash? Alternatives to LSE for Econs/Econ History try Warwick or Durham entry standards will be the same so the cohort will be no step down, but the environments will be cheaper and different.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,101 Senior Member
    edited May 2016
    Admissions rate for HisPol is exactly the same as PPE, and the course is much smaller (~45 places total, v 230 for PPE) so it's no easier and possibly harder. HisPol in particular doesn't work to a tight number of places- some years they take more if the cohort is really strong (as in 2012, when they took 49) but if the tutors don't agree on the applicants they will take fewer (as in 2013, when they took 39) (remember that in joint subjects each subject has to approve the applicant). So there is no, 'well, we have one place left- might as well take that person' (though sometimes HisPol applicants are offered straight History instead).

    Also disagree about trying for a 'less popular' college as a way to game the system. Applicants are reviewed by the subject across colleges to avoid just that, and about 1/3 of students end up with offers from a different college than the one they applied to. Also remember that all colleges are required to take their share of open applicants (those who don't specify a college on their application), and there is no difference in the acceptance rates.

    However, I agree that LSE is better for graduate school than undergraduate, and that Warwick & Durham are good alternatives.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,637 Senior Member
    @elguapo1, depends on where the OP wants to/can end up.

    In the UK, Warwick is a feeder in to the City like LSE (though as I noted in another thread, LSE places as well or better in to the prestige industries of MC and IB as Oxbridge and all 3 are far above the other UK unis).
    In the US, LSE is more renown than either Durham or Warwick.
    And yes, I've heard that about instruction at LSE. Is it all that much better at Warwick or Durham, though?
    In England, I've only heard of Oxbridge providing tutors at a 2-1 or 1-1 ratio (because they are rich enough). Some of the ancient Scottish unis advertise tutoring but I'm not sure if the ratio is so low. And I've at least heard of St. Andrews advertising being undergrad-focused (though the reality seems to be that it's still more sink-or-swim like an American public than a rich American private with tons of resources).
  • elguapo1elguapo1 Registered User Posts: 369 Member
    @collegemom3717 Entry standards might be the same for PPE and Hist/Pol but you have a better chance of interview with History and Politics which as you know is the deciding factor in getting an offer, and it is not close 60% are interviewed for H/P vs 40% for PPE. Re colleges, you are right you don't game the system, but if there is one spot open at a lesser known college and there are 2 equal candidates one applies direct and the other is a pool applicant, who gets the nod? I honestly don't know, but logic would say the direct applicant unless its a coin flip.

    @PurpleTitan all UK schools are sink or swim...you have a framework of lectures and tutorials and a reading list. You are expected to do the reading so you are prepared for the tutorial assignments and examinations. If you don't do the work or you cant hack the pace even 1-1 wont help you.

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,101 Senior Member
    edited May 2016
    @elguapo1, by 'admission rate' I mean acceptance rate, not entry standards: about 14% of applicants get offers. Fwiw, it is true that there is a difference in interview invites, but it is about 10% different, not 20%- (depending on the year, ~55% v ~45%).
    I honestly don't know, but logic would say the direct applicant unless its a coin flip.

    What logic dictates and what happens are quite unrelated here (a fair few people would say that logic is not a helpful construct when it comes to how *anything* is done at Oxford...). So, here are some examples straight from the colleges. This blog post (written by somebody at LMH, a college I think that you would consider one of the 'less popular' ones) shows the admission process at LMH. You will notice at no stage does the the question of 'did they apply directly to us' come up. More directly to your point, this post by Keble (another that you would probably see as 'less popular') shows students reallocating from Keble to both Magdalen ("up" in your view) and Annes (I imagine "down" in your world view).
  • elguapo1elguapo1 Registered User Posts: 369 Member
    @collegemom3717 I think I began my post stating that there is no easier way to get into Oxford not once but twice, and I will state for the record anybody who is talented enough to be admitted absolutely deserves to be there. However, the stats I quote come directly from The Oxford website, in 2015 60% applying for H/P were interviewed while 41% who applied for PPE were interviewed, that is a fact as provided by Oxford. My intention is to provide an alternative to applying for PPE by examining alternatives US highschoolers may not have considered. If you are a US higher schooler with an unimpeachable academic pedigree would you rather be considered in a pool of approx 1700 PPE applicants with a 41% chance of interview, or a pool of approximately 320 H/P applicants with a 60% chance of interview, given the admit rate and the entry requirements are the same, its your call. Furthermore, if you don't have math in your portfolio it may weaken your PPE application but should not affect your H/P application.

    As for any hierarchy of colleges that was your construct not mine, I offered no opinion, after all when the dancing stops and the music fades the diploma at the end states Oxford University unless I am mistaken. What I did state was, and perhaps I was a little unclear, there are some very popular colleges whose majority admits come from the elite of the UK independent school sector. It is a fact that colleges like Oriel take 50% + from these schools, with whom I might add, they have had relationships for hundreds of years in some cases. The overall independent sector admit rate is something around 43%, therefore there must be some colleges where admits are from a more diversified background. It may behoove applicants to seek those colleges out rather than apply into the teeth of the elite UK independent sector.

    So to the applicant, you may choose to the storm the black gates and apply PPE at Magdalen, or you may choose a more circuitous route like H/P at Mansfield. Neither is easy, they are equally hard but just something to think about. Now in the spirit of the LOTR analogy 'go now and apply in what way that seems best to you'......

  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,637 Senior Member
    @elguapo1, I don't think that you can draw conclusions that it's easier to get via one college or another simply because certain colleges have certain relationships.

    For instance, it seems that physics at one of Oxbridge (can't remember which) is keen to make sure that which college you apply to makes no difference when it comes to admissions (from what I read). A famous college may still end up with more from famous public schools, but that just means that other physics students who make the cut get shunted elsewhere.
  • elguapo1elguapo1 Registered User Posts: 369 Member
    @PurpleTitan Did I say it was any easier? If applying to certain colleges made no difference then by and large give or take a percentage or two all colleges would admit around the same 43% which is the UK independent admit rate for the whole university. However, year in year out the admit rate at some colleges is 10-15% over that figure it is statistically significant. It also means there must be other colleges where the admit rate is less than the 43% UK independent school sector admit rate, the pool of applicants a US high schooler would fall into.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,637 Senior Member
    @elguapo1, you suggested it.
    And how are those admit rates calculated? Where do the pooled admit candidates go, for instance? Please point me to a webpage.

    Depending on how the admit rates are calculated, it is still possible for it to make no difference what college you apply to and certain colleges to have higher admit rates for a certain group (depending on how pooled applicants are handled in the figures).
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,101 Senior Member
    edited May 2016
    Are you switching now to admit rate by school type? applicants are not sorted into pools by school type, with % allocated by type, either, and I would be interested to know what your evidence is for that.

    There are a lot of variables, and Oxford slices and dices the data - and makes it available - in a lot of ways.
    But the numbers aren't huge and there is a *lot* of variation year on year (as in the data you gave above for 2016, compared to the data that I gave for 2011-2015). That is also true with admissions by college- the variation in how many students apply to any given college any given year is pretty high. You may say 'well, yes, but it's always high at ChCh', but from for the 4 years between 2007 and 2010 the number of direct applications ranged from 460 to 550, and their 'open application' allocations ranged from 30 to 80. Magdalen's range was even bigger, with 600-800 applications. Pretty substantial variations- and why about 1/3 of accepted students get offers from colleges that they did not apply to directly.

    Another factor that you are not considering is subject choice, both by the student and (crucially in the UK system) the students school advisor. I know PPEists and Historians (from schools who have long relationships with Oxford) who looked at HisPol but were dissuaded by their school advisor b/c the advisor thought that they would be more likely to be successful in a different subject, some of whom are either resentful or regretful now. The stats say the % taken; they say nothing about the nature of the applicants.

    For other subjects, the aptitude test matters more than anything. For Physics, assuming you have the predicted marks, your PAT score is what decides if you get an interview, no matter what college you apply to, what sector school you go to, etc. Physics is the most extreme, but for most subjects with an admissions test that is what makes or breaks an interview offer.

    We are now in the truly tall weeds, which just affirms my initial point: it is not helpful to encourage a potential applicant to try and game the system. Imo, they are best off accepting that the odds are long, but you go for what you really want to do.
  • elguapo1elguapo1 Registered User Posts: 369 Member
    My objective is to provide an alternative route a US high schooler may like to consider in obtaining the goal of Oxford admission. Any decision they make should be between the applicant, their parents and their school councilor. I have said repeatedly there is no easy/easier way to admissions and I agree you cant game the system, only people who deserve to be there get in. I did make a mistake in naming colleges that was wrong and I take that back. The admissions process is fluid and the UK government has been active in encouraging Oxbridge to be more inclusive in their admissions and the universities have be trying to rectify what is/was perceived to be a bias towards the Independent school sector.
This discussion has been closed.