What you need to know about the NSAA

Congratulations; you have aced your A-level exams and decided to apply to study Natural Sciences at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Cambridge University! It’s been a smooth sail, but is the worst over? Certainly not! You still have a major obstacle – the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment.

Cambridge University uses this exam as an admissions test to determine your level of preparation for a degree program such as Natural sciences. The test is specifically designed to be difficult for all candidates, regardless of one’s prior academic achievements. So, one NSAA Tutorsneeds a thorough and aggressive preparation to cover all the topics listed in the NSAA specification.

Oxbridge Mind’s NSAA tutors can support you with this. The tutors can assist you in performing well in the admissions test because they have first-hand expertise with the exam content, tried-and-true approaches to the questions, and a grasp of how it fits into the larger admissions process. There are no safer hands!

Photo by Jean-Luc Benazet on Unsplash

NSAA: Now to the “What”

The NSAA Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment is a subject-based admissions test, as the name goes, specifically designed for applicants interested in taking some science courses at Cambridge. It is structured to test your skill and ability to utilize your knowledge in mathematics and the basic sciences.

Any major concerns about the NSAA exam?

Like many other exams, there are parts of this exam students find little challenging. One not only gets to deal with the problematic study content but also the surprisingly limited time allocation and an unfamiliar question style as opposed to the GCSEs and A-levels. Your passing the NSAA test is solely dependent on your detailed preparation and arguably not on luck. Keep reading this article to learn how to get started, or contact Oxbridge Mind’s tutors to begin your NSAA preparation.

Which courses do I need the NSAA test for?

The exam is required for the following courses at Cambridge University:

  1. Natural Sciences
  2. Veterinary Medicine
  3. Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Each of these is extremely competitive, and admission requires a great performance on the NSAA, a strong application, and a positive interview experience.

How is the NSAA exam structured?

The NSAA exam lasts for 2 hours and is divided into two sections, each lasting for 60 minutes, giving you about 90 seconds per question.

Section 1 consists of 4 parts – Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology- containing 20 multiple-choice questions each. A candidate is required to take Mathematics and any of the sciences, making up 40 questions in Section 1 alone.

No calculators are allowed during this exam. Your ‘mental maths’ has to be top-notch before the time.

Section 2 also consists of 3 parts covering Advanced Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, containing 20 extended multiple-choice questions each. A candidate is required to take any of them for the exam completion.

Please be sure to refer to Cambridge’s NSAA content specification during your preparation to see exactly what you’ll need to know for each topic.

What is the NSAA Scoring system?

Each correct answer attracts a score of 1, and there is no negative marking for an incorrect answer in this exam. The usual advice is to answer as many as possible in the time you have.

Your scores for each section will then be calculated on a scale from 1.0 (low) to 9.0. (high). A score of 6.0+ is seen as really good.

You may wonder what the pass rate is. Truly, there isn’t one. Your application is not based on your NSAA scores but on other aspects like your personal statement, GCSEs etc. The bottom line is to strive for a stellar performance in all aspects.

What is the cost?

You will not be charged by Cambridge University to take the NSAA. However, some independent test centers charge candidates an administration fee; contact your nearby test center for further information.

What’s next? Tips for effective preparation for the NSAA

Identify and prepare for the sections you are going to answer

This test allows you to choose which sections to answer, making it unique from other Oxbridge admissions tests. As mentioned earlier, you must take 2 of 4 parts in Section 1 and 1 of 3 in Section 2. So, you need to identify your strengths and choose those subjects for preparation ahead of the exam. This way, you would have more time to go into greater depth on the relevant content you’ll need to know rather than covering everything in less detail during your preparation. Time is painfully limited in the exam. You’ll need your entire “arsenal before the battle.”

How do you know where your true strengths lie? You may ask. Past papers can help you out here. You could experiment with different sections to see which ones give you the highest overall score. How about that?

Practice questions drawn from several sources

Since there aren’t so many old NSAA papers available, it is a good idea to practice questions from several sources. Be wary of using your school textbook to prepare for the areas covered because the NSAA questions will differ from A-level Math and Science questions in structure, style, and content. You can use various websites to aid your preparation and familiarize yourself with various question styles. Some of which may include and are not limited to:

  • NSAA tutoring: You will receive a bank of current practice questions for self-study, and your tutors will provide personalized feedback. Utilize our interactive dashboard to connect with other Cambridge applicants who share your interests. You will have a better learning experience this way.
  • Cambridge Chemistry Challenge: For chemistry questions
  • UKMT Maths Challenges: For math questions
  • British Physics Olympiad or Isaac Physics: For physics questions.

Do timed practice sessions

One of the most common issues candidates have is keeping track of time and completing all of the questions in the NSAA, so practicing with time constraints will help you figure out how much time you should spend on each question to ensure you finish the paper within the 2 hours.

Seek help from a professional NSAA tutor

With the stakes so high with this exam, preparation is undoubtedly key. Sadly, schools and colleges sometimes cannot provide specialized NSAA tutoring for their candidates for one reason or the other. As a result of these difficulties, one should get a professional tutor for guidance through the process.

Oxbridge Mind’s NSAA tutoring, awarded one of the top 5 best tutoring companies by Trustpilot, can help you in the following ways:

  • Improve your chances with its online materials by at least 40%.
  • Provide you with 1-on-1 tutors to develop a personalized study plan according to your strengths.
  • Give you NSAA past papers and solutions.
  • assist you by answering your questions 24/7; and many more.

Reach out to Oxbridge Mind NSAA tutors today and get started.

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