The new Cambridge Assessment English international tests for Soft Skills


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Soft skills: from the professional to the academic sector

There is more and more talk of Soft Skills in professional contexts.

In addition to this, the so-called soft skills also find application in the school environment, where the PCTO (Percorsi per le Competenze Trasversali e per l’Orientamento, formerly known as Alternanza Scuola/Lavoro projects) expressly provide for the assessment of these skills, a key element for business and general success.


The new Cambridge Assessment English tests

In this context, there are two new tests implemented by Cambridge Assessment English:

  • CPSQ, Cambridge Personal Styles Questionnaire

  • TSA, Thinking Skills Assessment.

The tests are aimed at evaluating the aptitudes and behaviors of candidates , and are aimed at making teachers understand how to favor the personal development of students. Among the skills we find:


Intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness


Personal interactions and teamwork


Motivation in achieving goals


Resilience and ability to adapt to needs

“CPSQ supports the University’s objective to produce well-rounded graduates who are creative and innovative, with the potential to become leaders of industry and the nation. It has been particularly helpful in providing us with greater insight into candidates’ personality and potential, and how they are likely to approach learning at the University”.

Professor Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Abdul Mutalib, FASc.
Vice Chancellor,
Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP), Malaysia

CPSQ – Cambridge Personal Styles Questionnaire

Each of us has their own values ​​and their own behavioral style. It is very important to demonstrate these skills, and this is where the Cambridge Personal Styles Questionnaire (CPSQ) intervenes , which helps Bodies, Companies, Schools and Universities to identify characteristics such as aptitudes and abilities in students and candidates for different professions.

The test, developed by experts from the University of Cambridge, is designed and compliant with the Five Personality Factors Model (identified as Big Five / Five-Factor Model) and declined in Thirteen personal / behavioral styles  which evaluates non-cognitive personal skills.

CPSQ is aimed at candidates aged 15+ and CEFR level B1 in reading comprehension is recommended.

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CPSQ and the four sectors in which it is applied

CPSQ – higher education

To select and support students entering Higher Education.

CPSQ – healthcare sector

To select and support those who undertake a career in the healthcare sector.

CPSQ – teachers

To select and support teachers in starting and developing their careers.

CPSQ – schools

To support pupils’ academic success

The traits of the Big Five and personal styles

Among the traits of the Big Five are: Openness to new experiences, Awareness, Extroversion, Pleasantness and emotional stability.

“The Stockholm School of Economics uses TSA in the admission process of one quota of students to our BSc program in Business and Economics. The students selected based on their TSA scores and interviews have performed very well in the program. We are also very happy with the ease of the TSA administration process and the helpfulness of our company contacts”.

Anna Nyberg,
Program Director, BSc Business & Economics,
Stockholm School of Economics

TSA – Thinking Skills Assessment

The TSA – Thinking Skills Assessment , is the test that allows you to identify the potential of a candidate by measuring the Ability in Critical Thinking – and Problem Solving – essential skills for success in the academic and professional field.
Developed with the collaboration of some of the most prestigious universities in the world, the test can be used to allow access to a wide range of degree programs (for example: Economics, Engineering, Political Science and Psychology).
Furthermore, in order to certify its validity and reliability for admission to academic courses, the test is supported by constant research.
For TSA the B2 level of the CEFR in reading comprehension is recommendedBasic knowledge of arithmetic is also required .

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Critical Thinking
The TSA test includes 7 types of questions related to critical thinking skills:

• summarize the main conclusion

• draw a conclusion

• identify a guess

• evaluate the impact of any additional tests

• identify errors of reasoning

• connect arguments

• apply principles

3 types of questions:

• select relevant information

• identify procedures

• identify similarities.


To get ideas for the answer, the candidate can use an information chart or table.

TSA allows you to:

  • Making admission decisions, assessing critical and creative thinking and problem-solving skills (skills that are not always made evident in school / academic exam results);
  • Select students fairly, as this is a test of skills and not of the previous knowledge;
  • Support internationalization : giving the possibility to compare candidates from different educational or cultural backgrounds.


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Stay tuned.

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