In order to work for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), individuals are required to pass the TSA computer-based test – or the TSA CBT test for short.
This is a difficult test for those who are unprepared. It’s also the most important step of the hiring process. Therefore, those who are applying to work for the TSA are encouraged to properly prepare. A TSA practice test is one of the best steps to ensure that you are ready for the TSA test.
This article will show you how to study for the TSA CBT test in the most efficient way possible.
Summary: Use the free TSA practice resources listed below to get your job with the TSA.
TSA Practice Test
Take a TSA practice test below. Make sure to review the answer explanations at the end of each exam.
TSA Test Prep
If you want more practice (specifically for the x-ray section), try our #1 recommended TSA test prep course.
What is the TSA CBT Test Like?
When taking the TSA test, be prepared to face two complex sections:
- Written Skills Assessment (60 Questions)
- X-Ray (100 Questions)
The exam details are as follows:
- 160 total questions
- 2.5 hours to complete
The test will be taken at a testing center.
TSA Test Writing Skills Assessment
The writing skills assessment is a multiple-choice test administered under strict time constraints.
While it doesn’t require you to write, it will test your knowledge of written language skills like word usage, grammar, syntax, and sentence structure.
Prepare by studying all language skills to ensure you’re ready to meet the challenges represented in this section.
In short, you’ll be reading sentences or passages and then tasked with identifying mistakes. There will be some passages that are written correctly as signified by the option “no correction needed.”
X-Ray Interpretation Assessment
This is the section that the majority of individuals report as the most challenging. You’ll be tasked with identifying the meaning of different colors found in x-rays.
While it might sound like simple memorization, it also requires a certain level of logical deduction. Let’s review some of the basics of color detection in x-rays.
The basic premise is that items with a higher density will be bluer while lighter items tip to the red side of the scale.
- Blue: typically identifies harder materials like batteries, firearms, sunglasses, and hard plastic. You can generally distinguish these items from others by their shape.
- Green: represents other items that are made from lower density materials. Soft plastics (like a water bottle for example) and other similar alloys generally show up as green rather than blue.
- Orange: identifies biological items like food, drinks, and even materials like rubber. This is a warning color to signals TSA representatives to pay close attention because drugs and bombs often show up as orange due to their composition.
- Red: identifies materials with low density including fabrics and paper.
TSA associates must prove their capacity to identify items from an x-ray so look for an outline in colors to determine the item in question. Keep in mind that these items might be packed at weird angles.
How To Do Well On the TSA CBT Test
- The first tip is to take several TSA practice tests before the real one. This is the single most important tip because it shows your level of preparedness for the real test. If you’re not prepared, then you know where to focus your studies.
- Always plan to arrive early so you can settle into the testing environment before the test begins. It helps you hone in your focus on the upcoming test rather than frantically stumbling through the beginning of the test.
- Always read the entire question before looking at the answers. Don’t stop halfway through and assume the ending. Some questions will test your attention to detail.
- Since the TSA test is multiple choice, you can eliminate obvious incorrect answers. Even if you’re unsure, you at least have a better chance of guessing correctly.
- There is no penalty for incorrect answers so guess if you’re unsure.
- Always get plenty of rest the night before the test. Also stay hydrated and eat a healthy breakfast on the morning of the exam.
- Stay calm. If you panic, then your test results will be much worse. Stress makes it more difficult for your mind to recall information.
- Always stay positive. This goes hand-in-hand with the above tip and helps you build the confidence to tackle difficult questions.
- Be confident in your first impression of a question. In most cases, the first answer that pops into your mind is correct. While you should read through every answer before finalizing it, don’t start second guessing yourself.
- Use all of the allotted time. If you finish before time’s up, then use the remaining minutes to review the test.
How Hard is it to Pass the TSA CBT Test?
The TSA test is considered to be quite difficult due to the complexities of identifying x-rays and the strict time limit imposed. This is definitely the section that causes the most problems so let’s look at some of the factors that make it so difficult.
The first thing that trips people up is the fact that objects can intersect, overlap, and are displayed in strange angles. All of these make it difficult to recognize specific items. Factoring in color representation makes this even more complex. If that’s not difficult enough, you’ll only have 15 seconds to identify objects in luggage.
Finally, the entirety of the TSA test is excruciatingly long and drawn out so the biggest challenge is finding a way to stay focused throughout its entirety. With the test clocking in at two-and-a-half hours, that’s no easy task.
A CBT practice test will ensure that you build up the stamina and endurance to meet this challenge head-on!
First and foremost, it’s important to note that test-takers are not penalized for answering questions incorrectly. So answer all questions. It’s better to guess than it is to leave answers blank.
With that in mind, applicants who take the TSA test are rated into specific categories if they pass based on how highly they scored. Higher scores give them a higher chance of being hired so it’s essential that you try to score as high as possible.
Candidates who score into the “Best Qualified” category give themselves a massive advantage over other applicants.
TSA CBT Test FAQs
Is the TSA CBT test really as difficult as people claim?
Yes and no. While the x-ray recognition section of the test definitely has a huge learning spike, applicants who come into this test prepared will find that it’s not quite as intimidating as people say.
But without preparation, it’s going to be highly stressful and difficult to identify many of the objects.
One way to mitigate the difficulty is to use take TSA practice test so that you know exactly what to expect.
What if I fail the TSA test?
Failing the TSA test makes you ineligible for application for up to six months. At that time, you are allowed to reapply and retake the test, as well as go through the entire hiring process again. However, if you fail a second time, you will not be allowed to reply for a position at any point. It is important that you take this test seriously.
Furthermore, failing to meet the scheduled time for the test gives the same result as failing.
Passing the test does not automatically mean you’ll get hired either. The chosen applicant is based on a number of factors. However, the test does carry significant weight during the process.
What does the TSA recruitment process entail?
The entire recruitment process is long and involves several vigorous steps to ensure that only top candidates get the job. Here are the six steps that are taken, not necessarily in this order.
- Computer-Based TSA Test
- Drug Screening
- Strict Background Check
- Medical Evaluation
- TSA Vision Test for Color
As you can see, the TSA test is only one-sixth of the process but it is a highly important one. It also comes first so unless you pass this part of the process, you won’t even get to the other steps. Furthermore, barely passing might get you through to the other steps, but the chances of being selected are quite low.