Is the TSA CBT Test Hard: An Inside Look [+ Sample Questions]

Is the TSA CBT test hard - featured image

The TSA CBT test is considered a difficult exam, especially if you’re taking it without prior preparation. Certain question types, such as X-ray Object Recognition (old test version) and 2D to 3D shape folding (new test version), are harder than others.

Many candidates debate whether the TSA CBT test is hard or easy.

This detailed guide gives you a definitive answer to this question.

We’ll go over the most difficult question types, show you realistic sample questions, and provide you with additional practice resources to maximize your test score.

So without further ado, let’s dive in.

What Makes the TSA CBT Test Difficult?

The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) Computer-Based Test (CBT) is a screening tool used to select new officers. While not insurmountable, the CBT does have challenging aspects. Let’s break down what makes it tricky:

Time Limits

New TSA CBT Test

You’ll have only 25-45 minutes to complete the test, which includes three different sections and requires very fast reactions.

See our New TSA CBT test guide for important insights and practice questions.

Legacy TSA CBT Test

The legacy TSA test, which is still used in some airports, is very long. The test takes 2.5 hours to complete, which makes it hard to stay sharp and focused throughout the whole time.

X-Ray Test: The X-ray image recognition section is particularly stressful due to its time limits. You’ll have around 15 seconds to identify prohibited items concealed within luggage. Practice and speed are key here!

English Language Section: Although this section is less frantic, time limits still apply. Careful reading and answering are needed to navigate this section successfully.

Tricky Questions

  • 2D to 3D Interpretation: You’ll be presented with a 2D shape and asked to visualize how it would fold into a corresponding 3D shape. This test requires strong spatial reasoning skills.
  • Connecting Dots: Sequences of numbers and letters will be presented, and your task is to follow them in the correct order and connect them accordingly. This tests your attention to detail and ability to follow instructions. Some of the answer choices will be almost identical, making it harder to choose under time pressure.
  • Unfamiliar X-Ray Images: Identifying objects in X-ray images is a unique skill, as most of us aren’t used to seeing things this way. Items may overlap or be hidden, adding to the complexity.
  • Careful Question Wording: Pay close attention to how the questions are phrased. The English language portion could include questions about grammar, word usage, and reading comprehension that require focus.

Extra Challenge for Non-Native English Speakers

  • Language Advantage: Those who are fluent in English from a young age may have an advantage in the English Language section of the exam.
  • Don’t Despair: The TSA values a diverse workforce! Even if English isn’t your first language, with focus and preparation, you can still succeed in the CBT.

Increase your chances of scoring high and getting a job offer with these accurate TSA practice tests.

Get to Know the Most Difficult Questions of the TSA Test

2D to 3D Shape Folding Question

Which of the possible options represents this shape in its folded form?

New TSA CBT test 2D to 3D sample question


TSA test 2D to 3D answer 1


TSA test 2D to 3D answer 2


TSA test 2D to 3D answer 3


TSA test 2D to 3D answer 4


TSA test 2D to 3D answer 5

The correct answer is 1.

This shape has two hexagon bases, which will be parallel in the folded form, resulting in one of them being mirrored, since it will be flipped:

TSA test 2D to 3D correct answer

Due to the complexity of this shape, we recommend starting with one of the bases: go through its edges clockwise or counterclockwise and check that the numbers are in the right order.

There may be a situation where more than one option has the letters correctly on the base you checked (and somewhere else it will have something that doesn’t match), so you can only tell which one is correct after you’ve ruled out all the options but one.

Get 6 additional TSA 2D to 3D practice tests to improve your skills & increase your score.

Connect the Dots Question

Connect the dots in the following sequence (from left to right):


Do so by choosing the answer that shows the dots connected in the correct order.

TSA test connect the dots sample question


TSA test connect the dots sample answer 1


TSA test connect the dots sample answer 2


TSA test connect the dots sample answer 3


TSA test connect the dots sample answer 4

The correct answer is 3:

TSA test connect the dots sample correct answer

X-ray Object Recognition Question

Can you spot a working tool in the X-ray image below? (on the actual exam you’ll have only 15 seconds to answer this question)

TSA CBT X-ray Sample Question

Aa adjustable wrench appears in the scan. It appears blue as it is made of metal.

TSA CBT X-ray Sample Question - correct answer

English Language Proficiency Question

Read the passage.

In 1804, the United States decided to fight the pirates of Barbary. Lieutenant Decatur and his small crew sailed into Tripoli harbor to attack them. Decatur’s act, no matter how daring, did not alter radically the situation in the Mediterranean. Tripoli was defended by 25,000 soldiers and 115 cannons ashore, and 24 warships guarded the harbor. Against their enemy, Preble could pit only 1,060 men aboard seven ships, of which only the Constitution was heavy-gunned. Without troops to storm the port, all that Preble and his men could do was disrupt the Pasha’s economy by not allowing the pirates to practice their trade and keep him on the defensive.

How many of Preble’s ships were not heavy-gunned?

A. Four
B. Six
C. Seven
D. Three

The correct answer is (B).

According to the text: “Against their enemy, Preble could pit only 1,060 men aboard seven ships, of which only the Constitution was heavy-gunned.” Out of his seven ships, only one was heavy-gunned. Therefore, six of Preble’s ships were not heavy-gunned.

Get Accurate Practice Tests to Help Maximize Your Test Score

Preparing for any exam is all about understanding the format and types of questions you’ll face. The TSA CBT is no different. To perform your best, consider using reliable practice tests that closely mimic the real exam. This helps:

  • Build Confidence: Facing the unknown can be stressful. Practice tests familiarize you with the challenges, easing test-day jitters.
  • Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses: Pinpoint areas where you need extra focus to maximize your study time.
  • Enhance Test-taking Speed: Those timed sections are no joke! Practice helps you improve both your speed and accuracy.

The TSA practice tests on JobTestPrep are carefully designed to mirror the real CBT, covering both the new TSA test version (2D to 3D, Connect the Dots, Image Matching) and the legacy test (X-Ray and English skills sections). They provide a valuable tool to help you prepare effectively and increase your chances of success.

Want to give it a try? Get the accurate TSA CBT practice tests here.