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Oxbridge English- Admissions Test Tips and Tricks


English Literature Admissions Test:

Wednesday, November 2, 2022


If you are applying to study an English-related subject at Oxford University, it is likely that you will need to sit the Oxford ELAT (English Literature Admissions Test). If you are applying to study English at Cambridge, you do not sit the Oxford ELAT, but your college will require you to sit a written assessment. The sample assessment paper provided by Cambridge is very similar to the ELAT examination, and the same advice applies.


The following Oxford courses require you to sit the ELAT:


The ELAT examination is an hour and a half long, and you will be asked to compare and contrast two extracts, from a range of 5-6 texts. The purpose of this examination is to test your analytical skills, and so it is vitally important that you spend the first half an hour of the exam reading through the texts, choosing your two, and analysing them.

You will be rewarded for the depth of your analysis, not your ability to write an entire thesis about these two texts, and so please do not be afraid to take your time to really understand and think about the texts at hand. Remember – quality over quantity. It is much better to write for fifty-five minutes and compose a really analytical and original exploration of the texts, than to write for seventy minutes, but not have fully grasped the texts and their complexities.

We would recommend that your essay is structured by an overarching argument or area of focus – which you set out in your introduction, and refer back to in your conclusion. The body of your essay should then detail the examples of both contrast and comparison between the texts, which contribute towards your overarching theme. For example, you may start by saying that ‘the complexity of the concept of time, and man’s response to it, are both explored in XXX’. Your essay would then explore the areas of comparison and contrast in relation to this theme through an analytical close reading of the texts. You are marked on your ability to understand, compare, contrast, and analyse the texts, and so your ability to perform a close reading is vitally important to this aspect of your application. You will not gain marks for your reference to wider reading: the focus is purely on your analysis and comprehension.


How else can you stand out from other English applicants in your ELAT?

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Invaluable tips for your essay and more…

Find your course and access more ELAT insider tips.


What else can I do to maximize my chances at this step of the application process?

Written by Oxbridge alumni, we know the best insider information to increase your chance of an offer. No more scouring the internet only to find confusing information. Our insight on the structure of the application and interview process will help you feel confident in your decision of where to apply and how to increase your chance of getting in.

Best of luck with your examination, and application. 

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