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The ELAT: Proven Tips on How to Smash it

Are you interested in getting a degree in English Literature or any other joint degree in English and French or Spanish (as the case may be) at the University of Oxford or Cambridge? You would be required to sit for the English Literature Admissions Test, simply known as ELAT.

Both universities (Oxbridge) use the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT) to evaluate applicants’ proficiency with close reading and their capacity to formulate and articulate a thoughtful response to unfamiliar literary material. Various skills are needed to succeed in the ELAT, including examining unknown content and writing a concise and well-organized response in just 90 minutes.

With this, Oxbridge English can help. Oxbridge English tutors can help you do well on the ELAT test because they have experience with the exam’s material, tried-and-true methods for answering the questions, and an understanding of how it fits into the overall admissions process. There are no safer hands than these!

What is the ELAT?

The ELAT (English Literature Admissions Test) is a 90-minute paper-based admissions test used at Oxford to determine candidates’ readiness for any of the English degree programs offered at the university.

What is the structure of the ELAT?

It is an exam that requires you to analyze and write an essay from two (2) unseen passages, comparing and contrasting them by paying attention to language, form, and structure.

Candidates are given six (6) passages with a common theme but a mix of different forms – prose (fiction and not), poetry, and drama, on almost anything from any period. From there, you would be required to choose two of interest for your essay.

Although the ELAT is mainly based on the texts included in the exam, your general understanding of texts and what you have previously studied also play a role. There are many skills you need to master to ace the test and increase your chances of being invited for an interview. Keep reading this article to learn how to start, or contact Oxbridge English to begin your Oxbridge English preparation.

How difficult is the ELAT?

Realistically speaking, the test is not intended to be “tough.” In actuality, it is set up so that, regardless of your prior exposure or knowledge base, you can succeed in it. As a piece of advice, do not attempt this exam to demonstrate your knowledge. Instead, see it as your chance to show your capacity for critical, sensitive, and persuasive literary interpretation and reflection on previously unread academic literature.

It is a test of skill and designed to assess three specific attributes that you’ve been unknowingly developing since at least your GCSEs, and perhaps much earlier:

  •         The ability to read slowly, intently, and imaginatively
  •         The ability to compare and contrast literary works
  •         The ability to write with clarity, purpose, soul, and in-depth understanding.

What is the ELAT’s Scoring system?

Two independent examiners each assess and assign a score of 30. The sum of these two scores yields a final score out of 60. You need a minimum score of 50 to be invited for an interview. However, this is not an absolute requirement; some successful applicants have had scores as low as 45.

Courses that require the ELAT

Oxford University requires the ELAT to enroll in courses incorporating English as a study language. These consist of:

  •         English language and Literature
  •         Classics and English
  •         English and Modern Languages
  •         History and English

Side note; ELAT is not the only requirement for some of these courses. Other tests may be required, such as the CAT for Classes and English and MLAT for English and Modern Languages. Oxbridge mind can assist you with these.

Is there an Eligibility criterion for the ELAT?

The ELAT exam is for undergraduate courses. Hence there are no specific requirements for eligibility.

Students who have completed their secondary and higher education or enrolled in their last year of a pre-university college are eligible to apply for the exam.

What is the Cost?

Oxford University does not charge candidates to take the English Literature Admissions Test. However, some independent test centers charge candidates an administration fee; contact your nearby test center for further information. 

Common Mistakes made in the ELAT

  •         Only pointing out where the texts converge and how they differ, without any analysis. That is not enough!
  •         Oxbridge uses the ELAT as a test of creativity and proof that the applicant can support a point of view. As a result, you must be able to summarise your essay’s argument or overall theme in one sentence.
  •         An undeveloped line of thought is also a common mistake. You must demonstrate how your analysis and argument flow from the beginning to the end.

Tips to help you prepare for and smash the ELAT 

Pick the texts you are most comfortable with

The ELAT will include well-known ‘classic’ authors like Woolf and lesser-known writers. Do not feel compelled to choose popular names or older works. Choose the passages that interest you the most, giving you room to say more and express yourself. Play to your strengths: if you excel at writing about drama, for example, pick play extracts if at all possible.

Give yourself time to read carefully and plan

Plan, plan, plan, they say. It is essential for this. Pause to read through the passages. Start writing a little later than everyone else. There’s no big deal there, rather than finding yourself short on ideas midway through. By taking your time with the planning, you allow yourself the opportunity to pick up on the texts’ more subtle elements. Try to pay attention to the text’s tone to see what moods it conveys. What words or images support these feelings?

Pay attention to the details

Don’t forget to elucidate your points – I know it sounds odd to tell this to A-level students – but do it nonetheless! Take each point as far as you can; rather than enumerating all the devices the author uses, provide a detailed analysis of the impact of one simile in the chapter where it appears. Pay close attention to the little things, and make even the smallest elements stand out—for example, the word “but” at the beginning of a verse. The examiners are specifically looking for candidates with this careful attention to detail.

Take timed practice tests

Completing practice tests under timed conditions exposes you to the types of tests you would be facing during the test but would also help you figure out how fast you should work while taking the ELAT. Your practice should involve text analysis, response planning, and writing the essay, all in 90 minutes or less.

It is undoubtedly a struggle, but putting in the work would go a long way in perfecting your skills in the expected time.

Seek help from professional English tutors

Oxbridge English tutors have years of expertise in helping students prepare for the exam, and many have previous experience. They have accumulated a bank of prior questions over the years. They have gained a thorough understanding of the marking criteria and are fully aware of what the examiners will be looking for.

Oxbridge English coaching increases your chances of admission by 40% into Oxford and Cambridge, two of the top English Literature programs in the UK. Along with developing crucial independent study skills that will help you succeed in higher education, you’ll also obtain a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the subject.

Contact Oxbridge English for loads more.