You will be required to take the English Languages Admissions Test if you are applying to study English at Oxford or Cambridge. The test gives you a choice of six texts (prose or poetry) and asks you to consider two or three of the different extracts, and to compare and contrast them.
When approaching the ELAT, a good starting point is to focus on specific literary devices. Try to think about the imagery and language, as well as the rhetorical devices used. Endeavour to employ the literary devices that you know: ‘anaphora’, ‘appositive’, or ‘hyperbole’, however only use them if you are confident in their meaning. Always back up your definition with WHY it has been used.
See how the passages differ, and what elements are similar, or run parallel with each other. The form of the passages, and the syntax of the vocabulary and the style of the writer are all points you should try to touch on.
You will be assessed on your ability to analyse, and your depth of analysis. Students will also have to show an eloquent writing style.
Leanne Baker an Oxbridge graduate, who has tutored many students through the ELAT, shares her tips:
In both the Cambridge Law Test and the National Law Admissions Test, you are required to write one essay in the space of one hour. These tests are designed to assess whether you can structure an argument. The assessors want to see if you are able to judge the two different sides of an argument and make a persuasive case.
Remember, the examiners aren’t necessarily interested in which side of the argument you take, as they are not assessing interpretation. Lots of students argue opposing sides of the argument, and yet still come out with strong marks. The test does not examine if you have an extensive prior knowledge of Law terms. It is an essay exercise, so make sure that you are up to date on current affairs, brush up your writing skills, and check that your grammar is correct. Endeavour to express yourself concisely and clearly, and choose a clear stance.
Make sure that you read the question carefully and don’t rush into writing straight away. Think about how you will back up your arguments, and create either a small written plan, or at the very least a mental draft.
Melody Ihuoma is a Cambridge Graduate, who achieved one of the highest LNAT scores in her application year. She now tutors the LNAT and has shared her advice with us:
The BioMedical Admissions Test essay section presents you with a quote. You will need to define the quote, argue both for and against it, and then come to a conclusion. This section is used to assess whether you can present information in an organised and reasoned manner, so you will need to write concisely. Doctors are often asked to summarise cases, and come to a conclusion based on their professional opinion. This essay is designed to show whether or not you are able to achieve this.
The essay element of the test may cause anxiety for those that haven’t studied an essay-based subject since their GSCEs. If you are in this situation, yoi will need to start to re-familiarise yourself with the discipline of essay writing. Remember to not use bullet points as you will be marked down on this. Students are only permitted to use one side of A4, so it is important to structure your essay rigorously. Always try and have a plan before launching into writing the content of your BMAT essay.
John Wilson is an Oxbridge graduate and a lay member of the admissions panel for University College London. He has shared his knowledge below:
If you are sitting the Thinking Skills Assessment for Oxford, you will need to sit an additional essay section. You will asked to choose one of four questions and write about your conclusions.
The questions aren’t subject specific, and there isn’t an set structure on how to answer this section, however it is best if you make sure you present an argument, back it up, assess the opposing side, and then come to a conclusion. Make sure you follow a reasoned and clear plan to give yourself the best chance of performing well.
Will Small is one of our top tutors for the TSA (Oxford and Cambridge). He studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St John’s College, Oxford:
In both the History Admissions Test and the History Admissions Assessment, you will have a definition exercise, then an explanation exercise, and finally an essay. The essay part of the exam assesses how a student can structure an argument. Again, as is the case in many of the Admissions Tests, the essay section is not about what you know, it is about the skills you can display.
Make sure that you don’t waffle. Many students at GCSE History, and sometimes A-level, can score reasonable grades by pontificating, and not backing up arguments. In both the HAT and the HAA, you will be judged on originality, clarity, precision, as well as your ability to spot flaws.
Through tutoring the HAT and the HAA, our Oxbridge consultants have compiled these tips for the essays:
It is worth noting that some colleges will have different entry requirements. Most colleges will accept Admissions Tests, but some might need you to sit separate tests in order to gain a place. In a few rare cases, the subject school may make specific exams for individual candidates.
Oxbridge Applications has worked with 2,400 tutors over 17 years, and supports students throughout the applications process.
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