The English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT) is an admissions exam designed to rank the applicants to English Literature courses at the University of Oxford to help admissions tutors separate excellent candidates from one another as part of the admissions test.
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The Oxford ELAT is a 90-minute written exam in which you will be asked to complete one essay response to a question on unseen passages. The exam will contain six passages, all of which share a common theme and are a mix of different forms, such as prose, poetry, and drama (although not all of the forms will necessarily come up in every year’s exam). The paper will ask you the question: select two of the passages (a) to (f) and compare and contrast them in any ways that seem interesting to you, paying particular attention to distinctive features of structure, language, and style. This question is designed to test your ability to respond to unseen passages, demonstrate close reading and textual analysis skills, construct a cohesive argument, and write fluently.
The ELAT is set by Oxford University as a mandatory requirement for students applying for English Language and Literature, Classics and English, English and Modern Languages, and History and English.
Oxford University uses the ELAT as a standardised format for assessing and benchmarking their applicants. The exam rewards source analysis and essay structuring over knowledge of a specific work, author, or literary period, so that students taking different qualifications at school can access the syllabus. Oxford University uses students’ marks in the ELAT to make decisions about which applicants they should invite to interview. The vast majority of applicants to Oxford’s highly competitive English courses will have similarly excellent grades, so an applicant’s ELAT test score heavily influences this decision.
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