The ELAT: A Guide

What is it?

The English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT) is a pre-interview test for applicants to English courses at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. It is used alongside the UCAS form and A-Level results, as one of the elements tutors use in deciding whether to invite an applicant to interview.

Does it apply to me?

The ELAT is taken by students applying to study any English and Joint Schools courses at the University of Oxford, and English at the University of Cambridge.

When is it?

Entries for the ELAT generally open at the start of September and close around mid-October. The test itself normally takes place in early November, but it is worth checking the ELAT website to confirm the exact dates.

What do I have to do?

The ELAT is a paper-based test lasting 90 minutes and consisting of one essay question. Candidates are given 6 pieces of short prose (including poems, passages from drama or non-fiction), and are required to complete the following task:

Candidates must select two of the passages (a) to (f) and compare and contrast them in any ways that seem interesting, paying particular attention to distinctive features of structure, language and style. In your introduction, indicate briefly what you intend to explore or illustrate through close reading of your chosen passages.

The test measures candidates’ close reading skills, and their ability to shape and articulate an informed response to unfamiliar literary material, focusing on elements such as language, imagery, allusion, syntax, form and structure.
For more information and past papers, please visit the Admissions Testing website.