About ELAT

Young female student. Photography: Stephen Bond.

About the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT)

The English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT) is a pre-interview admissions test for applicants to English undergraduate courses at the University of Oxford. It is one of the elements admissions tutors use to decide whether to invite a candidate for interview.

The ELAT is a paper-based test. The 90-minute test is designed to enable applicants to show their ability in the key skill of close reading. Candidates write one essay comparing two or three passages set for comment, focusing on elements such as:

  • language
  • imagery
  • allusion
  • syntax
  • form and structure.

Test format

Candidates are given six poems or passages from drama and/or prose (fiction or non-fiction), and are asked to carry out this single task:

Select two or three 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. In your introduction, indicate briefly what you intend to explore or illustrate through close reading of your chosen passages.

There will be some sort of link between the six passages, which will be explained in the introduction. Answer sheets will be provided to candidates.

Further information

Notes for teachers

Section 1: Writing task

What does it test?
Writing task
A candidate’s close reading skill, and the ability to shape and articulate an informed response to unfamiliar literary material.
One essay question based on 2–3 passages of text.
90 minutes