English Literature Admissions Test

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The English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT) is a subject-specific admissions test, used as part of the admissions process for undergraduate courses in English Language and Literature, combined English and Modern Languages, and Classics and English at the University of Oxford. As of 2016, ELAT has also been used by the University of Cambridge for admission to its undergraduate English course.[1]

ELAT is held pre-interview stage, at the beginning of November. Results are issued in mid-January. Results are available via Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing's Results Online website.


ELAT was developed by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing in partnership with the University of Oxford. The test was developed to help admissions tutors differentiate within a large pool of extremely well-qualified applicants and provide information about applicants’ skills in close reading of literary texts. The test was trialled by Oxford in 2006 and became part of their admissions process in 2007. In 2016, the test was adopted by the University of Cambridge for admission to its undergraduate English course.[2]


ELAT is a 90-minute pen-and-paper test, which seeks to measure those skills needed to succeed on English or English-related degree courses. It assesses students’ ability in the key skill of close reading of unfamiliar literary material. It consists of six literary extracts, from poetry, prose or drama. Candidates write one essay comparing two or three of the passages. Applicants are expected to comment on elements such as the language, imagery, allusion, syntax, form and structure of the passages. Marks are not awarded for references to other texts or authors, or for applying theoretical frameworks.

Candidates are asked to carry out the following 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.[3]


Each script is marked by two examiners. Each examiner gives a mark out of 30 and these are combined to give an overall mark out of 60.

The University of Oxford uses candidates' marks by breaking them down into four bands:

  • Band 1 (top): candidates most likely to be called for interview (unless other indicators suggest otherwise)
  • Band 2: candidates who should probably be invited to interview
  • Band 3: candidates who should probably not be called to interview (unless there is convincing evidence to suggest otherwise)
  • Band 4: candidates least likely to be invited to interview (unless other factors outweigh the evidence of the test).

For the University of Cambridge, a full breakdown of marks for each candidate is provided to admissions tutors.[4]

Timing and results[edit]

ELAT is normally sat at an applicant’s school or college. Alternatively, the test can be taken at Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing’s authorised ‘open centres’ worldwide.

The timing of the test is designed to fit in with the timescales for applications to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Candidates can be entered for the test from September to mid-October. ELAT takes place in early November.

Statements of Results are typically issued to candidates and test centres in mid-January. Results can be accessed online and will be automatically passed to the college where the candidate has applied.[5]


Both Oxford and Cambridge Universities use ELAT as part of their admissions processes, but it is only one of the elements used to decide whether to invite applicants for interview.[6]


ELAT is designed to not require a lot of extra study. It is not a test of wide reading and there are no assumptions about the texts that candidates should have read. Candidates can practice for the test using specimen questions and past papers, which can be downloaded for free from the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing website.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/english University of Cambridge. Accessed 22 June 2016
  2. ^ [2] http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/english University of Cambridge. Accessed 22 June 2016
  3. ^ [3] http://www.admissionstestingservice.org/for-test-takers/elat/about-elat/ Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing. Retrieved 22 March 2017
  4. ^ [4] http://www.admissionstestingservice.org/for-test-takers/elat/scoring-and-results/ Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing. Retrieved 22 March 2017
  5. ^ [5] http://www.admissionstestingservice.org/for-test-takers/elat/dates-and-costs/ Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing. Retrieved 22 March 2017
  6. ^ [6] http://www.english.ox.ac.uk/shortlisting-and-selection-criteria-undergraduate Faculty of English, University of Oxford. Retrieved 9 September 2011

External links[edit]