About the Oxford English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT)

The Oxford 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 Oxford ELAT is a paper-based test lasting 90 minutes. It tests candidates’ close reading skills, and their ability to shape and articulate an informed response to unfamiliar literary material. Candidates write one essay comparing two passages, focusing on elements such as:

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

Oxford ELAT 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 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.

The six passages will be linked by a common theme, which will be given in the introduction. Candidates may choose any two of the six to compare. Answer sheets will be provided.

Changes to the test

Please note, prior to the 2018 test, candidates could compare two or three passages. Since then, they must compare two passages. The ELAT marking criteria were also updated in 2018.