3 Ways to Improve Your Chances of Studying English Literature at Oxbridge

Do you dream of studying Orwell in the extraordinary city of Oxford, or perhaps reading Chaucer at one of Cambridge’s renowned riverside colleges? While Oxford and Cambridge are considered two of the world’s most prestigious universities to study English Literature, it’s important to note that they also have highly competitive admissions processes with strict entry criteria and low acceptance rates.

However, we have the intel you need to maximize your chances of acceptance. If you want to study English at Oxford or Cambridge, keep reading to learn three of the best strategies to increase your odds of getting in.

Achieve top grades in the right subjects

Getting excellent academic results is the crucial first step toward studying English Literature at Oxbridge. The admissions team is renowned for selecting candidates who have consistently excelled in their GCSEs and A-levels, especially in English Language and English Literature.

To meet the admissions criteria, you will need to achieve top grades at A-level or equivalent, with Oxford requiring a minimum of AAA and Cambridge requiring A*AA. Therefore, it’s important to aim for high marks in these subjects during secondary school and further education.

In addition to excelling in English, it can also be helpful to take other humanities subjects as your third A-level. According to UCAS, “other useful subjects to hold for English degrees include any humanities subject — such as history, geography, or drama.” This is because these subjects can complement your studies in English and demonstrate your broad academic interests and skills.

Excel in the ELAT

Oxford requires its applicants to take the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT), a paper-based test sat under exam conditions. Naturally, the ELAT is a challenging test, but if you do well here, you could be well on your way to getting an interview at your top choice of college.

If you’re finding it challenging to prepare for the ELAT, don’t worry. There are many resources available that can help you build a stronger foundation in English Literature and prepare you for the exam of a lifetime. For example, UniAdmissions offers a preparation program run by expert admissions consultants which is “designed to maximize your chance of success when applying to study English at Oxford.”

Note that Cambridge University no longer uses the ELAT as part of its admissions process, and applicants who are shortlisted for an interview will be invited to take a unique assessment designed specifically for their chosen course.

Prove your passion for the subject

The Oxbridge English admissions team is passionate about literature, just like you! Therefore, along with demonstrating your academic competence, it is essential to express your genuine interest in the subject in order to get into Oxbridge.

The admissions team wants candidates who have a deep understanding and appreciation for literature beyond just achieving top grades. They want to see that you have a sustained interest and involvement in the field, which can be shown through practicing extracurricular activities, attending literary events, or producing blog posts or other personal writing.

Moreover, discussing your wider reading in your personal statement and/or interview is a great way to demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for the subject, which will make you a highly competitive candidate for admission to Oxbridge. Good luck!

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