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ELAT pageYour ELAT score can make the difference between whether you reach your Oxford interview or not. Though this is intimidating, as with all exams, practice and preparation can make a real difference to your performance.

General information about the ELAT can be found on the homepage here. You can get a few practice papers from the University hereHowever, we’ve summarised everything you need to know below.


The ELAT is a 1 1/2 hour test, which requires candidates to write one essay.

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.


Oxford applicants for the following subjects:

  • Classics and English
  • Classics II and English
  • English and Beginners’ Czech (with Slovak)
  • English and Beginners’ Italian
  • English and Beginners’ Modern Greek
  • English and Beginners’ Portuguese
  • English and Czech (with Slovak)
  • English and French
  • English and German
  • English and Italian
  • English and Modern Greek
  • English and Portuguese
  • English and Russian
  • English and Spanish
  • English Language and Literature

Cambridge Applicants for English

Depending on the selected course, an additional admissions test may need to be taken, e.g. CAT or MLAT


15th October – last date for entries

5th November – date of ELAT (9am in schools)


Don’t forget that you need to register to sit the ELAT through your school or test centre. Make sure you check that your school is on top of this – or find a test centre through Cambridge Assessment.


Generally, you need to get 53 or above out of 60 to be invited to interview, although you can see the precise breakdown of bands here

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ELAT mini mock paper & answers


Test score sheet with answersThe majority of Oxford courses, and an increasing number of Cambridge courses, now require applicants to sit an admissions test as part of their application. Admissions test results can often determine whether or not an applicant is invited to interview, with the proportion of students being invited to interview having steadily decreased over the past three years.

As a result, achieving a high score on the admissions test can make or break an application. 

See our factfile below for key information about each admissions test, and a teaser of the kind of questions you might be faced with.

Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT)

Where? 3 UK universities: University of Oxford, Imperial College London, University of Warwick.

Subjects? Computer Science, Computer Science and Philosophy, Mathematics, Mathematics and Computer Science, Mathematics and Philosophy, Mathematics and Statistics.

What is it? A 2-hour 30-minute paper. No calculators are permitted. The first question is multiple choice, but the following ones are longer. 

Test date: 31st October.

Sample question: Draw a graph of y=1/x and y=1/root(x). Integrate both functions between 0 and 1. Explain the difference between the graphs.


Get support on our BMAT course



Physics Admissions Test (PAT)

Where? Oxford only

Subjects? Materials Science, Physics, Engineering Science, Physics and Philosophy.

What is it? A 2-hour calculator paper, with questions on Physics and Mathematics for Physics

Test date: 31st October.

Sample question: In the equation x = sq +1/2 aq2 the term sq represents what? A) a speed, B) an acceleration, C) a displacement, D) an impulse.


Get support on our PAT course



Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT)

Where? 8 UK universities: University of Cambridge – Medics and vets, University of Oxford
Imperial College London, University College London, University of Leeds, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Lancaster University, Royal Veterinary College – Vets only

Subjects? Biomedical Sciences (Oxford), Medicine (Oxford and Cambridge), Veterinary Medicine (Cambridge).

What is it? A 2-hour, predominantly multiple choice test, divided into three sections. The sections involve problem solving and questions requiring students to apply their science knowledge.

Test date: 31st October.

Sample question: The mass of an atom of uranium is 4 × 10-25 kg. What is the mass, in milligrams, of 8 million atoms of uranium?


Get support on our BMAT course



English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT)

Where?  Oxford and Cambridge.

Subjects? English, English and Modern Languages (with MLAT), English and Classics (with CAT).

What is it? A 90-minute close reading based essay. Candidates are required to compare two passages.

Test date: 31st October.

Sample question: The following extracts are all linked by the theme of violence in nature. Compare and contrast them in any ways that seem interesting to you.


Get support on our ELAT course



[scrollto class= “HAT”]

History Admissions Test (HAT)

Where? Oxford only.

Subjects? History, History and Economics, History and Modern Languages (with MAT or TSA 1), and History and Politics

What is it? A one-hour exam in which candidates answer one question based on an extract from a primary source.

Test date: 31st October.

Sample question: Assess the importance of the decolonisation in determining the character of any one historical event.


Get support on our HAT course



Thinking Skills Assessment Cambridge

Where? Cambridge (only certain Colleges/subjects).

Subjects? Land Economy 

What is it? A 90-minute, multiple-choice test of 50
questions, divided into 25 problem solving and 25 critical thinking questions. It tests numerical and spatial reasoning, logical thinking, and comprehension of arguments.

Test date: 31st October.

Example question: A car leaves Canterbury at 7.12am and travels 180 miles to Birmingham, arriving at 10.57 am. What was its average speed in miles per hour?


Get support on our TSA Cambridge course



Thinking Skills Assessment Oxford

Where? Oxford only.

Subjects? Economics and Management, Experimental Psychology,  Human Sciences , Philosophy and Linguistics, Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), Psychology and Linguistics, Psychology and Philosophy.

Candidates applying to study Chemistry (F100) and History and Economics* (LV11) will be required to take Thinking Skills Assessment: Section 1 (TSA S1)

What is it? The test helps to standardise the assessment of candidates with a wide range of course choices at A Level. The assessment is divided into a 90-minute multiple-choice section, followed by a 30-minute essay question from a choice of four.

Test date: 31st October.

Example question: Dates may be written in an eight digit form. For instance, 19 January 2005 may be written 19-01-2005. In what year will the next date occur for which all eight digits are different?


Get support on our TSA Oxford course


TSA Cambridge

Cambridge Law Test (CLT)

Where? Cambridge (most Colleges).

Subjects? Law.

What is it? This test is taken by Law applicants when they are in Cambridge for their interview. It lasts for one hour, in which time applicants are expected to answer one long-form essay question, from a series of three selected by the interviewing College.

Test date: During the interview period (mid-November onwards).

Example question: Should people be regarded as having fundamental moral rights, quite independently of law? If so, how should we decide what those rights are? Give reasons for your answer.


Get support on our CLT course


Law Scrabble

Law National Admissions Test (LNAT)

Where? UK universities.

Subjects? Law (Jurisprudence) (Oxford), Law with Law Studies in Europe (Oxford).

What is it? A two-part exam designed to test an applicant’s ability to follow and understand complex arguments. The test is divided into two sections: 42 multiple-choice questions, followed by a second section consisting of one extended essay.

Test date: On or before 20th October.

Example question: Would you agree that travel and tourism exploit poorer nations and benefit only the richer ones?


Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT)

Where? Oxford only.

Subjects? Classics and Modern Languages, English and Modern Languages, European and Middle Eastern Languages, History and Modern Languages, Modern Languages, Modern Languages and Linguistics, Philosophy and Modern Languages.

What is it? A compilation of language-specific papers from which candidates select a maximum of two. The test focuses on translation to and from English, and questions are a mix of open-ended and multiple-choice word selection.

Test date: 31st October.

Example question: Select which word you most closely associate with kloz: attire, nearby, stick, giant, relatives.


Further Admissions Tests

In addition to the above, students at Oxford applying for the following courses will need to sit a separate admissions test:

  • History applicants will take the History Aptitude Test (HAT).
  • Classics applicants will take the Classics Aptitude Test (CLAT).
  • Oriental Studies applicants will take the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test.
  • Philosophy and Theology students will take the Philosophy Test.


Find out more about Admissions Test Courses


Students studying Hard Sciences courses may need to take the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) or the Mathematics Aptitude Test (MAT). For those successful in their application for Maths at Cambridge, the STEP test is also required.


Cambridge Admissions Tests

Cambridge has introduced a suite of new admissions tests. Check your course page on the official Cambridge and Oxford websites to see the admissions test requirement for your course.


Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic Admissions Assessment (ASNCAA)

Subjects? Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic.

What is it? A two-part exam: a one-hour reading comprehension and a one hour critical response to text(s).

Test date: 31st October.



Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Admissions Assessment (AMESAA)

Subjects? Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

What is it? A two-part exam: a one-hour reading comprehension and a one hour critical response to text(s).

Test date: 31st October.



Economics Admissions Assessment (ECAA)

Subjects? Economics.

What is it?  A two-part exam: a 80-minute problem solving and Maths for Economics and a 40-minute essay on topic of economic interest.

Test date: 31st October.

Economics Paper


Engineering Admissions Assessment (ENGAA)

Subjects? Engineering and Chemical Engineering via Engineering (H810).

What is it?  A two-part exam: an 80-minute multiple choice Maths/Physics test and a 40-minute multiple choice Maths/Physics calculator paper

Test date: 31st October.

Engineering Blueprint


Geography Admissions Assessment (GAA)

Subjects? Geography.

What is it? A two-part exam: an 80-minute thinking skills and reading comprehension and a 40-minute interpretation of graphical data.

Test date: 31st October.



History Admissions Assessment (HAA)

Subjects? History, History and Modern Languages (with MML assessment), and History and Politics

What is it? A two-part exam: a one-hour reading comprehension and a one hour critical response to text(s).

Test date: 31st October.



Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Admissions Assessment (PBSAA)

Subjects? Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

What is it? A two-section exam: 1) 80-minutes including a compulsory part A on thinking skills, plus either part B on Mathematics and Biology or part C on Reading Comprehension and 2) a 40-minute essay.

Test date: 31st October.


Human, Social, and Political Sciences Admissions Assessment (HSPSAA)

Subjects? Human, Social, and Political Sciences.

What is it? A two-part exam: a 60-minute reading comprehension and a 60-minute essay.

Test date: 31st October.


shiny-gavelBelow you will find the answers to the different questions from Chapter 6 “The Admissions Tests” in our book ‘So you want to go to Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana.’

The answers below will not just tell you which one is correct. The answers will look at why the other choices would not be correct and explain in more detail. This is to allow you to get a better idea of how to answer admissions test questions better.

Mental Disorders

Answer: A

mental-healthAn assumption is something which is not stated in the argument, but which is taken for granted in order to draw the conclusion. So, first of all you should work out what the conclusion of the argument is. Then look for the reasoning the author gives to support this conclusion, and think about any important point which is not actually stated. You are trying to spot the missing link, the reason that should be stated but has been left out.

The conclusion here is the final sentence. Answer b) is too definitive and is not necessary for the conclusion to make logical sense. c) is incorrect, the quantities of people with chemical imbalances are irrelevant to the conclusion. d) is basically a restatement of the last two sentences of the extract and therefore can’t be an unstated assumption. e) is entirely irrelevant to the conclusion. Option a) is correct as it is necessary for the argument to make logical sense.

Pepper Growers

Answer: D

peppersAn inference is something that the reader can conclude based on the information given in the passage. In order to answer this you need to evaluate which of the five statements could legitimately be a conclusion following on from the information given and no other information. In other words, if one of these statements relies on some other fact to be true or some other information then it is less likely to be an inference directly from the information given.

There is nothing in the text about the profitability of pepper so the answer’s not a). b) represents an alternative explanation for the discrepancy between production and sales but contradicts the explanation given in the text (i.e. not increased consumption but reduced production). c) could be inferred if weather was the only given reason for low production but it’s also blamed on pepper growers switching to cocoa. We know the price of pepper went up but we don’t know anything about profitability so it’s not e). d) can be inferred because we know that demand for pepper has been outstripping supply for the past three years and therefore the surplus must have been reduced.

Women now have the chance to achieve

women-on-mountainThe notable thing about this question is how broad the statement is. This is both a good thing and a bad thing – good because it allows you to be really creative but bad because it becomes very hard to write a concise, to the point, structured essay. I decided to focus on inequality in the UK in the present day but could have equally written an essay about the problems facing women globally or even about the campaign for women’s suffrage. In the introduction I try to indicate to the reader that I have considered these other possibilities and have made a purposeful decision to focus the essay in a particular direction.

Structure is all important in the LNAT. The time pressure means that it is very easy to wander off point or write in a ‘stream of consciousness’ style. Have a clear introduction which tells the reader where you’re going, sets any parameters that you’d like to impose on the essay and defines any ambiguous terms used in the question. The body of the essay should contain your argument and if possible you should try to deal with one or two counter arguments. Make sure your conclusion reiterates the main thrust of your argument without simply repeating itself.

I used the Wimbledon prize money debate to back up one of my arguments. Using an example from real life really enhances an LNAT essay. It shows the reader that you have an awareness of the world around you, it breaks up your argument which is likely to be quite abstract and it helps you make your point.

What would your answer be?

Don’t forget to tell us what your answer would be over at our Facebook page, or tweet us directly @ApplytoOxbridge.

TSA Oxford

Thinking Skills Assessment

CyclistA cyclist averages 7.5 miles an hour on level ground but only 4.5 miles an hour when going uphill. If the ratio between flat ground and hills were 1:3, what was the cyclist’s average mph over 60 miles?

a) 6mph

b) 5mph

c) 5.25 mph

d) 4.75 mph

e) 6.3 mph

…could you answer 48 more like this in 90 mins? The trick with the TSA is always timing, and the only way to get timing right is to practise. Try our mini mock next…


TSA Oxford mini-mock


ANSWER: D) 5 mph


Speed = Distance/Time

Time = Distance/Speed

Time 1 = Distance 1/Speed 1

Time 2 = Distance 2/Speed 2

Put in an example distance of 8 miles (could be any distance)

Level ground = 1

Distance 1 = 2 miles (1/4 of 8)

Speed 1 = 7.5 mph

Time 1 = 2/7.5 (and then times by 60 to put in minutes form) = 16 minutes

Uphill = 2

Distance 2 = 6 miles (3/4 of 8)

Speed 2 = 4.5 mph

Time 2 = 6/4.5 (and then times by 60 to put in minutes form) = 80 minutes

Total time = 96 minutes

Speed = Distance/Time

Speed = 8/96 (then times by 60 to get from hours to minutes)

(8/96) x 60 = 5mph

TSA Cambridge

Thinking Skills Assessment

PrinterA daisy wheel printer prints 20 characters a second and is 4 times as fast as the average printer. If the average printer is 5 times as fast as an electric typwriter, how many characters can an electric typewriter print?

a) 3.5

b) 4

c) 5

d) 1

e) 2.5


TSA Cambridge mini-mock



Answer: D) 1


Daisy wheel printer = 20 = 4 x average printer

-> Average printer = 20/4 = 5

Average printer = 5 = 5 x electric type writer

-> Electric type writer = 5/5 = 1


Biomedical Admissions Test

BacteriaAll Staphylococci are Bacteria and all Bacteria are Prokaryotes. No Staphylococci are Archaea. Which of the following must be true?

a) some Bacteria are Archaea

b) Every Staphyloccos is a Prokaryote

c) All Prokaryotes are Archaea

d) No Archaea are Staphylococci

…and could you answer 26 more questions in just 30 minutes? A big part of the BMAT is timing, and the key to timing is practice. Try our mini-mock next…

BMAT mini-mock


[showhide type=”answer3″ more_text=”Answer »” less_text=”Hide answer «”]

Think of it like a hierarchy:

“All Staphylococci are Bacteria”. Therefore 




“All Bacteria are Prokaryotes”. Therefore






“No Staphylococci are Archaea”

This doesn’t give us enough information to place Archaea in our hierarchy, except that it guarantees that it cannot follow the hierarchy the way the other elements do. 

a) ‘some bacteria are Archaea’ – we do not have enough information for this. They may be, but all we know is what Archaea are not.

b) ‘Every Staphyloccos is a Prokaryote’ – if you look at our hierarchy, this must be true, because the question says ‘All’. If all Staphyloccoci are a subset of bacteria, and all Bacteria are a subset of Prokaryotes, all Staphyloccoci must be a subset of Prokaryotes, once removed (at least). 

c) ‘All Prokayotes are Archaea’ – again, we do not have enough information for this. 

d) ‘No Archaea are Staphylococci’ – this is the tricky one because we know that no Staphylococci are Archaea, so our instinct is to think this is the case the other way round too. However, we do not have enough information to prove this. 

So the answer must be B.

UCAT (previously UKCAT)

University Clinical Aptitude Test

Exam-tableFive students sit a biology test. Oliver gains a lower score than Connor, who gains a lower score than Natalie. Emma gains a higher score than Connor, but a lower score than Wendy. Wendy’s score must be higher than:

a) Connor, but not necessarily higher than Oliver or Natalie

b) Natalie, but not necessarily higher than Connor or Oliver

c) Connor and Oliver, but not necessarily higher than Natlie

d) Oliver and Natalie, but not necessarily higher than Connor

e) Connor only

UCAT mini-mock


Perhaps the easiest way to handle this question is to place the characters in order as you read each sentence, from highest marks to lowest marks:

“Oliver gains a lower score than Connor”, therefore:

Connor – Oliver

“…who gains a lower score than Natalie”, therefore:

Natalie – Connor – Oliver.

“Emma gains a higher score than Connor”. In this case we do not have enough information to see whether Emma gains a higher or lower score than Natalie, so we must be aware that there is a gap in our information there:

Natalie  – – – Emma



“…but a lower score than Wendy”, therefore

               – – – Wendy

Natalie  – – – Emma (remembering here that we don’t know how Emma or Wendy’s score compare to Natalie’s)



Thus, obviously discounting Emma as we know this, Wendy’s score must be higher than Connor and Oliver, but not necessarily Natalie, as Natalie may have scored higher than everyone else.  

Answer: C

lösungTSA Cambridge Practice Question 1

Mr Johnson averages 7.5 miles an hour on level ground, 4.5 miles an hour when going uphill and never travels downhill. If the cyclist’s journey is one quarter level ground and three quarters uphill by distance, what is his average speed?

a) 3.75 mph

b) 4.5 mph

c) 4.89 mph

d) 5 mph

e) 7.5 mph

ANSWER: D) 5 mph


Speed = Distance/Time

Time = Distance/Speed

Time 1 = Distance 1/Speed 1

Time 2 = Distance 2/Speed 2

Put in an example distance of 8 miles (could be any distance)

Level ground = 1

Distance 1 = 2 miles (1/4 of 8)

Speed 1 = 7.5 mph

Time 1 = 2/7.5 (and then times by 60 to put in minutes form) = 16 minutes

Uphill = 2

Distance 2 = 6 miles (3/4 of 8)

Speed 2 = 4.5 mph

Time 2 = 6/4.5 (and then times by 60 to put in minutes form) = 80 minutes

Total time = 96 minutes

Speed = Distance/Time

Speed = 8/96 (then times by 60 to get from hours to minutes)

(8/96) x 60 = 5mph

Blank Papers on DeskTSA Cambridge Practice Question 2

Nearly three in 10 parents failed to agree to their children receiving a new cervical cancer vaccine during a trial. The jab, being rolled out in the UK this year, has proved controversial as it works by making girls immune to a sexually transmitted infection. There had been concerns that parents would not give their consent to the jab because they felt it could encourage early sexual activity, or because it prevented a potential illness many years in the future, rather than addressing a present threat.

The vaccine works by making girls immune to two key strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually-transmitted infection. Together, the two strains are known to cause approximately 70% of all cervical cancer cases in the UK. It is suggested that vaccinating most teenage girls could save hundreds of lives a year – although the benefits would not be seen until those receiving the vaccine enter middle age.


Parents are concerned that girls who have the vaccine may stop using contraception as a means of protecting against sexually transmitted diseases.

a) True

b) False

c) Can’t Tell

ANSWER: B) False


1)       The first worry of the parents was that HPV could encourage early sexual activity (this does not necessarily mean without contraception)

2)       The second worry of the parents was that it didn’t address a present threat, rather a potential future threat (again, it is possible that this is from unprotected sex, but not necessarily)

3)       The fact that two answers are given that do not relate to girls stopping using contraception eliminates the ‘can’t tell’ option


UKCAT Mini-Mock & AnswersMany of the most competitive Medicine courses require students to sit the UCAT as part of the admissions process. This is a strange test of logical reasoning and is the kind of thing you may not have faced much before, so we’ve put together this mini-mock, with an answer sheet attached so that you can have ago, and assess your work.

We also provide full, unique UCAT Mock Tests with detailed answer packs if you would like further practice. You can find these here:


UCAT Mock Test Packs


Admissions tests are very similar to interviews in that they are designed to test how you respond to difficult problems you haven’t seen before. They are about analysis rather than factual knowledge. Think about this. Avoid doing reams of unstructured preparation because good sense and planning are more important.

Ask yourself whether you should practise analysing language/pieces in the newspaper/numeracy. Practice is invaluable, particularly with exams like the LNAT or the TSA, where large sections of reading and/or multiple choice can be difficult to fit into the time.

BMAT essay

  • Testing the doctor in you: they are looking for structure, logic and detail. When you’re a doctor you will need these skills when writing patient notes so these are crucial abilities to demonstrate in the exam

PAT & MAT test

  • Thinking ahead…ensure you have looked forward to the whole of your A-level syllabus before the exam.

TSA (Thinking Skills Assessment)

  • ニュースSorting your questions: – this tests problem solving and critical thinking. Your maths needs to be on point, so revise all your formulas. For critical thinking, read lots of newspaper articles to practice comprehension. One of the main challenges you will come up against is the timing. 50 questions in 90 minutes averages out at around 1m48 per question, so speed is of the essence. If you are better at either problem solving or critical thinking, do these questions first in case you run out of time.


  • Reading up: another test on comprehension and critical responses to articles, so again, read up on newspaper articles to ensure you are practising these techniques


  • Understanding context: This exam tests your responses to sources out of their context so practise looking at as many of these as you can.


  • Compare with flair: Be careful not to just analyse two texts. You’ll need to focus on the comparing and contrasting element: how are your chosen texts the same, how are they different?

So you want to go to Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana… is the compendium of applying to Oxbridge. Packed full of over a decade’s research and up-to-date advice on how to prepare, Tell me about a banana draws on the experiences of thousands of successful Oxbridge graduates and how they would approach the application process if they had to do it all over again.

If you would like to buy a paper copy of the book you can get it in the post for £12.99.


Order the book in hardcopy



The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is marked significantly differently from other Admissions Tests. To be successful in the BMAT you need not only to understand the content and questions that you are given, but also how your answers are going to be marked.

Beautiful stethoscop on bookEach question in Sections 1 and 2 is worth one mark. Total raw marks for each section are converted to the BMAT scale, which runs from 1 (low) – 9 (high) and scores are reported to one decimal place. Typical BMAT candidates will score around 5.0 for section 1 and for 2, which equates to approximately half marks. The best candidates will score around 6.0, and a few exceptional candidates will score higher than 7.0. Section 3 essays are double marked.

Each examiner gives a score for quality of content on the scale of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and a score for quality of written English on a scale of A, C, E. If the two marks for quality of essay content are adjacent on the scale, then the average of the two marks is reported (e.g. one examiner gives a 3 and another gives a 4, the score is 3.5). If the two marks for quality of written English are as follows, the scores are combined thus: AA = A, AC = B, CC = C, CE = D and EE = E.

If there is a larger discrepancy in the marks, the essays are marked for a third time, and the final mark awarded is checked by the Senior Assessment Manager. For example, an essay given a 4C by one examiner and 4A by the other will receive a final score of 4B; an essay given 3C by one examiner and 2C by the other will receive a mark of 2.5C.


TSA Mini MockThis mini-mock for the Cambridge TSA will give you a taster of the kinds of multiple choice questions in store.

The final page has the multiple choice answers.

Full mock tests with thorough answers explaining the reasoning behind every option are available here:


TSA Cambridge Mock Packs

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