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Preparing for English at Oxford


As a third year student, I had to drag my mind away from my dissertation for a bit and look quite far back to recall trying to prepare for Oxford. One thing that I do remember very clearly, however, is that the application process here at Oxford can look extremely daunting. The combination of an early UCAS form, admissions tests and interviews can seem like a lot to deal with but one of the perks of English Literature is that the main thing that will help most prepare you for an English application is the thing that most people considering applying for English already love doing – reading.

In my opinion, the best way to both get yourself into a better position for both writing your personal statement and interviews is reading carefully and beyond your course. If there is an author that you have read in you’re A-level class that you really enjoyed and would like to explore more then use your time outside of sixth-form to delve into their work. If there is a genre or time period you have always wanted to read but haven’t had the chance, read some select texts from that genre or time period now. If you watch a brilliant Netflix show and know that it is based on a book, read the book and consider why that book might have been chosen for adaptation. For me the author was Jeanette Winterson and the genre was Gothic literature and, strangely enough, I ended up coming back to both of these topics for a paper that I took this year where I got complete free reign on what I wrote about.

Don’t worry too much about what you think the tutors will expect you to have read or, even more importantly, the amount that you think they will expect you to have read, as these expectations honestly don’t exist. Read things you are interested in, read those things well, researching the texts further where you can and keep a log of your thoughts about what you read in a notebook. The admissions process is really not as intimidating as it can appear and a true love of reading will genuinely get you a good portion of the way to being ready.

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