1st Class, Ba Economics and Philosophy, University College London (UCL)

ENGLISH LITERATURE 

CASE STUDY: CAMBRIDGE APPLICANT

This is an outline of a bespoke 1:1 tuition programme, that was developed for a sixth form student, who successfully applied to Cambridge.

A different student might want a different programme, but this is informative of the possible topics that they might want to cover.

 

Practical Criticism (3 hours) 

 


As practical criticism is an important part of the admissions process for all of the top universities, the course began with an introduction to this method of close-reading.

 

With the tutor's guidance, the student learned to respond to and analyse the texts she read, and to inform this close-reading with a knowledge of literary forms, genre conventions, and technical vocabulary.

 

Over three sessions, the student learned how to organise her responses to unseen prose, poetry, and dramatic texts, in preparation for admissions tests, such as the ELAT, and interviews. 

Introduction to Theory

(2 hours)

 

The tutor introduced the student to a variety of established and emerging theoretical approaches to studying literature, from narratological, Marxist, feminist, and queer perspectives to eco-critical and postcolonial theories.

 

The lessons also focused on major critical approaches to literary study, including formalist, new historicist, deconstructionist, and psychoanalytical approaches, as an introduction to the theories that are widely taught at undergraduate-level.

 

Following the tutor's example, the student developed the confidence and experience to use theoretical and critical perspectives to inform her own close-readings, whilst also gaining awareness of important critical debates about the respective roles of reader and critic.

 

 

 

Independent Reading
(2.5 hours)  

 

 

  Tailored to the student's interests, the tutor provided advanced reading lists to supplement the student's A-level curriculum and to expand her awareness of lesser-known authors, genres, styles, and historical and sociopolitical contexts. 

 

Using this independent reading as a springboard, the tutor engaged the student in critical debate, aiming to improve her ability to think analytically and to construct convincing arguments verbally as well as in writing.

 

The tutor's aim was to expand the student’s reading interests and to hone her ability to write and talk confidently about challenging texts.

 

Essay Writing and Research Support (3 hours) 

 

 

To assist with her written work, coursework, and Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), and to prepare her for the higher standards expected at university, the tutor familiarised the student with the fundamentals of essay-writing, including planning, style and structure, using secondary reading, and constructing accurate footnote or in-text references.

 

The lessons also focused on secondary reading: how to access critical materials, how to organise this research, and how to use common citation systems (including MLA and Harvard) and write bibliographies. 

 

The tutor supplied the student with the techniques to organise her ideas into thoughtful, accurately-structured, and critically-supported arguments, focusing on both long-form writing and writing under exam conditions. 

 

Personal Statement 

(1.5 hours)

 

The personal statement provides students with an important opportunity to demonstrate achievements, academic potential, and passion for the course. The tutor helped the student to hone her personal statement, ensuring that each sentence was meaningful and well-constructed.

 

With constructive feedback from the tutor at every stage of the process, the student drafted and perfected a personal statement that channeled her enthusiasm for the subject into an informed, sophisticated, and concise personal statement.

 

 

Interview Preparation

 (2 hours) 

 

To combat what is often the most daunting part of the university application process - interviews - the tutor introduced the student to the format of academic interviews and the skills that interviewers are looking for. 

 

The tutor coached the student in responding to questions about her personal statement, written work, university and subject choice, and unseen texts.

 

Through mock interviews and detailed, constructive feedback, the student gained confidence in discussing her ideas calmly and concisely, maximizing her chances of success in the real interviews.  

 

 

All of our programmes​ are entirely bespoke: what you saw above was just an example. 

 

Our tutors will speak to you to understand your precise needs, and build a programme that feels right and is exciting.

Please enquire to find out more.

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the hours you need

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