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    hey

    I'm a 6th form student, just finished my AS exams and will be applying for uni in september to read English Literature. I am hoping to apply for; oxbridge (not decided just yet as to which one), birmingham, bristol, KCL and Durham.

    Although i read a lot and have covered a lot of the main 'classics' as well as exploring own personal interest areas such as early African American Literature and the work of early 20th century US authors, i'm worried that i haven't read widely enough to justify applying to study the subject at such prestigious universities. :confused:

    So i was wondering, (those of you who have offers / study english already at uni) how widely had you read by the time of your application?

    Also, as i have summer break coming up, i'm intending to get through a lot more reading, any suggestions of what would be useful to read would be really helpful.

    Thank you!

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    Around 3 foot and 7 inches.
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    I've secured a conditional place for English at Exeter University, and I didn't mention much about the extent of my private reading, except for commenting on certain books I'd enjoyed in my English A level course in my personal statement.
    I dont think the universities really have much clue about your reading from your UCAS application, but if you went to an Oxbridge interview then they will probably ask you more about it.
    But solely for the UCAS application, I wouldnt worry much about your wider reading, mine was basically zilch according to my personal statement. Only worry about it if you have to go for an interview, where they will ask you more about these things.
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    I would advise devoting the majority of your personal statement to your reading. That's what Cambridge, UCL, Durham and KCL specifically advise.
    I spent a paragraph on my own particular interest in literature (so you could write about African-American novelists), then a paragraph on general reading, followed by why I wanted to study literature, with reference to other works. Do NOT waste your PS on extra-curricular, absolute no-no! I paragraph AT THE MOST will do for that, and try to link it in with the subject, again. At our school, they advised us to spend something like 4 out of 5 paras on extra-curricular, which I did in a draft. Then this Oxford professor came in to give advice to the Oxbridge candidates and he was HORRIFIED. He brought some PS samples with him, and all had concentrated specifically on the subject.

    So my advice would be to use the summer to read as much as possible. Be selective, with a thought for what would look impressive on the P.S. And be prepared to discuss ANYTHING you have put on your statement, particularly for the Oxbridge interviews, and also UCL (I would, of course, advise you to apply there, as aswell!). Good luck!
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    (Original post by englishstudent)
    Around 3 foot and 7 inches.


    As with so many things, the girth of one's reading may be more decisive than its sheer extent.
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    (Original post by Da Bachtopus)


    As with so many things, the girth of one's reading may be more decisive than its sheer extent.
    Well, yes, so a lot of academic journals would have you believe... but then when it comes to the one-on-one tutorial it's often easy to wish one had read a little more widely. :p:
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    One-on-one is increasingly going out of fashion. Prac Crit was usually FFM, and I frequently had foursomes for Tragedy.
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    Not very widely at all...
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    Widely read? NOT AT ALL. Though I *was* carefully read, which is very important.
    So long as you enjoy reading, and have some good ideas about it (you don't necessarily have to think they're wonderful, don't worry!), you're in a great position to apply.

    I didn't read fiction for many years (like, teenage, really), so felt at a great disadvantage when it came to interviews. I was wrong, though, totally wrong - with only 3 or 4 Shakespeare plays and no Dickens etc. I felt stupid, but actually was fine. It was interest, engagement and ability to play with any material given to me, rather than being widely read, that got me a place (that and a lot of luck!)
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    i'd read deeply but not widely. some genres and periods i had hardly touched (e.g. medieval poetry/prose and victorian novels). some i read quite a lot of (e.g. lots of elizabethan and jacobean drama, modernist poetry, and quite a few classical poetry - both long epic and short verses).

    as long as you're interested in what you read, that's all that matters. university if for widening your reading.
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    I feel like all of my friends have read more widely than I have, always quoting and referencing, even in general conversation..!
    Just read what you enjoy. I'm reading Nick Hornby's 'High Fidelity' at the moment.
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    Well, of course, you need to have read quite a bit. But sounds like if you have read many of the classics, that's quite already, just make sure you get some good reading in this summer. Some suggestions: Shakespeare, Austen, Chaucer, Dickens, Homer, the Bible (I know this may seem strange, but a lot of English lit is based on it), George Eliot (Middlemarch), John Donne's poetry, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley (this all depends on how much you enjoy Romantic poetry), Wild, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf (Mrs Dalloway), EM Fortser, DH Lawrence (I read Women in Love, he writes beautifully), Tennessee Williams (Streetcar Named Desire, Glass Menagerie), Sylvia Plath. Some of these were suggestions made by my teachers to prepare for a possible interview, others are even from a reading list a friend received for her 1st year at UCL. In any case, explore and find out what your personal interests are, then develop those, this can be useful for your personal statement and a possible interview. But in any case, don't worry, we are only young, we are not expected to have read everything.
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    (Original post by mnem89)
    Well, of course, you need to have read quite a bit. But sounds like if you have read many of the classics, that's quite already, just make sure you get some good reading in this summer. Some suggestions: Shakespeare, Austen, Chaucer, Dickens, Homer, the Bible (I know this may seem strange, but a lot of English lit is based on it), George Eliot (Middlemarch), John Donne's poetry, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley (this all depends on how much you enjoy Romantic poetry), Wild, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf (Mrs Dalloway), EM Fortser, DH Lawrence (I read Women in Love, he writes beautifully), Tennessee Williams (Streetcar Named Desire, Glass Menagerie), Sylvia Plath. Some of these were suggestions made by my teachers to prepare for a possible interview, others are even from a reading list a friend received for her 1st year at UCL. In any case, explore and find out what your personal interests are, then develop those, this can be useful for your personal statement and a possible interview. But in any case, don't worry, we are only young, we are not expected to have read everything.
    Before I went to uni, I hadn't read any of those except for Shakespeare, Dickens, Wilde, and Plath. Haha.
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    Embarrassingly, but quite honestly, from the list above I had read (excluding things I had to do for A Level) some Donne, some Forster and the shortest George Eliot book (Silas Marner).
    So don't look at that list and panic - they're only suggestions, and it's not necessary! As I've said a billion times on here, it's not WHAT you read, it's HOW you read.
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    if afro-american is your thing, read deeper rather than wider. find a period/writer of poetry or drama you like too. above all be ready to talk about what it is you enjoy studying in literature.

    you do not have had to read the entire canon before applying - and outside of interviews at the likes of oxbridge, ucl & warwick, it's your PS that will differentiate you from all the other AAA candidates.
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    I guess I'll just repeat what others have been saying - you don't need to be 'widely read' to secure a place at a good university. What is 'widely', anyway? It's so subjective. My widely may be your narrowly. :p:

    What really matters is whether you can express your opinions on the texts you have read articulately, and with solid justifications. I'm holding a conditional offer from Cambridge at the moment, and I don't doubt that out of all the applicants for my college, I was one of the more 'under-read'. I have little to no knowledge about literary theory, I haven't read most of the English 'classics' that people think I should have. Instead I enjoy foreign literature and languages, and reading different translations, and I love talking about that. And Cambridge seemed to like that too, which was lucky for me. So: read what you like; read it thoroughly; think about it; research the context, the life of the author, what critics have said. The information doesn't have to change your opinion, but let it inform it. To 'study' something means to devote yourself to it - devote yourself to your reading.

    Oooh, and be confident that you can 'do' English and do it well - believe that you deserve a place at a good university. I often think that those who do the worst at interviews are the ones who are too afraid to voice their ideas. So be brave. Say (and write) what you think.
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    (Original post by epitome)
    Embarrassingly, but quite honestly, from the list above I had read (excluding things I had to do for A Level) some Donne, some Forster and the shortest George Eliot book (Silas Marner).
    So don't look at that list and panic - they're only suggestions, and it's not necessary! As I've said a billion times on here, it's not WHAT you read, it's HOW you read.
    Of course I haven't even read all of those myself, I was just trying to help with suggestions. But I agree that the way you read, and what you get out of a book and how you respond to it are very important. There's no point in rushing through books to get the maximum read and not really understanding or getting anything out of any of them.
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    (Original post by mnem89)
    Of course I haven't even read all of those myself, I was just trying to help with suggestions. But I agree that the way you read, and what you get out of a book and how you respond to it are very important. There's no point in rushing through books to get the maximum read and not really understanding or getting anything out of any of them.
    whilst all of those authors are obviously good reads and classic texts, i reckon that looking to those sorts of canonical lists can actually lead to the opposite of wider reading. there's nothing worse than trying to sit down and make yourself read a jane austen novel purely because you think it might be good to talk about at interview.
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    Thanks everyone, that's been a big help
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    (Original post by Lidia)
    So: read what you like; read it thoroughly; think about it; research the context, the life of the author, what critics have said. The information doesn't have to change your opinion, but let it inform it. To 'study' something means to devote yourself to it - devote yourself to your reading.

    Oooh, and be confident that you can 'do' English and do it well - believe that you deserve a place at a good university. I often think that those who do the worst at interviews are the ones who are too afraid to voice their ideas. So be brave. Say (and write) what you think.
    need to rep u for that!
 
 
 
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