Reading: Comparing Texts Sample Questions


Reading: Comparing Texts Sample Questions Revision

Reading: Comparing Texts Sample Questions

Hopefully you should now have a good understanding of how to compare texts in your exam.

On this page we will be going through some examples of what comparison questions you may find in the exam.

We will also see how the AOs directly apply, and what kind of variation you might see between different types of comparison questions

Hidden AOs

Now, we already know that you will be marked on different Assessment Objectives (AOs) for different questions.

However, the question will not explicitly tell us which AO we are being marked on.

Instead, we must already know which AO is being tested, as well as the ability to apply relevant skills for that specific question



So, let’s get started!

Here’s an example of what a comparing question may look like in the AQA GCSE English Language exam – note that the question can be phrased differently, but the structure remains broadly unchanged


“For this question, you need to refer to the whole of Source A, together with the whole of Source B.

Compare how the writers convey their different attitudes towards winter


In your answer, you could:

  • compare their attitudes towards winter
  • compare the different methods the writers use to convey their attitudes
  • support your response with references to both texts.”

(16 marks)



For this question, we can say that we’re being marked on AO3:

  • AO3: Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed, across two or more texts.


So, we know which AO is being tested for this question.

However, we have to know how to approach the question itself, and identify the different skills needed to score the marks!

We can see that the question is asking us to compare a specific topic in two texts, written by two different authors.

So, we have to apply the skills we need to tackle AO3, which is all about comparison and the different approaches the authors take!



Below is another question from the AQA English Language paper to give you a better idea of how they will look, and so you know what to prepare for:


“You need to refer to Source A and Source B for this question.

The workers at the office in Source A and the workers at the warehouse on Source B have different experiences of working life.


Use details from both sources to write a summary of what you understand about the different experiences of the workers.”

(8 marks)



This question would be 8 marks, so we need to make sure we cover an appropriate amount of detail in our answer

Both parts of AO1 are being assessed here, so it is marked slightly differently to the one above:

  • Identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas
  • Select and synthesise evidence from different texts


Make sure you include strong pieces of evidence in your answer, as these will support your points!




Exam Board Variation

Which exam board you will use for your own exam is a decision that is made by your school.

However, it is good to know the subtle differences between each exam board, as it means you can use as many resources as possible to revise, and apply your knowledge to the exam board you use. 

It is important to remember that each exam board tests the same skill, which is your abilities to comprehend a text, and critically analyse it.


Most variation between exam boards happen in the specifics of different AOs, and which questions include which AOs.

However, don’t worry if questions are phrased differently, it will always be testing a specific AO point!

So, being prepared for exam board variation should be easy if you give yourself enough time.

Make sure you are familiar with the exam board your school is doing, and prepare appropriately for that one.

Using revision material for other exam boards is fine, but make sure you know to adapt this knowledge for your own exam!



Here is a comparison question from Edexcel English Language Paper 2, so you can get a feel for how questions change across papers and exam boards:


Question 7 is about Text 1 and Text 2. Answer both parts of the question. 

Refer to both texts in your answers.


A) The two texts show scenes from a music festival. 

     What similarities do these scenes share in these extracts?

     Use evidence from both texts to support your answer.

(6 marks)



B) Compare how the writers of Text 1 and Text 2 present ideas and perspectives about going to music festivals.

      You should write about:

         – the ideas and perspectives

         – how they are presented 

         – how they are similar/different

     Support your answer with detailed references to the texts.

(14 marks)



This is a two part question, with 6 marks available for A), and 14 marks available for B).

Therefore, we need to make sure we spend a bit more time on the second half

Also, when a question gives hints as to what you should include, make the most of them – they’ve been put there for a reason after all!



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