The ability to compare and contrast is one of the most important and challenging skills to master for the AQA GCSE 9 to 1 English Language and English Literature. Previously compare and contrast techniques was tested only by Controlled Assessment in one of the four units of English Literature: now it reaches across both specifications as detailed below. It takes on much greater significance because some reading passages in AQA GCSE English Language and English Literature are unseen.(See Edusites AQA Unseen Anthologies for Fiction, Non Fiction and Poetry)
Where Compare and Contrast Fits
With the 9 to 1 specifications it makes sense to start with the original DfE curriculum order.
AQA English Language GCSE: Bullets 2 & 4
‘synthesise’: combine elements into a whole
‘compare’/ ‘contrast’: estimate the similarity/ dissimilarity of two things
In practice bullet 2 is represented as part of AO1 and bullet 4 is wholly represented as AO3.
AQA, Edexcel, Eduqas, OCR: the objectives are expressed in exactly the same words:
AO1 - Identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas. Select and synthesise evidence from different texts
AO3 - Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed, across two or more texts
However, they appear in different ways in each Board’s Specifications.
Select and synthesise evidence from two or more texts.
This is essentially to do with the location and reorganisation of information across two texts by way of recognizing common and/or contrasting facts.
AQA: Paper 2, question 2
Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed, across two or more texts.
This is essentially is a comparison and/ or contrast of topic, theme and style across the two texts.
AQA: Paper 2, question 4
English Literature: ‘reading comprehension and reading critically’
Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry. There are comparison questions for those choosing the Anthology of short stories and:
Part 2 a question asking for comparison of two poems from the anthology, one a named poem and the other a poem of the candidate’s choice. And….
a question asking for comparison of two named poems.
What is and is Not Wanted: A Variety of Styles
To repeat what is stated above, this is a difficult skill to undertake at the best of times, let alone in the stressful environment of a terminal examination.
Regular and graduated practice is needed in order that students can discover and develop the style of comparison and contrast that works best for them. This is an essential part of the preparation.
The strongest candidates use comparison and contrast as a part of the process of analysis in the course of talking and writing about what they have read, so for some, this is a developed, or, at any rate, a developing skill. However, there will be many students for whom this is a new skill to master.
Register now for our subject updates and FREE instant access to this article.
Already registered? Login below to continue reading this article.
Edusites English (GCSE or IGCSE) 9-1 (Language or Literature) is the place for teachers looking for ideas and information to work with students identifying and interpreting writers' effects. Edusites English continuing professional development supports whole departments to form a critical difference in vocabulary, grammatical features and structural texts.
Join Edusites English for AQA English Literature and English Language constantly evolving in collaboration with trusted teachers, specialists and academics, always with your classroom in mind. Edusites is renowned for subject expertise and targeted resources – including support for post-16 and resit teachers.
As part of our new blogs series from teachers who are using Edusites in their classrooms we are delighted that Helen has shared her experience of sitting timed questions with students. There is something wonderful about sitting papers along with students, not least because it causes the classroom to be filled with a group dynamic of concentrated hush...
AQA make clear their ‘take’ on context which starts life in the DfE curriculum order of 2013: under the heading ‘reading comprehension and reading critically’ there are the following bullet points:literal and inferential comprehension: understand a word, phrase or sentence in context critical reading: identify the theme and distinguish between themes; support a point of view by referring to evidence in the text; using understanding of writers’ social, historical and cultural contexts to inform evaluation…of the text.
In English Language the section dedicated to critical reading and comprehension states that students should ‘draw inferences and justify these with evidence; support a point of view by referring to evidence within the text…’.In Assessment Objective AO2 there is the clear injunction: ‘use relevant subject terminology to support their views’. Assessment Objective AO4 asks them to ‘evaluate texts critically’: the questions for this will lead them towards such evaluation.
A sample section of Edusites English AQA Unseen Poetry Anthology. Includes an introduction around meaning, discussion points for the classroom and teaching tips for two poems. Top Examiner Tips look at what is required in answering unseen poems in terms of the assessment objectives, structuring a response, how to reference effectively and how to compare and contrast. Includes practice exam questions, using the poems, written as per AQA body structure and style.
In addition to these exam papers, Edusites has moderation videos, 360-degree analyses of how and why marks are awarded, for teacher and students to develop their skills.
Edusites English is the place to find English GCSE and IGCSE Language exams. But our exams, written by language experts, are not just about weighing the pig we have smart resources to fatten it too...
The Tibbets Paper 1 was sat in the Summer of 2018. The second of our feedback documents comes to you as a booklet which can be printed off for all of your students after sitting the exam for them to gain skills to apply in their next attempt.
GCSE English Language Exam Paper help from our expert Grainne Hallahan using a scientific method to get results! Like a juicy little nut that needs to be opened, the new Language paper landed in our inboxes in 2015, quite a different beast compared to its predecessor.
This layout allows for the connections to be made between words and leaves space for students to write down modeled examples of sentences that had the flexibility to be inserted into their writing regardless of the question. We looked at the patterns, links and the etymology of the words. We spent the lesson thinking about how to use each word effectively and the way that some words had nuanced meaning.