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Teacher Guide to GCSE English Language and Literature: How to Compare and Contrast

Chris Barcock | Thursday December 01, 2016


This is one of the most important and challenging skills to master in preparing for the ‘new’ GCSEs in both English Language and English Literature. Previously it 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:

The reading passages in English Language are all unseen

Some of the texts in English Literature are unseen.

Where It Fits

We start with the original DfE curriculum order.

English Language: Bullets 2 & 4

Bullet 2

  • summary and synthesis: identifying the main theme or themes, summarizing ideas and information from a single text; synthesizing from more than one text

Bullet 4

  • comparing texts: comparing two or more texts critically with respect to the rest of the statements about critical reading and comprehension.

‘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

Edexcel Paper 2, question 7 a.

Eduqas Paper 2, question 5

OCR Paper 1, question 1 b.

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

This is essentially is a comparison...

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