Exam technique – “Compare” questions

A compare question is asking you to describe the similarities and differences between things.  Comparisons should refer to both things that you are expected to compare.

Some words and phrases that can be useful to answer compare questions (x and y refer to the things you are comparing)

  • x is bigger than y
  • x is more/less ____________ than y
  • …whereas…
  • …also…
  • similarly…
  • by contrast…
  • …the same as…
  • On the other hand…
  • x does…. but y doesn’t

For example…

Compare Miss Jackson with Mr Gale.

Both Miss Jackson and Mr Gale are science teachers.  

Miss Jackson is shorter than Mr Gale.

Mr Gale is male whereas Miss Jackson is female.  

Miss Jackson is a Biology specialist.  By contrast, Mr Gale is a Chemistry specialist.  

Miss Jackson often wears skirts whereas Mr Gale doesn’t.

Mr Gale has less hair than Miss Jackson.


Note how each of these comparisons refers to both Miss Jackson and Mr Gale whilst using a comparative term to distinguish between them.  It is sentences like these that will get you marks in a Compare question!


One thought on “Exam technique – “Compare” questions

  1. […] a compare question.  Most of your marks will be gained from comparing two different things (see Exam technique – compare questions).  However, you will also be expected to decide which of the two things is better and explain […]

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