Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Help in English compare and contrast essay?

Recommended Posts

Guest HairtUB

Hey guys, I'm desperate :(

I have an English exam tomorrow where I have to compare and contrast two texts and I'm not really good at it. Do you guys have some helpful tips? Maybe regarding the structure of the essay? I don't really care about using sophisticated words and fancy phrases, I just want a simple structured, not confusing essay. That's good enough for me. So, just any tips you can think of? Thank you.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Well uhm, you could search for similar themes and maybe similar tones. what both writers are trying to convey to the readers. The effect. Then you can look at how both the extracts are dissimilar. Like you could say 'although the themes in both books are very much the same, the authors in both texts portray them differently.' Or something like that. You could also mention tone and mood.

I'm sorry if it sounds so obvious lol. I hope i helped! :D good luck with it tomorrow!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

My best advice for Paper 1 is to focus on the text type, audience and purpose. Constantly refer to these 3 elements, as these are supposed to be the core of your essay. (I think the mark scheme explicitly states this, but I'm not too sure.) And purpose is the core of the core - always, always refer to purpose to keep your essay relevant.

Also, write about the features of the piece(s) (depending if you're HL or SL): what is the graphology like? what is the language like? when were the pieces written, and what are the contexts of those eras? A key but obvious point is whether the piece is non-fiction and fiction; I think the IB tends to give out that combination more than a non-fiction/non-fiction paper.

BUT do not mention features about the texts if they are not a) relevant to text type, audience and purpose, or b) you do not have anything else to say other than stating that point.

e.g. The name "Operation Migration" uses assonance. VS The name "Operation Migration" uses assonance in order to have a similar sounding name that would be easily remembered, and the 'rhyme' of the name is similar to rhymes from children's stories. Perhaps the use of the children story rhymes is to emphasise the youth and vulnerableness of the animals, to highlight the purpose of the piece, which is to persuade the readers of National Geographic to support the cause of "Operation Migration".

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

You should try to organise your commentaries around themes or literary devices.

Pick an overarching theme that connects both texts to the questions, what jumps out at you the most and how to decide that this idea is the one you want to pursue as the main idea, is, in my opinion, the most important part of writing a literary essay.

Once the theme is picked, devise your thesis statement and write it out in your introductory paragraph.

Each subsequent body paragraph should address SADIST: Style/Structure; Author's Intent; Diction/Dialogue; Imagery (Visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, gustatory, food, colour, shape, geometric, etc); Symbolism/Simile/Metaphors; and Tone/Mood.

These ideas should be addressed in any commentary or essay you write in every body paragraph. Your body paragraphs should ideally be in this format:

1. Opening line is a topic sentence which explains point X that relates back to your thesis.

2. You then present your argument of how point X is related to your thesis.

3. Use evidence (Style, Imagery, Diction, Symbolism/Simile/Metaphors) from Text 1.

4. Then use evidence for the same point for Text 2.

5. Analyse the evidence (what is the effect on the tone? Mood? What was the Author's Intent?) for each text.

6. Is your analysis rendering the same conclusion for Text 1 and 2; if so, why? If not, why?

7. Concluding sentence about how this relates back to your thesis.

SADIST is of course not an exhaustive list, it's merely to help you organise yourself and is meant to be a reference point at best, you can always bring in the whole host of literary devices: pathetic fallacies, atmosphere, allusions, double entendres, personifications, apostrophes, punctuation determination, etc., the list is endless.

Again, all 7 points should not be forced into one paragraph each. Essentially, with a compare and contrast essay, you should have two broad points to support your thesis. Each point should refer to both Text 1 and 2, it should draw on evidence (in the form of quotes) from both texts (so Steps 1-4). You should then begin a new paragraph for your analysis of the aforementioned quotes (Step 5). Finally, a third paragraph for the comparing and contrasting of the analyses of evidence from both texts with a single concluding sentence that connects the entire point to your thesis (Steps 6 and 7). Then repeat the entire process again for your second subthesis.

This is not the only method or structure you could use for a compare and contrast essay, but this is a standard one that can work well for most essays when you feel like you're floundering.

I hope that helps.

Best of luck for your test,


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there.

Can anyone provide a smaple question of comparitive essay for English A, i.e. picture and a text?

You're probably best off asking your English teacher. English Literature & Language is a new subject this year, so I think the first people taking it will be people with exams in May 2013. Therefore none of us have ever actually seen one of the papers before - seeing as Literature traditionally involves words and doesn't sidestep away into the easy land of pictures that is 'Language', I'm guessing you're a Lit&Lang student :P

The IB do sometimes release a sample paper for syllabus changes, which your teacher might have access to if one exists. You could also try googling it. But yeah, I'd ask your teacher if they can give you any idea what the paper's going to look like.

Also as a side note, remember that sharing of any past papers/papers generated by the IBO via IBS is forbidden as past papers are copyrighted material that the IBO expects you to be willing to pay outrageous sums of cash for from their online store. So, don't post them here please, even if you find them.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...