This section focuses on writing Comparative Text Response essays, and it is divided into sections below

What is the task?

On the surface level, Comparative Text Response might seem like two ‘mini’ text response essays merged together. And while this is somewhat true, a key difference is that you are required to make comparisons between the two texts. 

 In text response, we covered the importance of asking ‘WHY’ , which refer to: 

  • a) WHY does the author phrase something in a particular way (e.g. does this quote or symbol allude to another meaning?). This is dependent on the text. 
  • b) WHY does this example (that you have chosen) link to the overall essay prompt? This is dependent on the essay topic. 

And for comparative, in addition to doing this, we also need to draw similarities and differences between key features of both texts. Hence, we also need to ask…

  • c) WHY/HOW is this idea in Text A similar / different to this idea in Text B 


The basic building block

As mentioned in the other sections, the HOW-WHAT-WHY structure will be also used here. Here is a refresher of what each part means. 

HOWhow does the author present their ideas (i.e.  provide an example of a quotes or literary technique)  

WHAT what idea is the author trying to convey (i.e. what is the author saying about the topic)

WHYwhy does the author phrase something in a particular way AND why does this link to the topic 

Here is an example of a 2 x HOW-WHAT-WHY, with a comparative sentence joining the two. And although the exact form of comparison can differ (you can choose a variety of approaches), below is just one possible way of comparing. 

In (the first text), the characters are deprived of basic  human rights and were equated with “stocks” and “chattel,” highlighting the consequences of entrenched racism.  Mirroring the lack of freedom given to the characters in the (first text), the (second text) uses a stand-up comedy styled scene, which illustrates the absurdity of the limitations that society imposes on those “deemed inferior” 

The underlined sentence in blue shows a comparison of one aspect between the two texts. It is best to avoid generic terms such as “Similarly” or “Contrastingly” and instead specify what exactly is similar or contrasting e.g. “Similar to the hopeless nature of resistance in the first text, the second text also says that…”


Here's how to prepare for this task:

Now let's see the essay structure in action with some high-scoring sample essays

Here are two sample essays for two different texts

So we've shown how you can write an essay, but can you plan for any topic you might come across? Let's see!