top of page

​​Paper 2 Question 2 

​​   ​

Focus: Summary of

differences/similarities                         Marks: 8                    Time: 10 mins  (2 paragraphs)























This question is all about clearly explaining differences or similarities between the two sources. You'll be told exactly which differences/similarities to look for. How well you explain (or 'summarise') them will determine your mark.


Let's look at an example question from June 2019.

You need to refer to Source A and Source B for this question.

The examiner wants you to bring together (synthesise) information from both sources. Make sure you spend the first 15 minutes of the exam reading and annotating both sources so you are ready for all the reading questions.

The writers are travelling on very different types of boats

This statement is the topic of the question. The topic that both sources share is travelling by boat. It also tells you to focus on differences.

Use details from both sources to write a summary of what you understand about the different boats.

This part brings all the instructions together. Use both sources and summarise WHAT YOU UNDERSTAND about the differences between the boats. This is important. It's not enough to state the differences. You have to say, in your own words, what you understand (or 'infer') about those differences.

Here are some example answers:

The boat in Source A is 'brand spanking new' but the boat in Source B is 'ancient'.

Level 1: It is a very simple difference taken straight from the text with no comment.

The boat in Source A is 'brand spanking new' but the boat in Source B is 'ancient'. This suggests that in Source A the boat is in good condition but in Source B it is old and could be unsafe to travel in.

Level 2: Some comment about what the student understands about the boats.

The boat in Source A is 'brand spanking new' but the boat in Source B is 'ancient'. This suggests that the boat in Source A is a well-made, modern boat in perfect condition and therefore it would be reliable and safe.  Whereas in Source B the boat is worn out and damaged by previous trips so could be less reliable and even dangerous.

Level 3: The student has clearly explained in their own words what they understand about the different boats from the evidence in the sources.

The boat in Source A is 'brand spanking new' but the boat in Source B is 'ancient'. Although this could suggest that the boat in Source A is in perfect condition, it also highlights its inexperience on the ocean and that it is somewhat untested and unpredictable. In comparison, the old boat in Source B has weathered many storms and has proven that it can survive. Despite its age and ugly appearance, it may in fact be more resilient and reliable in a storm than the newer boat.

Level 4: The student has gone beyond the obvious and come up with a perceptive difference between the boats.

Top tips!

- Use an PEE paragraph (State point- add evidence and explain what you can Infer about the difference/similarity)  In your summary you must state the differences / quote the evidence / infer.

- Use clear comparing words to show your differences/ similarities e.g. whereas, however, in comparison, similarly, likewise.

How are you marked?

There are three skills on the mark scheme:

  1. Make clear inferences from both texts.

  2. Select relevant quotes.

  3. Statements show clear differences/similarities between texts.

The skills are NOT equal. Your mark depends on how well you infer and show clear differences/similarities.


Common mistakes

  • Just summarising the text.

  • Not stating the difference/similarity clearly.

  • Writing about random topics.

  • Not making an inference.

  • Analysing language.

How to succeed

  • Find two differences / similarities and clearly explain them.

  • Check the focus of the question. What differences / similarities are you asked to find?

  • Use quotes as evidence.

  • Make a clear inference.

Further Practice
  • Go the Skills section and look at Comparing.

  • Read some marked answers to see what makes a clear Q2 answer.

bottom of page