in English Language, Essay Technique, Writing Skills

Question 4 is one of the hardest questions on the whole AQA Language Paper 2!

You have to write a full comparative essay, but you don’t have much time to complete it (I advise spending around 20-25 mins maximum). Below I’ll go through some tips to help you get the very best results without spending too long on the question!


Thanks for reading – if you need more help with GCSE English Language exams, you can check out our full courses below:

AQA Language Paper 1

AQA Language Paper 2

Basic Descriptive Writing

Advanced Descriptive Writing

TIP 1: Identify the attitudes or beliefs in the texts separately.

  • This means that you should go through text A, find the ideas you want, then go through Text B and do the same
  • After you’ve got the separate ideas, then you can start to find comparisons or contrasts between them
  • Turn these into three clear points that compare / contrast the texts in a single sentence each.

TIP 2: Find one quotation per text, per point.

  • Keep your quotes short and clear
  • If you’re aiming for high marks, you can synthesise a few short quotes together – as I’ve done below

TIP 3: Write a clear, single sentence thesis – see my example below

Thesis: Although both Scott and Bird are extremely driven by the thrill of travelling, it seems that Scott is more of an explorer who needs to discover new wild places, whereas Bird prefers to travel around the world and document her experiences of people and cultures. 

TIP 4: For the middle paragraphs, make sure to keep your structuring clear and equally balanced between both texts. Here’s an example I wrote so you can see how the structuring should work:

Firstly, both writers find travel and exploration very exciting. Scott is energised in the first diary extract, stating that ‘wild doings in wild countries appeal to us as nothing else could do’ – speaking of Meares, who has ‘the spirit of the wanderer’ in him, Scott seems to greatly admire the type of person who loves to explore nature and wilderness, as he also recognises this as part of his own character. Bird focuses more on her internal connection with the landscape than on her relationship to other explorers, as she describes seeing the harbour of Tokyo for the first time as if it was a beautiful painting: ‘The day was soft and grey with a little faint blue sky’, ‘broken wooden ridges’ and ‘deep-roofed villages’, ‘terraces of rice cultivation, bright with the greenness of English lawns,’  and ‘upland forest’. This use of visual imagery conveys her strong connection to the landscape, as well as her desire to connect what she is seeing to something familiar that would be found back in England, such as the rice fields looking like ‘English lawns’. Though Scott finds ‘wild’ landscapes thrilling, and Bird seems to try and familiarise herself more with populated places, both ultimately are fascinated and energised by the idea of travelling. 

The conclusion should just be a single sentence summary of your main thoughts and ideas on the question, drawing together the most important similarities or differences.

AQA English Language Paper 2 Writing A*/L9 + Example Answer


And that’s it! I hope that’s made the question easier for you, if you’re looking for more specific help on the English GCSE papers you can check out our full courses below:

AQA Language Paper 1

AQA Language Paper 2

Basic Descriptive Writing

Advanced Descriptive Writing

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