Comparing Texts - Question and extracts

You will be presented with two non-fiction texts in your exam. They could come from the 19th, 20th or 21st centuries. The language used will reflect the time and society in which the piece was written.

The extracts in your exam questions will be longer than the examples here. You will be asked questions about each text individually and you will also be asked to make a close comparison of the two pieces.

Read each text carefully before you begin to write your answers. Note any similarities or differences in the attitudes and ideas conveyed as well as the language and structure used.

When you write your answer, remember to link each point to a quotation.

Here are a series of sample responses. You might try to improve or expand on each one as part of your revision and preparation.


Compare how the two writers convey their attitudes towards food and the people they are visiting.

In your answer you should:

  • compare their different attitudes
  • compare the methods they use to convey their attitudes
  • support your ideas with references to both texts

Extract A

Here is an extract from a cookery book published in 1855, Soyer’s Shilling Cookery for the People. The writer, Alexis Soyer describes a visit to a house in St Giles, a poor area of London.

Having but little confidence in what they would provide, I bought a quarter of a pound of ground coffee, intending giving them a lesson in how to make coffee. On my arrival, I was received like a princess in a fairy land. The little parlour was not only clean, but ornamented, at a cost of a few pence, with wall flowers from the neighbouring garden (the best in the world, Covent Garden), generously dispensing their perfume over pyramids of muffins and crumpets. Having cordially shaken hands with my host, I set cheerfully to work, and got hold of an old pitcher, but clean; in it I put the coffee and placed it close before the fire, begging the old lady to keep turning it round, and stirring it til the powder was hot. I then poured three quarts of boiling water, allowed it to stand for ten minutes, and then poured it out into the cups, with the best milk that could be got, and sugar.

Soyer’s Shilling Cookery for the People, Alexis Soyer

Extract B

Here is an extract from a restaurant review written in 2016.

I reserved our table three months ago. This might seem extreme. But if you’re going to eat at a restaurant where the food is hand-picked from its very own walled-garden, I’ve discovered that a window seat is essential. I like to see precisely where my food has come from. And I’m convinced it makes the flavours more intense.

Besides, (restaurant name) has developed such a reputation for quality that if you don’t get your booking in quick, you won’t get a table at all.

It’s the first time my dining companion has been here. She is suitably wowed by the winding lanes we walk down to reach the restaurant. (It seems too ironic to drive to an establishment where the food miles are practically zero.) And she’s impressed by the view of the Mendips that greets us at the gate.

Before we go indoors, we wander through the walled-garden, admiring rows of velvety Cavolo Nero, feathered plumes of carrots, earthy globes of beets. This really is food at its freshest.

At the door we are welcomed by the most cheerful waiter I’ve ever met. His broad smile and enthusiastic discussion of the menu suggest that this is someone entirely suited to his work. I trust him immediately. In fact he makes me want to throw caution to the wind and I find myself forgoing choice completely and entrusting him to recommend a starter and a main.

‘Are you feeling OK?’ asks my companion.

‘Don’t worry,’ I say. ‘I’ll choose my own dessert.’

Restaurant review, 2016