What is the Comparative Study?

What is the Comparative Study?


A Look at what the Comparative Study is all about

What is the Comparative Study?

The Comparative Study question appears on Paper II of the Leaving Certificate English exam each year. It is worth 70 marks, making it the highest scoring question on Paper II, and is worth 17.5% of the overall grade in English.


For the Comparative Study, students study three texts from the prescribed list and compare them under the Comparative Study Modes (also set out in the list of prescribed texts each year).

The Comparative Study modes are as follows:

Higher Level


Cultural Context (the world of the text)
Literary Genre (the way the story is told)
General Vision and Viewpoint (the author’s outlook or view of life)

Ordinary Level



Social Setting (the world of the text)

Hero, Heroine, Villain (a character study of one character per text)

Each year, three of the four Comparative Study modes are selected for study. Of these three modes or headings, two will appear on the exam paper (with a choice of two possible questions per mode. This means that a total of four questions appear on the exam each year, and candidates do one). Therefore, one of the modes is absent from the exam each year.

The focus for this part of the course is on comparing texts – focusing on how they are the same and how they are different in relation to each of the modes.

You don’t need to know everything about each text, the emphasis is on the quality of the comparisons you can make between your texts.

The idea is not to simply list similarities and differences, but to look at these similarities and differences in detail, relating them to the required mode and the question that appears in the exam.

It is tricky at first, as this type of comparing requires analysis and evaluation, and you need to be able to express your own point of view. With practice, making comparisons becomes easier, so as with all areas of the course, practising responding to questions is very helpful.

Classroom Questions with Comparative Study

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