Compare and Contrast Text Structure: Reading Comprehension Review Study Guide (page 3)

Updated on Aug 24, 2011


We naturally compare and contrast things every day. We do it so often that we probably don't even realize we're doing it. But we do, and so do authors. They will compare and contrast for two main reasons. One, they might want to highlight information by showing you how it stacks up against something else. Two, they might want to offer you a new perspective. Either way, it's something to look out for in the things you read.

When two or more things are being compared, their similarities are highlighted. When two or more things are being contrasted, their differences are highlighted. So how can you tell whether the author is comparing or contrasting? First, you want to look for the main idea of the passage, which, at this point, you should be getting good at finding. It should tell you whether the subject matter is being compared or contrasted. Just look for the telltale words and phrases.

Remember that there are two different ways an author might compare or contrast something: point-by-point or the block method. Point-by-point occurs when the author talks about each aspect with respect to how it relates to one thing and then how it relates to the other. It's a direct, side-by-side discussion. On the other hand, the block method occurs when the author discusses all aspects of one thing and then moves on to discuss all aspects of the second thing. You'll come across both structures as you read. It's important to be able to distinguish between them so you understand the similarities or differences the author is communicating to you.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Compare and Contrast Text Structure: Reading Comprehension Review Practice Exercises

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