Comparative analysis

Also known as multiple source analysis.

Comparative analysis

Sometimes the Language Analysis task is presented not just as a single piece, but several. In VCAA exams, this has happened twice: once in 2011 as a blog with several reader comments, and again in 2014 where it was an article with a letter written in response. There are any number of ways that pieces could be combined so that you are expected to analyse more than one opinion, for example, a debate between two people or competing letters-to-the-editor.

There’s a number of ways you could approach writing a comparative analysis but it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

  • You do not need to dedicate equal time to the different pieces: focus on what seems important and persuasive
  • Don’t lose sight of individual contentions and tones just because you have more than one piece to analyse: you still must identify what the specific argument being put forward is
  • How do these pieces relate to one another: you are not analysing pieces in a vacuum with no relation to one another!

Points of comparison

You should also keep in mind that this is a comparative task and you are expected to show understanding of what is the same and different between the pieces. Things that could be compared between the pieces are:

  • Form (for example, is one an article while another is a comment or a cartoon?)
  • Contention
  • Arguments (even if they come to the same conclusion in terms of the contention, they may have different arguments for why that is the case)
  • Tone
  • Focus (for example, one might focus on the health consequences while another is fixated by the environmental problems)
  • Blame group (is there a particular person or group that the different writers target as responsible)
  • Style (such as conversational versus formal)
  • Techniques

Make sure you acknowledge what the common thread is within your introduction. Show the assessor that you understand what the issue is that has motivated all of these different voices to persuade.