O level Social Studies (Comparison Skills)

SBQ Practice for O level Social Studies: Comparison Skills

Types of comparison questions for O level Social Studies include:

  1. What are the similarities/differences…?
  2. How different/similar are the….?
  3. Do both sources agree….?

In O level Social Studies, we are supposed to compare the 2 sources in a few areas:

  1. Provenance
  2. Content
  1. For ‘How….?’ type of questions, we compare the 2 sources’ content looking at both sides i.e. differences AND similarities; but for ‘what….?’ type of questions, we only compare 1 side i.e. differences OR similarities.  (The reason is because ‘how’ represents ‘ to a degree’)
  2. When we look at content, what is important is the BASIS of comparison or matching CRITERION i.e. what are they different/similar in terms of?

E.g. A is a boy and B is a girl, so they are different in terms of GENDER.

  1. Tone
  1. For tone(s), when you say they are different, the sources must have directly opposite tones as much as possible.

E.g. Supportive VS Condemning, Optimistic VS Pessimistic, Aggressive VS Calm, Serious VS Casual

  1. Purpose
  1. For purposes, as much as possible, you are looking at the OUTCOMES of the audience i.e. when you say they have similar purpose, it implies they have similar outcomes and vice-versa.
  2. As usual, when a teacher marks purpose, he is always concerned about the 3 elements:
  3. Audience
  4. Message (what he wants audience to Know)
  • Outcome (what he wants audience to do)

A typical format to answer a comparison question is as below:

Both sources are different in terms of provenance. A is from…….. whereas B is from…….

Both are similar in terms of …(basis of comparison)…. This is seen in A where it shows …… This implies….. While B says…… this implies………, agreeing with A.

Both are different in terms of …(basis of comparison)…. This is seen in A where it shows …… This implies….. Whereas  B says…… this implies………, disagreeing with A.

Both are different in purposes. A’s purpose is to convince the …(audience)….to let them know that….(message)….This is to convince them so that they will….(outcome)…… Whereas B’s purpose is to let….(audience)….know that….(message)….This is to convince them so that they will….(outcome)….instead.

Practice Time:

Look at O level Social Studies N levels 2005 and attempt question (c).


Sources C and D have similar provenances. Both are created by South Koreans.

Both are similar in terms of showing that North Korean warships were the culprits for the naval clash. This is seen in source C where the map shows North Korea warships crossing the NLL into South Korean waters and this is also shown in source D where it says that ‘A north Korean warship crossed the NLL and opened fire…” This implies that both sources agree that N.Korean warships were in the wrong by crossing over the NLL and thus to be blamed.

Both are different in terms of showing whether South Korea was at fault for the clash. Source C shows South Korea fishing boats in North Korean waters, implying that South Koreans also played a part in the Naval clash by crossing the NLL whereas D says that “no South Korean fishing or military vessels crossed the NLL…” disagreeing with C that there was any fault on the South Koreans’ part, that no South Korean ship crossed the border at all.

Both have similar purposes. Both were South Korean sources, mainly addressed to South Koreans to let them know that it was the  North Koreas’ fault in starting the naval clash and through this, both sources ‘ creators hope that the South Koreans will rally together and condemn the North Koreans for starting the naval clash.



All the best for your O level Social Studies (2272/2273) revision. Please feel free to contact me at 90104931 or aceyoursocialstudies@gmail.com or visit my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Olevelsocialstudies/ for more resources!