Making comparisons is an important part of scientific thinking. It allows us to sort, classify, and organize objects, ideas and/or events into categories in meaningful ways.

Comparisons are also important in math – they allow us to figure out whether one number is larger or smaller than another. For example: If a student knows that 8 out of 10 people like chocolate ice cream (80%), she can use a comparison (comparing 80% with 100%) to figure out that if a sample of 10 people were asked if they liked chocolate ice cream, she could expect at least 8 people to say yes.

Comparisons help us to understand and organize information

We compare things every day: books, clothes, cars, people, and even ideas. Making comparisons is a way of thinking about two or more objects, ideas, or events to find out how they are the same and how they are different. Knowing this information allows students to sort, classify and organize objects, ideas, and/or events; to connect prior knowledge about them to new knowledge, and to develop appropriate comparative vocabulary in their academic writing.

Comparison is one of the major structuring techniques used by readers. It helps the learner to produce coherent text by enabling her/him to group items into categories (for example nouns) and sub-categories (for example living things). When comparing things, it is important that we build up a framework for comparison. This will help us in our comparisons, by ensuring that we include all relevant factors. In order to make comparisons between things, it is important that we do not just rely on our first impressions but look at the attributes of each thing we are comparing so that we can make an informed decision about how they are similar and how they differ from one another.

Making comparisons allows you to develop appropriate comparative vocabulary. When making a comparison, there are a number of questions that you can ask yourself: –

  • How are the objects/events similar?
  • How are they different?
  • What do I already know about the objects/events?
  • What do I want to find out about them?
  • What new information can I learn from comparing them?

Making comparisons is an important aspect of your study in science

It will help you with your GCSE Science assessments and in the development of your knowledge and understanding of science.

When we compare two things, we bring to mind shared attributes, characteristics, or features. We might notice that two things are the same or different in some way, and we can use this information to organize, categorize and make decisions. This is a useful skill when you have a lot of things to keep track of, like a list of items you need at the store or when you’re looking at a project that has multiple steps.

To make a comparison, you need to know two or more things, or two or more ideas, that you can compare.

What do we mean by ‘things’?

Things are all around us in the world and they can be seen, heard, smelled, touched, and tasted. Things can be specific characteristics, properties of a living or no-living subject or behaviors of animals, etc.

What do we mean by ‘ideas’?

Ideas are ways of thinking about things or events. Ideas tell us how to do something, how some things are related to other things, or how to solve problems. Ideas include theories (scientific ideas) about why things happen or what is happening in particular situations. Examples of scientific theories are gravity, Darwin’s theory of evolution, global warming. Ideas also include practical ideas about how to do something better or make something work better for you.

How should I make a study note with a comparison?

It is better to use tables when comparing two or more things. Lists or charts can also be used to compare two distinct subject matters.

#1 Prokaryotic cells vs Eukaryotic cell

Prokaryotic cells

  • The most primitive cells are prokaryotic cells.
  • They lack a distinct nucleus.
  • The chromatin bodies remain distributed across the cytoplasm
  • Asexual division is occurred by binary fission.
  • Size of the body smaller than eukaryotes

Eukaryotic cell

  • The nucleus is present.
  • They have organelles like mitochondria that are surrounded by membranes.
  • A nuclear membrane surrounds the chromatin bodies.
  • Both asexual and sexual division occurs in eukaryotes
  • Functionally efficiency than prokaryotes
  • larger than prokaryotes and structurally more organized

In this study technique the comparison is done by tick marks and crosses. Here, we have to list the features and compare whether each feature is available on each category. That way, it becomes clearer and easier to remember for exams.

#2 Meiosis vs Mitosis


  • There are two divisions.
  • Only occurs in diploid cells.
  • There are variations. As a result, chromosomes undergo modifications.
  • At the completion of the division, there are four daughter cells.
  • The daughter cell acquires half of the mother cell’s chromosomal number.
  • daughter cells differ from mother cells.


  • There is just one division.
  • It occurs in both diploid and haploid cells.
  • There are no exceptions.  variations.  Changes in chromosomes are rare.
  • At the end of the division, there are two daughter cells.
  • The mother cell’s chromosome number is shared by two daughter cells.
  • Daughter cells resemble mother cells.

In this comparing method two picture are compared in one study note. More details are written on each picture for better comparison.

#3 Animal cell vs Plant cell

Animal cell

  • There is no cell wall.
  • It has a high concentration of cytoplasm.
  • There is no big vacuole. (Occasionally, a few tiny vacuoles are present)
  • Absence of chloroplasts

Plant cell

  • A cell wall is present
  • There is a large vacuole or several vacuoles may present
  • The cytoplasm is pushed to the periphery of the animal cell.
  • Presence of chloroplasts

In this study technique for comparison, we are comparing more detailed features of each category. Here more texts are included and it is more convenient for descriptive topics. This method should be selected when simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ method cannot compare the two categories we are studying.

#4 Transpiration vs Guttation


  • Water released as vapor
  • Transpiration occurs through stomata
  • Happens during the day and the night
  • Due to high water potential


  • Water released as liquid
  • Occurs through hydathodes
  • Happens at night
  • Due to root pressure

Here, in this study technique one picture is used to summarize and compare two different mechanisms that take place in one moment. It enhances memory and better used by visual learners.


Comparison is an important thinking skill that we use every day. There are lots of different things that you can compare, and there are lots of different ways to do it.

In conclusion, making comparisons is an important part of scientific thinking and also occurs in mathematics. In summary, comparisons and contrasts allow us to organize and structure our thoughts in meaningful ways. They are an essential part of reading and writing, which both require that we build up a framework for which we can compare and contrast.

When making comparisons we need to base our comparisons on relevant information that is common to both of the things we are comparing. This will ensure that it is a fair and informed comparison. Making good comparisons will ensure that our work is cohesive, relevant and interesting to read.

As you can probably see, comparison is a very common feature of school exams. We have learnt that comparing things helps us to see similarities and differences between them. In the same way it is useful for us to identify and compare similarities and differences between details in text. The next time you come across an exam question asking you to compare texts or different pieces of work, don’t panic! Because now you are one step ahead of the game.

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About Author

Anuradhika Lakmali

Anuradhika Lakmali is a co-founder of Science A Plus learning network. She is working as a government teacher and has interest in chemistry, biology, phisics and self development.