Three Galerkin methods—continuous Galerkin, Compact Discontinuous Galerkin, and hybridizable discontinuous Galerkin—are compared in terms of performance and computational efficiency in 2-D scattering problems for low and high-order polynomial approximations. The total number of DOFs and the total runtime are used for this correlation as well as the corresponding precision. The comparison is carried out through various numerical examples. The superior performance of high-order elements is shown. At the same time, similar capabilities are shown for continuous Galerkin and hybridizable discontinuous Galerkin, when high-order elements are adopted, both of them clearly outperforming compact discontinuous Galerkin. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.