How to Write Compare & Contrast Essay - a Complete Guide
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Compare and Contrast Essays

Compare and contrast essays are a common form of academic writing in High school, college, and Universities. In your learning journey, students are required to write different types of assignments that have specific requirements. You need to be straight forward when writing compare and contrast essay and analyze the similarities and differences of a given topic in details. Also, ensure you have enough ideas, points, and concepts before you start a compare and contrast essay.

You should also keep in mind that compare and contrast essays can sometimes get difficult, although generally this type of essays is not so hard to deal with. In case if you’re experiencing difficulties, we recommend you to give essay writing at WriteAnyPapers a try. Who wouldn’t want to get a perfect essay without any effort, right?

What is compare and contrast essays

Compare and contrast essay for college, high school, or university have a common approach in which the student examines how things, ideas, or concepts are similar. Contrasting involves exploring how the ideas, concepts, or topics differ. This essay, therefore, examines the similarities and differences of two or more topics, ideas, or concepts.  While giving an assignment on this essay, the lecturer wants to test your understanding of a given method, topic, concept, novel, and historical concepts, among other things. Such assays may be compared and contrast while at times may be either comparison only or contrasting. Such kind of essays only requires the student to examine the similarities alone or the differences alone.

Compare and contrast essay structure and outline

Students should ensure that they fully understand the outline, structure, and format of the compare and contrast essay before they start the writing. You can write an outline in a general format like the one provided here, or perhaps use a specific outline provided by your teacher. In this regard, there are two different ways that one is expected to follow in structuring compare and contrast essays. These methods include the use of block paragraphs and point to point structures.

Compare and contrast essay structures: block vs. point-by-point paragraphs

Block

In the block structure approach, you are supposed to give all the information concerning topic, idea, or concept you are comparing and contrasting first followed by the information about the other objects.  This structure is similar to the block structure that is commonly used when writing problem-solution and cause-effect essays.

In block structure, also known as subject-by-subject structures involves saying everything you want about your first subject and then proceeds to make the points you wish to talk about in the second subject. The subsequent subjects then follow this approach. In short essays, it may be possible to fit all the ideas you are comparing is single paragraphs, but in longer papers, you can develop subsequent paragraphs about the same subject.

However, using block structure is prone to some challenges since the paper may be listing a mere list highlighting points about a given subject and them highlighting contra points about another subject. However, this is not what your professor or instructor is looking for in your paper. Your instructor requires you to compare or contrast two or more items directly as opposed to merely listing then and expecting your readers to decode or internalize the traits that are different and those that are similar and why. Therefore, when the student is using subject-by-subject for comparison, they need to the developed an informed and analytical thesis statement as the last sentence of their introduction paragraph that ties the different points together.

Block comparison is preferred when writing lens comparison. In this essay, students use an item or subject that is not considered as the main topic to better understand another item.  For instance, when you are asked to compare a song or story, you have covered in class with another one, which you were asked to read on your own. Here, you give a thorough description of your argument. This is followed by evidence and fact support for your essay. Remember to give examples to show the differences and similarities of your idea.

Point-by-Point

In point to point structure, one compares and contrasts the ideas on point to point basis. Different approaches are used based on what you want to compare. When writing a short essay, one paragraph is enough; however, when you have much to say, you can devote several paragraphs. Using this format will help you to develop a good topic sentence and transition among the paragraphs. As such, the student understands the structure required in the essay and can develop a clear thesis statement for the paper.

Compare and contrast essay thesis

One of the important things when writing this essay is to develop a clear compare and contrast essay thesis statement. Having a well-formulated thesis statement helps a student to develop a well-focused argumentative paper that gives the reader a roadmap about what the paper is about. This helps to prevent them from getting lost along the way and gains an understanding of the points you are about to make.

A thesis statement helps you to avoid vague reports from a general topic to a more specific one. It is important for the student to understand that the instructor is looking for in-depth analysis. It is also good to link the topic with the content learned from class to help you come up with stronger arguments.

If you can’t come up with an idea for your essay, we strongly recommend you to use our list of compare and contrast essay topics. Here you can pick up a topic that suits your needs perfectly.

How to write a compare and contrast essay

There are some series of steps that need to be observed while writing a your paper. To develop an excellent essay, you need to list the differences and similarities between the topics or subjects but rather focus on deducing meaningful arguments. You should focus on the following steps when writing a compare and contrast essay.

Step 1. Recognize comparison and contrast in this assignment

The student should ensure to understand the areas of differences and similarities and how to compare them before writing a compare and contrast essay. Therefore, the two subjects must have similarities and differences. A good example is an essay where a college student is required to write about two different historical figures. It is recommended that one should show two great historical artists as opposed to selecting a politician and an artist.

A guide on how to write a compare and contrast essay

Step 2. Discover similarities and differences

The first step that a student should take before writing a compare and contrast essay is to brainstorm.  Brainstorming enables you to develop strong points regarding differences and similarities about the topic. The student should brainstorm about the similarities and differences of the given topic or subject. This is done through developing a list of differences and another one highlighting the similarities. For instance, you can develop two overwrapping circles for the topic you are comparing.

Step 3. Decide your organization structure

There are many approaches used in structuring compare and contrast essay; for instance, you can start by writing one subject using as many details as possible and then switching to another topic. For example, in comparing the different qualities between men and women, you can choose to be specific about each party and then present what is common among them. In the next session, it is recommended to focus on the qualities that are common among men. In other cases, you can use point to point throughout your essay. For example, you can first deal with similarities and then focus on the differences. Your first body paragraph may read, “The male and female brain is alike, and both men and women perform better when they feel appreciated and valued.”  Regardless of the approach you chose, it is recommended that a student should decide on the structure that builds up a sense for their argument.

Step 4. Write an outline

Compare and contrast essay outline should be well crafted and developed to ensure that it fits in the chosen structure. The basic format of writing an essay includes an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and a conclusion, writing a compare and contrast essay uses the same approach but should include sufficient body paragraphs to support your claims. You can use the following outline as an example and template for your compare and contrast essay:

Compare and contrast essay outline example

Step 5. Write an introduction

You should develop a captivating introduction paragraph for compare and contrast essay that gives insight to the reader concerning what your essay is about. This is the first paragraph of your essay that provides general information or an overview of your essay. The introduction paragraph should have a general overview of your topic and how you will narrow down your thoughts and arguments to one point. In your last paragraph, you should develop a thesis statement, which gives a trajectory or direction that your essay will take.

Step 6. Write a body

Body paragraphs and the main content parts of your essay and forms the meat to your essay where you provide evidence and details that you make or develop. The claims made are also supported by supporting evidence or facts from research and findings made in various research or discoveries. While writing a compare and contrast essay, ensure that all your body paragraphs have topic sentences which introduces your claim. You should ensure that each section of your body paragraph tackles a given aspect or claim or idea that you will discuss in that paragraph. The subsequent sentences in the paragraph not only provide but also analyze the evidence focused on providing a connection between the proofs and the thesis statement made in your introduction. The common essays among high school, university and colleges contain three major parts starting with the introduction, body, and conclusion paragraph. However, in other cases, students may be required to use as many body paragraphs as possible to support their arguments.

Step 7. Make a conclusion

The concluding paragraph summarizes the evidence provided in the essay. Start by reinstating your thesis statement to offer additional information than in the introduction part. At this point, you should understand that your audience has more information you presented in the essay and the solid arguments discussed to support your claim. Therefore, as opposed to just rewording your thesis statement, you should take an extra mile by stating its importance in future research and development and how it informs the subject you were comparing and contrasting.

Tips for writing a compare and contrast paper

Use comparison and contrast transition words

You should ensure to incorporate transition words in your compare and contrast essay to signal the shift from one idea to another. The transition words show the similarities and differences such that it is easy to follow. Some of the words used to show similarities include; likewise, similarly, also, to be like, just like, both, and, among others; while words used to denote the differences or contrast are; however, in contrast, whereas, in comparison, to be different, while just but to mention a few.

Fill in supportive evidence

As you write your essay, support the claim you make with evidence from research personal experience as well as readings you have made in that subject or topic. When asked to enumerate about the differences and similarities based on Shakespeare and Keats from their poems, be sure to include supporting evidence and explanation to your claims and points and reference them correctly.

Proofread and revise carefully

In writing compare and contrast essay, you should carefully proofread and revise your paper to eliminate possible punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors. Therefore, you are recommended to use grammar and spell checks tools in your word program and have a peer go through your paper to identify some of the mistakes you might have missed. In most cases, it is difficult to identify some hidden errors because we lack objectivity while proofreading our work.

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