compare contrast essay

Compare and Contrast Essay | The Definitive Guide

You must already be familiar with multiple writing development styles in the several years that you have spent writing an academic essay. One of the most popular among them is where you list down similarities and differences of certain things or ideas. This type of writing is more commonly known as the compare contrast essay

Since teachers primarily use this type of writing in evaluating if you understand the concepts you have learned in class, you can’t just throw a list of facts in a sheet of paper and submit it hoping to get an A. You have to do thorough research before you can draft your work. For those who are clueless about how to write a compare and contrast essay, you may seek the help of paper writing services for your work to have a better structure. But if you are really devoted to enhancing your writing skills, you came to the right page.

In this article, we will share some essential tips and steps for you to write a compare contrast essay that can get an A from your teacher. We have also included a sample of this type of paper to serve as your guide.

What is a compare and contrast essay?

First things first, let us define what a compare and contrast essay is. This type of writing is focused on discussing similarities and differences of things, ideas, concepts, etc. Comparing means you list down what is common among two or more things while contrasting is differentiating them. 

Contrary to what most students think,  a good essay does not only involve listing down facts. This also requires careful analysis because you have to write your thesis statement and give your reader a clear picture of the two’s connection. 

Steps in writing a compare and contrast essay

If you are finding it difficult to write a compare contrast essay, this is the answer to your problem! You will find this useful especially in writing for the SAT or ACT writing test. This is a definitive guide on how you can start the writing process so if you are interested to learn more, read on.

Step 1. Choose what you will compare

If your teacher did not assign the topic you will write about, you have to research and carefully weigh down your options. Usually, the best topics that you should use in showing how to write a compare and contrast essay is something that surprises the reader or shares something that will make the reader think. Here are some excellent compare contrast essay topics:

  • Generation Y vs. Generation Z
  • Left-brained vs. Right-brained
  • Vegetarians vs. Vegans
  • Extroverts vs. Introverts

Step 2. Research the similarities and differences of your topic

Before writing your essay, it is also essential that you research your subjects first. This will help you develop your paper’s structure and help you in writing your thesis statement. It would be hard to write a compare and contrast essay without having preliminary facts in hand. So do a fast web search and write it down.

Step 3. Use a Venn diagram or any visual aid to map out facts

The best way to organize your essay’s content is by using visual aids such as a Venn diagram. Through using two overlapping circles, you will find out their exact differences and similarities, which are crucial for the type of essay that you are writing. If you do not prefer using a Venn diagram, you can always use a table in listing down the facts you have gathered. Just make sure to add another column for your analysis.

Step 4. Decide on your main argument

Like what we have mentioned at the beginning of this article, a compare and contrast essay is not just a list of facts. You would also have to analyze your findings and point out what you find striking and relevant. A good compare contrast essay has a strong thesis statement that summarizes the whole goal of your paper.

Step 5. Decide what structure or organizational technique you will use

There are many organizational techniques you can employ in writing your essay. You can write all the facts about the first subject in the first few paragraphs and then switch to the other in the remaining paragraphs. Alternatively, you can write a single fact about your first subject and then desceibe the other subject in the same paragraph. Here is a more detailed list and explanation of these techniques.

Alternating Method

The Alternating Method is also known as the Point by Point. Rather than describing your subject one at a time, you also give analysis by comparing them. For instance, if you are writing about the difference of Black Pitbull to a Merle Pitbull, you can start with differentiating their colors. Afterwards, you differentiate their grooming needs, and in the third paragraph, you compare their temperament. 

Block Method

The Block Method or Subject by Subject Method is a writing technique where you write down all your discoveries about your first subject in the first few paragraphs without mentioning anything about your other subject. Let’s say you are writing about the similarities and differences of an Aussiedoodle to a Poodle. In the first paragraph you write down the breeding history of an Aussiedoodle, in the second paragraph you write about how to properly groom it, and in the third paragraph you talk about its temperament. After finishing your description of the Aussiedoodle, your succeeding paragraphs will talk about the Poodle. The content of the paragraphs that you will alott for the poodle should have the same theme as the former pet that you have described.

Combination Method

Basically, the combination method is using both alternating and block method. You just have to make sure that your words flow nicely, or else, you will sound like you do not what you are writing.

Step 6. Create a compare and contrast essay outline

After researching and figuring out the organizational technique you are going to use, it’s now time to structure your essay. Here’s what your paper should contain:

1. Introduction

The introduction should give the reader a brief background of the subjects you are going to compare. It should be catchy and it should motivate the reader to finish your whole paper.

2. Thesis statement

The thesis statement contains your main argument. Do the similarities and differences of your subjects signify anything? Did you find out any striking differences that people should know about? Explain this in one to two sentences.

3. Body

The body is where you apply the techniques we have discussed earlier.  You can choose to present the facts using the block method or you can employ the subject by subject technique. Just figure out what works best for your subject and you find easier to write. Also, do not forget to include relevant evidences.

4. Conclusion

The conclusion is where you wrap up your whole paper in one to two short paragraphs. Draw all your main points together and present a good analysis that supports your claim. Do not present new facts as it will just confuse your reader.

Step 7. Include evidence to support your claim

We know we have mentioned this several times now in this blog but we are saying it again. Back up your claim with enough evidence! You can do this by carefully selecting facts that support your thesis statement and presenting them in a manner where you will be able to convince your reader that your analysis is logical. However, include only relevant evidences. 

Step 8. Use transition words

The use of transition words is also critical if you want your paper to flow smoothly. Some of the transitional words that you can use in showing similarities and differences are the following:

  • In the same way
  • Similarly
  • In like manner
  • By the same token
  • Likewise
  • In contrast
  • Nevertheless
  • Conversely
  • However
  • On the one hand
  • At the other end of the spectrum
  • On the other hand

Step 9. Revise your work

The 9th and final step in writing your compare contrast essay is revising your work. Proofread your essay and make sure that there are no typographical errors or other grammatical mistakes that you have missed. If you are unsure about your copyediting skills, ask the help of a friend who is good in this job. Similarly, you can also subscribe to Grammarly premium for a more in-depth technical analysis.

Example of a compare and contrast essay

There are many good compare and contrast essay examples in the web. One of which is from the EAP Foundation, which uses the point by point technique. The goal is to compare and contrast the modes of communication used in the past to what we are using now in the present.

Before the advent of computers and modern technology, people communicating over long distances used traditional means such as letters and the telephone. Nowadays, we have a vast array of communication tools which can complete this task, ranging from email to instant messaging and video calls. While the present and previous means of communication are similar in their general form, they differ in regard to their speed and the range of tools available.

One similarity between current and previous methods of communication relates to the form of communication. In the past, both written forms such as letters were frequently used, in addition to oral forms such as telephone calls. Similarly, people nowadays use both of these forms. Just as in the past, written forms of communication are prevalent, for example via email and text messaging. In addition, oral forms are still used, including the telephone, mobile phone, and voice messages via instant messaging services.

However, there are clearly many differences in the way we communicate over long distances, the most notable of which is speed. This is most evident in relation to written forms of communication. In the past, letters would take days to arrive at their destination. In contrast, an email arrives almost instantaneously and can be read seconds after it was sent. In the past, if it was necessary to send a short message, for example at work, a memo could be passed around the office, which would take some time to circulate. This is different from the current situation, in which a text message can be sent immediately.

Another significant difference is the range of communication methods. Fifty years ago, the tools available for communicating over long distances were primarily the telephone and the letter. By comparison, there are a vast array of communication methods available today. These include not only the telephone, letter, email and text messages already mentioned, but also video conferences via software such as Skype or mobile phone apps such as WeChat, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

In conclusion, methods of communication have greatly advanced over the past fifty years. While there are some similarities, such as the forms of communication, there are significant differences, chiefly in relation to the speed of communication and the range of communication tools available. There is no doubt that technology will continue to progress in future, and the advanced tools which we use today may one day also become outdated.

Conclusion

We hope that you are now more prepared to start writing your compare contrast essay through reading this article. Who knows, this might also help you if you want to be a freelance writer. But just a little reminder, you don’t have to write perfectly the first time you apply what you have learned here. Writing, just as any skill, requires consistent practice and dedication.

To recap, here the nine steps in writing a compare and contrast essay:

Step 1. Choose what you will compare

Step 2. Research the similarities and differences of your topic

Step 3. Use a Venn diagram or any visual aid to map out facts

Step 4. Decide on your main argument

Step 5. Decide what structure or organizational technique you will use

  • Alternating Method
  • Block Method
  • Combination Method

Step 6. Create an outline

Step 7. Include evidence support your claim

Step 8. Use transition words

Step 9. Revise

In case we missed something, comment it down below! Good luck!

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students design the life of their dreams by ensuring college, scholarship, and career success! I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, host of a career exploration podcast for teens, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. I invite you to join my next webinar to learn how to save thousands + set your teenager up for college, scholarship, and career success!

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