Compare and Contrast Essay Writing
A compare and contrast essay is a type of essay which is used to explore both the similarities and the differences between two subjects by comparing and contrasting them against each other.
A comparison seeks to present the similarities of two objects whereas a contrast aims at exposing the differences between two objects. Compare and contrast essays are popular in academic writing. The comparison and contrast may be a fraction of an essay or may constitute the entire essay. An essay may include only a comparison, contrast or both. A contrast and compare essay’s goal may be to assist the readers to make a decision on a particular topic of argument. Another aim of this type of essay may be to develop critical and analytical thinking capacities in the minds of the audience.
COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY RUBRIC
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline
A compare and contrast essay outline consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction and conclusion are often standard paragraphs written at the beginning and end of an essay respectively. An introduction is an overview of the rest of the essay and should contain a strong thesis statement that comprehensively states the essay’s purpose.
There are two primary manners to outline or structure the body of a compare and contrast essay:
- The first way is using a block structure also called a subject to subject or a whole to the whole structure. In this fashion, an essay writer compares and contrasts all the information of a single subject or item first. The comparison and contrast of the second subject are listed after that and follows the same order as the first. A transition paragraph or sentence often divides the two paragraphs above.
- The second system is a point by point structure. In a point by point system, each point is discussed in a single paragraph. Both subjects are discussed under the same point in each paragraph. It is advised to start and end with the same subject for each point to maintain consistency. The type of structure used depends on the essay writer and the advantages of each structure. A point by point structure is clearer and more explicit whereas the block structure is easier to write.
60 SUCCESSFUL COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY TOPICS
How to Start Compare and Contrast Essay
Once a teacher gives students the two subject to be compared and contrasted, the students first go out and seek information about both topics. The first step is to identify the differences and similarities in the information. Then a way to sort out and organize the above information is sought and utilized. The best and most common way of starting such an essay is to draw a Venn diagram. A Venn diagram is a very helpful organizational tool. It consists of two circles that overlap creating a single overlapping area and two non-overlapping areas.
The diagram is then used to filter the information. The similar properties of the two subjects are written in the overlapping area while contrasting features are written in their respective non-overlapping areas. One can also use a table to classify the information presented in a clear and manageable way. Tables are relatively straightforward and easy to use.
How to Conclude Compare and Contrast Essay
The conclusion of a compare and contrast essay should be able to summarize the major points presented in the body of the essay. It should, however, go beyond a simple analysis. The conclusion should be an evaluation of the points given above. It should present the overall aim of the essay’s discussion. Often, a paraphrased version of the thesis statement contained in the introduction is provided in the conclusion.
The concluding paragraph, in essence, should show the significance of why the essay writer compared and contrasted the two subjects that were in question. Moreover, the conclusion should contain a vivid presentation of the opinion of the essay writer on the topic of discussion.
Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Tips
A good topic should interest readers and hold their attention. It should also aid the writer to demonstrate his writing skills through the essay. The subjects to be discussed should also be easily comparable to make distinctions as clear as possible. Information on the two subjects should be wide reaching and easily acquirable to ensure the writer has plenty of material for the essay. Choosing the essay structure that suits the writer is an important part of writing a good compare and contrast essay. A proper outline gives the essay clarity and helps the organization of the work. The structure of the essay’s body determines the shape of the entire work.
The essay structure could highlight the writer weaknesses or strengths and should be decided with the utmost of care. Use of appropriate transitioning signals is crucial. These are words, phrases, and expressions that show the reader the relationship between subjects. Such words should be undoubtedly clear whether they indicate contrast or showcase similarities. Transition signals should also be placed at the correct point in a sentence or paragraph. Feel free to use this sample essay as a model for your own compare and contrast essay.
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To write a compare/contrast essay, you’ll need to make NEW connections and/or express NEW differences between two things. The key word here…is NEW!
- Choose 2 things that could go in the same category, but are also quite different. Good choices might be:
- Basketball & Football (both sports)
- Horses & Cats (both animals, but different in many ways)
- Writing & Singing (both art forms, but different in many ways)
- Gather your ideas by writing down characteristics of each thing. Note the differences and similarities between them.
- Ask yourself these important questions before you begin writing your draft:
Does my instructor want me to compare AND contrast, or am I only being asked to do one of those things?
Some instructors prefer that you only write about the differences between two things, while others want you to focus on explaining the similarities as well. Either way, you'll need to make sure that your thesis statement reflects your instructor's expectations. For example, if I wanted to write about Social Networking sites, I'd need to write different thesis statements depending on my compare/contrast assignment.
Sample thesis statement for contrast paper: In terms of social networking sites, Facebook focuses on presenting your daily life to others, whereas MySpace allows you to focus more on demonstrating your personal style.
Sample thesis statement for compare/contrast paper: While both Facebook and MySpace allow you to meet other users who have similar interests, only MySpace allows you to demonstrate your personal style.
Are these 2 things similar and/or different, in at least one meaningful way?
If you want to write a successful compare/contrast essay, you'll need to avoid writing about really obvious differences and similarities. For example:
- We all know that horses are larger than cats.
- We also know that basketball teams contain less players than football teams.
Tell us something we don't know (or might not notice)!
It would be better to write about how sensitive both horses and cats are to human needs and emotions. You could also suggest that though both basketball and football require a lot of teamwork, basketball players are expected to be a lot more versatile than football players.
You don't have to be a genius to write an interesting compare/contrast essay--you just have to look at ordinary things in a new way!
Do I know enough about my topic to write an effective compare/contrast essay?
Unless you're being asked to do some research as part of your compare/contrast project, make sure that you choose 2 things that you feel comfortable discussing, at length.
Your instructor may ask for multiple similarities and differences--make sure you're prepared to write a well-developed, meaningful essay on a topic that you know well before you get started!
Organizing Your Compare and Contrast Paper
There are two primary ways to organize your compare and contrast paper.
Chunking: placing all of the information for each individual subject in one place (chunk), and then using similarities as transitions.
Here’s a sample outline:
- Jane is distinct because…
- Jane is similar to Alice in these ways
- Alice is distinct because…
Piecing: giving pieces of the information for each individual subject in each paragraph—arranging the information by topic rather than by subject.
Here’s a sample outline:
- Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s appearances
- Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s backgrounds
- Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s interests