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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay?

November 12, 2016 - Posted toWriting

Content how to write a compare and contrast essay

Defining Compare and Contrast Essays

Writing compare and contrast essays means having to list down both the similarities and differences of a particular subject matter, which could either be a thing or an idea. This particular assignment is usually provided by professors and teachers to encourage students to go beyond summarizing and describing and onto critical thinking and analyzing. This means that students will have to go deeper by comparing two or more different things or ideas, how they relate to each other, and what makes them different from one another.

Starting a Compare and Contrast Essay

Students often wonder how to start a compare and contrast essay. Well, the answer is easy. The very first thing to do is to come up with the subject matter that you will be comparing and contrasting. Remember that these subject matters can be either an idea or a thing. In choosing these ideas or things, you can start by choosing two or more things under the same category.

    Example: Movies

As we all know, movies are also categorized by genres. Think of which type of movies you are most familiar with so you have a working knowledge of how to go about your compare and contrast essay.

    Example: Fantasy

Now that you have specified which type of movies you are going to write about, identify which movies, or in this case which fantasy movies, you would like to compare and contrast.

    Example: Harry Potter Series & Lord of the Rings Series

In any case, there are sample compare and contrast essay for college that you can review online for inspiration and ideas.

Organizing a Compare and Contrast Essay

After coming up with things or ideas to compare and contrast, you can now proceed to organize your essay:

  1. Decide on a structure. There are a number of ways in which you can present your essay. The most popular structures are subject by subject and point by point. Subject by subject is when you discuss Subject Matter A first before you proceed with Subject Matter B. The strength of this structure is that it provides for a simpler, easier to understand outline where the first subject matter is discussed first before the second one is discussed. This means that the student does not have to jump back and forth which can be confusing if not done properly. There are available lessons on essay writing online to guide you and avoid the common mistakes students often make when writing compare and contrast essays.

On the other hand, the point by point structure is when you jump back and forth from one subject matter to another and then back. The strength of this structure is that you are able to compare and contrast the things or ideas point by point. For example, you can start by the characterization of the movies and then discuss the plots. Should you have problem identifying which structure to apply and how to apply it accordingly, you can always look for any essay writing help online.

  1. Outline your essay. Compare and contrast essays follow basically the same structure with any regular essay. It starts first with an introduction where you present your subject matters and provide a general overview of them. This is followed by the body where you present your arguments either subject by subject or point by point.  After which, you end it with a conclusion where you weigh all the arguments and decide which one is better than the other.

  2. Outline your body. The body of the essay usually takes up more than half of the essay which means it can get a little complicated and confusing especially when it is not done properly. In order to avoid chaos and confusion, students can break the body down by subject or by topic and provide a subheading for each. The strength of outlining the body is that it makes it aesthetically easier to read and understand accordingly.

Sample Topics for Compare and Contrast Essays

Compare and contrast essay topics are easy to come by online. You can get probably a list of top 50 or 100 essay topics when you do your research. What is more important, however, is choosing the topic that is equally familiar to you and interest to other people. In this way, you are able to compare and contrast the subject matters efficiently because you have ample information with regard to the topic and at the same time it makes it more interesting to read because it is something that majority of us is naturally curious about.

  1. People. You can compare and contrast your mom and dad, brother and sister, best friends, teachers, actors, musicians, authors, et cetera.

  2. Animals. You can compare and contrast land, water, and air animals, or cats and dogs, et cetera.

  3. Places. You can compare and contrast east and west, beach and mountains, summer and winter, et cetera.

  4. Brands. You can compare and contrast iPhone and Samsung, Apple and Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, American Idol and The Voice, Facebook and Instagram, et cetera.

  5. Events. You can compare and contrast holidays like Christmas and New Year’s, or go on vacation and stay at home, student life and professional life, et cetera.

Reviewing Your Compare and Contrast Essay

Once you are done writing your compare and contrast essay, make sure to edit and proofread it more than once. The idea is to perfect it both substantively and technically. For the substantive part, review your arguments and check whether they are all supported by facts and whether they are sound. Remember to avoid being biased by presenting both sides of the arguments.

For the technical part, you have to make sure that your essay is free of any grammatical and spelling error. Go over your compare and contrast essay carefully and do not rush the process. The key is to plan this as early as possible so you do not have to cram it in the last minute.  

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