Long before you got your first compare and contrast essay as homework, you’ve been familiar with its concept and even actively using some of the basic techniques. Arguing with your friends over two or more movies, videogames, books and struggling to make them see that your choice is better than theirs; pursuing to convince your parents that the activity you have planned for the weekend is more important than what they have in mind for you; suddenly finding similarities between two things and starting to wonder if they have more in common.
All those cases involve comparison and contrasting, so you will feel familiar with this task. However, writing a cohesive compare and contrast essay takes more understanding and skills than just coming up with lists of similar and different traits. Read on to learn the essence of this assignment, its preferred structure, certain handy tips. We’ll be providing a sample for you to have something that showcases all that information. But if you want to skip all that for now or don’t have time for it, consider just ordering your essay from Homeworkfor.me. That way, you will have an even better representation of how your assignment should be done while saving your time and nerves.
What Is a Compare and Contrast Essay?
First, let’s try to understand better what your teacher or professor expects from you when giving this task. A comparison essay is essentially a short paper requiring you to review two (rarely more than that) objects, persons, or concepts and establish a certain connection or distinction between them.
Usually, the goal of this essay is more than just figuring out common or different features or both. By giving this task, your educators want you to involve in a thorough examination and discover some connection between the two, thus getting a better comprehension of the material taught in class.
Take a close look at our compare and contrast essay example prior to proceeding to a detailed guide of writing one. This should give you a better grasp of the structure and what the final work should look like.
How to Write a Great Compare and Contrast Essay
It’s highly advisable that you start developing your essay not long after you receive it. That way, you will have more time for a preparation stage which many students skip altogether. And by giving it proper attention and considering everything without the need to rush writing the actual essay will be a much easier task. Besides, comparison/contrast essays may require doing some research, and that is also an essential part that will be difficult to ignore.
So, before you sit there thinking about how to start writing a compare and contrast essay, learn about some prewriting steps you should do. In the process of completing them, you will come to realize that you are gradually getting an image of what your paper will look like, what goes where, and how it all comes together.
Essay Writing Preparation Steps
If you are aiming at an A, which you should be, or don’t want to get anything lower than a B, it is absolutely crucial that you don’t skip these steps. Otherwise, you risk making your essay look rushed and poorly thought-out.
1. Understanding The Assignment Requirements
Pretty often there are certain things your essay is expected to encompass, either concentrate on the common aspects of the subjects or dwell on their dissimilarities. Sometimes, it’s both. It is imperative to figure out which is your case or you can end up with a work that is deemed completely irrelevant by your teacher or professor.
So, examine the assignment description closely and thoroughly. Other times, it will be evident that your work should not stop with discovering and pointing out those features that coincide or make the subjects very different from one another. In that case, your comparison essay will only be complete once you use your findings to come up with a certain conclusion or support an argument.
2. Selecting the Subjects
If you are given the subjects, it makes your task a bit easier. However, it is crucial to take the context into consideration, as your paper may be directly related to what a professor has been trying to make clear in class. So, before you begin typing your essay, revisit your notes and chapters of the book to be positive that you are not missing a connection.
If you are supposed to suggest the subjects for paralleling or distinguishing yourself, you might still be required to choose those that are related to a specified topic. Once you narrow the area of where to look for your subjects, pick those that are neither too similar nor too different. There must be at least one commonality between them though; otherwise, such a comparison would make no sense. For example, take two authors writing about similar things or living during the same historical period. Writing a relevant comparing and contrasting essay on Roald Dahl and Barack Obama is unlikely to help you draw some logical conclusion or support a certain idea.
However, if you do manage to choose two subjects no one would think to be fitting for such an essay and end up making a great statement, you can score some extra points for being original and getting the most out of your essay.
3. Finding Common and Diverse Features
Before settling on your subjects, you may want to try out multiple pairings and see which have the most peculiar and relevant commonalities and differences. Do some quick comparing and contrasting which you can later use to go into more details and develop into a meaningful written work.
There are several ways for you to write all those features down to see which persons, ideas, or objects will suit your particular paper the best. It all depends on how you prefer to perceive information, but you can try both methods we’ll suggest below.
The first and more obvious way to jot down all the common and differing features is by creating a table. On the top, you would have the subjects, each dedicated its own column, and on the left side, you would write the criteria you are using for contrasting them.
The second approach is to draw a Venn diagram consisting of circles for each subject, covering a part of one another. Choose an aspect you are using for correlation, and if it is the same for all subjects, write it in the area where the circles are overlapping. If there is no match, write the relevant answers in each subject’s individual area.
There are other ways that can be used to establish the level of the likeness of various things or persons, and you can think of some better methods yourself. You may find it easier to grasp and overall more exciting if you wrote each feature on a memo note and put them into several piles. Whatever helps you to speed up the process and doesn’t make you want to quit after choosing the first two subjects that you put down.
4. Deciding on the Comparison Aspects
You don’t want to waste your time cross-checking some things against each other based on the features that will later have no use in your work. Therefore, you have to establish which of them will serve the aim of an essay most effectively. For example, if you have got two people, or, to be more precise, their views on a certain idea, their background, education, career may be important to perceive what made them think like that. Their appearance, personal life, or preferences in clothing may be irrelevant, so you should not focus on any of that stuff too much even during this preparation stage. This is also the right time to cross out those aspects you thought could serve your aim but turned out to be redundant for your essay.
5. Figuring Out a Compare and Contrast Essay Basic Outline
Writing an outline is another thing that will make it much easier to produce a solid paper later rather than writing all your thoughts and hoping you will make everything flow smoothly and not forget anything. It’s the backbone of your paper, and once you have built it, you will simply need to add some more meat and vital organs (like a thesis statement or a conclusion).
Many students skip this step because it seems so easy for them that it’s not even worth being done. We’ve got a little lifehack on how to make it more exciting or at least tolerable. Imagine you are writing your essay as a tweet or a social media post. You are limited by the number of symbols, don’t want to bore anyone, and just don’t have a lot of time to write it. So, you have to introduce each of your main ideas as a single sentence. Once they are all on your screen or paper, think of the best way to rearrange them to improve coherence and how they serve the aim of your essay.
Structuring Your Essay
A comparative essay follows the same structure most essays do, meaning there are three main elements. There are, however, some things that are specific for writing those parts of this particular type of essay.
Although your title will probably reveal the subjects you have selected or have been given, you still need to introduce them at the beginning of your essay. But rather than just bluntly stating them, you have to explain why these two were chosen and what you are planning to discover or prove in the course of this short work. In other words, you need to include a thesis statement, which is absolutely necessary to qualify for a high grade. Oh, and try to fascinate a reader with some interesting fact, question, idea, or anecdote just like you would when starting any other essay.
A classic essay consists of 3 body paragraphs, although it is possible to have more. A compare and contrast essay structure is defined by how many subjects there are, whether you’re only looking for commonalities, discrepancies, or both, and what your final goal is. All these things will also influence the approach you adopt, and there are basically two options for you here:
This approach dictates that you will first describe all the qualities of the first item, and then cover the other one. Depending on your individual situation, it is possible to dedicate one or two paragraphs to each of the subjects, and then use one more to briefly run through the divergencies. Since this approach is considered by many professors rather simple, you need to really make a strong case with your final paragraph and, consequently, the summary, so that your essay is more than a mere list of various aspects characterizing the subjects under observation.
This approach will let you have a different structure and make your estimation of resemblance easier to follow. In this case, your paragraphs will be fully dedicated to separate aspects, and you will be comparing your subjects in every paragraph. A quick note: pay attention to the succession in which you are bringing up your subjects. If your aim is to prove one’s advantage over the other, you will make it clearer by listing your preferred subject the last. That way, it will serve as an ultimate argument and have a stronger effect.
Summing up your essay without repeating everything you’ve written before that may seem very difficult, but you need to check for there to be no unnecessary words or thoughts. Refresh your thesis statement and what made you stack these subjects up against one another, briefly share the results, and close it with a final thought which this examination would be supporting.
There are different ways in which you could arrange your paper, and our sample will help you see how it can be done.
What to Do After You Finish Writing
You’re not completely done yet when you might think you are done because there are still some steps you should deal with if you do not want your time dedicated to this essay to be spent to little effect when you get the grade lower than the one you anticipated.
- Take a break for a couple of days. This is why it is recommended not to waste time and start your essay as soon as you get it assigned. You need to let your paper breathe and yourself to relax or just concentrate on something else. Once you look at it again with fresh eyes, you may see what can be improved. Even if you don’t have a few days, a few hours can do the trick as well.
- When you are content with the general look of your essay and how it goes, it’s time to do some editing. By deleting unnecessary words or even sentences, finding synonyms, or coming up with new transitions, you can significantly improve your essay and make all the difference.
- Finally, it is time to get rid of any possible typos, misspellings, or grammar mistakes. Our eyes tend to ignore them, especially when you have wrote the text yourself and have already read it multiple times. Instead of really reading it, you’re repeating from your memory, remembering what you came up with, thus autocorrecting it all for you. Spell-checking tools can help you spot some of these mistakes, but it would be perfect if you could get any of your friends or relatives check it as well. Even tools like Grammarly can skip a word if it is completely out of place but is technically spelled correctly.
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