A Guide to Writing an Awesome Compare and Contrast Essay

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In your student life, you will be often required to compare and contrast things. For instance, you will find situations that require you to compare and contrast texts, theories, individuals, or production processes, among others. So, in brief, this essay involves analyzing object A against object B. The article has two main parts, which makes it a little different from other genres. You need to give points on how similar the objects are, and then how different they are. This makes it a balanced review of both objects. In this post, you’ll learn how to write a good compare contrast essay.

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In some essays, the writer uses A as the lens through which to view B and vice versa. This necessitates an in-depth analysis of both objects. This kind of analysis essay helps readers to understand a topic objectively. The writer gives the pros and cons of both issues for the reader to decide on which standpoint to take. Such an essay critiques and illuminates as well as challenges a belief that seems obvious before the analysis.

For instance, it could be about controversial topics such as abortion. You can compare and contrast the pro-life with pro-choice stands. This will illuminate information to your readers, and they may be able to understand other people. Again, the essay could end up helping people understand to which extent their bias may be sensible.

The essay may sound complicated, but it isn’t. It only involves preparing raw data- the differences and similarities of the objects you intend to discuss- and then coheres them into a sensible, well-organized argument.

Importance of Writing Compare and Contrast Essays

Professors frequently seek to examine student’s understanding by requiring them to write a compare and contrast essay about two characters in a novel, historical periods, or theories, among others. It is essential that you, therefore, readily hone your skills to write a compare and contrast essay.

Learn how to write an abstract for your research paper.

A compare and contrast essay does not require that you only list the similarities and differences between two objects. You have to show your insight and comprehension of the topic forming your composition.

The popularity of compare and contrast essays derives from the ability of this form of writing to promote critical thinking. Therefore, make sure you show why it is essential to see the similarities or differences in the object or study objects.

Other objectives that you might find necessary to include in your essay include:

  • Express something unknown
  • Clear some misunderstandings
  • Illustrate the superiority of something over another

Main Features a Good Compare Contrast Essay

There are five elements necessary when writing up an A+ compare and contrast essay. These include the thesis, linking, reference frame, organization, and grounds of comparison or contrast.

1. The reference frame

This marks the boundary of the essay. It is the context within which the items are placed for comparison and contrast. This could be the idea, theory, or challenge that motivates or triggers the discussion. The tutor may also find it necessary to provide reference materials from which you can come up with the ideas. 

This removes the urge to come up with non-scientific random thoughts, which may not necessarily make sense. So, the tutor provides sources so that instead of giving dubious ideas, you get to quote from a given topic’s scientific findings.

The majority of assignments provide students with the frame of reference, so it shouldn’t be much of a concern. However, you may encounter a few who do not have such sources, and you have to find them on your own. In that case, it’s essential to stick to scientific findings unless you are instructed otherwise.

2. Comparison grounds

Why are the two objects worth comparing? If you get enough points to answer the question, it is legit to continue with the essay. If you can’t, then you shouldn’t. In a bid to ensure that you’re writing a meaningful piece, it’s critical to consider how your audience benefits from reading it. When you want to write about bananas and melons, you should ask yourself- why not peaches and lemons? Or, why not corn and potatoes.

When you write down the rationale behind your topic’s choice, you will let your audience know that they will benefit if they read your essay. It’s also advisable to avoid issues that seem obvious. Who wants to waste their five minutes reading something they already know?!

3. Thesis

This is the gist of your essay. Once you have the frame of reference and ground of comparison with you, it’s easy to state your thesis. In a compare-contrast article, the argument is dependent on the relationship between the objects you’ve chosen for analysis. For instance, in an essay that majorly focuses on the differences between the two items, you can indicate the thesis by the word “whereas.” E.g.

Whereas going to the beach for swimming is fun and provides the opportunity to meet new people and make friends, camping in the woods is a chance to interact with nature and have time for soul-searching.

In short, the thesis should include the relationship between objects A and B. This doesn’t matter whether the essay focuses on the similarities or differences. Remember, the relationship between the two objects is the nucleus of the compare and contrast paper. Thus, it must form part of the thesis.

4. Organization

The thesis, ground of comparison, and reference frame are part of the essay’s introduction. From there, the body starts, and it is a little different from other articles. While other writing pieces talk about one idea-per-paragraph, the compare and contrast genre focuses on bringing out the relationship between the two objects in question. This is called the point-by-point organizational scheme. Then, we have the text-by-text system where you first discuss everything about A, then B.

When choosing the best organization for your essay, you should consider the points for and points against. If you think that A beats B, then the text-by-text organization is the best to use. If A versus B is a heated debate with several points for each case, use the point-by-point format. However, make sure to follow what your tutor instructs you.

Again, you can organize your work in an ideal way. However, in a ‘lens’ comparison essay, the text-by-text would be a perfect organization. This is because A and B will not be compared, but; instead, one will be used to see the other.

5. Linking the topics

Every time you are writing an argumentative essay, it is crucial to connect your thesis. This means that you must- at all times- show how relevant your point is to the topic and thesis. A compare and contrast essay is no different as it is an advanced argumentative essay. So, it would help if you used the links appropriately. Without them, the reader may quickly get confused as they can easily fail to see how new sections of your essay connect with the rest. The linking words they are transitional expressions- form the glue that holds your piece together.

Sample paragraph from a point-by-point organized essay

Thesis: Comparing and contrasting and American girl and her mother.

Jane hates the typical nature of her rural home. Surrounded by harsh social and economic times and political and ideological conflicts of her time, she represents a new Southerner- she views her native home with a proud Northerner’s lenses. Her mother, on the other hand, still clings onto the former glory of the Old South. Filled with mystical tales, she’s loyally part of a generation that’s getting extinct.

How To Write A Good Compare And Contrast Essay: The Outline

In this section, you’ll find a brief, clear outline of how to write your essay in the point-by-point format and then the text-by-text format. But first, let’s understand the main parts of the article.

1. Title

Make it brief, comprehensive, and meaningful. E.g., Soccer versus football

2. Introduction

 This is the first paragraph(s) of the essay. It should include an eye-catching statement that invites the reader’s attention to the article. Then, it should explain why the topics are worthy of comparison or contrast. The frame of reference should also be stated in this section. Then, it should have a thesis statement.

3. Body paragraphs

The majority of middle and high school essays have at most three paragraphs for this section. However, it would help if you used as many as you need to drive your point home. Remember, whereas the outline is the skeleton of your essay, the paragraphs are the meat. You should, therefore, provide a factual illustration to submit your ideas. Every section should explain a particular concept. Then, it would help if you linked it to the thesis using transitional words.

4. Concession

This is also known as the acknowledgment of competitive arguments. Here, you acknowledge that there exist other arguments that counter yours. However, it would help if you defended yours by explaining why those counter-arguments are flawed and inapplicable.

5. Conclusion

This is the final paragraph, whose main objective is to summarize the evidence provided. When writing the conclusion, do not keep defining terms, explaining stuff, or bringing new ideas on board. Remember, the readers are now well versed in the topic as they’ve read the essay already.

Now, we’ll take the example of rural life and urban life to illustrate the outline for different organizations or formats of writing a good compare and contrast essay.

Point-by-Point Organization

Instead of arguing each subject at a time in your article, you can say one element of comparison at a time. This technique can be organized in two ways. The first involves discussing a particular point of contrast/comparison as relates to all the objects of your study in one paragraph. However, this style is applicable if the argument per point is not too long, such that it might exceed one paragraph.

The second approach under the point-by-point approach is more applicable if you have much to say about each object under every point. It is advisable to devote an entire paragraph to discussing how an item of comparison/differentiation relates to a particular idea, and then another whole paragraph concerning another item, but the same point.

Outline of a point-by-point style contrast-compare essay

  • Title
  • Introduction

Body paragraph 1: The first difference between rural and urban life: environment

Body paragraph 2: Second difference between rural and urban life: income

Body paragraph 3: Third difference between rural and urban life: social life

  • Concession
  • Conclusion

Text by Text

  • Title
  • Introduction

Body paragraph 1: e.g., How rural and urban life are similar

Body paragraph 2, e.g., the first difference between rural and urban life

Body paragraph 3, e.g., a second difference between rural and urban life

Body paragraph 4, e.g., how urban life is superior to rural life

  • Conclusion: summary

Subject by Subject

The approach involves making all the arguments you have prepared in one issue first, and then moving on to make all the arguments about the second subject or object, and so on. Therefore, your outline should list all points about the first object and then move on to the supportive ideas about the second object and compare or contrast more than two things.

Although this approach is acceptable, the subject-by-subject approach poses the danger of just becoming a list of arguments. This is because you will first cover several particular points in one subject and several arguments about another. Teachers usually do not like this approach since they generally expect you to conduct a direct comparison of similarities or differences between things, instead of just listing their traits.

  • Title
  • Introduction

Body paragraph 1 (rural) e.g. Environmental conservation

Body paragraph 2 (rural), e.g., Food production and income

Body paragraph 3 (urban) e.g. Environmental conservation

Body paragraph 4 (urban), e.g., Food production and income

  • Conclusion

Common Mistakes Made in Compare and Contrast Essays

Writing an impressive and perfect compare and contrast essay is not a comfortable ob. Most students make mistakes along the way, not knowing that they could cost them their score. Familiarizing yourself with the common mistakes made when writing these essays will bring you closer to an A Grade. Here are the common mistakes made that you need to avoid to nail your essay.

1. Choosing a general topic

The success of your essay is determined by the first topic you choose. It is tempting to choose available or widely done topics as they appear simple. This will do you more harm than good. Such topics will land you in many problems, including plagiarism, since there are a million people who have already done it. Try and be unique and explore a new subject. Not only will it draw the readers’ attention, but you will also have fewer plagiarism issues to deal with.

2. Using graphs and charts in the essay

Most students think a visual demonstration using graphs and charts will help them compare and contrast something more easily. While this is allowed in other courses or subject areas. It is not something you should do when writing essays. You can do that in your outline for personal use, but not in the essay you will submit.

Summing Up on Writing a Good Compare Contrast Essay

After you have written your essay, be sure to go through it. In this work, it’s crucial to avoid first-person pronouns. Feel free to use our AI powered academic essay maker tool. Again, avoid any form of bias, negative or abusive language even when illustrating why a subject isn’t pleasing. At GudWriter, we hope this comprehensive guide will make you a top-grade student right away. Contact us now for specialized assistance to get that first-class grade you’ve always dreamed of!

Sample compare and contrast essays

  1. Compare and Contrast Two Countries
  2. Contrast a Casual Friendship with a Close Friendship
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