Compare and Contrast Essay Guidelines | Tips for Writers

Compare and Contrast Essay Guidelines: Write Like a Pro!

Getting to write an impressive essay, you should first of all learn everything about the type of paper you need to work on. Read through compare and contrast essay guidelines if your task is to prepare a comparative essay. It is a text composed of numerous paragraphs aimed at explaining the similarities and differences of two objects in question. In this context, contrasting implies the focus on differences between the subjects, while the comparison implies identifying the similar features. A good thing is that the essays of such kind are never limited in topics; the only thing is that the subjects should be somehow related. 

Comparative Essay: Definition and Explanation

The term ‘comparative’ implies that the main objective of the process is to ensure the judgment or measurement of the subjects on the basis of their different and similar features. Thus, a comparative essay requires the comparison between the related subjects in terms of different and similar characteristics. 

Writing a comparative essay is a difficult task for many students. Most of them ask themselves, how to write a compare and contrast essay. The recommendations for writing such papers are simple. First, you should choose two different items you are going to compare and contrast. Such items need to have common features but also be different in many respects. This way, you will have enough information to include in your paper. Second, organize these commonalities and differences into a well-structured outline. You will follow it, when writing your paper. Now choose the most suitable structure for your compare and contrast essay. You can choose between the two main structures. You can rely on point-by-point structures, when you discuss one commonality or difference between the two items per paragraph. You may want to discuss the main features of one item and then switch to analyzing how the second item is similar and different from the first one. Whatever you choose, be systematic and organized in your writing.

Writing a comparative essay is a huge academic responsibility. This is why it is better if you start working on it, when you have a good topic on your mind. In addition, you must choose whether you are going to discuss similarities, differences, or both. Once you are ready, begin with developing an outline. Your comparative essay should not be written on a topic that is too general and popular among students. Be creative. Choose something you feel strongly about and want to make public. This topic should be new or at least innovative. In your paper, make sure you do not choose the qualities of your items that are equally good or bad. You can write a good paper, only if you know which of the two items is better. Do not include any graphics, unless required by your instructor. Use graphics only as a strategy for re-arranging your thoughts.

Tips on How to Work on a Perfect Compare and Contrast Essay 

First and foremost, you have to get clear understanding of what you are going to work on. You should have no confusion about the term ‘comparative’; otherwise, it may happen that your essay will have plenty of outstanding ideas, but the answer will be unanswered. Hence, read through the prompts attentively and focus on the key words not to get confused about the main demands. One of the typical tasks of a comparative essay is to ‘find the similarities and differences’ or ‘compare and contrast’.

Determine on What Your Comparison Will be Based

Having studied the question, you should specify the good things to compare and contrast for an essay as basis of your essay. Typically, the task contains a hint about the fundamental aspects, but in some cases, the author has to do that independently.

For instance, if your task is to contrast communism and capitalism, everything is clear. However, if you are supposed to find political ideologies to compare, it is a more challenging task for you. The question is general; so, you have to choose the ideologies appropriate for comparison and specify the basis for such an essay. 

Work on the Essay Content 

The second stage is supposed to determine the main things to be disclosed in the essay. It presents different and similar traits of the subjects in question, and you have to present a list of aspects which make the subjects similar and different. It is convenient to have this list as it serves as a plan for your essay. Evaluate the list thoroughly to include only the major points into the essay with the focus on the related points. Disregard those points which have insignificant value.

Develop a Nice Thesis

A thesis statement of a compare and contrast essay should be clear. The readers should have no doubts about the main idea of the author, no matter whether the question specifies the comparison basis or the author determines it himself or herself. 

Developing a great thesis statement, first of all, look at the list of main comparison aspects. Assess whether there are more different or similar traits of the subjects and use this judgment as the basis for the development of a thesis for your comparative essay. The thesis reflects the manner in which the subjects share same or similar features and in which they differ. If the subject is complicated, the focus of the essay should cover both the similar and different aspects.

Structure Your Essay 

Mind that different types of essays have specific structures, and a compare and contrast essay is no exception. So, organize the essay so that the readers could follow the comparisons easily. Have a look at the compare and contrast essay guidelines as for the methods of structuring this kind of academic papers. 

  • Alternating method

This method implies handling one comparison aspect in a single paragraph. It means that one item has a full paragraph of explanation to compare it later to the corresponding item of the other subject. Thus, the following paragraph is focused on explicit explanation of the same aspect of the other subject. Two paragraphs are devoted to the same comparison aspect in two different subjects absolutely separately. The third paragraph deals with another comparison aspect of one of the subjects, while the fourth covers the same but for the other subject respectively. The whole essay is built using this principle. 

Advantages

  1. The method allows the author to provide more detailed explanations regarding the subjects under comparison. 

  2. The final paper allows good integration and profound analysis.

It is possible to apply this method when the comparison points have no relation and detailed explanations are needed. 

  • Method of mixed paragraphs 

According to this method, one aspect is taken as a basis for comparison between the subjects in a single paragraph. So, you explain one of the subjects to tackle the other one after that. 

Advantages

  1. The readers get the subjects of equal weights when compared.

  2. Identification of the comparison factors is done easily by the readers.

The method is effective when a compare and contrast essay is long and when the complicated subjects require a lot of attention.

  • Block method

It is a risky method which is at the same time very easy to use. The main approach is to ensure the division of the essay into two sections: one is focused on one of the subjects, and the other is devoted to the other one. It implies handling only the first subject in the first section and explaining all the issues of the second subject in the second section. It is essential to allow smooth following of the compare and contrast essay ideas and relation between the parts of the essay. This method should be used in the following cases:

  1. The method is effective is the essay is short. 

  2. It is applied in case of simple subjects.

  3. The comparison items of the subjects are not clearly related. 

  4. You can create the ideas on the basis of the second subject using the ideas of the subject one. 

  5. There are multiple subjects.

Please note that there is always certain risk involved while using the method. It is frequently referred to as one-sided, and the readers can find it difficult to establish the relation between the subjects. 

Comparative Essay Sample

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Comparative Essay: Composing a Great Outline

So, you have realized how to work on the content of the compare and contrast essay and got the basis understanding of structuring the text effectively. It is now time to start writing. It is easy to decide on the format of the essay, as it resembles any of the essays with an introduction, body part, and a conclusion.

Follow comparative essay structure to make better writing

Being involved in writing, you may skip minor inconsistencies and omit some mistakes, which will later on spoil the impression on the readers. Having finalized with the paper, do not submit the essay at once. Spare some time for revising and eliminating all errors. What you need it a good grade, not disappointment. 

Topics of Compare and Contrast Essays 

The compare and contrast essay guidelines do not set limits of the topics to be chosen. However, you can take a look at the common topics, presented below:

  • Compare the consequences of World War I and World War II 
  • Compare and contrast Australia and the USA in terms of GDP figures 
  • Compare two types of political ideology, in particular communism and capitalism 
  • Compare two basketball teams 
  • Compare the impact of outstanding people 
  • Compare and contrast the systems of government 
  • Make comparison of two religions, in particular Hinduism and Christianity
  • Compare two pieces of literature 
  • Compare the technologies, for example the car makes.