Compare and Contrast Essay

Tips on Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

In academic circles, the compare and contrast essay is another popular type of writing assignment. Essays of this type are based on a particular question and they are reasonably easy to write. When it comes to the actual writing, there are a few different approaches the writer can take. One crucial thing to bear in mind is structure. A lot of otherwise great essays fail because of poor structure. So, it is important to check the rules and then structure your essay in one of the ways described below.

The Introductory Paragraph

As happens in the 5-paragraph essay format, the introductory paragraph usually begins in a general way, e.g., with an anecdote, quote, or some generalization. This opening should then lead to a thesis statement. 

First Topic

The next part of the essay, which can be made up of one or several paragraphs, usually covers one part of the compare and contrast topic. Essays of this type usually cover two topics and show how these are alike and/or different. The second topic should not be referred to in this first part.  

Second Topic

The next part of a compare and contrast essay, which can also be made up of one or several paragraphs, usually covers the next (or second) of the topics. The first topic should not be referred to in much detail in this part. Because you have probably already written about it in considerable detail, it is permissible to refer briefly to the first topic, but you should not analyze it. This part of your essay should focus on discussing the second topic in detail.   

Combining the First and Second Topic

Once the first and second topic has been analyzed separately, they should now be looked at side by side. This part may also be made up of one or a number of paragraphs.

The Concluding Paragraph

Like the introductory paragraph, the concluding paragraph should also refer to the thesis statement in a general way. The writer can use this last paragraph to express their full knowledge or certainty about the subject. The thesis should be reaffirmed but in different words and the writer should recap on how they proved it. 

Alternative Format

Introductory Paragraph

Again, as is the case with the 5-paragraph essay format, the introduction should begin in a general way with an anecdote, quote or some broad-ranging statement. This should also lead to the thesis statement.  

Compare Everything – The First and Second Topic

This part, which is usually comprised of a number of paragraphs, should describe all the likenesses between both topics. List a minimum of three comparable features i.e. three brief paragraphs. Include examples from the two comparison topics in each paragraph. 

Contrast Everything – The First and Second Topic

In this part, which should also comprise of a number of paragraphs, describe all the differences in both topics. Again, you should list a minimum of three contrasting points with examples taken from the two topics.

The Concluding Paragraph

The concluding paragraph wraps everything up i.e. every point that you have proved in your essay. This paragraph should also reiterate the thesis statement in a fresh and more formal way. Be confident in the way you write. 

The following is a breakdown of how a compare and contrast essay should look:

First Type

  1. First paragraph: Introductory paragraph with thesis statement
  2. Second paragraph: First topic (with first comparison)
  3. Third paragraph: First topic (with second comparison)
  4. Fourth paragraph: First topic (with third comparison)
  5. Fifth paragraph: Second topic (with first contrast)
  6. Sixth paragraph: Second topic (with second contrast)
  7. Seventh paragraph: Second topic (with third contrast)
  8. Eight paragraph: (if required) Combine comparisons and contrasts on any of the topics
  9. Ninth paragraph: The concluding paragraph

Second Type

  1. First paragraph: Introductory paragraph with thesis statement
  2. Second paragraph: First comparison of both topics
  3. Third paragraph: Second comparison of both topics
  4. Fourth paragraph: Third comparison of both topics
  5. Fifth paragraph: First contrast of both topics
  6. Sixth paragraph: Second contrast of both topics
  7. Seventh paragraph: Third contrast of both topics
  8. Eight paragraph: The concluding paragraph.

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