Essay Writing Compare

Most students will be required to complete a compare and contrast essay at some point.  A compare and contrast essay is simply an academic document that both compares and contrasts two or more items, concepts, or other subjects.  Compare and contrast reports should discuss both how items are similar and how they're different.

Compare and contrast essays are often difficult for students to write because they don't know where to start and where to stop.  Students are often unsure how many comparisons and contrasts to make during the course of their documents.  And, they're often unsure as to how to do so.

The number of comparisons and contrasts a student should make when completing a compare and contrast essay generally depends on the instructions given to students by the course instructor and the overall required length.  The course instructor might require that students make a certain number of comparisons and contrasts during the course.  Some instructors might require that students make a minimum number of comparisons and contrasts during the course of the report but leave the final number of comparisons and contrasts up to the student.  

Whatever the actual number of comparisons and contrasts within a compare and contrast essay, learners should be sure that they fit within the length limitations set forth by the instructor.  An instructor will generally assign a range of pages or words that students have to work within.  It is up to the student to make sure that his/her comparisons and contrasts fit within that range.

A one-page compare and contrast essay doesn't invite a great deal of discussion within the body of the document.  Since papers are required to follow the basic paper formatting of introduction, paper body, and conclusion, students generally have only three body paragraphs for discussion.  A one-page paper with three body paragraphs invites the discussion of three separate comparisons and contrasts.  

Students often have no idea how to present a compare and contrast paper.  For instance, students wonder if they should list all comparisons first, and then all of the contrasts, or whether they should discuss one comparison and one contrast within each body paragraph.  Again, it's the length of the report which often determines how to present the compare and contrast paper.  A one-page paper might be best presented by discussing one comparison and one contrast per body paragraph, for a total of three comparisons and three contrasts.  A longer paper can be broken up to discuss the comparisons first and the contrasts second, or vice versa.  Using more than one paragraph in a longer paper to discuss the aspects of the items being compared and contrasted is perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged as a longer paper invites a more in-depth discussion.

Comparative Essays

Most students will be required to complete a comparative essay at some point in their academic career.  A comparative essay is an academic paper which compares two or more topics, items, concepts, and more.  The number of subjects compared in a comparative essay is generally discussed by the course instructor when the assignment is given.  Comparative essays seek to discuss how items or concepts are similar, not how they're different.

Comparative essays are generally easy to write and should follow the same basic paper structure as any other academic writing assignment.  A comparative report should have an introduction, a paper body, and a conclusion.  The introduction part of the document should introduce the topic and should contain a thesis statement which will be supported throughout the remainder.

The body of the document is where the student should discuss the similarities of the items being compared.  Although a comparative essay is intended to primarily discuss the how items are similar, there can be some, very basic, references to what makes the items different.  However, it's imperative that students keep discussions of differences to a minimum because then the report becomes a compare and contrast essay instead of a comparative paper.

The conclusion of the comparative essay is where students should restate the thesis and wrap up the discussion.  This is generally where comparative essays give students trouble.  It's difficult to know when to stop comparing.  It isn't necessary to compare each and every factor of the items or concepts.  Students should select how many comparisons to make based on the length.

For instance, in a one-page paper, students might want to select the number of comparisons based on the number of body paragraphs.  Since a one-page comparative essay generally has one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and one conclusion paragraph, the student might want to highlight three short comparisons, one per body paragraph, or one in-depth comparison to discuss throughout the entire three body paragraphs.  Longer papers invite longer discussions and more comparisons.

Finally, comparative reports should follow the basic rules of report composition.  Students should proof their documents to ensure that they have followed the citation guidelines given to them by the instructor.  The report should also be proofed for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.  Paragraphs should hold complete thoughts and the document should be solid and well-written to ensure the best grade possible.

Comparison Essays

A comparison essay is one that a student writes in order to compare two or more works of literature, ideas, events, or topics.  Comparison essays are very popular academic works because they not only require learners to become familiar with a broad variety of subjects, but because they can also show a professor how well a student understands important concepts.

When a student creates a comparative assignment, he/she needs to learn about a particular topic or work in depth.  Different academic subjects may require that learners write comparison essays on different topics.  For example, a comparison essay for a chemistry class may require that learners write about the process by which two different chemical compounds bond.  A comparison essay for an English class might require that students analyze character development in two works of literature by the same author.  Therefore, one comparison essay may not be completed in the same way as another.

In order to create an effective comparative assignment, the student needs to first understand what he/she will compare.  In many cases, a professor will define the topic on which he/she would like his/her students to write.  In other cases, learners will need to come up with their own topics for comparison.  Students should understand the specific requirements of an assignment prior to beginning their comparison essays.  

The general format for a comparison essay will be similar, no matter what the student is comparing or for what subject.  Comparison reports should begin with an introduction that includes information about the topics, a brief background of the topics, information about why the student is comparing two topics or works, and a thesis.  The comparison report should be in third person.

The thesis should state the purpose.  For example, if a student is writing about two literary works, a thesis might be something like, "Character development in Book A was more effective because the author included more background information about the characters than in Book B."  The body of the document would then discuss why the student believes that Book A was more effective than Book B.  Each paragraph should include new information that supports the thesis.

A comparison report is different from a traditional paper because the thesis and the format are both different.  In a traditional paper, the format of the report resembles an inverted triangle, with important information introduced in the beginning and specific conclusions introduced at the end.  Each paragraph of a traditional assignment follows the same format, as well.  Also, in a traditional paper, the thesis generally follows an "if, then" statement, wherein the author states that if something occurs, then a certain thing happens.  

In a comparative assignment, students may not use "if, then" statements to compare two topics or works.  Instead, they may just provide a play-by-play comparison.  An "if, then" statement may not always be an effective way to compare two topics or works.  Because the student may wish to provide a play-by-play comparison, rather than drawing a specific conclusion, the student may not follow an inverted pyramid structure when writing comparison essays.  Therefore, traditional papers and comparison essays may have a very different structure, purpose, and format.

Compare and Contrast Essays

In a compare and contrast essay, your goal is to take two or more concepts or items and discuss their similarities and differences.  In order to complete a compare and contrast essay, you'll need to first select the two items or concepts that you'll write about.  When selecting concepts or items to write about, be sure to pick topics that actually have similarities rather than those that are complete opposites.

After determining the two ideas or concepts you'll discuss in your compare and contrast essay, you should make a list of all of the things the two items or concepts have in common.  List every common factor the items share, even if you'll not necessarily discuss them all in your document.  Next, brainstorm all of the similarities between the two items and make an additional list.

When completing the actual compare and contrast essay, you want to avoid simply writing one paragraph with all of the similarities and one paragraph with all of the differences.  Rather, you should complete a cohesive essay in which some of the similarities and differences may be discussed in one paragraph.  One method for doing this is to start the paragraph with a similarity and then discuss how they're different despite these similarities.  For example, if you're comparing and contrasting cats and dogs, you might start a paragraph off by discussing the fact that they're both animals.  Then, you can go on to say that, although they're both animals, cats are generally smaller in size and come in different colors and patterns.  

In many cases, compare and contrast essays are completed in order to highlight the differences between two seemingly similar concepts or ideas.  Therefore, you might start off the compare and contrast essay by discussing the similarities and then you can spend the remainder of the work discussing how the two ideas or concepts are actually different.

Regardless of how you choose to format the body, a compare and contrast essay will still need to have a solid introduction and conclusion.  The introduction takes place in the first paragraph, in which your thesis is also introduced.  The thesis generally asserts that the two ideas or concepts are similar yet quite different.  

The conclusion should also consist of just one paragraph.  This paragraph should revisit the thesis, though it should be completed in a different way than how it was completed in the introduction.  Finally, you should "wrap up" the report with the final sentence or two.

Your goal when completing a compare and contrast essay isn't to persuade the reader to choose one of the concepts or items.  Rather, you're simply presenting factual information regarding the similarities and differences regarding the items.  In order to create an essay with a true impact, you should focus on the subtle differences that may not be as obvious to the reader.  That way, you'll present an essay that will really get the reader to think about the topic in a new way.

Compare/Contrast Essays

A compare contrast essay is one of the most commonly assigned essay forms.  It requires the writer to assess the similarities and differences of two or more texts, ideas, or other objects of study in a thorough and academic way.  A compare contrast essay isn't simply an essay that outlines the ways the two objects of study are different.  As its name suggests, a compare contrast essay must uncover both similarities and differences.

Effective compare contrast essays often require more effort in their preparation than in their execution.  This is because the writer must devote significant time to considering the similarities and differences between the two objects.  Compare contrast essays aren't designed to merely point out the obvious; rather, they're intended to provoke creative and analytic consideration.  For instance, it's not enough to point out that Robert Frost's "Home Burial" and Billy Collins' "No Time" are both poems.  Anyone who glances at these two works would be instantly aware that they're both poems.  The compare contrast report should seek to uncover interesting and often nuanced similarities and differences in order to bring new insight to both texts.

The best way to begin the process of writing compare contrast essays is to consider the main subject, point, or essence of each of the two subjects of study.  For instance, to focus on the poems above, the main subject of Frost's poem is the death of an infant child, and the main subject of Collins' poem is an adult child's thoughts about his/her dead parents.  By clearly identifying the main subjects, it becomes easy to see that regarding these poems, there's both a comparison and a contrast to be made in regards to primary subject matter: both poems address the death of family members, but they invert the subject of grief.  In one poem, a parents grieve for their child, and in the other poem, a child grieves for his/her parents.

Once general comparisons and contrasts have been made, it's helpful to perform a freewrite in order to uncover more nuanced similarities and differences about the two subjects.  A freewrite is a writing session in which the writer writes without stopping—literally without lifting his/her pen from the page—for five or more minutes.  A freewrite allows the writer's consciousness and sometimes sub consciousness to present itself on the page.  This helps to generate ideas that may not have been available to the writer through purely logical consideration of the subjects.

After performing a freewrite on each of the objects of study separately, the writer should read over the freewrites to see what types of ideas he/she may have uncovered about the two objects of study.  This will likely lead to more in-depth analyses of the two subjects that allow for further levels of comparison and contrast.

Comparison/Contrast Essays

A comparison contrast essay is an assignment that requires students to evaluate many different sides to one situation or story.  Students will not only need to be able to draw similarities between two competing events, but students will also need to show why two different events are dissimilar.  Therefore, learners will have to perform a large amount of research in order to create effective comparison contrast essays.

The first step that students should take in order to create comparison contrast essays is to evaluate the project requirements.  Professors will have a list of particular project requirements that will need to be met.  For example, professors may require learners to compare and contrast two specific things, or they may require a comparison and contrast of more.  

Students may then select their topic.  In most cases, learners can select their comparison contrast essay topics.  However, professors may sometimes assign topics.  Students need to make sure that they understand the topic before they begin the document.  

The nest step after receiving or deciding on a comparison contrast essay topic is for students to begin their research.  Students may want to investigate primary and secondary research representing multiple sides or points-of-view on the same topic.  From in-depth comparison contrast essay research, learners should be able to develop a clear picture of the similarities and differences between a particular topic or set of topics.  

Students should keep journals during their research, especially for comparison contrast essays because they will need to frequently refer back to different similarities and differences.  Once the student is satisfied that he/she has performed a suitable amount of research, he/she should outline the comparison contrast essay in depth.  

The comparison contrast essay outline will serve as a roadmap, providing format and direction that the learner will be able to easily follow as he/she drafts the report itself.  The student should plan to create several drafts of the comparison contrast essay before completing the final document version.  Therefore, the student should allow plenty of time for revisions.  

There is a difference between a comparison contrast essay and other report forms.  In general, comparison contrast essays require learners to interact with two different subjects in equal manner.  Therefore, they must be familiar with two subjects.  However, many essays only require learners to be familiar with one subject in depth.  Therefore, they may require less research and knowledge to create.

Contrast Essays

A contrast essay is one in which a student needs to compare two different ideas, themes, facts, persons, or otherwise on several different levels.  Many students will have to create contrast essays for different courses.  However, contrast essays aren't typical assignments that will be required of all students.

A contrast essay may be a somewhat normal assignment for students in a pre-medical program, legal program, or even an English program.  Basically, the idea of a contrast essay is that students compare the pros and cons or ideas presented in a variety of different ideas or themes.  For example, a student in a law program might have to complete a contrast essay on the benefits and setbacks of settling a legal case versus perusing a legal case to the full extent in a court of law.  

When English students need to create contrast essays, they generally need to compare two similar literary works.  For example, a student may need to compare two works of Shakespeare to determine how they're similar.  The student may also have to perform research in order to draw conclusions about why the works are similar or different, especially if they have common themes, such as suicide or drowning.  

Contrast essays may be difficult for many learners to write because they require that students understand two different topics in depth.  Students should therefore, keep detailed notes as they research a topic.  They can then compare their notes to the notes that they kept during their research on a second topic to find similarities and differences.  

A contrast essay format should be the same as any report format.  Just because contrast essays use a variety of ideas and facts doesn't mean that they require their own separate format, though many learners may choose to segment their documents to make communicating information easier.  

A contrast essay assignment is often very similar to a literature review in which students need to analyze and compare two or more works of literature.  However, contrast essays aren't the same as literature reviews because contrast essays always ask for comparisons and literature reviews only sometimes require comparisons.  

For example, some literature reviews can simply *mention* different literary works if they're important to the general topic of the review.  These works don't need to be mentioned together or even compared in order for them to be pertinent to the literature review.  However, in a contrast essay, the various works would need to be reviewed side-by-side so that students can show differences and similarities.

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How to Write an A+ Comparison Essay on any Topic

Published 3/10/2013

What is a Comparison Essay?

A comparison essay (or a Compare and Contrast essay) is a commonly used type of writing assignment in various classes of high school and college, from art to science. In a comparison essay you should critically analyze any two subjects, finding and pointing out their similarities and/or differences.

Depending on your assignment, such essays can be comparative only (looking only at similarities), contrasting only (pointing out the differences) or both comparative and contrasting.

Choosing a Topic for Comparison Essay

In order to write a good essay, first you need to have a good topic for it, i.e. a topic that lets you easily demonstrate your writing skills and get a high grade easily.

What does that mean specifically regarding the comparison essay? Very simple: the subjects must be easy comparable, so you don’t need to work too hard to point out their similarities or differences. For example:

A big college campus and a small college campus
World War I and World War II
Two perspectives on the same place: morning and night
William Shakespeare with William Wordsworth
Windows vs. Linux

Using the following links, you can find a lot of good comparison topics for your essay:

100 Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

50 Compare and Contrast Topics

List of Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Comparison Essay Structure

Considering the right structure for your essay is one of the key points of success. Sticking to a recommended essay structure is the only way to properly outline and write it, paragraph by paragraph from the introduction to conclusion, without mistakes.

There are two recommended patterns for a comparison essay: point-by-point (or "alternating") pattern and subject-by-subject (or "block") pattern.

Alternating pattern

Alternating pattern is also known as "point-by-point comparison". This mode of comparison will result in your essay having 5 paragraphs. Alternating pattern is also known as "point-by-point comparison". This mode of comparison will result in your essay having 5 paragraphs.

In it, you will need to consecutively compare and contrast each of the similarities and differences in the given subjects:

  • In the introduction you state your thesis.
  • Then you discuss both of your subjects together for each point of comparison and contrast.
  • In the conclusion you restate the thesis and shortly summarize your essay.

Block pattern

Block pattern is also known as "subject-by-subject comparison". According to this pattern, you will be required to separate the body of your compare and contrast essay in two parts.

The first part of the body will be dedicated to the first subject, while the other half will be centered around the second subject:

  • In the introduction you state your thesis.
  • First you discuss the first subject.
  • Then you discuss the second subject.
  • In the conclusion you restate the thesis and shortly summarize your essay.

Writing an A+ Comparison Essay


The introduction of an essay is very important. It gives the reader his/her first impression of the comparison essay’s text. Remember: first impression counts!

Grab the reader’s attention

There are a lot of tips and techniques to help you in capturing a reader’s interest. You can find some pretty good information in the following articles:

How to Grab the Reader's Attention

A Proper Introduction

Essay Introductions

The most common five methods to grab your reader's attention, commonly used by professionals, are the following:

  • Give a brief historical review of your topic for help reader to better understand it
  • Start from a little story or an anecdote, which leads the reader into your topic
  • Try to use a surprising statement – something disgusting, joyful or even shocking
  • "Dropping" the name of a well-known person (celebrity) usually gets the reader's attention
  • State straight out what your essay is going to be about, simply and clearly

Start from a short background

High school students often find it difficult to view their teachers as anything but "the enemy." However, after the first few months of a school year, students learn to appreciate their teachers as individuals with different approaches. Some teachers are "cool," while others are "tough."

State the thesis

Although Sally Strict & Larry Lax are both respected teachers at our school, their teaching styles and expectations for students differ significantly. While Ms. Strict maintains a highly structured classroom atmosphere to keep her pupils disciplined and motivated, Mr. Lax downplays structure in order to allow his students to push themselves.

Point paragraph

State the point

Finally, Ms. Strict enforces high standards for her students' written work.

Provide supporting details

She collects homework every day at the beginning of class; to turn it in five minutes late is to turn it in a whole day late. Every piece of writing, whether it is a journal entry or a formal essay, must be typed and stapled. Last but not least, all homework must display a sophisticated level of thinking and writing.

Use appropriate transitions

Transitions are important in comparison / contrast writing to avoid confusion. Without transitions, the points you are comparing / contrasting may blur into one another. Also, a variety of transitions prevent monotony.

For comparison:

Like, compared to, similar to, similarly, by analogy, likewise, in the same way, as well, both, too

For contrast:

Unlike, conversely, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, still, although, while, but, even though, although, despite, yet, regardless, on the one hand … one the other hand


The conclusion of a comparison essay is just as important as the introduction. The conclusion seals the comparison essay and tries to close the issue. Conclusion is the last part of the essay that your reader will experience.

Summarize the similarities and / or difference of the subjects

Thus, Ms. Strict and Mr. Lax both accomplish their goals of motivating their students to do excellent work, though they do so in very different ways: while Ms. Strict emphasizes the high standards she expects everyone can meet, Mr. Lax uses a more personal approach.

Emphasize the thesis and say why this topic is important

Their success demonstrates the importance of diversity in a school community: different students respond to different teaching styles. So rather than viewing their instructors as a monolithic "enemy" intent on making them suffer, students should recognize how they benefit from the variety of ways their teachers inspire them.

Finalizing your Work

Pay attention that even though your essay is fully written, it still isn’t ready to submission.

There are some common and annoying mistakes which may significantly harm your grade. However, you can avoid those grade lowering mistakes by completing the following checklist:

  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Ensure that your essay is fully compliant with the required formatting standard
  • Properly organize all the citations and the References / Works Cited page
  • Ensure that your title page is done as required
  • Take a final look at your paper to be certain that everything is indeed fine

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