How to write a comparative essay

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If you’re assigned to write a comprehensive comparative paper, you are only a few steps away from its successful submission. How to write a comparative essay? Start with choosing 2 subjects that have enough differences and similarities to be compared in a good way. For example, consider two governmental systems or two sports teams. When you choose appropriate subjects, find a few points of comparison and use the following elements to captivate and impress the audience:

  • Well-structured paragraphs;
  • Deep research;
  • Strong facts.

Writing comparative papers is an important skill that students need to use many times during their studies.

How to develop the best content

Read and analyze assignment prompts and questions carefully. You may have good ideas for a comparative essay in your head, but if they don’t match given prompts, you will fail to write a good paper in the end. Look at assignment requirements attentively and underline all keywords or phrases. Keep their list at hand while writing your essay because most comparative assignments signal their basic purpose by using specific words. Check whether your prompts contain any limits placed on a topic.

Understanding the right type of comparison

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Next, you should understand the type of comparison paper that teachers ask you to write. Some essays are standard compare and contrast, while others ask you to start with a certain framework and develop an argument or an evaluation based on comparisons. For these comparative essays, just pointing out either different or similar things won’t be enough.

Generally, assignment prompts ask different guiding questions if you’re asked to incorporate a comparison as a part of a bigger writing task. If you aren’t clear on what you need to do, talk to teachers to clarify all questions and avoid ending up with an incorrect essay.

Listing differences and similarities

Although you’re asked to submit a comparative paper, the inclusion of contrasting materials should be implied when listing both differences and similarities of the items you want to compare. Making a list of things that they have in common and their differences is the best place to get started.

Evaluate this list because it’s likely that the assigned word limit won’t let you write about everything on it. Read your list and identify common patterns or themes among all items because this simple technique will help you choose the basis of a future comparison. Feel free to develop a particular system, including highlighting different similarities in different colors.

Establishing the basis of your comparison

The basis of your comparison should be established because it provides the whole paper with the right context or how you will examine chosen items. The basis has different forms, including:

  • A theoretical approach, like multiculturalism or feminism;
  • A historical theme, such as emancipation and colonialism;
  • Anything that does with details, characteristics, or themes about different things;
  • A frame of referencing or a ground for a comparison;
  • A problem or question to find an answer or a solution.

Your comparison must have an overarching idea or a specific thesis to determine the main reason why you want to compare given objects. Sometimes, instructors assign a basis in prompts, so check them carefully.

Researching the subjects of comparison

Although you need to have a deep understanding of the things compared, you shouldn’t provide readers with more details that this assignment can handle. Compare several aspects of every topic instead of covering it comprehensively. Research is not always appropriate for or required by a given assignment. If a comparative essay isn’t meant to include it, you can skip this step. Comparative papers about the following topics are more likely to require students to research:

  • Social issues;
  • Historical events;
  • Science-related matters.

You need to cite any data correctly and based on a particular discipline.

Developing a thesis statement

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Every comparative paper must be controlled by a concise and clear thesis. Even if teachers assign a basis for comparison, it’s still necessary to express in a short sentence why you want to compare specific items. Ensure that your comparison reveals something about their nature or relationship. The main purpose of a thesis statement is to express a major argument.

How to organize your essay content

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Before you start writing a comparative essay, outline or plan the most effective organization strategy. A unique feature of this assignment is that you can choose from different organization methods. Some students prefer to use a standard outline, while others choose different methods, such as bulleted points in the right order. For example, you can write down key points on sticky notes to rearrange them when needed.

Using a mixed-paragraphs method

This organization strategy requires you to address both comparison halves in every paragraph. The first one compares the first aspect of every subject, while the second one compares the second, etc. However, you need to address all subjects in the same order. The greatest benefit of this method is that it keeps a comparison in readers’ minds while forcing you to pay equal attention to every side of your argument. This structuring method is often chosen for complicated subjects or lengthy comparative essays where both readers and writers may easily get lost.

Alternating subjects in all paragraphs

Discuss only one subject in one paragraph, which means that the first one will compare only a single aspect of the subject and the same aspect of others. Your basic task is to address every subject in the same order. The main benefit of this essay structure is that it allows students to discuss all points in more detail while making it less complicated to tacks radically different topics. It’s usually recommended for the comparative essays that require more depth and details.

Covering only one subject at a time

Devote the first set of body paragraphs to addressing each aspect of the first subject. The second set should address each aspect of the second one, thus addressing every point in the same order. This structuring method seems quite tricky for some students because a comparison can easily become 1-sided and hard to follow for the audience. You can use it only for short comparative essays with simple subjects that readers can easily remember.

How to write your essay

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Your comparative essay can be written out of order. Although many teachers advise their students to sit down and complete this assignment from start to finish, this method is hard and likely to make all ideas disjointed. That’s why you should try the following writing approach instead.

Write body paragraphs first and work through any information that you have to see what story it can tell you. Only after that, you will know a larger point of your essay. Next, write a concluding paragraph because the main point is still fresh in your mind. The essay introduction is usually written last, and it’s all about rephrasing or reorganizing its conclusion, but you shouldn’t use the same phrases and words. Finally, proofread and edit your comparative essay to fix all errors.

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