How to write a compare and contrast paper: key points

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A compare and contrast essay is a common writing task for high school and college students. It is used by professors who teach various subjects. So you can be assigned this essay type for your art class as well as asked to make a comparison analysis for a science course. Comparing things suggests providing critical analysis of two subjects and identifying their differences and similarities.

Depending on the instructions, you may be offered to compare the subjects only, contrast the things only or do both – discover what is different and similar between them.

The challenge of a good compare and contrast essay is to select the subjects to compare. There can be two or even more things described in the paper but for the effectiveness, all of them should have certain connections between each other. That means you should pick the subjects the similarities of which are unexpected and the differences are hardly seen. Do not compare the things which are obviously different or almost alike.

For instance, for a contrasting paper, it is senseless to oppose football and water polo while it would be more productive to weigh the differences between each notion separately. You may approach water polo in terms of a female and male sport or study how this game looked in the past and what it is today.

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Taken the football, it will not be interesting to distinguish between the roles of a defender or an attacking player while finding distinctions between a defender and midfielder functions will heighten the audience’s attention to these options.

These examples show that the purpose of a contrasting paper is to oppose the subjects that belong to a similar category.

The purpose of a comparative essay is identifying the similarities between the options that may seem completely unconnected. Here, it is good to consider what football and water polo have in common. Another example is to compare traditional and alternative methods of cancer treatment. They look unrelated due to the use of different therapeutic techniques and medications. However, the more dissonant they are, the more engaging the paper will be.

As to a compare and contrast paper, it does both – shows the distinctive and identical features of the things you are going to analyze.

Let us point out that a perfect compare and contrast essay does not constitute the surface-level facts but gives a deep critical analysis of the two subjects so that the reader will better understand the connections between them.

Brainstorming and organizing ideas

Once assigned to penetrate into the similarities and differences of two concepts, you may get overwhelmed with a bunch of the things to examine. However, it is rather difficult to select the meaningful ones if there are too many ideas in your head. Many writers make a gross mistake shoving all the stuff into the paper which eventually does nothing except for fact recitation.

Not to get messed up with the myriads of options, we recommend using a Venn diagram. It is a tool which shows the relationships among objects that have something in common. The two sets or circles are overlapped. Before writing your draft, arrange your ideas about each subject into two circles. In the area where the circles overlap you should fill in with the information related to both subjects. It will help you identify exactly what is common or different between them. Once the diagram is packed with the ideas, you have a clear picture of the whole issue and can decide what things to include in your paper. When choosing, focus on the facts that relate to your argument.

In this way, you are narrowing down the range of ideas. Have a few points to describe rather than many ones. Otherwise, you will not be able to cover all of them within your essay. Then focus on several most significant similarities and differences between them. That will give you more space for the discussion.

Why a five-paragraph structure

If you employ a Venn diagram for comparing things, it makes sense to choose a five paragraph scheme for your essay. Three sections in the diagram correspondingly make three paragraphs in the paper plus intro and conclusion. So if your task is to contrast and compare, a simpler format does not allow you to provide an in-depth discussion having only two body paragraphs.

Let’s describe the structure of the essay in detail:

The introduction

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Once the topic is chosen, you introduce it in the first two sentences with the help of an anecdote or some engaging story. Your aim is to make it as appealing as possible that is why try not to speak like a highbrow. Instead write in a facile manner, without pressure and moralizing. At the same time, your topic should sound provocative.

Like other papers, a compare and contrast essay has a thesis which comes the last in the introduction. Here, it must clearly show what you will compare or contrast, or both. It also explains why you are doing this. Remember, that your goal is to enable the readers better learn and understand the subjects you are discussing. And a good thesis is the key to a successful analysis.

The essay body

It can be presented in two ways. You may arrange your ideas according to the subjects and analyze them. Another way is to describe the subjects according to individual points.

For example, you are examining Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, both are wizard students of Hogwarts. While listing their characteristic features, you have discovered some important similarities between them which are their personality, abilities and ambitions. These are three points for you to base on while comparing these two heroes.

The first way to organize these points is to choose a parallel method:

Para 1:

  • Potter’s personality
  • Potter’s abilities
  • Potter’s ambitions

Para 2:

  • Granger’s personality
  • Granger’s abilities
  • Granger’s ambitions

Para 3:

  • Analysis of their similarities

Another pattern looks like this:

Para 1:

  • Potter’s personality
  • Granger’s personality

Para 2:

  • Potter’s abilities
  • Granger’s abilities

Para 3:

  • Potter’s ambitions
  • Granger’s ambitions

Of course, it is up to you how to accomplish your compare and contrast paper. You always have a chance to be creative and your final choice as for the structure depends on how the chosen points relate to the thesis statement.

The conclusion

In this paragraph, you finalize the essay with a brief summary of the researched arguments. Then you restate the thesis statement without leaving the questions unanswered. The rule for any conclusion is not to add anything new to the paragraph. If there are three body parts, there have to be three sentences in the last essay part which resume everything being said above.

The language of the essay

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The features of an A score paper is a literary language and appropriate style plus logical writing. At the first sight, it seems to be impossible to follow all these regulations. However, you will achieve better results by considering these tips:

  • Do not personalize your point. Write: “It is obvious that”, “As we can see”, “The available evidence suggests that”, “Popular views show that”, etc.
  • To compare the subjects and highlight the significant moments use connecting words such as: likewise, compared to, both, similarly, same as, as well as, correspondingly, etc.
  • To show the contrasting effects try to include these words in your paragraphs: although, despite, even though, however, larger, nevertheless, on the other hand, rather, unlike, etc.
  • Avoid being biased

Let’s condense the ideas

The ability to write according to academic standards requires lots of practice and knowledge. Every time you craft a paper, you acquire certain skills. We expect that these ideas will help you improve your writing skills and feel more confident with your further writing tasks. Make sure you will implement these rules while writing a compare and contrast essay:

  • Use the prompt to decide whether you will compare or contrast the subject, or both
  • Use a Venn diagram or a listing method to organize your ideas
  • Focus on a few important points to leave more space for analysis
  • Use a five-paragraph format
  • Show what you are going to evaluate and why in the thesis
  • Choose between two basic patterns to compare and contrast things
  • Support your argument with enough evidence, facts and statistics taken from credible sources
  • Write an accumulative conclusion
  • Edit your essay with the help of experienced adults or ask our reputable writing service
  • Find amazing ideas for your essay topic at our writing service

This is not the end, look for more writing tips on how to write a compare and contrast paper in the articles of qualified specialists. They are passionate about providing useful things for those who want to learn more about academic and business writing. Find the examples of brilliant contrast and essay papers produced by our unrivalled writers who work day and night to serve every customer who needs writing help.

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