How to write a compare and contrast paper: key points

How to write a compare and contrast paper

A compare and contrast essay is a common writing task for highschool and college students. It is used by professors who teachvarious subjects. So you can be assigned this essay type for yourart class as well as asked to make a comparison analysis for ascience course. Comparing things suggests providing criticalanalysis of two subjects and identifying their differences andsimilarities.

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

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

For instance, for a contrasting paper, it is senseless to opposefootball and water polo while it would be more productive toweigh the differences between each notion separately. You mayapproach water polo in terms of a female and male sport or studyhow this game looked in the past and what it is today.

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

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

The purpose of a comparative essay is identifying thesimilarities between the options that may seem completelyunconnected. Here, it is good to consider what football and waterpolo have in common. Another example is to compare traditionaland alternative methods of cancer treatment. They look unrelateddue to the use of different therapeutic techniques andmedications. However, the more dissonant they are, the moreengaging the paper will be.

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

Let us point out that a perfect compare and contrast essay doesnot constitute the surface-level facts but gives a deep criticalanalysis of the two subjects so that the reader will betterunderstand the connections between them.

Brainstorming and organizing ideas

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

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

In this way, you are narrowing down the range of ideas. Have afew points to describe rather than many ones. Otherwise, you willnot be able to cover all of them within your essay. Then focus onseveral most significant similarities and differences betweenthem. 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 senseto choose a five paragraph scheme for your essay. Three sectionsin the diagram correspondingly make three paragraphs in the paperplus intro and conclusion. So if your task is to contrast andcompare, a simpler format does not allow you to provide anin-depth discussion having only two body paragraphs.

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

The introduction

Once the topic is chosen, you introduce it in the first twosentences with the help of an anecdote or some engaging story.Your aim is to make it as appealing as possible that is why trynot to speak like a highbrow. Instead write in a facile manner,without pressure and moralizing. At the same time, your topicshould sound provocative.

Like other papers, a compare and contrast essay has a thesiswhich comes the last in the introduction. Here, it must clearlyshow what you will compare or contrast, or both. It also explainswhy you are doing this. Remember, that your goal is to enable thereaders better learn and understand the subjects you arediscussing. And a good thesis is the key to a successfulanalysis.

The essay body

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

For example, you are examining Harry Potter and Hermione Granger,both are wizard students of Hogwarts. While listing theircharacteristic features, you have discovered some importantsimilarities between them which are their personality, abilitiesand ambitions. These are three points for you to base on whilecomparing these two heroes.

The first way to organize these points is to choose a parallelmethod:

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 andcontrast paper. You always have a chance to be creative and yourfinal choice as for the structure depends on how the chosenpoints relate to the thesis statement.

The conclusion

In this paragraph, you finalize the essay with a brief summary ofthe researched arguments. Then you restate the thesis statementwithout leaving the questions unanswered. The rule for anyconclusion is not to add anything new to the paragraph. If thereare three body parts, there have to be three sentences in thelast essay part which resume everything being said above.

The language of the essay

How to write a compare and contrast paper

The features of an A score paper is a literary language andappropriate style plus logical writing. At the first sight, itseems 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”, “Popularviews show that”, etc.
  • To compare the subjects and highlight the significant momentsuse 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 inyour 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 requireslots of practice and knowledge. Every time you craft a paper, youacquire certain skills. We expect that these ideas will help youimprove your writing skills and feel more confident with yourfurther writing tasks. Make sure you will implement these ruleswhile writing a compare and contrast essay:

  • Use the prompt to decide whether you will compare or contrastthe 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 foranalysis
  • 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 contrastthings
  • Support your argument with enough evidence, facts andstatistics taken from credible sources
  • Write an accumulative conclusion
  • Edit your essay with the help of experienced adults or askour reputable writing service
  • Find amazing ideas for your essay topic at our writingservice

This is not the end, look for more writing tips on how to write acompare and contrast paper in the articles of qualifiedspecialists. They are passionate about providing useful thingsfor those who want to learn more about academic and businesswriting. Find the examples of brilliant contrast and essay papersproduced by our unrivalled writers who work day and night toserve every customer who needs writing help.

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