This guide will walk you through the basic steps of writing a college compare and contrast essay, from choosing the topic and drawing the outline to checking facts and polishing style. Writing a compare and contrast essay is not much harder than comparing anything in your life. Actually, it is just an extended list of pros and cons with your own opinion as a conclusion. The two subjects should, of course, be comparable at all and fall into the same categories. You may compare two writers, two scientists who worked on the same topic, two people who faced the same problem and solved it differently. Anything, from pets to dishes to ideas fits the compare and contrast essay format.
Writing about two things isn’t twice as hard as about one. Just follow our guide and see that there are plenty of ways to start a compare and contrast essay and strict but easy rules to finish it. Let’s learn them! Now, when we know what does compare and contrast essay means, we can outline its structure. Like all the other essays this one starts with an introduction, ends with a conclusion, and has 4-5 paragraphs in between. Each paragraph should be dedicated to the one trait that defines both comparison subjects and is different for each of them. It’s a good idea to use a roughly equal amount of sentences while describing both subjects, even if you know the traits of one of them better. You should be fair in your essay and not show that you prefer one subject over another.
To start writingyou need to brainstorm a topic of the essay and the main traits you will compare. Remember that both subjects should either be well-known or you should dedicate an extra paragraph introducing them to the audience. Usually, compare and contrast essay topics are connected to acute social issues such as vegans vs meat eaters or pro-life approach vs pro-choice one. If you want to make your essay milder, you may use more neutral comparisons that are more of a matter of taste, such as cats vs dogs or Mozart vs Beethoven. Still, don’t try to make your paper too neutral. You need a kind of hook for compare and contrast essay. Unlike narrative essays, this type is a bit more limited, so the topic itself should be thought-provoking or, at least, have interesting and non-standard arguments for and against both subjects.
What is a compare and contrast essay in a nutshell? A formalized argument where you present both sides simultaneously. Make a list of the possible facts these sides can use. You may create a list of similarities and a list of differences, or write down all the points and check each of them separately. Use the most drastic differences for your first paragraph to catch the audience’s attention. But remember that the best arguments are the different values of the same category. E.g. you take the attitude to dogs and see that John loves dogs and even plans to have one, and Kate is scared of them and won’t even visit the house where the dog lives. The dogs are the joining factor, but the attitude to them is the “contrast” part. You may use diagrams or graphs to organize your arguments. Later you may even neat them up and add them to your essay to make everything more understandable with the visual aid.
After choosing your compare and contrast essay topic it’s time to start making the draft of your exact structure. Take your word limit (if you have one. If you don’t the college essays are usually limited to roughly 600 words). Divide it evenly between your main argument points. Don’t forget to leave a few sentences for the introduction, conclusion, and, if you need it, a short explanation of the subject of your essay. Write down the main idea of each paragraph. If we take the previous example, one of the paragraphs will be named “Attitude to dogs”. When everything is done and you love the order of your paragraphs (putting the most interesting, vivid, or thought-provoking at the beginning and something to attract the audience again at the end), it’s time to add flesh to your “skeleton”. Start writing about each point!
Effective comparisons are the hook for compare and contrast essay you are making. Use the ones that the audience can relate to. Fun facts are fun, but if you want your readers to be truly fascinated, get down to the serious things. You may back up your points with extra pieces of evidence, research, or (if you aren’t writing about a historical person or event) your own experience. Quote the people you are describing and include as much information as possible while staying within your word limit. Transitional words are the markers of your compare and contrast essay. They transfer your audience from one subject to the other smoothly and add extra credibility (and points!) to your essay. Try using “likewise”, “similarly”, and “both” for comparison, and “whereas” and “nonetheless” and “unlike” for contrast and you’ll instantly see your text as more classy and professional.
Finishing writing doesn’t mean finishing your work. Writing a compare and contrast essay is a big job, but proofreading isn’t a less important one. Read your essay aloud, get the wordy or clumsy sentences, and rewrite them. Grammar checking tools are your best friends now because they will eliminate any mistakes that you may not grasp. You may ask a friend to double-check your essay or read it by yourself the next morning after “rebooting” your brain. We are rarely unbiased concerning our own works, so we need either another person or time to rest to see some silly mistakes we could miss for the first time. Writing a compare and contrast essay is a common task in college. It teaches us to structure our thoughts, see both sides of the problem, and logically divide similar and different traits. Such skills are a great aid in the future life when you need to make real decisions, often even hard ones. Compare and contrast essays aren’t about just arguing. They help you to see the pros and cons of each side and choose yours with confidence.