Comparing and contrasting are skills we learn at an early stage in our life. We are taught to examine and discuss two or more topics to develop our analytical skills. The role of teachers in this is to help us expand that skill and prepare us for an analytical writing process.
Many students find compare and contrast essays more challenging than regular descriptive or narrative essays. There is not that much difference except that the focus in the former is on two or more subjects. For some people, it seems so complicated that they would rather think “who can I pay to do my homework” than figure it out.
One thing that differentiates a compare and contrast essay from the rest is its structure. But, let’s take this slow and provide you with all details on creating a reputable compare and contrast essay.
Compare vs. Contrast
Before you begin writing a compare and contrast essay, you should understand its purpose. You need to pick two or more different subjects and elaborate on their differences – that’s contrast, and their similarities – that’s the comparison.
Both subjects must get equal attention and space in the essay. This requires turning your critical thinking and descriptive writing skills to a high level. Good examples for comparing and contrasting essay topics are travel destinations, current events, or products.
It is important to note that comparing and contrasting is done on two related or similar subjects. For instance, you can analyze two political figures or the positive and negative experiences of reading from an e-reader vs. reading from an actual book.
Organizing the Writing Process
Organizing a compare and contrast essay is done in more or less the same manner as other essays. The only difference here is that you need to gather the data twice, for each subject. Let’s briefly recap on what are the steps of writing an essay.
- Understand what is being asked of you in the assignment. If you miss the point, then all that effort will go to waste.
- Research the subjects and find all the sources you can use.
- Brainstorm by dropping down ideas of what you wish to cover. Mapping the similarities and differences will help you understand what you need to focus on.
- Create the body content. It’s always recommended to write the body text first and then do the introduction and conclusion at the end. Students tend to spend a lot of time on the introduction, which in the end, will not correspond to the body text.
- Edit your work to eliminate any errors you may have made and, if possible, ask someone to proofread your essay. A fresh set of objective eyes are always welcome to pick up on any oversights.
Structure is Everything
So far, we have covered the standard procedure behind all essay writing. Now comes the important part making the compare and contrast essay writing process different from others. During your brainstorming phase, it’s recommended that you use a Venn diagram to help you organize your thoughts and ideas.
A Venn Diagram is a great visual tool that consists of a set of overlapping circles.
In each circle, write the characteristics or differences of each subject. In the section where the circles overlap, write the characteristics or similarities of both subjects.
The Venn diagram is not included in your essay, so there is no need to stress over it. This is just a helping tool in structuring your arguments better.
Once you’ve completed this phase, think about the very content structure.
Your compare and contrast essay can be structured in two ways:
1. Block structure
here, the subjects are listed one by one. You present your ideas on one subject and then discuss the second further in the text.
Practically, this is what a block structure should look like:
- Subject 1
- Point 1
- Point 2
- Transition sentence or paragraph
- Subject 2
- Point 1
- Point 2
2. Point-to-point or alternating structure
This method is used to compare the two subjects side by side. So, you take the similarities or differences of one subject and immediately follow them up with those of the second subject.
- Point 1 – Subject 1>Subject 2
- Point 2 – Subject 1>Subject 2
There is no magic formula to choosing the best structure for your compare and contrast essay. Some prefer the block structure, which is easier to write. Others prefer the point-to-point or alternating structure, which gives a clearer view of the similarities and differences.
It’s important to remember that being objective is the key to a well-written compare and contrast essay. Don’t be emotional and put the focus more on one or the other subject. Give each subject the equal attention they deserve.
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