Compare and Contrast Essay

Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay – Different Essay Types

The process of writing a compare and contrast essay involves identifying new links or differences between two items. “New” is the key or operative word in this task. 

Select two items that might fit in the one category but also have a number of differences.

The following are a few good options: 

  • Painting and singing (both of these are forms of art but are different in several ways)
  • Football and basketball (both of these are sports but are different in several ways)
  • Dogs and horses (both of these are animals but are different in several ways).

Make a note of the characteristics or features of each item to generate some essay ideas. Make a note of the similarities and differences.

Before beginning to write your draft, here are a few essential questions you should ask of yourself:  

  • Does your tutor want you to both compare and contrast the items, or are you required to do just one of these tasks?
  • Are the two items you are looking at different and/or similar in at least one way?
  • Do you know a sufficient amount about your topic for you to be able to write a good compare and contrast essay on it. 

Do you need to compare and contrast or is only one of these tasks required?

Sometimes, a tutor may prefer you to write only about the similarities in two items, while other tutors may require you to look at the differences. In either case, it is important to ensure your tutor’s requirements are reflected in your thesis statement. Say, for instance, your essay topic relates to social media websites, the thesis statements you write may need to be different depending on your assignment’s instructions. 

Here is an example of a thesis statement for a contrast only essay: “As far as social media websites are concerned, MySpace is more focused on allowing you to demonstrate your own personalized style while Facebook is good for discussing daily life with other users.” 

Here is an example of a thesis statement for a compare and contrast essay: While it is possible to meet other people who share the same interests as you on both MySpace and Facebook, it is only possible to showcase your own personalized style on MySpace.”      

Do you need to compare two items that are alike and/or different in at least one important way?

To write a good compare and contrast essay, you should avoid writing about similarities and differences that are obvious, e.g., “everyone knows that there are more players on a football team than on a basketball team” or “everyone knows that cats are much smaller than horses.”

Talk about something that readers do not know or may not notice!

A better approach would be to talk about how cats and horses are both sensitive to human feelings or that a basketball player requires more versatility than a football player who needs to focus more on teamwork. 

To ensure your compare and contrast essay is successful, you need not be particularly clever. The process simply involves looking at mundane things in a fresh or more innovative way.  

Do you know your topic sufficiently well to write a good compare and contrast essay?  

Unless some research work is specifically requested for your essay project, select two items that you feel confident or comfortable about discussing in detail.

A tutor can sometimes ask you to identify several likenesses and differences. So, before you begin, be prepared to craft a meaningful and fully-developed essay on a topic you are very familiar with.  

How to Organize Your Compare Contrast Essay

Essentially, there are two key methods for organizing an essay of the compare and contrast variety:

  • The piecing method means providing pieces of information about each item in individual paragraphs i.e. organizing your information according to topic.

The chunking method involves putting all information for each item in one block or chunk. Then select the similarities and use them as transitions.