How to write a compare and contrast essay effectively

Before actually learning how to write a compare and contrast essay, you need to understand the purpose and format of this kind of academic writing. As for the first one, it is about analyzing the differences and common features of two objects. The thing is that a good compare and contrast essay is not only supposed to compare something, but also to provide a meaningful and deep explanation of why it is so, while using strong arguments to prove your point of view. As you can see, it is quite a time and effort consuming process, requiring much attention and careful research. In this article, we provided a number of tips and guidelines that will hopefully make it easier for you to cope with this assignment.

Start writing your essay

Obviously, the first thing you should do in terms of learning how to write a compare and contrast essay, is choosing two objects to analyze in your essay. If you are not assigned to analyze already given objects, you will have to come up with your own choice. Keep in mind that they have to be different enough so you could find at least several differences. Anyway, take a look at the following things you should pay attention to when choosing the objects for your essay:

  • The chosen subjects should lie in the same area of studies, the same field of interests or they both have to belong to a particular category. For example, it can be two types of food, two styles of music, two paintings of different painters.
  • The objects may not belong to the same category, as long as they have an unexpected common feature.
  • Choose two objects that seem the same at first sight but that are different in reality. For example, you may choose a book and a movie that have the same scenario but are actually about different things.

When your choice is already made, make sure that you will be able to analyze these objects in a meaningful way. It is important because a college essay requires serious analysis, based on a grounded research. You need to show your reader the reason why these two objects are interesting to compare and why your essay is useful in your area of studies.

Tips how to start a compare and contrast essay

Now that you have chosen what to analyze, you can proceed to writing. Here is the time to come up with your main points, around which you are going to build your discussion. At first, we suggest you creating a list of all kinds of ways how the objects can be compared. Then you will have to turn it into a short list, mentioning only the most important and relevant ideas.

After that, you need to develop a strong thesis. It is important to make it clear and understandable, as well as interesting to read about. Consider the following:

  • Explain to your readers why, in your opinion, one object is more desirable or useful than the other one.
  • Help readers take part in the analyzing process. This is possible if you provide such ideas that they didn’t hear about before. If they find something new in your essay, it will make them think and analyze as well.
  • Show both of the sides. You need to list, prove and explain not only the differences, but also the common features of the both objects.
  • Make sure you will be able to put all this information into your paper, considering the required length. If it’s a five paragraph essay, your body part will take only three paragraphs, which is why you need to pick up only the most significant ideas.

Creating a compare and contrast essay outline

Outlining is always an essential part of working on a college paper. This is how you can organize your thoughts, ideas, all the needed material and put everything in the right order. This is going to be kind of a template that will guide you through writing the whole paper, while helping you follow a good structure. To create a good outline, you need to divide your paper into the following parts:

  • The introduction. This is the first part of your essay, which makes it so important because here you will set the mood and style of your compare and contrast essay, introduce your topic and the main idea that stands out most of all, and also you will have to write down your thesis here.
  • The body of your essay. As a rule, this part takes three paragraphs, but it depends on the instructions of your professor. Every paragraph should start with a new idea and provide its little conclusion. In the middle of a paragraph there have to be arguments supporting the viewpoint provided in the first sentence of it.
  • Acknowledgement of counterarguments. It is important because it will show that you have done a serious research and that you are aware of all the opposite points of view in regard of the discussed issue. At the same time, you need to prove that these counterarguments are weaker than yours or that they simply cannot be applied.
  • The conclusion part. Here, you need yo summarize all the ideas and evidences. Typically students also restate the thesis statement provided in the introduction, but restating itself is not enough. Give some more information or motivate your readers to further discussion or analysis.

Organizing your body paragraphs

Not every student takes some time to do this, but it’s really helpful, especially if you are aimed at a good mark. Your body paragraphs need to have an internal structure to provide all your ideas and arguments appropriately. Make sure all all your body paragraphs consist of the next essential components:

  • The opening sentence. This sentence serves as an introduction of the idea that will be discussed further in the paragraph. They can also serve as logical links connecting the previous paragraph to the following one.
  • The body of the paragraph. This is where you need to provide your arguments, evidences and examples supporting the idea given in the opening sentence of this paragraph.
  • The conclusion of your paragraph. Here you need to make a brief summary of the paragraph and also make a logical transition to the next paragraph.

Creating a good title

Further learning how to write a compare and contrast essay requires creating a title. Knowing your objects doesn’t mean knowing the title. This part of work has to be done when everything else is ready. This is your chance to grab your potential reader’s attention, so your title needs to be catchy, narrow and bright. Don’t make it too long, because long titles are hard to remember. Instead, try to make it as narrow as possible, while using the key words and announcing the topic of your paper. You have to take into consideration your target audience and figure out what kind of title would seem interesting to them. Typically an effective title is the one that provides the main idea and intrigues the reader at the same time.

A good way idea would be to take a look at your conclusion, where you provided the summary of your main points and pick up the key words from there. Since your title has to sound loud and be attractive, you may use one or two key words and connect them to a quote or a joke that your target audience may like. However, be very careful when choosing the joke and make sure everybody will get it right.

Before submitting your essay

When your compare and contrast essay is already done, don’t hurry up to submit it. We recommend you taking a break and put it away for a couple of days, if possible. In case if the deadline is too close, take at least a few hours for a break. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest mistakes that students commit when it comes to college papers, is that they submit it immediately, and then it turns out that they had grammar and other errors in their papers. Some of the mistakes you can’t see in the process of writing or right after you finished. That is why, in order to look at it with a fresh eye, the most useful thing is to forget about it for a while and then proofread and check it again.

Make sure there are no holes in your paper and that you answered the question, provided enough of arguments and that your paper actually sounds convincing. A good idea would be also to give your paper to someone else, like some of your family members or a friend, in order to listen to their comments.

Reviewing your essay

This means that you have to check if there are any grammar errors, spelling or stylish mistakes, whether there are any repetitions or confusing statements. Also, make sure you followed the instructions appropriately and the format of your essay meets all the requirements of your professor.

Look for any bias, both intentional and unintentional. Are there any obvious counterarguments that you avoided mentioning because you didn’t want them to weaken your own arguments? If so, rewrite that part of your paper.

As you see, understanding how to write a compare and contrast essay is not that easy. However, we have some other option for you. Contact us right away and we will help you with your writing!