Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Tips and Examples

A compare and contrast essay — what is it? In this type of paper, you compare two different things or ideas, highlighting what is similar between the two, and you also contrast them, highlighting what is different. The two things might be events, people, books, points of view, lifestyles, or things. In a good compare and contrast essay, you don’t only compare the two issues. You also make a meaningful argument about them.

In a Compare & Contrast Essay, You Highlight What Is Similar & What Is Different between Two Issues

Want to learn more? Keep reading this article by Custom Writing experts! It contains the top tips for writing a compare and contrast essay that will win you your professors’ praises.  

💡 Choose a Compare & Contrast Essay Topic

Sometimes the assignment gives you the freedom to choose a topic at your pleasure. In this case, you may be bewildered by what to compare. Almost anything can be contrasted, but few comparisons can raise a vivid interest. 

An intriguing topic makes the writing process more comfortable, not to mention its readability. To choose a successful title, read the next tips.

  • Avoid comparing apparently different things. Everybody knows that good and evil are different. Notably, this refers to protagonists in literature.
  • Also, try not to contrapose inherently similar objects. You may not find enough information to develop the main body.
  • The best choice is to compare seemingly different but actually similar things or vice versa.
  • Choose an inspiring topic that you are familiar with.
  • Will you find enough information to support your thesis statement?

To clarify the pieces of advice mentioned above, read the following compare and contrast essay ideas

Example:

  1. Master’s Degree vs. Ph.D
  2. Eastern vs. Western cultures
  3. Homeschooling vs. traditional education
  4. SAT vs. TOEFL
  5. Research paper vs. essay
  6. Camping in the mountains vs. seaside resort
  7. Childhood vs. adolescence
  8. Online vs. offline commerce
  9. Horror vs. romantic movies
  10. Science fiction vs. historical novels
  11. Online dating vs. real-life dating
  12. Regular vs. 3D movies
  13. Gas cars vs. electric cars
  14. Extroverts vs. introverts
  15. Workplace violence vs. school violence
  16. The Bible vs. the Torah
  17. Yoga vs. Pilates
  18. Eating at home vs. eating out
  19. Vacationing on the Atlantic Ocean vs. the Pacific Ocean
  20. Comedy vs. horror movies
  21. Living in the city vs. the country

⚖️ Learn How to Make a Comparison Uncover the Best Similarities and Differences

After you’ve chosen the issues for your compare and contrast essay, you need to make sure they can be discussed in a meaningful way. A mere possibility to compare is not enough. The comparison should be interesting for the readers.

For example, your task is to compare and contrast the Vegan diet and the Paleo Diet. What do you know about these diets? What is interesting about their similarities and differences? In other words: What specific similarities and differences can you pick out about these two diets that will enable you to understand what makes them alike and what makes them different?

You will have to make a list of every similarity and difference you can think of between the two things/ideas to get the full picture. You can organize these into categorized lists, but then you have to go through each list to separate what is similar from what is not.

However, there is a better way: The Learning Center at UNC-Chapel Hill suggests the use of a Venn Diagram to aid you in determining what the two things or ideas have in common and what is completely distinct about each of them 

This simple diagram will make it easy to find the differences and similarities between the two things that make up the essay’s topic. Just fill them in the diagram and then choose the top similarities and the top differences.

Paleo vs. Vegan.

With these similarities and differences, you may choose a thesis for your essay that will make it possible for you to get your argument effectively across.

☠️ Formulate a Thesis for Your Compare & Contrast Essay

The whole objective of this paper type is to compare and contrast two different aspects of a topic. Sometimes a topic is assigned, and sometimes you choose your own. Either way, you will need to decide on your thesis.

The best part of all is that you have your compare and contrast thesis statement in the bag because you already have your similarities and differences all mapped out and have chosen the best of them. Perhaps your essay can explain why people who choose one of these two diets hate the other diet and how this animosity is not necessary.

The questions below will help you formulate a thesis statement for your compare and contrast essay.

What is relevant to the course and the specific assignment?
What is most informative and interesting?
What is the basic idea of the topic?
Which similarities and differences are relevant to your argument?
Whether the similarities or differences are more important?

Here is an example of a compare and contrast thesis statement:

Example:

Both Paleo and Vegan diets have health benefits, but the ideal choice will depend on a person’s level of health, their desired results, and their personal philosophy on harming animals and the earth.

📑 Learn How to Outline Your Compare & Contrast Essay

There are two main methods you can use when making your compare and contrast essay outline. Each of them helps you convey the similarities and differences between your two ideas. 

  1. The Point-by-Point Method 
  2. The Block Method

Point-by-Point Comparison

The point-by-point method implies that each of the body paragraphs compares the issues A and B by one parameter.   The outline of your compare & contrast essay body would look like this:

Example:

Part 1:

  • Parameter 1: Discuss A
  • Parameter 1: Discuss B
  • Compare A and B by the parameter 1

Part 2:

  • Parameter 2: Discuss A
  • Parameter 2: Discuss B
  • Compare A and B by the parameter 2

Etc.

Now let’s take a look at a compare and contrast essay outline done point by point. Note that we use the topic discussed in the above sections.

Compare & Contrast Essay Outline: Point-by-Point Method

Example:

Vegan Diet vs. Paleo Diet

Introduction:

  • General information
  • Specific topic
  • Thesis statement: Both Paleo and Vegan diets have health benefits, but the ideal choice will depend on a person’s level of health, their desired results, and their personal philosophy on harming animals and the earth.

Body

Paragraph 1: A person’s level of health will determine which diet is the best choice.

This paragraph will compare and contrast the Paleo and Vegan diets based on potential health issues a person might have, such as a specific disease or food allergies.

Paragraph 2: A person’s desired results will have an effect on which diet they choose.

This paragraph will compare and contrast the Paleo and Vegan diets based on why a person would choose the diet and the desired results, i.e., better health and weight loss.

Paragraph 3: A person’s personal philosophy on animals and the earth will factor into their decision on which diet to choose.

This paragraph will compare and contrast the Paleo and Vegan Diets based on a person’s personal philosophy regarding harming animals and which diet is better for the overall environment and the planet’s health.

Conclusion:

  • Summary of the main points
  • Evaluation of the thesis
  • Why this is significant

Block Comparison

Using the block method, you first present all the parameters of A, and then compare them to the parameters of B. The outline of a compare & contrast essay body would look like this:

Part 1:

  • Parameter 1: Discuss A
  • Parameter 2: Discuss A
  • Parameter 3: Discuss A

Part 2:

  • Parameter 1: Discuss B (in relation to A)
  • Parameter 2: Discuss B (in relation to A)
  • Parameter 3: Discuss B (in relation to A)

Etc.

Compare & Contrast Essay Outline: Block Method

Example:

Vegan Diet vs. Paleo Diet

Introduction

  • General information
  • Specific topic
  • Thesis statement: Both Paleo and Vegan diets have health benefits, but the ideal choice will depend on a person’s level of health, their desired results, and their personal philosophy on harming animals and the earth.

Body:

Paragraphs 1-3: What makes the Paleo diet a good/bad choice?

  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3

Paragraphs 3-6: What makes the Vegan diet a good/bad choice?

  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3

Conclusion:

  • Summary of the main points
  • Evaluation of the thesis
  • Why this is significant

😸 Compare & Contrast Essay Examples

Still don’t feel confident about writing a compare and contrast paper? You can also check out two great essay examples below.

Example #1: In-class Education vs. Online Education

Example:

The quarantine measures caused by the coronavirus pandemic enhanced the shift towards online education, applying modern Internet-based technologies and social media. The majority of people had a chance to experience online education and compare it to the standard face-to-face mode in brick-and-mortar learning institutions. Online universities provide an instant exchange of information that students can approach everywhere and every time they want. In contrast, traditional classes provide remarkable experience through classroom activities. Although online learning is evolving rapidly, in-class learning is still more effective and should be prioritized.

In-class Education vs. Online Education
Download the free sample

Example #2: Capitalism and Socialism

Example:

The world has seen many systems regulating socio-economic relationships between people, but the one that remains dominant is capitalism, with its main alternative being socialism. They mainly differ on the principles of ownership, although the implications are also significant enough to call the two each other’s opposites. Throughout centuries, capitalism has been criticized for its vices, including poor treatment of workers, inequality, and irrationality, leading to global warming and financial crises. Meanwhile, socialism has been positioned as a viable alternative capable of resolving those issues. Considering that most of the problems associated with capitalism persist, socialism does seem a more humanistic system. This paper will contrast the two on such aspects as equality, the basis, and rationality.

Capitalism and Socialism
Download the free sample

✏️ Compare & Contrast Essay FAQ

❓ What is a compare and contrast essay?

The definition of a compare and contrast essay is plain to see its name. It is a piece of writing that compares two or more objects to establish their similarities and differences. Some college assignments require only one part, i.e., describing the common or contrasting features.

❓ How do you start a compare and contrast essay?

You can start with a hook, an intriguing question, or an unobvious fact. Then you should introduce the compared objects and provide their background. A strong introduction culminates with a good thesis statement that overviews the entire essay.

❓ How to write a thesis for a compare and contrast essay?

A good thesis for almost any essay type creates an argument. Thus, the easiest way to write a thesis for a compare and contrast essay is to define whether the differences outweigh the similarities of the compared phenomena or vice versa.

❓ How to write a conclusion for a compare and contrast essay?

The conclusion paragraph summarizes the common and diverging features. It leads the reader to a learning point that is focused on your thesis statement. The good idea is to rephrase the thesis in the last sentence of the conclusion.

🔗 References

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