Compare and Contrast Essay Writing: 4 Great Tips

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The successful completion of your college education probably won’t hinge solely on the compare and contrast essays you write.

However, here’s the deal:

Writing a compare and contrast essay that will knock your professors’ socks off can mean the difference between just making it through and blowing your GPA through the roof.

The whole idea of writing an essay can be frightening and overwhelming. Still, it shouldn’t be this way if you’re organized (and our experts at Custom-writing.org are always here to help you with any assignment).

Well, the truth is:

A huge part of the work comes in the preparation and research before the actual writing takes place. Once you know your topic and have gathered enough information, the writing almost takes care of itself – almost!

Keep reading to learn the top tips for writing a compare and contrast essay that will win you the praises of your professors.

understand what you are writing

Understand what you are writing

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.

Here are a few examples of compare and contrast essay topics:

  • Online dating vs. real-life dating
  • Regular vs. 3D movies
  • Gas cars vs. electric cars
  • Extroverts vs. introverts
  • Workplace violence vs. school violence
  • The Bible vs. the Torah
  • Yoga vs. Pilates
  • Eating at home vs. eating out
  • Vacationing on the Atlantic Ocean vs. the Pacific Ocean
  • Comedy vs. horror movies
  • Living in the city vs. the country

The bottom line is:

You need to use your critical thinking skills to come up with good arguments for how the two things are similar and how they are different. Ultimately, you need to support your thesis statement with your arguments.

However, before you can do that:

You need to determine what the similarities and differences are. Let’s read on to see how this is done.

similar and differences

Uncover the best similarities and differences

For instance:

Say the topic of your essay is to compare and contrast the Vegan diet and the Paleo Diet. What do you know about these diets? What 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 create 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 alike.

However, there is a better way:

venn diagram

The Writing 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.

Consider an essay in which you have to compare the Paleo diet with the Vegan diet:

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

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.

Keep reading to find out how to decide on your thesis.

Choose a killer thesis

Choose a killer thesis

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

The best part of all is:

You have your thesis in the bag because you already have your similarities and differences all mapped out and have chosen the best of these. Perhaps your essay can be about why people who choose one of these two diets hate the other diet and how this animosity is not necessary.

The key is to determine:

  • What is relevant to the course and the specific assignment
  • What is the 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

Your thesis is essentially a blanket statement about what you will be writing in the essay. Here is an 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.

Now that you have your similarities and differences all figured out and have a fabulous thesis statement for your essay, what do you do? In what way do you work on the compare and contrast essay that is going to grab your professor’s attention and have him or her raving about your work?

Simply put:

You need to know how to organize your essay for the most powerful effect. Here’s how…

organize your paper

Learn the best method for organizing your paper

MJC Writing Center outlines two methods you can use when writing a compare and contrast essay, each of which helps you convey the similarities and differences between your two ideas. These include:

  • The Point-by-Point Method
  • The Block Method

So how do these methods break down?

The point-by-point method, well explained by Humber College, will take the general idea of the essay and break it down into three smaller topics that will be compared/contrasted one at a time.

Point by point method will break essay down into 3 topics
Vegan Diet vs. Paleo Diet – Point-by-Point Method:

Introductory paragraph:

  • General Introduction
  • 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.

Body 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 the reasons a person would choose the diet and the desired results, i.e. better health, weight loss.

Body 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 health of the planet.

Conclusion:

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

In the block AB

Vegan Diet vs. Paleo Diet – Block Method:

The block method is created in a way that all of the points that reflect the Paleo diet are discussed in the first 2-3 sections of the body and all of the points about the Vegan diet are discussed in the next 2-3 paragraphs of the body. The essay is then closed with an overall summary of the findings based on the arguments made throughout the body.

Introductory paragraph:

  • General Introduction
  • 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 1-3: What makes the Paleo diet a good/bad choice?

  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3

Body Paragraph 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 to the author

Check out Harvard College to get great recommendations on how to write a conclusion for an essay. Other great compare and contrast essay samples and explanations of both the block and point-by-point methods are provided by Saint Mary’s University and San José State University.

Still don’t feel confident about writing a compare and contrast paper?

You can also check out this great comparison of these two methods of essay writing.

If you need to see a compare and contrast essay example, you may find some great samples and tips that will assist in getting a clear idea of how to write one.

What if you’re still unsure?  Help is out there!

More resources for your compare and contrast essay

No matter whether you are experienced at writing essays or you are just starting, the help you need is out there. Good luck and happy writing!