Compare & Contrast Essays: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students

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May 22, 2024
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May 22, 2024
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A compare and contrast essay is one of the most popular types of work in college, especially in the first year. When students write compare and contrast essays, they learn and get better at skills like science argumentation, critical thinking, and well-organized writing. Additionally, compare and contrast essay writings have a clear goal, like explaining a hard idea or clearing up misunderstandings about a tough subject.

One more reason could be to show why one subject is better than another or to show a new way to think about something. Of course, each task will be different, and each one should have its own rubric. You should pay close attention to the rubric because it tells you what your teacher wants you to do. Also, make sure you know what the task is before you start. Do not be afraid to ask your teacher for help with the essay task if you have any questions.

In this blog, we will guide you on how to write a compare and contrast essay. This guide also includes best compare and contrast essay examples.

What is a Compare and Contrast Essay?

There are different types of essays, but compare and contrast essays look at the similarities and differences between two or more related topics. Our main goal for this essay is for you to make a new case by breaking down at least two topics.

Compare two items that were better studied together.

You can use a good compare and contrast essay to show how two things are alike or different in ways that each one cannot explain on its own. For example, looking at the marketing plans of two fast-food chains that are competitive with each other can show that their advertising and ways of appealing to customers are similar. This is how a compare and contrast essay can help you look at two things that you can’t explain by themselves.

Contrasting two similar things.

This essay can help you show the difference between two topics that people often get mixed up. For example, the words poisonous and venomous are often used equally, but they mean different things. Your compare and contrast essay could talk about how these two types of animals are different.

Showing similarities between seemingly unrelated topics.

You can also use the compare and contrast essay to show how two themes that seem to be very different are actually quite similar. For example, the 1970s and 2020s are very different from one another and happen over many decades. But there has been a lot of social and political activity during both of these times.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

According to the experts at our Write My Essay for Me service, you should also make a plan before you start writing. The opening, body paragraphs, and conclusion should all be in the outline. It’s like a guide that you can use to keep your essay on track as you write it.

Compare and Contrast Essay Introduction

A typical structure of a compare and contrast essay says that the author should begin with a short, clear, and to-the-point introduction. Good news: the first paragraph of this kind of essay is pretty much the same as the first paragraph of other papers. This is the part of the sentence that begins and explains the main idea of the paper.

How to start a compare and contrast essay? When you begin writing a compare and contrast essay, you should make sure it has the following:

A hook and an outline of the main idea

The first line of your essay should be an interesting hook. The hook for a compare and contrast essay makes people want to read more. Then comes some general information about the subject.

Subjects to compare

Next, at the beginning of your compare and contrast essay, you should list the things that you will be comparing and contrasting.

Thesis for compare and contrast essay

Lastly, there should be a clear and concise thesis statement for compare and contrast essay at the end of the first line.

Body Paragraphs

To compose a body paragraph for a compare and contrast essay, you should first think about how to write the opening.

First, let’s talk about the length. How many body paragraphs you need will depend on how many factors you will use to compare and contrast your subjects and how many words you have to work with. But usually, there should be two or three lines. There should be one clear difference or similarity in each paragraph that shows how the two things are similar or different.

In terms of what it says, each paragraph must have:

  • Subject sentence;
  • Specifics gathered during the study process;
  • Strong data, proof, statistics, or other facts to back up the claim;

Move on to the next part.

In your comparison, feel free to use words and sentences that connect ideas (e.g., both, similarly, compared to, in contrast, unlike, etc.) to make sure that your paper flows smoothly and that all of your points fit together.

Compare and Contrast Essay Conclusion

Once you’re done with the introduction and body of your comparison and contrast essay, you can move on to the conclusion. This part is usually the easiest to write. In a compare and contrast essay, the end should sum up everything that was talked about in the paper and make it feel like it’s over.

Here are the most important things to keep in mind when writing a comparison and contrast essay conclusion:

Write a short summary of the main points or thoughts.

To begin, quickly go over the main points of your body paragraphs. Be sure to keep this very short and to the point.

Write a general review.

Quickly look over the results of your comparison and give it a final grade (for example, decide if the themes are more alike or different).

Stress how important it is.

Restate your thesis at the end and stress how important the topic as a whole is, as well as your compare and contrast points.

Good Topics for Compare and Contrast Essays

When picking an essay topic, it’s important to pick something that is similar but not too much like the other subject. The goal is to find differences between the subjects so that you can look at their pros and cons. Even so, the topics should still be similar enough to be able to be compared.

Here are some good ideas for compare and contrast essays to help you understand this better:

  1. Schooling in the traditional way vs. Schooling online
  2. Greek and Roman civilizations in the past
  3. Looking at how the American and French Revolutions were alike
  4. Philosophy from the East vs. Philosophy from the West
  5. Between capitalism and socialism
  6. Looking at how Romanticism and Realism are different in literature
  7. Different types of medicine vs. traditional medicine
  8. A full look at the future societies in “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley and “1984” by George Orwell.
  9. Looking at what classical and operant training have in common and what makes them different.
  10. Mental health vs. psychology

Now that we have a general idea of common topics for compare and contrast essays let’s get to the hard part: writing them.

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay?

Do not start writing your essay until you are sure that you are comparing both of your topics in the same way. Like, you can’t compare apples to papayas by saying that apples are red or green and papayas have a lot of seeds.

To compare, you must use the same measures. As an example:

  • This fruit is either red or green, and this one is yellow or orange.
  • The papaya grows in the tropics, while the apple grows in the autumn.
  • Apples and papayas are both fruits that have seeds.

Let us look at how to write a comparison essay in more depth:

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

Find Similarities & Differences between the two topics.

Do not know how to start your compare and contrast essay? Let us assist you in this situation. You can put your ideas in two or more columns and write down the most important things about them. Then, you can look at their traits and make a note of any similarities or differences.

This is an example:

Sparrow

Humming Bird

Eats nectar

Eats nectar

The length is usually between 15 and 18 cm.

The length is usually between 7 and 13 cm.
Lives in fields, forests, and cities in the Americas

Likes subtropical areas the most

Now that we know the characteristics of both birds, let’s write down what they have in common and what makes them different:

  • Hummingbirds and sparrows both eat honey.
  • That sparrow is much larger than that hummingbird. The average length of a sparrow is 15 to 18 centimeters. In contrast, a hummingbird’s length ranges from 7 to 13 cm.
  • The sparrows are found in farms, forests, and cities and are considerably more adaptable. However, the hummingbird is endemic to the Americas and prefers warm climates for its home.

Make a Meaningful case & thesis statement

A thesis statement explains reasons to compare two things. Comparing two topics is crucial. We know it’s hard to write a solid thesis statement but ask yourself, “So what?”

There must be a reason to compare the lifestyles of Western and Eastern royal families. It may be to learn how these cultures changed things today. Here is a compare and contrast essay thesis examples starting with this idea:

The different ways of life of royal families in Eastern and Western civilizations are based on cultural traditions and historical events. These differences have shaped their roles as leaders and influencers, and they still have an effect on modern society through fashion trends, ceremonies, and cultural preservation.

Make an outline for your Essay.

Still not sure how to start a compare and contrast essay? A compare and contrast essay format can help you organize all of your thoughts and make them flow. Your writing will be split into three main parts by this outline for compare and contrast essay:

  • The Beginning
  • Body Paragraphs
  • Conclusion/Final Thoughts

Most school and college essays should have an opening, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. This is not a hard and fast rule, though. You can definitely add more body parts to your essay. It will depend on the topic and how hard it is to write. There are still the same amount of paragraphs in the introduction and conclusion, though.

There should be an opening sentence, some prior information, and a thesis statement in the beginning of an essay. Each topic sentence tells the reader what the body parts are about. Relevant explanations, facts, and data back up the claims made in these topic sentences. The conclusion has three parts, just like the opening. It has a new version of your thesis statement, an outline of your essay’s important points, and a conclusion.

First make an outline for your compare and contrast essay. We will look at compare and contrast essay structures in more detail in the next part of the piece.

Start writing the first draft.

After you make a well-organized plan, you can use the key points you’ve written down to start writing your essay. The similarities you wrote down earlier can become the main points of your essay. There are three main parts to each paragraph:

  • The topic sentence paragraph.
  • Explanation: This could include the traits of both your topics and how they relate to each other for compare and contrast essays.
  • A transition sentence connects the subject of one sentence to the subject of the next line.

It’s much easier to write your essay now because you have a rough format of a compare and contrast essay. You can also use reliable sources to support your essay’s main claims. This can include facts, figures, studies, experiments, or expert opinions. Further, you can add tables, figures, or diagrams to your case to make it stronger.

Change and revise

When you’re done with the first draft of your compare and contrast essay, give it a break for one or two days. This makes room for new thoughts and helps you look at your work objectively.

Editing your writing will bring out several errors. That’s how it works. Keep revising your essay till it’s flawless. You may need two or three chances. You can also ask friends, elder folks, or relatives for support.

You can start modifying your essay whenever you’re satisfied with its structure and content. Editing encompasses everything from major structural adjustments to spelling and grammar corrections to improve readability.

You might also utilize an essay writing service if the deadline is approaching. Rewriting your essay is difficult and time-consuming. These services save you.

Different Outlines for a Compare and Contrast Essay

While the opening and conclusion paragraphs of a compare and contrast essay stay the same, there are three main ways to arrange the body paragraphs.

Different Outlines for a Compare and Contrast Essay

Different Outlines for a Compare and Contrast Essay

  • Block method: Discussing one subject all the way through before going on to the next
  • Alternating outline method: Talking about both sides’ views on one metric before going on to the next.
  • Similarities and differences outline: Talk about both in parallel.

For your essay, you can choose any of the three formats based on its goal and subject. Let’s look more closely at how each of these types of compare and contrast essays is put together:

Compare and Contrast Essay Block Method

In the block outline, you finish analyzing the traits of one subject before going on to the next. This way of writing talks about a subject in its full and makes a flow, but it’s often hard to find connections between the two topics.

Let’s take an example to better understand this outline method. This example of a comparative essay block plan looks at the positive things about the color green and the negative things about the color red in the mind.

Topic: How Different Colors Can Change Your Mood

Introduction

  • An interesting starting sentence about how colors affect human perception
  • Why colors are important and how they make us feel
  • The main point is that green is better for your eyes than red and should be used more often.

Body

Discussion about Green

  • What makes the color green, and how does it connect with nature and peace?
  • Examples, statistics, or study results that show how green color makes people feel better
  • Green is good for your mental health and can help lower stress.

Discussion about Red

  • Traits of red color and how it relates to strength and stimulation
  • Examples, facts, or research showing how red can overwhelm or agitate the sight.
  • Negative effect of red on mental health and a possible rise in stress levels as a result

Comparison of Green & Red

  • Visual difference between how green makes you feel calm and how red makes you feel energized
  • The emotional responses that green and red elicit, which stress how soothing green is and how possibly upsetting red can be
  • Surveys or studies that show people like green more in different places

Conclusion

  • Main argument changed: green is better for the eyes than red and should be used more often
  • The pros and cons of green and red, a summary of the main points from the body paragraphs
  • Using green in different settings, like interior design, healthcare centers, and urban planning, to give people a relaxing visual experience
  • The importance of color choices for a peaceful atmosphere is a strong ending sentence.

Alternating Outline

You might want to use the alternate outline to make the connection between your different points of comparison stronger. This kind of outline makes it much easier to see how two things are similar or different because both are judged by the same metric. But the alternating outline can make two parts that don’t go together.

Each body line has a single measure that is used to compare the two topics. Let’s use the same example to better understand what an alternating essay plan is:

Topic: How Different Colors Can Change Your Mood

Introduction

  • An interesting story about how colors affect how people see things
  • A look at what colors mean and how they affect our feelings
  • The thesis statement says that green is better for your eyes than red and that you should use it more often.

Body Paragraph 1: Green and Red Side by Side

Visual Features

  • Green: This color is linked to nature, peace, and quiet.
  • Red: This color is linked to power, energy, and stimulation

Effects on emotions

  • Green: It makes you feel calm, peaceful, and refreshed.
  • Red: It makes you feel things like anger, stress, or desire.

What Happens to Eye Fatigue

  • Green: More relaxing for the eyes because of where it is in the color range
  • Red: Long-term contact with red can work your eyes out and cause eye fatigue.

Next paragraph: The pros of using green

Health and happiness

  • Green: Makes you feel calm, lowers your stress, and boosts your general mental health.
  • Red: Being exposed to too much red may make you more stressed and hurt your mental health.

Effects on the Environment

  • Green: Adding green aspects to cities, homes, and hospitals can make the atmosphere more relaxing.
  • Red: Too much use of red in some places could be annoying, and the contrast can make it hard to see comfortably.

In conclusion

  • New thesis statement: Green is better for your eyes than red and should be used more often.
  • Summary of main points from body paragraphs: Difference between green and red, focusing on how soothing green is and the possible problems with red
  • What green means in different situations, how it can improve health, and how it can make places look better
  • Strong ending sentence: The importance of color choices and how they affect our everyday lives

Read also: How to Write a Process Essay.

Similarities & Differences Outline

It is helpful to use the similarities and differences outline if you want the comparison between the two topics to get the most attention. This plan looks a lot like the alternating outline.

The criteria of comparison are similarities and differences between the two subjects, not traits. In this type of outline, one paragraph talks about all the ways the two things are alike, and then another paragraph talks about all the ways they are different.

Here is an example of an outline for a comparison and contrast essay that uses the method of similarities and differences:

Topic: How Different Colors Can Change Your Mood

The Beginning

  • The impact of color on our perception is an intriguing topic.
  • A brief explanation of color theory and how it relates to mood
  • The important point is that you should use green more often because it is better for your eyes than red.

Body Paragraph 1: What makes green and red alike?

Visual Features

  • Green: Things that evoke nature and peace when you see green
  • Red: Observable aspects of red, such as its association with energy and passion

Effects on emotions

  • Green: Different amounts of red and green can make people feel different emotions, like peace or excitement.
  • Red: Both green and red can make you feel something, but red tends to make you feel stronger and more energized.

Paragraph 2: What Makes Green and Red Different

Qualities that calm

  • The color green is naturally soothing to the eyes because it is close to nature and is in the green color range.
  • Red: On the other hand, red can be very bright and even overwhelming, which makes it less soothing.

Effects on the mind

  • Green: The color green makes you feel calmer, less stressed, and better mentally.
  • Red: Being exposed to red for a long time may make you more stressed and hurt your mental health.

Tired eyes

  • Green: People think that green is better for your eyes because it takes less strain and can help prevent eye fatigue.
  • Red: Too much red can make your eyes tired and strain them.

Paragraph 3. The pros of putting green strategies into action

Effects on the environment

  • Adding green aspects to different places, like healthcare facilities, interior design, and urban planning, can make the atmosphere more relaxing.
  • Possible benefits for mental health and quality of life in general

The Ending

  • New thesis statement: Green is better for your eyes than red and should be used more often.
  • Summary of main points from body paragraphs: similarities and differences between green and red that stress how soothing green is and what could go wrong with red
  • The need to use green in different places and how it can improve wellbeing and eye comfort
  • Statement that makes you thinks: The importance of color decisions and how they affect our daily lives

Now that we know the three main outlines of compare and contrast essays, let’s look at some examples of compare and contrast essays.

Read also: How to Make an Outline for an Essay

Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

To write a compare and contrast essay, you can follow one of three main styles. Your choice of one of these forms will depend on what you want to say to the reader.  This compare and contrast example essay looks at how amphibians and snakes are alike and how they are different.

Topic: Looking into the Interesting Worlds of Reptiles and Amphibians

The larger group of animals called vertebrates includes both amphibians and snakes, but they are not the same species. There are some parallels between them, but there are also big differences in how they look, how they live, where they live, and how they reproduce. Let’s learn more about these two species by focusing on what makes them special and how they have adapted to live in their different environments.

Reptiles and frogs are different species, but they have a lot in common. These two groups are both ectothermic, which means that their body temperatures are controlled by their surroundings. Because they need heat from outside sources to stay warm, this trait affects how they act and how active they are. Both species also lay eggs to have babies. The eggs of both types are protected by membranes that make the climate good for growth outside of the parent’s body. A backbone, four limbs (or parts of limbs), and a well-developed head are some of the other similarities between amphibians and reptiles.

Even though these things are similar, the two species are not at all the same. Amphibians have two stages of their lives: a juvenile stage in water and an adult stage on land. They usually lay their eggs in water and change from watery larvae to adults with lungs that live on land. A frog is a well-known example of a mammal. Reptiles, on the other hand, have a direct life cycle, and their young hatch from eggs that are put on land. They don’t go through the watery larval stage; instead, they are born as tiny versions of adults that are ready to live on land. The most well-known animals are alligators and crocodiles.

Their different environments are another big difference. Water is essential for breeding and skin moisture maintenance, which is why swamps, waterways, and ponds are commonly thought of as habitats for amphibians. They have a lot of adaptations that help them live in both water and land. On the other hand, reptiles have changed over time to be able to live in more places. They live in a lot of different places, like deserts, woods, grasslands, and even the ocean. Reptiles have learned ways to save water, like being able to produce uric acid instead of urea, which helps them do well in dry places.

The way amphibians and reptiles breathe and the structure of their skin is physiologically different. The skin of amphibians is wet and permeable, and it does many things, like letting gases pass through and letting water in. They can breathe through their skin because of this one-of-a-kind trait, especially when they are larvae. This is different for snakes, whose skin is dry and scaly and keeps water from escaping. They breathe through their lungs, which work better than frogs’ respiratory systems.

Finally, amphibians and reptiles lay eggs and are not thermally regulated, but their life cycles, habitats, and bodies differ. Aquatic and terrestrial amphibians can change shapes and live two lives. However, reptiles’ linear life cycle allows them to live in many environments. These similarities and contrasts help us understand how these fascinating species have evolved to live in a variety of habitats.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: How to organize a compare and contrast essay

Ans. A comparison/contrast essay must:

  • Explain three or more important similarities between at least two topics.
  • List the similarities and differences between these points.
  • Write a thesis statement describing the person’s feelings regarding the two issues.

Q2: What is an example of a point-by-point compare and contrast essay?

Ans. Point-by-point comparison essays are used to show how two cars that someone wants to buy are different. Both cars’ costs would be discussed first, then how well they run. Lastly, the paper might talk about how much each one costs and how much it needs to be kept.

Q3: What is a good sentence starter for a compare and contrast essay?

Ans. Here are examples of some good sentence starters:

  • Similarly
  • Likewise
  • In the same way
  • Whereas
  • On the other hand
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