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How to Write a Comparison Essay: From Similarities to Differences

Posted: July 24, 2021
Last update date: February 7, 2024
10 min read

As we navigate our lives, we can’t help but notice the elements in our environment, whether it’s the latest car, a fashion trend, or even some experiences. Think about your favorite Mexican restaurant, then visit another; automatically, you’re likely to size them up to each other. So when your professors assign you homework to compare two samples in a case study, it may seem natural.

But at the college level, something happens, our natural ability to compare vacates us. You may be stuck wondering how to write a comparison essay. This is a common dilemma many students face. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to walk you through the perfect paper’s construction steps. Below, you’ll find:

  • A comprehensive guide on how to write a comparison essay, outlining its purpose, how to choose relevant topics for comparison, and the structure for presenting the content effectively.
  • That the comparison essay requires the writer to analyze two objects, events, or theories and identify their similarities and differences, supporting findings with empirical data.
  • For a successful comparison essay, it’s essential to choose relevant subjects, have a clear and precise thesis statement, and employ an effective structure, depending on the subjects and purpose of the essay.

So read on to learn how the pros from Papersowl suggest writing a compare and contrast essay.


What Is a Comparison Essay?

As it sounds, your comparative essay should analyze two objects, events, or theories and determine the similarities and differences. The overall goal of the paper is for the reader to clearly identify how the studied criteria are the same and where they diverge. In a marketing class, you may evaluate two similar products and develop a plan to demonstrate their features and benefits. Or, in a psychology class, you may have an in-depth look at two therapy techniques and then evaluate the results of a particular case study.

Your paper’s critical component is that you must ensure your findings are backed up with empirical data. While you may feel one subject is “better” than another, giving examples to prove your position is important. Information that can be weighed or measured, such as a device’s performance or the results of a process, is strong evidence to support a claim.

What Сan I Compare and Contrast?

As long as the main points make sense and the essay is comprehensive to the reader, anything can be used as a topic for a compare-and-contrast essay. It is important to remember that two principal subjects related in one way should be compared and contrasted. To help you better understand this concept, below is a table serving as a visual aid and showcasing examples of compare and contrast essay topics.

Field

Good Examples

Examples to Improve

Examples to Avoid

Food

Apples & Pears

Apples & Seeds

Apples & Unicorns

Sitcoms

Scrubs & F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Scrubs & Zach Braff

Scrubs & Napkins

Social Politics

Radical Feminism & Liberal Feminism

Radical Feminism & Women’s Day

Radical Feminism & Water Pollution

Programming

Java & C++

Java & Websites

Java & Chips

History

Socialism & Communism

Socialism & Self-Management

Socialism & Animal Shelters

Self-driving cars

Uber & Tesla

Uber & Tires

Uber & Blankets

The “Good Examples” column presents two semantic subjects. They are not entirely different and, as such, leave more room for analysis. The column “Examples to improve” also contains subjects relevant to each other. However, a correlation between them is nearly impossible because they are different types of things from the same field. And the final column, “Examples to avoid,” as the name suggests, showcases some examples of topics that would not make a good compare and contrast essay.

Choosing a Great Topic for a Comparison Essay

What you write about could make or break your paper. As in any academic work, a good compare and contrast essay will have a purpose that adds value. For this, consider topics that are helpful in your discipline. Effective compare and contrast topics should expand the universe of knowledge or valid claims that have not yet been proven. A few examples of topics include:

Education Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  1. Home Education vs. Daycare: What will Suit your Child?
  2. Spice-Cake vs. Cane: What Works Better with Kids?
  3. E-learning vs. Conventional Learning.
  4. Learning System in Asia vs. the West.
  5. College Dream vs. Skills Acquisition.
  6. Textbooks vs. E-books.
  7. Private vs. Public College: Which will Suit You?.
  8. Parents’ Involvement in Children’s Career Choice vs. Self Discovery.

Sports Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  1. Football or basketball: three-pointer in the soccer goal.
  2. Marathons and walkathons – similar in terms of endurance, will, and fitness. However, they are also different.
  3. Indoor vs. In Open Air Sports.
  4. Sport-Study Balance vs. High Focus studying .
  5. Early morning Exercise vs. Late night Exercise.
  6. Running vs. gymming: Which one is for you?.
  7. Home Exercise VS Gym Workout.
  8. Tennis or Badminton: Which is Harder?.

Politics Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  1. Democracy, Monarchy, or Autocracy
  2. Socialism and Communism: Is It the Same?
  3. Merits of free trade vs. the demerits of Free Trade
  4. Centralized Government Vs. Decentralized Government
  5. Legislature and executive – Branches of Power to analyze
  6. Fundamental rights Vs. State Policy’s directive principles
  7. Equal opportunities versus affirmative action

Economy Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  1. Economics as Mandatory Discipline or as an Optional Pick
  2. Peace vs. political unrest.
  3. Economics vs. business studies: What’s More Efficient?
  4. Regulated Prices vs. Free Market
  5. America Tax System vs. China Tax System
  6. New Laws vs Old Laws: Which is More Important
  7. Macro-Economics vs. Micro-Economics.

Social Studies Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  1. Childhood in the 90s vs. Modern Day Childhood
  2. Coronavirus vs. The Great Depression
  3. COVID-19 vs. The Plague
  4. Common-Law Vs. Civil Law
  5. Rural Life to Urban Life
  6. America in the 60s Vs. America Now

History Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  1. Lincoln’s Ideas vs. Washington’s ideas
  2. Baroque epoch vs. Renaissance
  3. Religious studies vs. Anthropology: Are They So Different?
  4. Napoleon Fall vs. Hitler Fall
  5. Democracy and monarchy
  6. The US and the UK Election System
  7. Nazism vs. Fascism: Is It the Same?

Literature Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  1. Reality vs. Fiction Literature
  2. Depiction of Women in Literature in the 80s and Now
  3. Memoir vs. Autobiography
  4. Prose versus Poetry
  5. Shakespeare Piece: Othello vs. Hamlet
  6. English novels vs. French novels.
  7. Roman and Greek mythology.

Controversial Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

We believe that controversial compare-and-contrast essays are the most interesting ones. They include two opposite beliefs on the same question or situation and analyze their similarity or different points. It’s the most exciting essay type to write and overwhelming to read, so look at the list of top-rated topics for such articles:

  1. Intervention or Invasion: What is the Difference?
  2. Religion versus Atheism.
  3. LGBT++ Rights vs. Sexual Orientation Restriction.
  4. Death Penalty vs. Life Sentence: What is Worse?
  5. Climate Change vs. War: There Is Connection?
  6. Violent video games and Shooting games.

In addition to these academic subjects, you may be tasked to write a good application comparison essay when entering college. These topics could be more light-hearted and include comparing your youth with your adolescent years or comparing two close friends.

Pre-Writing Stage

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The pre-writing stage is an indispensable phase in the essay-writing process, laying the foundation for a well-organized and insightful piece. Before diving into the actual writing, this preparatory stage allows you to explore, organize, and refine their thoughts. For compare and contrast essays, this often involves researching the chosen subjects to uncover detailed information, nuances, and perspectives. Techniques such as brainstorming can help identify key points of similarity and difference, while tools like Venn diagrams visually map out where subjects overlap and where they diverge. This visual representation can be particularly invaluable in determining the essay’s structure and focus. Additionally, the pre-writing stage is an opportune time to formulate a tentative thesis statement, which will provide direction and purpose as the essay evolves. By dedicating time to this initial phase, writers can ensure a clearer, more coherent essay, minimizing potential roadblocks and revisions later in the writing process. In essence, the pre-writing is akin to blueprinting; it’s where the groundwork is laid for the construction of a compelling narrative.

Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is the anchor of any well-structured essay, offering readers a concise snapshot of what to expect. In a compare and contrast essay, the thesis not only indicates the subjects to be compared but also the focus and purpose of the comparison. Begin by pinpointing the main similarities or differences you want to highlight. For instance, if comparing apples to oranges, your thesis might read: “While apples and oranges both provide essential vitamins and are popular fruits, they differ in texture, taste, and cultural significance.” This statement not only sets the subjects of comparison but also guides readers on the specific aspects being compared.

Crafting an effective thesis requires clarity and precision. It should avoid vague language and ensure that readers can anticipate the direction of the discussion. Remember, a strong thesis statement acts as a roadmap, helping to steer both the writer and the reader through the essay’s argumentative landscape.

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Structure for a Compare and Contrast Essay

When setting out to write a compare and contrast essay, one of the initial and fundamental decisions you’ll need to make is regarding the essay’s structure. Your choice of structure can have a profound impact on the clarity and effectiveness of your presentation. Here’s how you can determine the best structure for your essay:

Understand Your Subjects:

  • Before choosing a structure, you need a clear understanding of your subjects and the points of comparison. Are there numerous similarities and differences, or just a few major ones?

Purpose of the Essay:

  • Are you trying to highlight the stark differences between your subjects, shed light on unexpected similarities, or do both? Your purpose can guide the structure.

Audience Consideration:

  • Think about your readers. If your subjects are very unfamiliar to your audience, the block method might be better because it allows for a more in-depth exploration of each subject before contrasting.

Two Predominant Structures:

  • Block Method: In this structure, you discuss all relevant points related to one subject and then move on to the next subject. This approach can be particularly useful if you want your readers to have an in-depth understanding of each subject before highlighting the contrasts.

✏️Example: If you’re comparing apples and oranges, you would first discuss everything about apples and then everything about oranges.

  • Point-by-Point Method: This is a more integrated approach. For each point of comparison, you alternate between the two subjects. This method keeps the comparison and contrast front and center and can make direct contrasts clearer.

✏️Example: Discuss the color of apples and then the color of oranges, followed by the texture of apples and then the texture of oranges, and so on.

Whichever structure you choose, your primary goal should be clarity. Ensure that your points of comparison are clear and that readers can easily follow your reasoning. Remember, while these are the two primary structures, they are not set in stone. Depending on your topic, you might find it effective to blend these structures in some sections.

In conclusion, the structure you choose for your compare and contrast essay will significantly shape your argument’s presentation. While the block method allows for a deep dive into each subject separately, the point-by-point method maintains a tight focus on the comparison throughout the essay. Evaluate your subjects, your purpose, and your audience, and choose the structure that most effectively communicates your points.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

A good essay outline will contain, at a minimum, the three core sections – introduction, body, and conclusion. Often times the intro can be the most difficult to write, and it should be reserved for last. Once you have all your ideas laid out, hammering out a solid beginning is much easier to inform the reader what is to follow. You can pick out an interesting fact in your paper to write a strong hook to lure your readers in. Also, you’ll be able to tighten up your compare-and-contrast thesis to give a stronger impression.

Comparison Essay Outline Example

In this example, we’ll compare and contrast the essay point by point. In our comparison essay structure, we’ve elected to speak about similarities and follow up with differences and apply an extended conclusion with analysis and then the actual concluding paragraph for the scope of the paper.

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In our comparative essay outline example, we’ve put together a basic template of what the paper should look like. Mind you, this is an informal template for an introduction to compare and contrast essay. If your course requires you to submit a formal outline in APA or MLA style, be sure to draft one according to the latest style guide.

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You can use this comparative essay outline template to draft your paper as a means to get your ideas out on paper. Like many students, you could be short on time or not have the ability to complete your paper. In this case, you can use our writing service, and we’ll draft a perfect custom text for you to meet any deadlines you have.

We all have our opinions and curiosities, and sharing them with the world is a fun experience. And you can through an effective contrast and comparison paper. Just be sure to pick subjects that can be analyzed and back up your conclusions with data, and you’ll be well on your way to unlocking the world’s inner workings. Sometimes you may find a lack of inspiration for a topic or are stressed to get a high grade. We are here to help 24/7/365 to get you out of a jam and write your papers for you in your time of need. So reach out to us, and we are here to help.

Tips to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

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If you’re wondering how to write a comparison essay fast, there are a few tricks to make the most of your time. Follow these steps professional writers use, and you’ll get your paper done to meet the tightest deadlines.

  • Brainstorm on a scratch pad: You may be used to using your computer for everything, but for organizing your ideas, old-fashioned scratch paper works best. Draw a side-by-side chart and start listing out the characteristics of your subjects. Mention all the pros and cons, physical characteristics, as well as processes and applications that each possesses.
  • Make sure to choose comparable subjects that will make sense to the reader.
  • Ensure that the thesis statement is strong and to the point.
  • Do good research and ensure that your arguments are clearly stated.
  • Build your outline of compare and contrast essay: You can start to compare and contrast essay outline with your data table. Check the required length of your paper and start building a paragraph structure that will meet any bullet points and suffice the word count. Be sure to start off with your most interesting points to keep the reader engaged.
  • Draft your paper: Be sure to include a catchy title that is on point with the contents of your work. As a general rule, try not to go over 12 words in your title. Also, note that the thesis statement for the comparison and contrast essay should relate to every section of your text.
  • Use transitional words to make it easier for the reader to follow the arguments presented in your essay.

Transitional words and phrases are the connective tissues of an essay, ensuring the flow of ideas is seamless and readers can easily navigate the content. Especially crucial in compare and contrast essays, these transitions aid in clarifying comparisons or highlighting disparities. Words like “similarly,” “likewise,” and “equally” signal similarities between subjects, guiding the reader’s understanding of how two things align. Conversely, phrases such as “on the other hand,” “however,” and “in contrast” denote differences, emphasizing the distinct characteristics of each subject.

  • Review your work: Now, it’s time to smooth out some rough patches in your initial draft and fine-tune some sections. Pay special attention to retaining your paper’s focus and meeting all the task requirements. Many students get stuck in this phase and, while they’ve met the requirements, are not happy with the final product. In this case, a comparison essay to buy is a great alternative. Hiring a specialist in your subject is the best way to get a good grade.

There are various factors to consider, such as structure, format, and even finding the right resources. Fortunately, cheap essay writing services such as PapersOwl make the process much easier. Simply provide your instructions, and their professional writers will create an original paper for you.

Comparison Essay Format

Universities are real sticklers for formatting. This may seem like an annoyance for many students, but academic work should be consistent across disciplines to aid analysts in efficiently referencing work and applying it to their own studies. Depending on your course, you may be required to write a comparison essay in MLA format or APA. So armed with the latest style guide of your choice, let’s get down to how to write a good comparison essay outline.

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Bringing It All Together

Comparing and contrasting is an intrinsic part of our daily decision-making. From choosing restaurants to assessing products, we inherently evaluate based on similarities and differences. Yet, when tasked with a formal compare and contrast essay in academia, many students falter. This guide aims to simplify the process, providing structure and clarity. Emphasizing the importance of a solid thesis, structured format, and the use of transitional phrases, it offers a blueprint for effective essay writing.

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