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Compare And Contrast Essay College

TIP Sheet
WRITING A COMPARE/CONTRAST PAPER

A compare and contrast essay examines two or more topics (objects, people, or ideas, for example), comparing their similarities and contrasting their differences. You may choose to focus exclusively on comparing, exclusively on contrasting, or on both-or your instructor may direct you to do one or both.

First, pick useable subjects and list their characteristics. In fact, their individual characteristics determine whether the subjects are useable. After that, choose a parallel pattern of organization and effective transitions to set your paper above the merely average.

1. Picking a subject
Focus on things that can obviously be compared or contrasted. For instance, if you are examining an idea (political or philosophical) examine the opposite of that idea. Or, if you are examining a person, like a president, pick another president for comparison or contrast. Don't try to compare a president and a cab driver, or existentialism and a legislative bill on car tax refunds.

2. Listing characteristics
Divide a piece of paper into two sides. One side is for the first subject, the other for the second subject. Then, begin to list the similarities and differences that immediately come to mind. Concentrate on characteristics that either are shared or are opposing between the two subjects. Alternately, you may construct a Venn diagram of intersecting circles, listing the subjects' differences to either side and their similarities where the circles intersect. Keep in mind that for a balanced paper, you want to make point-by-point, parallel comparisons (or contrasts).

Similarities between my math and English instructors:
Both are welcoming and available to students.
Both are organized and keep a neat office.
Both are knowledgeable and professional.

 

Differences between my math and English instructors
Math teacher listens to classic rock.         English teacher listens to jazz.
Math teacher drinks Earl Grey tea.           English teacher drinks strong black coffee.
Math teacher likes to chat about movies.  English teacher sticks to business.

As you create your list, is it clear why you are comparing and contrasting these two subjects? Do you have a preference for one or the other? If so, make sure you are evaluating each side fairly. A point-by-point list helps you maintain balance.

Once you have a list, decide whether there are more similarities or differences between the topics. If there are more similarities, concentrate your paper on comparing. If there are more differences (or if, as in the example above, the differences are simply more interesting), concentrate on contrasting. If there is a balance of similarities and differences, you might concentrate on discussing this balance.

3. Organizing
There are at least two ways to organize a compare/contrast essay. Imagine you are examining Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, both Civil War generals. In your list you have uncovered important points of dissimilarity between them. Those points are their background, personalities, and underlying aspirations. (Call these three points A, B, and C.) You have decided to contrast the two subjects.

Here is one way to organize the body of this paper, addressing points A, B, and C for each subject. This paper will follow parallel order–A, B, and then C–for each subject:

A. Lee's background
B. Lee's personality
C. Lee's underlying aspirations

A. Grant's background
B. Grant's personality
C. Grant's underlying aspirations

However, here is another way to organize the same paper:

A. Lee's background
A. Grant's background

B. Lee's personality
B. Grant's personality

C. Lee's underlying aspiration
C. Grant's underlying aspiration

For a shorter paper, the above might represent three paragraphs; if you are writing a long paper and have a great deal of information, you may choose to write about each point, A, B, and C, in separate paragraphs for a total of six. However you decide to organize, make sure it is clear why you are examining this subject. You might be able to compare apples and oranges, for example, but why would you? Include any insights or opinions you have gathered. And yes, in general, three is the magic number. While there is no hard-and-fast rule that precludes creating a paper based on two points, or four, or five, a three-point discussion is manageable, especially for complex or abstract subjects. At the same time, a three-point structure helps you avoid oversimplifying, especially when addressing controversial topics in which discussions tend to become polarized–right or wrong, black or white, for or against. Three-point treatments encourage discussion of the middle ground.

4. Signaling transitions
Learn to use expressions that precisely convey contrast or comparison. These expressions, or transitions, signal contrast:

  • on the contrary
  • on the other hand
  • however
  • otherwise
  • whereas
  • still
  • yet

These expressions signal comparison:

  • as well as
  • both
  • like
  • in common with
  • likewise
  • also

Signal words such as these help the reader understand the relationships between your sentences, paragraphs, and ideas. In particular, if you are both comparing and contrasting, signal words help sort out what's what. Second only to effective organization, effective use of these expressions will go a long way toward helping produce a good compare/contrast paper.

“World War II was more terrifying and tragic than World War I regarding the number of sacrifices and loss of resources.”

That is how a thesis statement or an opening sentence of the compare and contrast essay topics on history may look like. The article explores how to write a compare and contrast essay. Read it if your teacher asks to find differences and similarities between 2 or more objects.

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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay?

Before we share some of the best ideas to include in your writing, we should discuss how to write a compare and contrast essay in several stages.

  1. Consider 2 or more objects/events/people to detect similarities & differences. The primary goal is to read the assignment’s prompt, analyze it, highlight the keywords, brainstorm, and prepare an action plan called outline. Take notes while reading the materials – it is a solid head-start!
  2. Prepare a list of the core things that the objects have in common, and then specify what makes them different from each other. Experts recommend developing separate columns to include the results there.
  3. Exclude the most significant ideas and create a thesis statement based on them. Cherry-pick the points that underline the differences & similarities between the target objects in the most persuasive way. Think about the major themes, characters, and the messages of every topic.
  4. Make a final draft of the outline to ground the paper. An outline breaks down the primary points to discuss. In case of this type of homework assignment, it is better to avoid developing papers larger than 6 paragraphs in length (approximately 2-3 pages).
  5. Add textual elements to come up with the final draft. After writing a plan, everything left to do is to involve a credible evidence to support the main points of the text. To collect such information, a detailed primary research is required.
  6. Proofread & edit once you are done. Even if you are sure in the quality of work, dedicate some time to re-reading and checking the final draft before turning it into the final paper and submitting. Remember: once the teacher receives the paper, a student cannot get it back to fix something. Do not miss the chance to scan the text for the common mistakes such as grammar, spelling, punctuation errors, and even small typos that can affect the final grade. Another great idea is to ask someone to read & analyze the paper.

Compare and Contrast Essay Example Proposed by Expert

In short, here are the parts a student should include in his work:

  • Introduction. Lay out the overall idea behind the main point; it might sound something like, “I believe the way these works draw parallels and gaps between these elements are significant as…” The next thing to step in is the body.
  • Body paragraphs. A student is encouraged to prepare 4 body paragraphs for a paper of this type: list and describe minimum 2 similarities & 2 differences when it comes to discussing the offered ideas. A student may choose one of the possible body structures.

1st scenario:

Paragraph 1 – Issue 1 Compare
Paragraph 2 – Issue 2 Compare
Paragraph 3 – Issue 1 Contrast
Paragraph 4 – Issue 2 Contrast

2nd scenario:

Paragraph 1 – Issue 1 Compare
Paragraph 2 – Issue 1 Contrast
Paragraph 3 – Issue 2 Compare
Paragraph 4 – Issue 2 Contrast

Some students prefer standing out form the rest of their classmates by offering a hybrid model.

  • Conclusion. In a concluding part, sum up the offered opinions and reword a thesis statement.

What about a good differences & similarities essay example? Professional online writing services like the one mentioned in the opening paragraph of this article provide thousands of free essay samples to enjoy. As for the in-text examples, the experts say the following:

“It is not necessary to have a lot of examples as a single killer example based on personal experience or real-life situation can prove the writer’s point. Depending on the depth of work, a student may bring in outside criticism to back up the arguments. The second set of eyes may help to review the work from a critical perspective. Parents or peers can decide whether the essay is easy and interesting to read.”

Linda Strong, a certified academic & business writer at EssayClick.

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What Are Some Good Compare and Contrast Essay Topics to Consider?

Look for the best ideas shared by the top students in the lists below.

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for College Students

A freshman may start from one of these essay topics for college students. You may also relate some to the years spent on a college campus.

  1. Mineralogy & geography
  2. Several different theories of Albert Einstein
  3. Political regime in the United States today as to the one 50 years ago
  4. Volcano eruption or tsunami: Which natural disaster is more threatening?
  5. How has the fashion changed since the early 90s?
  6. Would you prefer to stay miserable in a mansion or happy in a shanty?
  7. The life on campus is better than life with family
  8. Netball versus basketball rules

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for High School

What about compare and contrast essay topics for high school? Youth today s technologically advanced – focus on this perspective.

  1. Samsung on Android or Apple iOS devices
  2. Linux or Windows operating system
  3. Flat & private houses
  4. Chemistry and Biology: Differences & Similarities
  5. Kennedy and Obama: Comparing 2 American presidents
  6. Money or gifts make people happier when it comes to holidays
  7. Which of the 2 date scenarios is better to implement?
  8. Do aliens exist or not?

Compare and Contrast Topics for Middle School

A list of the comparison topics for middle school is a bit less complicated than the one for high school & college students. Focus on the fun!

  1. Purchasing goods online against buying products in traditional shops
  2. Cinema or traditional theater
  3. Fiction plus non-fiction
  4. Holidays in Orthodox church versus those celebrated in Buddhism
  5. Which type of activity is more effective when it comes to losing weight: sports or diets?
  6. Wearing pants or dresses in the office
  7. Were mythological Gods real?
  8. Wearing uniform or having no school uniform at all

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for 6th Grade

We recommend choosing something fun to discuss in essay topics for 6th grade. Pick several heroes from comics or popular ways of online communication.

  1. E-mails versus traditional posting
  2. Various concepts of beauty in modern world
  3. Heavy metal & hip-hop music
  4. Fruits vs. Vegetables
  5. Superman versus Batman
  6. Summer or winter
  7. Sailor Moon or Pokemon
  8. Toys & cookies

AP World History Compare and Contrast Essay

Have you heard about the Advanced Placement exam? Here are some AP world history essay topics!

  1. Draw a parallel between 2 or more distinguished leaders in history
  2. What did World War I and WW II have in common?
  3. How is the development of Ancient Greece different from the development of Ancient Rome?
  4. What is the difference between Southern & Northern states?
  5. Cleopatra & Margaret Thatcher
  6. Christianity & Islam
  7. Sparta & Athens
  8. Mesopotamia differences

Things to Compare and Contrast

Observe the list of common things to analyze. Those are simple ideas for this type of paper.

  1. Playing video games against reading: more preferred pastime
  2. Messaging is killing live communication: Pros & cons
  3. A personal lifestyle versus the lifestyle of the target role model
  4. Hollywood & Bollywood
  5. Similar & different traits children share with their parents
  6. Several quotations of famous people
  7. SEO or traditional approaches to marketing
  8. Comedy or drama movies

Easy Compare & Contrast Topics

  1. Active or passive leisure
  2. Having a long hair versus having a short haircut
  3. Driving a car or a plane
  4. Pick 2 plays of William Shakespeare to discuss (more authors are listed here)
  5. Select any 2 books from the epoch of Romanticism
  6. Gothic and Baroque art in history of mankind
  7. MacDonald’s & Burger King
  8. US English & UK English comparison

Choose one of the offered topics or come up with your own unique idea! Teachers would appreciate the creative approach. After reading several valuable tips, a student may still have no idea how to start a paper or attract reader’s attention. It is a separate art. If you are not ready to master the art of academic writing alone, there is no need to – go the website of an official writing service for students and buy a cheap paper written from scratch to stand out from the rest of your peers!

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