Writing an A + Comparison and Contrast Essay

As you are starting your college year, you will see that the academic world suddenly became more demanding and trying. Assignment after an assignment, you will notice that the ladder has been moved up and sometimes you might even struggle to accomplish what is expected of you.

One type of writing assignments you will do a fair bit in college, even if you are not an English Literature student, is the comparison and contrast essay. You might think them easy; how difficult can it be to take two or more things and draw up parallels or opposites between them, right? Actually, it's not that simple. Essay writers have been struggling with the comparison and contrast essay for a long time, and the chances are that you will too.

There are several things you will need to keep in mind when writing those essays. Let's take a look at what those things are.

- Keep detailed notes

Make sure you are researching and reading up on your topics thoroughly and with understanding. Keeping extensive notes in the form of bullet points will make it easier to craft a good essay later on. When the time comes to write your assignment, you will be surprised at how much of a rough draft you already have in your notes!

- Know your assignment

There is a structure to be followed when writing essays, comparison and contrast essays notwithstanding. There are several routes you can take in the body of your text, but this is generally how your essay should look like:

- Introduction

Use this part of your essay to state what you will be discussing. Introduce the general topic and other sub-topics you will be touching upon in the body of your essay. Make sure to present your thesis here.

- Body

You will be defending your thesis in the body of your essay. You can take two different approaches while doing that.

You can choose to chunk all the information you have collected about every individual subject in one or more paragraphs, using similarities or differences as transitions between the topics.

An example of that would be:

Bikes are different because they are mechanically driven.

Motorcycles are similar to bikes since both have two wheels.

Motorcycles are different because they require fuel to run.

Alternatively, you can approach the assignment from a different angle. You can organize pieces of information by topic, and not by subject. That would look like this:

Here's a sample outline:

Differences and similarities in appearance of bikes and motorcycles

Differences and similarities in how bikes and motorcycles operate

Differences and similarities in cost-effectiveness of bikes and motorcycles

Whichever approach you choose, make sure to offer an in-depth analysis of all the major points that contribute to the thesis of your essay. Remember, this is where you flesh out your ideas and it has to hold up to scrutiny. Offering flimsy or far-fetched points that have little to do with your thesis will not hold up in court, so to speak. Your professors will know the difference between essays that have been worked on and those that were put together in the last minute.

Make sure to use connectors that signal similarities and differences in the body of your essay. These are words that help readers understand your points, and they serve as transitions from one topic to another.

Here is a list of most common connector and where to use them:

When talking about similarities in your comparison and contrast essay use:

correspondingly, similarly, in addition, just as, as well as, same as, at the same time, compared to, likewise

When expressing differences use:

on the contrary, even though, in contrast, however, unlike, although, meanwhile, on the other hand, conversely

- Conclusion

This is the part where you reiterate your thesis, backing it up by the conclusion drawn from the body of the text. You can also address alternative opinions here, but in that case, you have to demonstrate why they are erroneous and do not apply and provide evidence that supports your conclusions.

- Proofreading and editing

Read out your essay several times, preferably out loud and really listen to yourself. This is a great way to notice discrepancies or contradictions in your essay and address them on time, well before you turn your assignment in. Pay attention to both the grammar and spelling and logical fallacies; your teacher will be grading you on both! Also, ask a colleague to read through your essay as a fresh pair of eyes never hurts.

As you can see, essay writing is no easy task, but it is entirely possible to write an excellent comparison and contrast essay every time with just a little bit of effort. Preparedness is the key. Think well ahead, take notes, and you will be on your way to becoming a great essay writer in no time!


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