How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay in 6 Easy Steps

Writing a compare and contrast essay can be a tough nut to crack considering that instead of one topic, as usual, you have to deal with two opposite concepts. You have to understand well each of them separately in order to draw conclusions, determine similarities and differences.

However, as soon as you understand the structure and the idea that lies behind the essay, you’ll understand that, in fact, it’s just a matter of the organized writing. We’ve prepared 10 easy steps that will help you to structure your ideas efficiently and know exactly how to write a compare and contrast essay.

Step #1 – Come up with a topic

A good topic is 50% of your success. Basically, you want to make the process of writing easier by picking concepts (or personalities, or events etc) that would be easy to be compared. You are looking for two entities that share both significant differences and similarities.

For example:

  • Essay 1: Political reasons of WWI and WWII (war – same concept but different historical context)
  • Essay 2: Newton and Leibniz and their differences in scientific approach (two rivals, lived at the same time, both came up with the same mathematical concepts independently).

Don’t rush picking the subject unless you are sure you have enough context to draw the comparison. Sure, as soon as you become skilled in writing compare and contrast essays, you’ll be able to work with any topic but if you are a beginner, you need something that speaks for itself.

Step #2 – Determine similarities and differences

There are many methodologies you can use to do that efficiently. For one thing, you can make lists: one for similar characteristics, another for different traits. Then broaden your view by analyzing the subject from a different perspective. Let’s take our examples again.

  • Essay 1: analyze relations between countries-participants in times of two wars. Then deepen the perspective by taking a closer look at what was going on inside each of these states.
  • Essay 2: start by taking a look at what discoveries are both scientists famous for. Then, take a look at their conflict and examine each one’s position. By analyzing the analysis of modern scientists, determine what’s the current outlook on each of them.

You are going to end up with 4-5 lists on each concept after you’ve gone through every possible perspective.

Step #3 – Consider the purpose of the assignment

After you’ve completed your research and analysis, put on your professor’s shoes and think: why do I need to write my essay? How what you’ve researched relates to what you’ve studied in class?

This step is important because there are a lot of angles you can look from and if you go sideways, your grades might take a hit. Keep in mind though, that you don’t want to repeat your class material 100%.

The best strategy would be to use what you’ve learned as the core for the introduction and then offer a fresh outlook on the subject, slightly different from what you already discussed. Professors like to be pleasantly surprised by original perspective on the subject as long as it corresponds with the initial purpose of the task.

Step #4 – Make an outline

Each type of essays has its own established structure and this one is no exception. Usually, it goes like this:

  • introduction
  • subject A (description)
  • subject B (description)
  • comparison
    1. similarities
    2. differences
  • conclusion

This is obviously a basic structure which you need to describe in detail, with that you’ve researched so far. Note the main points down and make sure you don’t get carried away in the writing process.

Step #5 – Write subject-by-subject or point by point

We’ve already introduced you to the most common structure of the compare and contrast essay but actually, things can be a little more complicated than that. The thing is, you can use two crucial principles when structuring your arguments, depending on the subjects you are comparing or points you are proving.

Subject by Subject

It’s a simpler method because it doesn’t require you to put two concepts or events together at the same time. You take a look at them individually and only then, while drawing conclusions, compare the main points.

Example: You start by analyzing World War 1 using different criteria. You start with a timeline, then move onto the geopolitical situation, analyze the international relations between countries who’ve participated in the war and then make conclusions on the reasons. Criteria are based on the differences and similarities you’ve identified while preparing before writing. After the complete analysis of the first subject in doe, you move on to the second one (World War II) and examine it carefully. When both are fully described, you just make the conclusion.

Point by Point

This one is a little more advanced because you are juggling two concepts at the same time and therefore, it’s easy to get lost and get sidetracked. However, if you manage to stay on the topic, this structure will be more clear and show the comparison better. So, if you are sure about your capacities, we’d recommend sticking to this one.

Example: Determine points you want to prove. If you are asked to compare the reasons for WWI and WWII, your first goal is to write down different types of reasons. Economical, political (both globally and inside of each country), social, cultural and so on. Take one characteristic and compare both subjects to it. When the point is covered, move on to the next one.

Of course, mastering these complex structures requires some time so if you are not sure in the essay writing capacities, you can always turn to the cheap paper writing service for the advice. After you’ve got a second look, you are going to feel more confident and be ready to do the impeccable piece without any help.

Step #6 – Make conclusions

The last section of your essay is crucial since here lies the essence of your comparison. You need to clarify the points you’ve been making and showcase one final and most important idea.

Powerful conclusions share the same characteristics – here are the most important ones:

  • The ending comes back to the beginning. You have to prove or disprove what you’ve said in the introduction.
  • Be brief. Don’t make conclusions into an essay on their own. Don’t write more than 1-2 paragraphs.
  • The summed up the arguments you made. Reread what you’ve written and shorten each point to a sentence. That will be the structure of your conclusion.

You’ve read a full guide on writing contrast and compare essay which means, now you are absolutely capable of writing an amazing paper. Do your research and start writing – and the inspiration will come.

Josh Carlyle is a writing expert, who is experienced in content management and copywriting. Josh is aware of the latest trends in the essay writing and academic education. He is always willing to share his knowledge and ideas and write for the blogs from the insights of a professional writer.