Compare and Contrast Essay

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If you’re facing a tough compare and contrast essay assignment, your job is to take two or more related things and describe the ways in which they are similar and the ways in which they are different. In some cases, you may be asked to stick to one or the other. In other words, compare without contrasting or contrast without comparing.
Whatever your options are, this is a challenging assignment. Keep reading for tips that you can use.

Finding a Topic That Best Represents You
  • 1

    Know Your Instructor’s Requirements. Before you do anything else, start with your instructor’s requirements. Your assignment rubric should provide the information you need including any limits on the topics you may explore.

  • 2

    Remember That Objects Aren’t Your Only Option. When you start considering topic ideas, you may find yourself stuck on things. For example, cars vs. motorcycles or cats vs. dogs.  Try expanding your options. You can explore different concepts and philosophies for example. One example might be low fat dieting vs. low carb dieting.

  • 3

    Topics That Are Familiar or Interesting Are Best. As always the more you know and enjoy  your subject, the more likely you will be to write an essay that is interesting and readable.

  • 4

    Show Off Your Flair For Trivia. One way to make your compare and contrast essay more interesting is to go beyond the obvious points of comparison and use some lesser known facts. For example, if you are a Civil War buff and are working on an essay comparing Union soldiers and rebel soldiers, you can probably some up with some very interesting points that aren’t very well known.

  • 5

    Determine if Your Topic is Too Broad or Too Narrow. Think about your word count. If you are going to struggle to meet it, your topic is probably too narrow. Consider picking something a bit more generic.

  • 6

    Start a Brainstorming Session With Your Study Group. Brainstorming is a great way to help one another come up with topic ideas. Who knows, another person’s suggestion may really click with you.

  • 7

    Do a Compare And Contrast Speed Test. When you come up with a possible topic, try a little test. Quickly see how many differences and similarities you can quickly jot down. If you find yourself struggling to come up with more than three or four, you should probably move onto another idea.

Points to Think About
  • 1

    Not all similarities and differences are equally interesting. Rate yours from high to low. Then, only use the best.

  • 2

    Dig deep with your research, and you will have more interesting points of comparison.

  • 3

    Keep your notes organized and your citations in order as you research.

  • 4

    Knowing where you can get help with your essay is very important.

  • 5

    You can make the writing process less stressful by getting an early start.

Do and Don`t
Do
  • Attend all peer review sessions
  • Double check requirements before turning in your final draft
  • Use mind mapping to come up with great ideas
  • Keep an open mind when considering topics
  • Use apps and tools to stay organized and improve your writing
Don't
  • Wait until the last minute to start writing
  • Think you are bothering your instructor if you need further clarification
  • Forget to double check any facts that you cite
  • Skimp on words. This is a big problem once you reach the college level
  • Work without an outline or organized notes.
Mistakes to Avoid
  • Stretching too hard to come up with similarities and differences. If you have to work too hard at this, you may want to revisit your topic.
  • Using weak transitions. Focus on moving smoothly from one paragraph to the next.
  • Writing a boring intro. Get your reader interested by sharing some trivia or an anecdote.
  • Forgetting your title page or bibliography. Don’t lose points by failing to include all of the items due.
  • Fizzling out at the end. Take the time to write an effective concluding paragraph.
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