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How to Write a Comparative Essay

September 27, 2019

Did you ask to write an essay about technology? Or to discuss the latest political events? In most of the cases you’ll need to contrast and compare several concepts, and that’s what we will be discussing today!

What is a comparative essay: definition

Compare and contrast essay or simply a comparative one allows comparing several items. They often differ depending on the subject or the course you are taking. Here are the features you can be asked to compare: 

  • Your own position on the topic;
  • Numbers and statistics;
  • Theories;
  • Events;
  • Texts.

Develop the content of the essay

Should devote much time to developing your essay’s content. It may sound difficult at first but below you will find a detailed step-by-step guide that will make the process simple and enjoyable!

Analyze the question or essay prompt carefully

Ideas rarely fall from the sky, so you should always approach the question with all seriousness and analyze the prompt in detail.

This will allow understanding what you are expected to write about and how to make your essay perfect!

Understand the type of comparison essay you are being asked to write

Write a comparative essay you should first understand what type of an essay you should write: either to concentrate on comparison or contrasts or to include both.

In addition, your essay may be formal, casual or academic depending on the institution you are in and the tone of your essay.

List similarities and differences between the items you are comparing

The next stage of writing a comparative essay is to make a list of the key similarities and differences of the discussed issues. You can either use notes on your phone or to write everything down on a piece of paper: it is up to you to decide!

The list should not be considered an outline but it will surely give you enough information to create a plan of the future essay!

Evaluate your list to find your argument

A good comparative essay is based on facts and clear information. That’s why you must take the list you have just written and decided what things you will eventually use in your essay. Try to identify the most crucial topics and patterns that would make the basis for the essay.

With such information, you can work through the list point by point using pens of different colors, stickers and other tools. This will help you to reduce the list only to the most relevant arguments.

Establish the basis for your comparison

The basis is the common feature and the main idea that is presented in all parts of the essay. It can be a theory, a problem that you want to solve, a historical issue or a question that needs to be answered.

You may have various terms of similarities and differences but they won’t mean a thing if you don’t have a clear basis that answers the question ‘Why you are comparing these issues?’

Research your subjects of comparison

Comparative essays, as well as any other academic works, should be based on reliable information. That is why if you want to understand the compared items and to provide readers with solid work, you need to research them in detail.

Make sure you use reliable sources that are appropriate for the items you are comparing.

Develop a thesis statement

The statement is the key idea of your paper. It is supported in every topic sentence and allows the whole essay to follow a particular direction.

Many writers develop a thesis statement only when all other paragraphs are ready. In such a way you can see the main topic of your essay and don’t need to rewrite or tailor thesis depending on the arguments you have used.

Develop the essay structure

You want to simplify the process, it is better to write an essay structure. Make a list of the key paragraphs your essay should include: introduction, core paragraphs, and conclusion.

To be on a safe side, ask your tutor for clear recommendations on what paragraphs your essay should consist of.

Outline your comparison

Have probably heard how important it is to outline the work before you start writing. With its help you will organize the paper, won’t have to experience a fear of a blank page and will always know what main points of a comparison essay are.

Can use a simple piece of paper, sticky notes or an app on your smartphone to always have the outline nearby.

Use a mixed paragraphs method

The approach is a mix of an alternate and a block method. It means that every paragraph will contain information on both parts of the comparison.

Example, the first paragraph will contain a comparison of the first aspect of every issue; the second will consist of a comparison of the second issue and so on.

Such comparative essay approach allows paying the same attention to every argument of the issue.

Alternate the subjects in each paragraph

The approach is well familiar even to high school students, so if you decide to choose this method you will certainly benefit.

The method is also called the point-by-point one. With its help, you will find points that are related to main issues and will then alternate between them.

Example, a comparative essay of modern and classical American literature may explore how both of them managed to influence education and enlightening of the society.

Both classical (A) and modern (B) literature had different ways of approaching modern society. So when using an alternating method you will need to discuss both A and B, when providing a particular argument.

The size of your essay will depend on the number of points you would want to discuss.

Cover one subject at a time thoroughly

Leave the reader will a clear idea, you will have to devote a separate body paragraph to every argument. However, this structure is quite dangerous and is suitable only for short essays.

You have many arguments to discuss, covering one subject at a time can make your essay seem one-sided and quite difficult to follow.

Linking of A and B

College and universitystudents use this method all the time: you need to link all of the points of your essay to the thesis statement.

Without such a connection your audience won’t be able to see what relation new arguments and details have to your topic and main idea.

If you want your comparative essay to look logical and clear, you should always link A and B throughout body paragraphs. These links include such transition words and phrases as: 

  • Similarly;
  • Moreover;
  • On the contrary;
  • On the other hand, etc.

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How to come up with a comparative essay outline

Have discussed why it is crucial to create an essay outline. If you still doubt, let our essay writing service prove that outline can greatly simplify your life!

Write your essay out of order

You have probably written research papers and other types of academic assignments, so know how important the common essay order is. But who said that you need to write it one paragraph after another?

It is much simpler to start with body paragraphs and conclusion, and only then to write an introduction.

Write the body paragraphs

Body paragraphs of your essay occupy most of the space and contain the main arguments of the work. Make sure you use an appropriate comparative method and devote a separate paragraph to every argument.

Don’t forget about using transition words that will make your text readable and clear.

Write the conclusion

Body paragraphs are written, you need to summarize everything. Make sure your conclusion is brief and understandable.

Introduce any new facts and simply enumerate what similarities and differences were discussed throughout your essay and what conclusion you have made.

Write the introduction

Then return to the introduction and write about the goal of your essay. Don’t forget to close this paragraph with a thesis statement that will justify the importance of your work.

Revise your writing

Essay, term paper or thesis requires proofreading. That is why you must read the task attentively and make sure that it doesn’t have any misprints, poor grammar or lexis.

The structure of your essay should also be smooth and clear. If you stumble on some parts, rewrite or even delete them.

Comparative essay topics

Here are a few essay topics that are always good for comparison: 

  1. Schools and colleges;
  2. Unemployed students vs. those who work;
  3. Coursework and thesis: what’s more challenging?
  4. American and British English: main differences:
  5. Similarities of education and occupation;
  6. TOEFL and SAT: how they differ?
  7. Masters and Ph.D.;
  8. Traditional education against learning at home;
  9. iOS vs. Android;
  10. Who are stronger: men or women? 

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