Comparison and contrast essay is one of the most common assignments in American high schools and universities. In this type of essay students have to compare two (in some essays several) things, problems, events or ideas and evaluate their resemblances and differences. This type of essay advances and develops your critical thinking as well as your argumentation and understanding of importance of the events and things that you compare.
Examples of the headings in compare/contrast assignments are:
- Compare and contrast the weather conditions for cotton-growing areas of Texas and California.
- Compare the approach to the Soviet Union of F. D. Roosevelt and H. Truman. What are the similarities differences of their policy?
- Compare and contrast the movies “God Farther” and “Once upon a time in America.”
- Sometimes, you may be asked to compare, sometimes you can be requested to contrast, and on several occasions both actions mentioned should be performed.
- Yet, at the same time comparison/contrast can be a part of an essay as well. In this case, you compare and contrast some events or things in order to develop an argument later.
Here are the examples of several topics, where compare/contrast parts should be included.
- Hatred and love, how these topics are treated in Hamlet?
- How two main historians we have studied define the term "d`etente"?
- Compare the programs to reduce the level of pollution in New York and Los Angeles. Which one is more effective?
- Comparison/contrast techniques.
Some students use comparison/contrast techniques in their essays, in order to develop argument in later stages of their essay writing assignments. For example if you assert that the approach to the USSR was more effective during Truman's presidency than during Roosevelt's presidency, then the comparison/contrasting technique will help you to develop your contention.
One of the most effective ways of comparison/contracting techniques is the drawing of Venn diagram. Drawing this diagram allows you to compare and contrast two or even several things/events. To design a Venn diagram, draw several overlapping circles, each should represent some event or idea that you research. In the space of overlapping, write down the similarities, which two objects have. In the space that does not overlap, list the features that make things/events different.
In order to draw a chart you should understand the features of the things to be compared.
The left side is assigned to one criterion. The names of the items are listed across the top. Each box right now corresponds to one criteria. Write down existing facts in the boxes that help you understand what features you have discovered.
Once all major points of comparison/ contrast have been listed, one should concentrate on the main aim of the comparison/contrast assignment. On this stage of the writing process you should have a clear idea of the purpose of this essay.
Try to answer the following questions: Why was this type of essay assigned to you? Does this type of assignment have any similarities with the ones you have completed before? What should be emphasized in this type of essay?
The following is a list of some questions on several topics that might be helpful in designing of your comparison/contrast essay. Certainly, you should use them as the guide, only. Try to formulate your own questions and arguments after you have studied the listed questions.
First ask several typical questions, such as: Who? How? Where? What? Why? If you research some objects you might try to concentrate on its physical features, like size, weight and height.
If you are assigned to compare two historical events, one should ask the following questions: When did it happen? Who was involved in it? Why did it happen? How did it influence further events? Why is this event important?
If you are assigned to compare two ideas/theories. you can pose the following questions to help you get on the right track.
What are these ideas? Who comes up with them? Why are they defended? How have they influenced people? How are they used? Which one is more credible?
After you have completed your list of differences and similarities, you should evaluate which of them are more interesting and important for your essay. In order to facilitate this process, you should ask these questions:
What differences and similarities are relevant to my assignment?
In your opinion, which similarities or differences are more important?
If you are assigned to compare and contrast two novels, you should cautiously evaluate the importance of different facts and features. Some physical features of the characters would be of less importance for this type of assignment; emphasize on psychological differences and similarities of the characters, the differences of the plots and attempts of the writer to research and investigate some problems or events.
In some essays it is pivotal to stress particular points of comparison. If you are assigned to compare the novels of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins for example, you should not emphasize that both of these authors are classical English writers. This fact is common knowledge and it is well-known to your tutor, essay writers and students. Talking about different analysis approaches to human minds would better show your understanding of the novels.
Thesis is one of the most important parts of your comparison/contrast essay. It is the central feature of your essay, the guide of your writing process. Unlike thesis in other types of essays, thesis of compare/contrast essay should be specific and backed up with highly argumentative analysis. The most common question that should be asked in the designing of this type of the thesis is "why?". You should show the importance of things and events that you compare.
The plan of your essay.
As we have mentioned earlier, the contrast/compare essay is a specific type of essay. That is why composing this type of an essay might differ from other ones. The following are several methods of organizing and designing this type of essay.
Item by item.
First, list all information on the first subject of comparison. Then you should go further, and list all points of another subject of comparison. Then you should do the same with the third subject (and so forth, depending on the number of subjects of comparison).
Certainly, if your paper is not long, one paragraph might comprise several items; however it is better to devote one paragraph to one item of comparison. The danger of such comparison is that your paper might be transformed into a simple list of points of comparison. Do not succumb to this mistake. Remember, your tutor would like you to compare and contrast these subjects, and not only provide the list of differences and similarities. In other words analytical work is expected from you. In order to complete this type of essay one should develop and design analytical thesis and paragraph (one or several of them, depending on the topic of your essay) that can combine your several points together.
This item-to-item comparison is frequently used when you design so called "lens" comparison. In this assignment you are asked to use one thing for better understanding of another. In this case you should describe in a nutshell the main points on the first thing and then move on discussing how the points mentioned are similar/different to another thing.
This method is used to compare each point of the objects, rather than describe one thing at a time. For example, if you are assigned to compare two sport venues, your first paragraph might comprise the comparison of their locations. Your second one can be devoted to the description of the designs of the venues. In the third paragraph you may describe sport events that these venues host.
There is no universal rule in designing of compare/contrast essay. Certainly, it should have logical, comprehensive and consistent structure. Remember that the last point is of particular importance, because your reader will judge your essay by it. If, for example, you attempted to prove that the stadium “Universal” is much better than the stadium “Albano” you should wind up by stressing the fact that stadium “Universal” is better, rather than leaving reader with the statement that “Albano” might look better as well. If you think that differences rather than similarities are more important for your essay, you should end up with stressing differences, and vice versa.
Students like writing compare and contrast essays as they have enough space for creativity. Such papers allow expressing your thoughts regarding some contradictive issues. It makes more fun to draw a parallel between two people or objects instead of describing a single issue.
It does not mean, however, that compare and contrast essay is an easy assignment to complete. There are so many possible compare and contrast essay topics, and some of them are hard to carry out.
Keys to Writing Compare & Contrast Essay
Before you start, it is crucial to choose topics that you really know well. Most often, you should find two things that have enough differences and similarities. You can take two pets, cats and dogs, while comparing a food (i.e., banana) with music (i.e., hard rock) basically, makes no sense.
Of course, if you're a part of Arts class where tutor appreciates uncommon parallelism, you may try your luck in your compare and contrast essay. You may talk about a sense of taste and the book of your favorite author. For instance, you may try to explain how it tastes to be Dracula. Or you can highlight how it smells to be Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from famous novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Such creative comparisons are often appreciated and awarded with more than "A." Original and unexpected compare and contrast essay topics serve as your ticket to special universities where Arts are studied. Along with a personal statement written by professional writers, such essay will increase your chances to get enrolled.
Sources to be Used
In any case, writing about things to compare and contrast is an activity which requires your full attention and creativity. But when you have to compare things objectively, you should operate facts. Just like an argumentative essay, your text will need corresponding evidence. Search for the primary and secondary sources on the given topics before you start your first draft. Make sure these sources are no older than 5 years. They should be as relevant as possible. Don't forget to apply only credible sources to reveal your topics. Those are:
- Academic journals
- Scientific magazines
- Official reports
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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay
The traditional essay tips won't work with compare and contrast paper. We have gathered the best ideas online to share with students. If you write such assignment for the first time in your school or college life, read information from us.
You need to keep in mind the most common writing mistakes school and college students make to avoid them.
Start with the type of your compare and contrast essay topic. The topics are divided into 4 different groups:
- Events (point to the differences and similarities of some historical events or episodes from the book)
- Situations (choose to compare two different cases or episodes from your life)
- People or fiction characters (choose the story)
- Places (describe different locations)
No matter what comparison and contrast topics you write on, you need to keep to the traditional structure of the academic paper.
Start with a capturing and interesting hook. Outline what your topic is. Point to the main argument of your topic known as a thesis statement. This sentence or two usually come in the last sentence of your first paragraph.
- Developing your arguments
You need to research your topic to choose three claims. Include evidence with the supporting points next to each argument. There should be up to three supporting points in each body paragraphs.
- Refuting opponent's arguments
This time, you need to research the topic to view the facts that contradict your thesis. It is important to choose at least one example and develop a paragraph with the counter-argument as well. Write down maximum two opposing views followed by a couple of your refutations.
Restate your thesis statement and stress why your side is right once again.
You can learn more information on the structure of five-paragraph paper online.
Writing Tips Used by Smart American College Students
Moreover, use such helpful words as "because,""for example," "the writer mentioned...," "according to the book/movie," "from the given reading, we know that...," "on the following page, I have found..."
"Why do you believe Americans will win the next Olympic games?"
"According to the reading I have found in my college library, their team showed better results than Canadians during the last games."
- Check possible examples of compare and contrast essays when working in your hook sentence. It has a great influence on the reader's decision whether to read your text on a specific topic or not. You may add numbers, figures, facts - whatever to make your reader interested. On the whole, there are many types of hooks:
- Anecdotes and jokes
- Literary quotes
- Quotes of famous people
- Lines from poetry
- Setting scenes
- Scientific facts
- Questions and rhetorical questions
- Metaphors and similes
- Thesis statements
We think it is better to write a thesis statement in the last sentence of the argumentative essay’s introduction to conclude.
- Brainstorm all the time. The best way to decide on two good compare and contrast topics to analyze is to brainstorm and write down possible versions on a blank paper. Once you choose the subjects, you have to organize your thoughts. Prepare a table where you will mention both similarities and differences between the two subjects.
- Get professional help and examples. Find online educational services which help to choose some good sources on the given topic. Those can be movies, books, articles, etc. It is the last pre-writing stage which is known as a literature review. School and college students conduct in-depth research to enrich their compare and contrast essay drafts with important details. If you miss any words to finish your essay, a literature review is a brilliant way to reach the necessary word count.
- Don't forget about the formatting and in-text citations. Apply direct and indirect quotes to make your text longer and more persuasive. Citations will serve as the strong evidence to support your compare and contrast topics.
It was just a short preview of every section of your compare and contrast paper in English. Selecting the proper topics might take a while if you don't have a list of sample topics in front of you. We are ready to share the best compare and contrast essay subjects with you right now. You may use any example as the subject for your comparative essay when the theme is not assigned to you.
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for College Students
We have divided the topics into several categories to make it easier to select one. The list starts with the most relevant subjects college students usually discuss. Other categories are full of great ideas too.
- School vs. College: What's New?
- Students Who Work and Unemployed Students: Who Takes the Best of This Life?
- Research Paper and Essay: What Is More Responsible?
- American English vs. British English: Major Differences
- What Makes Education and Employment Similar?
- SAT and TOEFL: Differences and Similarities
- How Are Master Degree and Ph.D. different?
- Persuasive and Argumentative Paper: Different or the Same
- Traditional Education or Remote Learning?
History and Political Compare and Contrast Essay Topics
- Comparison of Lincoln's and Washington' Ideas
- Renaissance vs. Baroque Epoch
- Anthropology vs. Religious Studies
- American Government vs. Soviet Government
- US President vs. UK Prime Minister
- North and South Before the Civil War in the US
- Henry VIII vs. King Louis XIV
- Fascism and Nazism: Different or the Same?
- World War I and World War II: Difference in Events
Compare and Contrast Topics for Beginners
- Compare Apple and Orange
- Night Time and Day Time: Advantages Each Period Has
- What Makes People Completely Different from Animals
- Living in Poverty and Being Rich
- Coffee and Tea: The Effects of Both
- Living in Big City or Staying in Village
- Feeling Sad against Feeling Lonely
- Differences and Similarities between American and British Traditional Dishes
- Camping in the Woods or Resting by the Sea?
Opposite Things to Compare and Contrast
- Females and Males
- Coke vs. Pepsi
- Red vs. White
- Country in War Compared to Country in Peace
- Driving a Car or Riding a Bus
- Love and Hatred
- Bad and Good Aspects of Overwork
- Moon and Sun
- Dolls or Soft Toys: What Should Parents Buy to Their Children?
Ideas Teenagers May Use in Their Papers
- Childhood vs. Adulthood
- Living at Home or Living on Campus
- Reading or Watching Screened Versions: What Teens Prefer
- Working in Office or Being a Freelancer?
- Academic Writing vs. Scientific Writing
- TV Shows and Radio Shows: What Is More Trendy?
- Education or Professional Career: What Is Easier and What Is More Difficult?
- Greek and Roman Culture: Differences and Similarities
- Comparing Art and Science Classes
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IT & Social Media Compare & Contrast Ideas
- E-mail or Traditional Mailing: What Will Happen in the Future?
- Online vs. Traditional Commerce
- Online Dating vs. Real-Life Relations
- Computer Games, Video Games, or Smartphone Games
- Choosing between New York Times and Forbes
- FaceBook or MySpace: Which Social Network Offers More Opportunities?
- Searching for Job Online or Traditionally?
- Using Online Writing Services against Traditional Writing Services
- Benefits Marketing Specialists Get from Using Online Advertising vs. Traditional One
Movie & Music Compare and Contrast Themes
- Buffy, the Vampire Slayer or Charmed?
- Books against Movies: Why Reading Is Preferred
- Jazz vs. Rock
- Sam vs. Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings)
- Gandalf vs. Dumbledore
- American Cinematography vs. Soviet Union Cinematography
- Thor and Loki: Friends or Enemies According to Movie of 2009?
- Horror Films and Thrillers: What's in Common?
- Harry Potter or Draco Malfoy?
Literature Compare & Contrast Ideas
- Comedy vs. Drama
- Greek vs. Roman Mythology
- Beauty and the Beast: Lessons Learned
- Prose or Lyrics: What People Prefer More and Why?
- Poetry of XIII Century and Nowadays Lyrics
- Shakespeare's Othello Compared to Hamlet
- Fiction or Non-Fiction Literature: When You May Need Different Types?
- Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter: Which Fantasy Book Is Better?
- Literature of the Past against Literature of the Future
Scientific Compare & Contrast Ideas
- Oven vs. Microwave
- Physics vs. Chemistry
- Our Galaxy, Milky Way, and Andromeda, the Closest
- What Makes Earth Different from Mars
- First Mission to Moon and Second Visit: What Are the Differences and Similarities?
- Thomas Jefferson or DaVinci: Whose Innovations Matter More?
- Earthquakes or Tsunami: Which Consequences Are Worse?
- Limited Control Tools or Software with Fool Access to Navigation
- Formulas of Two Different Chemical Reactions
Popular Compare & Contrast Ideas
- Soccer vs. Football
- Chinese vs. Korean
- Public Opinion vs. Personal Point of View: Discuss Subjectivity & Objectivity
- Juice and Water
- Light Beer vs. Dark Beer: Which One Is More Popular?
- Anorexia Nervosa and Obesity: What Is More Dangerous?
- Marriage and Divorce: Two Sides of the Coin
- Windows or Linux: Paid vs. Free OS
- Marxism vs. Other Ideas of Capitalism
Philosophy Compare & Contrast Ideas
- Is Home Really a Better Place Than Miami Beach?
- Life and Death: Various Philosophical Views
- Living in Your Dreams or Living in Reality: Pros and Cons
- Friends and ... Where Is the Edge?
- Physical & Mental Needs of Human Beings
- Reality or Fantasy World?
- Main Philosophical Ideas of Macbeth against the Main Ideas of Hamlet
- Dogs and Humans: They Are More Similar Than We Think
- Sources with Free Access and Rights Reserved: Should We Protect Intellectual Property?
- Greek Philosophers vs. Roman Philosophers
Compare and contrast essay topics for college students might be tricky to choose. The whole process of academic writing is even longer and more complex. Online help from expert writers will save you a plenty of time. You just need to order a good essay from experts with the highest academic degrees in a variety of fields.
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