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  • Organizing a Compare and Contrast Essay Properly: Writing Tips

    Compare and contrasting essays teach you to analyze things, events and ideas, think critically, get deeper insight into the world around you. Such essays presuppose stating similarities and differences, but sometimes you have to include comparison or contrasting in some other kinds of written works that demand evaluation and giving arguments.

    Working on the essay of such a kind, you should go through certain stages:

    • Discover similarities and differences.

      It is better to present them visually, making either a Venn diagram (some overlapping circles corresponding to the items you compare, a central part of which will contain common features of the things) or a chart in which you enumerate objects (for example, horizontally) and their qualities (in a vertical column).

    • State the target audience.
    • As you write the essay both for the professor and the class, you should satisfy their expectations (and they may not coincide). So keep in mind that you are expected not only to relate the facts, but to do it in an original and attractive manner.

    • Decide what to focus on.
    • As writing the essay you have to show the knowledge of the subject, try to connect it with the content of the course. Find new information to arouse the students` interest; think over the arguments; create the main message; consider proofs.

    • Formulate the thesis.
    • The thesis is the sentence or the phrase that reveals the theme of your essay and gives hints on what you are going to write about. It should be argumentative, arousing interest and, maybe, provocative, giving the basis for discussion.

    • Think over the format of your narration.
    • You may relate your thoughts using different ways of organizing the material. But, logically, it is convenient to use either the “subject-by-subject” or “point-by-point” approach. The first supposes writing everything about subjects in turn. For example, you describe three features of the first subject, then three corresponding traits of the second one, and so on. However, there is a risk that your essay will turn into a simple enumeration of points.

      The “point-by-point” approach to some greater extent corresponds to the idea of a comparison and contrast essay. You compare the subjects and their traits in parallel, and that makes similarities and differences more obvious.

    • Use cue words.
    • To help the reader follow your thoughts and arguments use connectors that establish relationship between subjects, draw the reader’s attention and make your ideas clear.

    Finish the essay in such a way that the reader could easily understand your preferences. It is also important to show what is, to your mind, more essential in the subjects you compare – similarities or differences.


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