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Evaluation Comparison Essay

How to Write an A+ Comparison Essay on any Topic

Published 3/10/2013

What is a Comparison Essay?

A comparison essay (or a Compare and Contrast essay) is a commonly used type of writing assignment in various classes of high school and college, from art to science. In a comparison essay you should critically analyze any two subjects, finding and pointing out their similarities and/or differences.

Depending on your assignment, such essays can be comparative only (looking only at similarities), contrasting only (pointing out the differences) or both comparative and contrasting.

Choosing a Topic for Comparison Essay

In order to write a good essay, first you need to have a good topic for it, i.e. a topic that lets you easily demonstrate your writing skills and get a high grade easily.

What does that mean specifically regarding the comparison essay? Very simple: the subjects must be easy comparable, so you don’t need to work too hard to point out their similarities or differences. For example:

A big college campus and a small college campus
World War I and World War II
Two perspectives on the same place: morning and night
William Shakespeare with William Wordsworth
Windows vs. Linux

Using the following links, you can find a lot of good comparison topics for your essay:

100 Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

50 Compare and Contrast Topics

List of Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Comparison Essay Structure

Considering the right structure for your essay is one of the key points of success. Sticking to a recommended essay structure is the only way to properly outline and write it, paragraph by paragraph from the introduction to conclusion, without mistakes.

There are two recommended patterns for a comparison essay: point-by-point (or "alternating") pattern and subject-by-subject (or "block") pattern.

Alternating pattern

Alternating pattern is also known as "point-by-point comparison". This mode of comparison will result in your essay having 5 paragraphs. Alternating pattern is also known as "point-by-point comparison". This mode of comparison will result in your essay having 5 paragraphs.

In it, you will need to consecutively compare and contrast each of the similarities and differences in the given subjects:

  • In the introduction you state your thesis.
  • Then you discuss both of your subjects together for each point of comparison and contrast.
  • In the conclusion you restate the thesis and shortly summarize your essay.

Block pattern

Block pattern is also known as "subject-by-subject comparison". According to this pattern, you will be required to separate the body of your compare and contrast essay in two parts.

The first part of the body will be dedicated to the first subject, while the other half will be centered around the second subject:

  • In the introduction you state your thesis.
  • First you discuss the first subject.
  • Then you discuss the second subject.
  • In the conclusion you restate the thesis and shortly summarize your essay.

Writing an A+ Comparison Essay

Introduction

The introduction of an essay is very important. It gives the reader his/her first impression of the comparison essay’s text. Remember: first impression counts!

Grab the reader’s attention

There are a lot of tips and techniques to help you in capturing a reader’s interest. You can find some pretty good information in the following articles:

How to Grab the Reader's Attention

A Proper Introduction

Essay Introductions

The most common five methods to grab your reader's attention, commonly used by professionals, are the following:

  • Give a brief historical review of your topic for help reader to better understand it
  • Start from a little story or an anecdote, which leads the reader into your topic
  • Try to use a surprising statement – something disgusting, joyful or even shocking
  • "Dropping" the name of a well-known person (celebrity) usually gets the reader's attention
  • State straight out what your essay is going to be about, simply and clearly

Start from a short background

High school students often find it difficult to view their teachers as anything but "the enemy." However, after the first few months of a school year, students learn to appreciate their teachers as individuals with different approaches. Some teachers are "cool," while others are "tough."

State the thesis

Although Sally Strict & Larry Lax are both respected teachers at our school, their teaching styles and expectations for students differ significantly. While Ms. Strict maintains a highly structured classroom atmosphere to keep her pupils disciplined and motivated, Mr. Lax downplays structure in order to allow his students to push themselves.

Point paragraph

State the point

Finally, Ms. Strict enforces high standards for her students' written work.

Provide supporting details

She collects homework every day at the beginning of class; to turn it in five minutes late is to turn it in a whole day late. Every piece of writing, whether it is a journal entry or a formal essay, must be typed and stapled. Last but not least, all homework must display a sophisticated level of thinking and writing.

Use appropriate transitions

Transitions are important in comparison / contrast writing to avoid confusion. Without transitions, the points you are comparing / contrasting may blur into one another. Also, a variety of transitions prevent monotony.

For comparison:

Like, compared to, similar to, similarly, by analogy, likewise, in the same way, as well, both, too

For contrast:

Unlike, conversely, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, still, although, while, but, even though, although, despite, yet, regardless, on the one hand … one the other hand

Conclusion

The conclusion of a comparison essay is just as important as the introduction. The conclusion seals the comparison essay and tries to close the issue. Conclusion is the last part of the essay that your reader will experience.

Summarize the similarities and / or difference of the subjects

Thus, Ms. Strict and Mr. Lax both accomplish their goals of motivating their students to do excellent work, though they do so in very different ways: while Ms. Strict emphasizes the high standards she expects everyone can meet, Mr. Lax uses a more personal approach.

Emphasize the thesis and say why this topic is important

Their success demonstrates the importance of diversity in a school community: different students respond to different teaching styles. So rather than viewing their instructors as a monolithic "enemy" intent on making them suffer, students should recognize how they benefit from the variety of ways their teachers inspire them.

Finalizing your Work

Pay attention that even though your essay is fully written, it still isn’t ready to submission.

There are some common and annoying mistakes which may significantly harm your grade. However, you can avoid those grade lowering mistakes by completing the following checklist:

  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Ensure that your essay is fully compliant with the required formatting standard
  • Properly organize all the citations and the References / Works Cited page
  • Ensure that your title page is done as required
  • Take a final look at your paper to be certain that everything is indeed fine
Political Science/JSIS/LSJ Writing Center


Compare/Contrast Papers

Back to Helpful HandoutsoWriting Center Home Page

Goal: To explore the similarities and differences between two texts.

To begin
Think about the arguments and evidence presented in each text. Try to identify each author's thesis statement.

Thesis Statement
The thesis statement of a comparison/contrast paper should contain an idea or claim that unites a discussion of the texts. The thesis statement should also include the argument that will be advanced in support of the claim that is being made.

Methods of Organization
Organization is critical to a Compare/Contrast paper. Because you will most likely be discussing a variety of evidence, you will have to be certain that your logic can be understood by the reader. Working from an outline might simplify your task and enable you to evaluate your own reasoning.


1st Method:

I. Introduction
A. Briefly introduce the significance of subjext matter
B. Thesis Statement
  • First supporting point
  • Second supporting point
  • Third supporting point


  • II. First work
    A. Summary of work
  • Relationship of work to first point
  • Relationship of work to second point
  • Relationship of work to third point


  • III. Second work
    (same structure)

    IV. Third work
    (same structure)

    V. Conclusion
    A. Restate thesis
    B. Summarize how you proved your argument
    2nd Method:

    I. Introduction
    A. Briefly introduce significance of subject matter
    B. Thesis statement

    II. Brief explanation of Work 1

    III. Brief explanation of Work 2

    IV. First comparative point
    A. Relation of point to 1st work
    B. Relation of point to 2nd work

    V. Second comparative point (same)

    VI. Third comparative point (same)

    VII. Conclusion
    A. Restate thesis
    B. Summarize how your proved your argument



    Let's look at a working example of the 2nd method, which is more commonly used.

    2nd method: Compare and contrast the Fascist regime created by Hitler and the Totalitarian system under Stalin, paying particular attention to their methods of creating and manipulating nationalism.

    I. Introduction
  • First work -- Hitler used parades, convention meetings and visual propaganda to unite a group of followers and create feelings of nationalism.
  • Second work -- Stalin also used visual propaganda to unite a group of followers; however, he also resorted to methods of mass terror, through purges and gulag camps, to create a feeling of Soviet nationalism.
  • Thesis statement -- In this paper I will argue that through the use of "brotherhood," charisma, education and propaganda, Hitler created stronger feelings of nationalism and loyalty among his followers than did Stalin, who relied far too much upon mass terror.


  • II. Explain the Hitler regime, specifically the key characteristics that define it as a Fascist political system.

    III. Explain the Stalin regime, specifically the key characteristics that define it as a Totalitarian political system.

    IV. First comparative point -- How each leader made use of the concept of "brotherhood"
  • Relation of point to first work
  • Relation of point to second work
  • Use specific examples from the readings and texts to support your argument


  • V. Second comparative point -- Charismatic qualities of each leader (same structure)

    VI. Third comparative point -- Use of education and propaganda (same structure)

    VII. Conclusion
  • Restate thesis
  • Brief summary of how you proved your argument




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