Do you find compare and contrast essays a little too tricky or confusing? Well, we would have to agree that unless one has a great idea of how to go about a compare and contrast essay, it can certainly be a hard nut to crack. At the onset, it may seem like a simple essay where you need to compare and contrast some ideas or tangible things. However, how you structure your essay and how you develop various sections of it is the ultimate key to score high.

So, what does it actually take to write a great compare and contrast essay? Is there a sure shot way of scoring HD grades in a compare and contrast essay? Well, essentially, all you need is a helpful and elaborate guide on compare and contrast essay that gives you every trivial detail pertaining to writing a brilliant academic essay. Once you know exactly what a compare and contrast essay is and how you ought to go about it, there is no reason why you would falter.

Having said that, this is your ultimate resource to know all about a compare and contrast essay. On the other side of this guide, you will certainly feel that writing a compare and contrast essay has never been this easy. So, let us get started!

What is a compare and contrast essay?

As the name of the essay suggests, a compare and contrast essay, you are required to assess two or more subject matters or things in a way that you compare the similarities between them and then draw a striking contrast between the differences they have.

For instance, let’s say you need to write a compare and contrast essay taking democracy and autocracy into account. So, going by the actual logic of a compare and contrast essay you will first compare the similarities between democracy and autocracy. Subsequently, you will then draw a contrast between the dissimilarities. Along similar lines, you may be asked to compare and contrast different organizational structures in corporate organizations

As mentioned above, it is not necessary that you would be asked to compare and contrast two different ideas or philosophies only. You may simply be asked to compare and contrast two people as well or compare and contrast different things. However, irrespective of what you have been asked to compare and contrast, the basic logic of this essay remains the same.

Going ahead, it is important to know that a compare and contrast essay belongs to the class of expository essays. In most cases, it will so happen that the topic/title of the essay would be assigned beforehand by your professor or instructor. However, if that is not the case, you need to be smart enough to pick a topic (abstracts/things/ideas) that offers a genuine scope for comparing and contrasting.

Let us try to understand this through an example. Let us say you have been asked to write a compare and contrast essay with respect to two highly successful business organizations of your choice with special emphasis on their competitive advantage in business. Now, if you go about comparing Tesla and Apple, the scope of comparing and contrasting will be very limited given that both organizations have completely different product offerings, target markets and lie in completely different niches.

Having said that, comparing Tesla with Ford or comparing and contrasting Apple with Samsung will make much more sense, doesn't it? This is how your choice of things/ideas/entities to compare and contrast determines the scope of your essay.

Now that you have good knowledge of what a compare and contrast essay is and on what grounds you need to choose the topic, we are good to go. Going ahead, let’s see how we can develop the different sections of a compare and contrast essay starting from the introduction to the conclusion. For that, we will take an example topic around which we will develop our compare and contrast essay.

The sample topic we have chosen is: Traditional learning versus virtual learning

Needless to say, in the contemporary context, this topic is of great relevance and significance given how virtual learning is expanding across all parts of the world and there is a heated debate if traditional learning is obsolete already. So, let’s begin with an understanding of how we can structure a compare and contrast essay.

How to structure a compare and contrast essay?

Like most essays, a compare and contrast essay’s structure includes the following three sections in which the content is to be organized.

  • Introduction
  • Body paragraphs
  • Conclusion

To begin with, the introduction of a compare and contrast essay will clearly explain what the essay is about and which ideas/philosophies/organizations/things are being compared and contrasted. Simply put, when readers read the introduction of your essay, there should be no room for guessing in their minds.

From the introduction itself, they should have a clear idea of what the essay is and where it is headed. It is important to note that there are various elements in the introduction of an essay which you can explore in our meticulous guide on essay introduction.

Next, in the body of your essay, the body paragraphs will clearly illustrate the similarities and dissimilarities between the things/ideas that you are comparing and contrasting. What you need to keep in mind is that every body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence introducing the central idea of the body paragraph. From the topic sentence, it should be clear which aspect of comparing and contrasting you are explaining. Going ahead, after the topic sentence, you then need to offer an intelligible analysis with respect to comparing and contrasting preferably supported by evidence. Thereafter, it is better to end every body paragraph with a brief conclusion.

Last comes the conclusion of your essay wherein you will be restating your thesis statement and summing up all the central points/arguments in a brief and concise manner. You need not introduce any new information or details in the conclusion. You simply need to sum up what you have talked about in the body paragraphs.

The next section discusses in detail the introduction of a compare and contrast essay along with the various elements that together make the introduction of an essay.

How to write the introduction of a compare and contrast essay?

An introduction is the first impression of your essay and there is every reason why that first impression needs to be compelling enough. The introduction of the essay should be engaging enough to hook your readers throughout the essay.

In the case of compare and contrast essay, in the introduction of the essay, you would introduce and explain the context of the two subjects that you are comparing and contrasting. However, it is notable that the introduction should have the 4 essential elements stated below.

  • Hook
  • Background information
  • Thesis statement
  • Outline

For better understanding and example, in the subsequent parts, we will be developing the introduction of our sample topic: Virtual learning Vs traditional learning. As you read through the introduction, it will be clear to you how different elements of the introduction are formed and how they cohesively collaborate to create a compelling introduction.

Introduction element : Hook of a compare and contrast essay

A hook being the very first statement of an essay introduction is meant to grab immediate attention of your readers to set the momentum of engagement. It can be an astonishing claim/evidence or it can be statistical data that can instantly hook the audience to the essay. Simply put, it is something that your readers will show great interest in and would want to keep reading further.

In the context of a compare and contrast essay, the hook can be a unique question or bold statement that directly highlights the comparison or contrast of the chosen subjects of the field. In our case, the hook of the essay can be something like the one given below.

Topic - Virtual learning Vs traditional learning

Sample hook

In comparison to traditional learning, e-learning has bright prospects of dictating the future of education. The market size of e-learning is projected to grow at a CAGR of 20 percent and it will surpass USD 315 billion in 2021.

After the hook, you will focus on providing the background information of the essay you are presenting the compare and contrast of.

Introduction element: Background information of a compare and contrast essay

In the background information pertaining to a compare and contrast essay, you simply need to give a brief overview of the ideas/perspectives/things you are comparing while touching upon the correlation between them. Remember, do not overdo the background information. Save the elaboration for the body paragraphs.

Topic - Virtual learning Vs traditional learning

Sample background brief

It is a well known fact that traditional classroom learning thus far has been one of the most effective learning approaches thus far. However, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergence of virtual learning or online learning has been quite exponential.Most contemporary education systems across the world are now incorporating virtual learning mechanisms. Subsequently, the debate between virtual learning and traditional learning is becoming far more intense.

Introduction element: The thesis statement of a compare and contrast essay

The purpose of a thesis statement is to clearly define the central argument of your essay and to underline the stance of the essay in case you are writing an argumentative essay. However, as stated above, a compare and contrast essay belongs to the class of expository essays. So, in the context of an expository essay, the underlying focus of the thesis statement is to highlight the central idea of the essay. More so specifically, in a compare and contrast essay, the thesis statement will define the rationale of comparing and contrasting and the key talking points of the comparison.

An example of the thesis statement for a compare and contrast essay with respect to our sample essay topic is provided below.

Topic - Virtual learning Vs traditional learning

Sample thesis statement

In contemporary times, given the increasing focus on whether virtual learning is a better learning approach or traditional learning still holds greater effectiveness, it becomes important to compare and contrast both methodologies taking different dimensions into consideration.

Introduction element: Outline of a compare and contrast essay

Simply put, the outline of your essay is the blueprint that lucidly explains the flow of the essay and how it develops through different sections. Compare and contrast essay usually consists of various similarities or differences that will be used to present the comparison or contrast of two different objects/ideas. In that context, the outline will describe how similarities and differences are arranged in different paragraphs and the order in which they are presented.

For better understanding, the sample outline of our title is presented below.

Topic - Virtual learning Vs traditional learning

Sample outline

Firstly the essay will discuss how virtual learning is better than the traditional form of learning. Secondly, the essay will highlight various ways in which traditional learning has gotten an edge over virtual learning. Lastly, the essay will highlight some of the limitations of each form of learning.

How to write the body paragraph of a compare and contrast essay?

In the body paragraphs of your essay, you elaborate on the central ideas and the thesis statement presented in the introduction of your essay. So, this is where you do the actual comparing and contrasting between the chosen ideas/things/organizations.

However, before writing the body paragraphs of a compare and contrast essay it is really essential for you to effectively brainstorm all your ideas related to the subject you want to discuss in the essay. For this, you can effectively take help from the Venn diagram which refers to the illustration of multiple circles showing the correlation between different aspects of different subjects.

Once you get clarity in mind through a Venn diagram that how you are different aspects will be covered in the compare and contrast essay, there are two ways to structure your body paragraph as listed below.

  • Block Method
  • Point-by-Point Method (Alternating Method)

Firstly, in the block method, you can explain all the aspects of one subject all in one paragraph and then discuss all the aspects of the second subject in the next paragraphs. On the contrary, in the point-by-point method, you can compare or contrast different aspects of chosen subjects in each paragraph.

Venn diagram of compare and contrast essay

Each body paragraph of the compare and contrast essay will begin with topic sentences that will make it clear to the reader whether the two chosen subjects will be compared or contrasted in the following paragraph. Further, two to three validating points will be presented in each paragraph that will validate your contrast or comparison of the two subjects.

Lastly, the body paragraph should end with a transition sentence that subtly explains what the next paragraph will be such that cohesion is maintained. For better comprehension, we have given a body paragraph of the same topic sample following the point-by-point method and explaining how traditional learning is better than the virtual method.

Topic - Virtual learning Vs traditional learning

Sample body paragraph

There are some striking differences and dissimilarities between virtual learning and traditional learning that give an edge to traditional classroom learning as a more effective mode of delivery. In traditional learning, the students effectively get a chance to interact with their students whereas this is not the case in virtual mode. Moreover, when it comes to students with disciplinary issues, it becomes harder for teachers to focus on them in virtual learning. Besides, traditional learning also prepares students for socializing in the real world whereas students get confined to the four walls of their homes in virtual learning mode. This has deprived students of interacting with their peers and teachers face-to-face for better socialization and comprehension of their curriculum. However, it is essential to note that this does not end here, there are some points where virtual learning has clearly won an edge over traditional learning.

How to write the conclusion of a compare and contrast essay?

Lastly comes the conclusion of the essay, which is another crucial aspect that needs to be covered while writing a compare and contrast essay. The conclusion will present just everything you said above in your complete body paragraph and introduction. In your conclusion first, you will restate the thesis statement by presenting the reason for comparing and contrasting your taken subjects.

Other than that, you can also end your essay with an engaging quote or question that can leave an impact on the minds of the readers to make them think thoroughly about all the points you have discussed in the essay above.

Topic - Virtual learning Vs traditional learning

Sample body paragraph

It is evident that there are various similarities and dissimilarities between virtual learning and traditional learning with both having their own fair share of advantages and the significance varies from one region to another.Moreover, future projections indicate that virtual learning has become a necessity and in the future, the verticals of virtual learning will continue to replace traditional learning at an unprecedented pace.

To encapsulate, we are sure that this guide will be super beneficial for you when it comes to writing a compare and contrast essay effectively. Hence, you can follow all the ultimate guidelines to write the essay like a pro and score good grades on your assessments.

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