How to Write a Comparative Essay; The Ultimate Research Guide

29 April 2020
How to Write a Comparative Essay

Have you been assigned a complicated topic for your comparison essay? Are you stuck on where to begin? This article gives a procedural guide on writing an excellent comparison essay. 

We write topic-customized essays that get your reader charmed throughout the reading. Our website is rich with compare and contrast examples of essays that you may find worth reading. Check out our guide below for polished instructions on how to write a comparison essay.

What is a Comparative Essay?

A comparative essay seeks to explore the similarities and differences that exist between two subjects or ideas. Usually, the two issues are distinct but share the same category. Therefore, their distinction gives rise to the differences while belonging to the same group provides similarities.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing a Comparison Essay

Did you just think that a single topic essay is complicated? What about two topics? Shelve this thought and follow on to get a simple procedure of how to write a comparison essay.

1. Understand the Topic Well

The first instance of understanding the topic is figuring out the basis of comparison. The assignment paper may state it clearly in the essay question. Otherwise, you may have to brainstorm many points of comparison. This step applies to when you come up with your topic. Although the problem in both instances is to compare, the assumption is that you will compare and contrast.

Below are some of the issues you may consider when choosing a comparative essay topic

  • Economic variables in different regions
  • Published works of various authors
  • Influential figures in any sector of the economy with different ideologies
  • Events in history in the political, economic, social or any other context
  • Theories put forward to explain a single phenomenon
  • Philosophical stances of different people

2. Choose Your Comparative Essay Topic

Do not contemplate on a very complicated issue. Instead, narrow down to the recent class content and brainstorm a relevant subject. Ensure you can discuss and deliver the best for the highest grades. The ability to write a quality essay comes from the ease of getting similarities, differences, or both.

A great deal of research is required if you have a vague idea about the topic. Understand the basis of comparison as the assignment question spells it in both portions of the subject.

Check out carefully what answer the assignment question needs. Sometimes you may be required to give a pure comparison analysis only, which only needs similarities between the two subjects. In other instances, the assignment could of contrasting nature where you provide the differences only. The third type of essay could be seeking a blend of both similarities and differences.

3. Identify Relevance in The Topic

Comparisons and similarities can come from everything under the planet. But not all subjects will bring out a meaningful discourse in a comparing and contrasting essay that is worth reading. Preferably choose a topic of two items, which brings out an insightful dialectical contrast in a comparison essay. Thus pondering on the intention of the tutor assigning you the topic would help. You may consider reading comparative analysis examples to know how the subjects link with the content.

After knowing the intention, the frame of reference is clear. The frame of reference comes from the research and expert-supported facts. It should be clear from the assignment statement. The reader will not thus view your chosen grounds of comparison as deliberate, random, or spontaneously coming out your thoughts.

4. Plan Well Around the Topic

Once you understand the similarities and differences between the two subjects based on the comparison point, plan on what to write. A proposed method of generating similarities and differences is using a Venn diagram. You need to draw a Venn diagram using two overlapping circles. The non-overlapped sides are labeled with the two subjects of comparison.

 After researching, coupled with critical thinking, list the similarities in the shared region. Similarly, list the differences under each respective non-overlapped parts. This comparative analysis is vital in selecting what the audience already knows and what you need to teach them. You will be able to visually figure out what, to begin with when writing the comparison essay. Preferably you can arrange the similarities and differences in the order of how you can explain them with ease. 

When the real writing comes, you will be looking at the Venn diagram and get what to write. A logical arrangement of the comparative essay outline helps you maintain a smooth flow of ideas. At least you do not fumble at your first better part of the comparative essay. 

 What You Ought Not to Forget

There are two great things you ought to remember when generating the similarities and differences. First, base the corresponding differences in each list on a single aspect. Secondly, focus on the probable intention of the tutor when assigning a compare and contrast essay. The class content can give you clues on the expectations. Adherence to these two points prevents you from meandering out, of course. 

Besides the above key points to beware of the audience is critical. You need to know what is relevant if the audience is the tutor or your classmates. The differences and similarities are supposed to be informative, exciting, and related to the course of study. Hence your audience will dictate the matters to be discussed.

Finally, read and get a clear picture of how to explore the themes or points you have decided to work on in the two subjects. The resultant effect of failing to read extensively is exploring ideas shallowly. And guess the next consequence? Poor grades!

The General Structure of a Comparison Essay

The general structure of the comparative essay outline consists of the following parts:

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

The introduction gives a preliminary of the comparison essay in a condensed form. The body delves into the significant points of similarities and differences, while the conclusion sums it all. You will read below for a more detailed explanation of this general structure, won’t you?

How to Write the Comparison Essay Introduction

This part introduces the audience to the two subjects of the comparison and the thesis statement. An appealing and believable fact about the two topics sways the reader into the content. Asking a thought-evoking question which you answer with the thesis statement will also work for a catchy introduction.

You are required next to give the reader brief but sufficient background information on the subjects of comparison. In this case, even a reader who is green to the topics of comparison will understand the comparison essay.

Next comes the thesis statement, which concisely gives an overview of the comparison essay. The thesis statement should reiterate why you are comparing the two topics, even if the tutor stated the reason. Moreover, the thesis statement should reveal a critical aspect of the issues or their relationship.

The Nature of the Thesis Statement

The thesis statement ought to be a claim that you will defend or interpret in the comparison essay. A controversial thesis statement enables the audience to follow the subsequent argument keenly. More critically, a thesis statement is based on the relative weights of the similarities and differences. Once stated this way, it maintains the focus of the reader lest they get lost in the sea of ideas you explore.

How to Develop your Comparative Essay Body

The body enriches the thesis statement. If the thesis statement was controversial or needed interpretation, do it objectively. Follow either of the structure discussed below to unveil the difference and similarities. Importantly, remember that the comparison loses meaning when it is made on different aspects.

For instance, it is meaningless to compare the technology in Nissan cars and the height in Mercedes Benz. These are incongruent points of comparison. The main goal is to leave the reader with a higher conception of properties of subjects under comparison. This clarity could potentially influence the choice for one item instead of the other.

1. Be Systematic

You need to strictly adhere to the basic format of organizing your points and style of writing. Creativity only serves to complicate the comparison essay. If the reader is unfamiliar with the subjects of comparison, will they understand if you use figures of speech unsparingly? Focus on point-to-point in a way the reader can follow.

2. Decide Your Preferred Structure

The structure of the comparison essay influences the ability of the reader to understand the content. Structure affects the coherence of similarities and differences in ideas. Below are the three structures that you can prefer choosing between when writing your essay:

i. Block Method

In this structure, the compare and contrast essay is discussed in two parts. After the thesis statement, you consider the points of differences in the first subject until you exhaust them. Next, you turn to discuss the aspects of variations for the second subject. Afterward, you consider the similarities if the requirements state so. The block method is chosen in the following situations:

When the comparison is on more subjects unlike the ordinary two

The similarities or differences of the first fraction of the topic builds up those of the second fraction of the topic

ii. Alternating Method

Here the beginning paragraph is devoted to an aspect of comparison to the first subject. The subsequent section then discusses the same element of contrast on the second subject. You repeat this process until all ideas of comparison are exhausted.

If the comparison essay requires you to explore the similarities, they follow after comparison paragraphs. However, if the two subjects are distinct, try getting the point of resemblance to mention in the conclusion part. The alternating method is used preferably in two situations:

  • Where a detailed comparing and contrasting is needed
  • When the points of comparison between the subjects are unrelated

The main advantage of this method is that the reader gets a well-analyzed content on their differences. Here the audience can follow the integration of ideas smoothly. The arguments usually flow through the effective use of transitional words.

iii. Mixed Paragraphs Method

In this method, you will address each aspect of similarity or difference between the two subjects in a single paragraph. The first half of the paragraph is devoted to the first subject, while the second half discusses the second subject. This pattern ensures you explain them in a logical order. 

The main advantage of this method is that it enables you to pay equal attention to each subject of the topic. Further, the reader keeps the comparison fresh as they proceed with reading. This method of writing a comparison essay is preferred when comparing complex subjects. As a result, you and the audience do not lose track.

3. Dwell on Both the Similarities and Differences

Due to the simplicity of generating similarities, you may tend to ignore an in-depth discussion on the differences. It is well to give equal attention to both similarities and differences if the tutor’s rubric requires such.

Concentrating on both similarities and differences indicates a thorough engagement with ideas and perspectives presented by the two subjects. Well-researched bits of evidence should be used, and sources quoted if need be.

4. Defy the Writing Order on the First Draft

You are used to writing the introduction, body, and conclusion, right? Write the thesis statement first since it is your anchor to hold you from drifting from focus. Subsequently, write the body paragraphs, conclusion, and introduction, respectively. 

The already completed body paragraphs tell you the whole story about the similarities and differences. By reading these paragraphs, you get to know the main point of the paper. Hence it would be straightforward to write the conclusion by echoing the thesis statement then summing it up all.

Finally, coin the initial introductory sentences, which reflects what you have written down. The initial sentences come just before the thesis statement. A statement that baits the audience is what you customize here. A quote, a statistic anecdote, or a factoid would serve the purpose the best before linking the reader to the thesis statement.

5. Flood the Comparisons with Evidence

Every paragraph in the body begins with a raw sentence that should be further elaborated by the next sentences. Evidence crafts every asserted idea in the first sentence to explain a similarity or a difference. The evidentiary sentences are always followed by a low-level concluding sentence, which wraps ups the idea in that paragraph. The conclusion for a paragraph means that the idea cannot be expanded further by extending the evidence.

6. Use Linking Words to Maintain Coherence

Your comparison essay is readable with a smooth flow when you use transitional words. Also, linking words clear monotony. The reader understands when you are comparing and when giving synonymous aspects of the subjects.

Some examples of link words used for comparison are too, similarly, like, as well, in the same way, compared to, both, in similar, among others. On the other hand, words like conversely, however, unlike, regardless, even though, yet, while, but and despite indicating contrast.

Thus the fluency is enhanced, and the reader understands the interconnection between the ideas. 

Need Help Writing a Comparison Essay?

Have you got the A-grade comparison essay writing tips above? You are now inspired to write a comparative analysis essay, aren’t you? Doubtlessly you need put into practice those writing tips. Meanwhile, reading a comparison essay example would clarify all those tips.

Unfortunately, the topic may be demanding enough for skills. Custom Writing Bee is the preferred source of help to deliver your essay timely. Reach out to us for more resources such as comparative essay examples and writing services.



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