How to Start and Write Compare & Contrast Essay

July 10, 2019

There are dozens of types of written assignments that you will encounter in your life as a student, and some of them are not like anything you’ve dealt with before. This type of work is often named among the most unique challenges in student life, mainly because there is no other assignment that promotes critical thinking, analysis skills, and precise writing at once.

How to Start and Write Compare & Contrast Essay

Compare and contrast papers also teach you to find new ways to evaluate and analyze all things around you. When you are tasked with writing this essay, you may not even know where to start. Here is a complete guide on how to write a paper that will make even the most challenging task simply a breeze.

What Is Compare and Contrast Essay?

A short definition is a written assignment where you need to highlight the similarities and differences between a certain number of concepts, usually two. In rare cases, these two concepts can actually refer to two sides of one object, but a more common occasion is when the two concepts are different but belong to the same category.

The word “compare” in the name of the essay often confuses students, who think they are tasked with a comparison of two things. However, comparing the two concepts is not usually a part of this essay. Instead, your job is to simply identify the differences and similarities between the two, not do a full-on comparison.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the task any less difficult, because writing about two objects is twice as hard as writing about just one. The good news is that you can order a

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Recognizing Comparison/Contrast in Assignments

In order to deeply understand how to write a comparison and contrast essay, you first need to master the art of instant recognition when you are assigned to this task. Sometimes the instructor makes it clear by using the word “compare” in the title of the assignment, for example, by asking you to “Compare the depiction of war in the works of these two artists”.

Sometimes, however, the instructions are not that clear and depend on your judgment and ability to correctly identify the task. For example, when the task reads “Describe the depiction of war in the works of these two artists”, you clearly understand that even there is no “compare” word in the title, what you are asked to do is clearly a comparison.

Understanding Of The Structure

One of the biggest advantages of this essay over other types of written assignments is the fact that there is no strict structure you need to follow. Of course, your essay will still include an introduction and a conclusion. However, there are at least two options for structuring the main part of your essay:

  1. The most common structure is to create two body paragraphs, one for each subject of your essay. In each paragraph, you will focus on the main features of one subject and then will use the conclusion, to sum up, the difference and similarities between the two.
  2. The other structure requires you to dedicate one paragraph to the similarities between two subjects, and the other one to the differences between them. In that case, the conclusion will be used to simply summarize everything that’s been said before.

How to Start

Deciding how to start a compare and contrast paper is often even more challenging than the subsequent creation of the body paragraphs. The most effective way to ensure that your writing process goes smoothly is to create an outline before you begin the writing.

The order in which you present your subjects and points is very important for the correct understanding of your writing by the readers. The best way to maintain a required order without the risk of going off-topic is to design an outline and stick to it throughout the creative process.

How to Write

With unique and challenging topics, regular essay writing tips may not necessarily work. Here is how to write an impressive work.

Brainstorm Similarities and Differences

When you finally have your two subjects, make a list of similarities between them and another list highlighting the differences. If you understand things better with visual aids, you can try creating a Venn diagram of the main characteristics of the two subjects, where the overlapping space will contain the similarities and the remaining space will refer to the differences.

Consider your Main Points

A compare and contrast essay provides limited space for explaining your views, which means you won’t be able to fit all the existent differences and similarities between the subjects into one essay. Plus, it’s simply unnecessary. Your readers won’t be able to remember much from your work if you feature too many ideas in one essay. Instead, you should focus on the main, most important points.

A Compare and Contrast Paper introduction

The purpose of an introduction is to not only present the subject of your essay to the readers but also make them interested in your writing enough to finish the whole paper. A good way to begin your paper in an engaging way is a question, which you will address at least once in the remaining parts of the paper.

The Body Paragraphs

Long before you start writing the body paragraphs make sure you have a deep knowledge of the subject. If you invested time in the process of getting ready for the writing, particularly in the brainstorming stage, you should already have a list of differences and similarities between two subjects. All that is left to do is expand on those ideas and bring them to a unified format.


The conclusion of your work should be brief but effective. In conclusion, you don’t need to introduce any new points — your job is to simply reinstate the main ideas from the paper and once again highlight how the two subjects are different and similar.

Tips on How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

Crafting a comparison and contrast paper from scratch may be difficult if it’s your first time working with this format. These tips will help you write the strongest essay of your academic career:

  • Pay special to the topic of your work. If you have a free choice of topics, you should pick the one that will resonate with the audience and will be easy for you to discover similarities and differences.
  • Include a question in your introduction, but leave it unanswered. Instead, dedicate the rest of the paper to gradually finding the answer to the question, before finally revealing the answer in the conclusion.
  • People respond well to not just bare facts and opinions, but to unusual forms of information like statistics or even an anecdote. An unconventional approach to writing your paper always pays off!

Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Creating a comparison and contrast paper is one of the most challenging tasks you’ll ever deal with, but many students find that examples really helps. With good examples of the essay, you can better understand the format and the specifics of this assignment.

Check out some excellent samples written by our professional writers and

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