How to Write a Comparative Essay

During the studying process or some research activities, the person may often receive the task to provide a comparative analysis. For example, the student may get the task of writing an essay comparing two historical personalities, two political theories, two social tendencies, while the researcher may be assigned to compare two scientific processes. The aim of the author is to find and compare similar and different characteristics.

A comparative essay helps to provide the detailed evaluation of the objects or characters as it analyzes them from various angles revealing their peculiarities and disadvantages. The comparison enables us to see the familiar things in a new light.

The skill of writing the comparative essay will be of a great value while both studying process and scientific career.

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What Does the Comparison Mean?

The student is supposed to compare, at least, two items. The task means to find both similar and different aspects. Objects of the comparison may vary a lot. They may refer to various spheres of life:

  • History (e.g., Differences between The First and Second World Wars);
  • Philosophy (e.g., mental and physical needs);
  • Science (e.g., Earth vs. Mars);
  • Literature (e.g., poetry or epic literary works);
  • Music (e.g., Jazz vs. Pop);
  • Movie (e.g., a comedy film vs. a horror one);
  • Social media (e.g., Facebook and Tweeter);
  • Art (Contrast English and American art), etc.

Anyway, the task would be the same – to contrast and compare. Most students like comparative essays for the possibility to express their own statement and creativity.

Two Basic Principles of Comparative Writing

While working on comparative essays, the students may face two opposite writing assignments.

  • Given assignment. This type of comparative essay creation is one of the easiest one to fulfill, and it is often given at schools though with less strict demands. The professors hand out the objects of comparison so that the student could concentrate more on the comparison process.
  • Created comparison. This is a more serious type of assignment. The responsibility for selection of the objects of comparison lies on the shoulders of the writers. There is a necessity to determine these opposites and state why these two peculiar objects were selected for comparison and what the potential result of the research is.

Creating the Fundament for Your Essay

The task that is given in the comparative thesis usually contains a lot of hints regarding what should be written in the text. Such prompts are frequently omitted by the writers though very often a positive mark depends on how well the student understood the prompt and managed to reveal the task. The comparative writing requires noticing vital points, and the student should be able to state them clearly in the text. The following aspects should be always considered when writing.

  • In order to see clearly that there is a comparative essay in front of you, pay attention to the following words, which pinpoint at the requirement to compare something: “Common”, “Opposite”, “Different”, “Similar”, “Compare” and many other similar words. Be sure that if you see them in the text, this is definitely a comparative essay.
  • You need to apprehend what type of comparison is needed and concentrate on writing in such a style. Evaluating and contrasting of some points are not the same things and require different skills. There are cases when the description of the objects is not enough and some modifications are still necessary.
  • Try to notice the guiding question in your descriptive essay. Such types of assignments are composed of several points, and the writer should carefully read all the task in order to detect the potential elements of the future outline of the essay.
  • Sometimes, you can face not a pure comparative essay but a part of another type of writing. However, there will be a need to compare or contrast some of the points depicted in the text. This task is usually given to test the evaluating capabilities of the writer. Note that it is not advisable to concentrate all the efforts on comparison only in such types of writing as it is not the main task that should be accomplished.

Preparations for Comparison

In order to start writing, you need to have all the database at hand and well-organized. There are some points which should be looked through while working on the introduction and body as all the material will be used in these two elements of the essay:

  • Combine opposites and similarities. Even if you need to only compare something, add the material that is compared with and state the characteristic features. That is why you need to write down in two columns the traits of the events, things or objects which are compared or contrasted.
  • Read through the list of options. After you’ve created the list of traits, read through the text and select the most winning options that are suitable for the text. Remember that these pairs of opposites will serve as a basis for your comparison.
  • In addition, you can group the similarities and present them as informational blocks which will describe a broader spectrum of the points that need to be evaluated.
  • Decide on the points which play a greater role in your comparison. They will become a ground for your essay and will grant the answer to the questions that were asked in the prompt.

Regarding the Writing Professionalism

The subject of the comparison should be well-organized, and during the work on the intro part, the student should take care of the following points:

  • Consider the use of investigations. Some comparative essays can be developed while using some prominent scientific achievements and that would make the text look more scientifically sourced. Mind that such approach is applied if it is not forbidden by the writing task.
  • The compared subjects should be of the same category. It means that you can compare two types of fruits, but it is impossible to compare fruit with some chemical element.
  • Never forget to grant a portion of credit if you used the achievements of other people in your essay. Mind the use of proper quote formatting: MLA or APA citation format.
  • Always start with a reason for comparison. It means that you should start the work by explaining what led you to the analysis of the two objects as well as what you are planning to achieve.

It’s Time to Compare

The actual work always begins with an outline step. However, in case of comparative essay creation, the demands are somewhat different. The plan for comparative text can be simplified and introduced as some sort of a formula. Basically, a good introduction and conclusion remain unchanged, but the body parts contain several elements like arguments/counter-arguments. The whole essay is based on this principle.

So, when you take some parameter, you compare two objects according to the features of this parameter. The same thing is conducted with the second parameter. You are supposed to use the data from the groups that you have previously drafted.

While writing, concentrate on one single category at a time so that you could convey the sense of each point clearly for the readers. Each end of the compared pair is supposed to have a miniature conclusion as it will describe what was done during the comparisons of the first, second, and all next parameters.

The Sequence of Actions for Writing

This section might cause a slight confusion as it does not correspond to the traditional way of writing. However, when we are talking about a comparative essay, the order should be somewhat different. Read further paragraph about the non-traditional way of creation the comparative essay. Mind that you should have gathered and structured all the data before writing the essay.

  • Start with the body. The compared pairs should go first. The data that is in your possession should receive the textual flesh and stop being a set of separate descriptive word pairs. Once the body is ready, you can fully apprehend what has been written.
  • The results of the comparison can be easily transferred to the conclusion. All the data can be introduced in the grand final of the writing when you will make the final conclusion of the comparison like a writer does with a book.
  • Surprisingly, but the introduction should go last. You need to start with all the general description of the situation and after that state the objects which will be compared. All the aspects should be properly organized, and you need to set the goals which will be achieved in the conclusion.
  • Finally, you should leave a spare day for checking. One day is needed for rest and for restoring the mental capabilities. The moment you look at it with a fresh glance, you will see the text as something totally new and alien. This will help you check the text better and reduce the chance of overlooking the mistakes.

Always put some efforts into the preparation of the material, and you will experience no problems with writing the comparative essay. The principles of writing are applicable for literature poem comparison, some historical comparison, scientific processes comparison, etc. The main thing in this type of assignment is to understand the requirements of writing and the comparative criteria.

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Angelina Bennett

Angelina Bennett is a college adventurer, shopaholic and dreamer. She has, perhaps, the widest circle of offline friends, but despises aggressive online presence. “Be true” is her motto. She explains her life philosophy in her personal blog at CheapEssay.net – a website for international students.

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