How to Write a Comparison-Contrast Essay

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When was the last time you had your students write a Comparison-Contrast Essay? Personally, it is one of my favorite forms of writing. With this type of essay, you must use factual details to analyze the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. I think the wanna-be researcher in me LOVES this! I get to scour sources for facts and data. I get to learn new information. That’s my jam, and you may be surprised by how many of your students will love this type of writing too!

How to Write a Comparison-Contrast Essay:

  1. Choose two subjects that can easily be compared and contrasted. For our example, we will use Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

  2. Make a pre-writing map. This is a great time to introduce the Venn diagram. To make a Venn diagram, draw two large overlapping circles. Show how the subjects are alike and how they are different by writing the differences in the outer circles and the similarities in the overlapping section. Make sure the differences are balanced. (This means that for every fact you list about the first subject, you must list a contrasting fact for the second subject.)

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3. Plan the essay structure. I find it best to use four paragraphs for the Comparison-Contrast Essay. Here’s a quick overview to help during the planning process:

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4. Start writing! Remind your students to reference their pre-writing and planning documents during the writing process. I have included an example of a final paper below.

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Remember, this type of writing requires your students to gather and analyze factual data. Some students will love this process while others may hate it. (Those are facts!) Here’s another fact…these skills will serve them well in college and career. So, go forth and practice the Comparison-Contrast Essay (….and I hope it becomes your students’ “jam” too!)