5 Common Ingredients Of Strong Compare And Contrast Essays

Compare and contrast essays are a popular format for writing. When making comparisons, the focus lies with the similarities between different things, concepts, ideas, and so on. Contrast (by way of contrast!) highlights differences. It seems easy, but there are so many essays of this form that really are of an unremarkable quality, and don’t leave the reader having gained any fresh insights. And really, that’s what we’re after in these essays: New insights. Read on for our top five ingredients of for strong compare and contrast essays that will leave your readers with fresh insights.

  1. Surprising similarities
  2. The comparisons you make need to be those that are not obvious on the face of it. For example, it’s not notable that Judaism and Islam are both religions. But it is surprising to many people that both religions segregate men and women during worship services.

  3. Reasons to care about the similarities
  4. Once important likenesses have been clearly described, close the loop by indicating why people should care about those similarities. In the religion example, it might be that we’re trying to get people to have empathy and find a basis for interaction.

  5. Surprising differences
  6. The contrasts in your essay should be remarkable too. For example, there’s nothing special in recognising that left wing and right wing voters have different views on issues such as taxation. But it is surprising that they show physical differences in brain structures, such as the amygdala.

  7. Reasons to care about the differences
  8. Just as in the case of the similarities, you need to close the loop on why the differences should matter. Oftentimes, this comes down to the assumptions we make about things, which can mislead us when differences require changes in our approach. For example, boys and girls may require very different teaching styles in schools, despite our goals of achieving equal opportunity for both sexes.

  9. A strong conclusion
  10. Having highlighted surprising likenesses and disparities, and given your readers reasons to take note of these, wrap everything up in a strong conclusion. The conclusion shouldn’t be a simple summary, such as “This essay highlights three similarities and four differences between apples and oranges.” Instead, there should be some unifying view of how the similarities and differences interact. From our gender example above, we might conclude, “Boys and girls both show critical similarities that require teacher education in childhood development. However, differences in cognitive styles also call for different teaching modes along important dimensions such as social interactivity, physical demonstration, and self-study”.

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