How to Write an A-Grade Compare and Contrast Essay

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by Will Martins / Updated October 06, 2023

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People who have nothing to do with the academic environment believe that students enjoy their lives around the clock. However, it is far from the truth since any college curriculum involves a wide range of assignments they have to deal with. One of such examples is a compare contrast essay we will discuss today.

What is a Compare and Contrast Essay?

One should better start with a definition of a compare and contrast essay to avoid misunderstandings. It represents an academic paper that highlights common traits and distinctions of several subjects discussed within the topic. It is quite a complicated assignment that requires attentiveness and persistence on your part since you will have twice as much work, considering you will have several subjects in the same essay. So, what is a compare and contrast essay? It is a type of academic writing that requires critical thinking, attentiveness, and analytical abilities.

Purpose of a Compare and Contrast Essay

The very name of the assignment suggests that you will compare similar components of the subjects and contrast their different parts. It is crucial to select several subjects that are somehow connected. For instance, they can belong to the same group or have another unifying factor. The main purpose of such an essay is to highlight surprise similarities or non obvious distinctions.

Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

If you are new to writing a comparing and contrasting essay, it can be hard to get started, especially if you don’t have a detailed guideline in front of your eyes. Even though the writing process will not differ much from working on other essays, it will be adjusted for comparison. So, how to write a compare and contrast essay?


You should take your time to reflect on all possible shared characteristics and distinctions of the subjects. Some specialists suggest utilizing a Venn diagram as an effective tool for listing the required characteristics.


When your brainstorming lists (or diagrams) are ready, you can determine what structuring method would be more suitable in this case. It is crucial to pick up an appropriate structure for a compare & contrast essay.


Writing your first draft is the most complicated and time-consuming part since it involves creating a compare and contrast essay introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion, and reference list.


When the previous stage is over, and you have the first version of your paper in front of your eyes, you should put it aside for some time. Thus, you will let your brain get distracted and rest a bit. It will be easier to notice areas in your text that require revision or total rewriting.


When you have fixed all the weak parts of your paper, it is time to check your essay for grammar mistakes, possible misprints, and the absence of required quotation marks.

How to Structure a Compare-and-Contrast Essay

One of the key moments of working on such an assignment is creating compare and contrast essay structure. You should know when to talk about which subject to achieve the desired result. There are three options you can choose from.

Subject by Subject

It is also well-known as a block method when you focus on one subject and discuss it in full and move on to the next one only after that. You can utilize paragraphs to divide the information into blocks. Such an approach allows you to cover as many aspects as you wish, but it weakens the connection between the subjects discussed.

Point by Point

When you choose this method, you review both subjects in the same paragraph, switching between them. That’s why people call it the ‘alternating’ approach. It works out when you need to highlight the connection between the subjects or its absence. 

Similarities and Distinctions

This method is quite similar to the previous one since you discuss both subjects in the same paragraph. However, you divide the latter by the subjects’ shared characteristics and then by the distinctions. Thus, first, you discuss everything they have in common and then what they don’t, or vice versa.

Common Mistakes

Even though some young people devote much time to their academic assignments, they don’t get the desired result because of a wide range of mistakes. If you want to deliver a high-grade compare and contrast paper, you should avoid things that affect its quality. We’ve gathered the most typical issues young people turn a blind eye to.

  1. Creating a draft having no clear idea what you will write your essay about, whether you will focus on the distinctions or shared characteristics of the subjects.
  2. Selecting a too broad or too narrow theme that doesn’t reveal its essence.
  3. Having no answer to the question, “What are compare and contrast words?”
  4. Picking up two equally bad/good/beneficial subjects to compare and, as a result, absence of a clear answer to the thesis question.
  5. Utilizing tables or charts in your essay.
  6. Combining two structures and using them throughout a paper.
  7. Turning a blind eye to transitional words.
  8. Devoting no attention to writing a proper compare and contrast essay conclusion.


Many students often feel overwhelmed because of the assignments their professors provide them with. However, whether you want it or not, you will have to meet this challenge if you want to graduate. Thus, if you have got an assignment to write a compare and contrast essay, you shouldn’t forget to follow some key steps:

  • select two subjects to compare based on the assignment you have been provided with;
  • start with brainstorming the shared characteristics and distinctions between the subjects;
  • pick up a suitable structure of your paper and adhere to it throughout the text;
  • support your arguments with credible evidence;
  • utilize transitional words to smooth the text flow and show your reader what exactly you are talking about;
  • take your time to revise and proofread your paper to make it flawless.

Summing Up

It can be hard to get yourself together and write an A-grade-worthy paper without further ado, especially if you are a rookie and don’t know about all the key moments. We’ve tried to have your back in this regard and simplify your life at least a bit, highlighting the fundamentals of writing a compare and contrast essay. You can keep this guideline in front of your eyes if it is your first time working on such a type of assignment.


What Are Compare and Contrast Essay Examples?

One of the simplest yet demonstrative compare and contrast examples will be selecting two types of pears and discussing their distinctions and unobvious shared characteristics.

How Do You Start a Compare and Contrast Paragraph?

It is important to know how to write a compare and contrast paragraph since it paves the way for further actions. So, you should introduce your reader to the two chosen subjects and state that they are very different or similar.

What Is the Purpose of Compare and Contrast?

The key purpose is to distinguish distinctions or shared characteristics of two subjects that belong to the same group/type/species and support the arguments with credible evidence.


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