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By Johannes Helmold

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Hi everyone.

Continuing the subject started here, today I’d like to pay some attention to writing compare and contrast essays. To me, they are among the tricky ones—it seems like you can write one right away, but in fact, any compare and contrast essay requires solid effort; still, there are ways to simplify and speed up the process of writing one.

  1. The first thing you need to do is to decide on the objects/concepts you are going to compare. If your teacher has already given you a specific topic, skip this step. If you are to come up with your own topic, then consider observing this: you should choose objects/concepts that are obviously different, but not directly opposite and/or alien. For example, comparing the Empire State Building to Burj Khalifa is a good idea; comparing a shnitzel to rocket fuel is not. Comparing mountains on Mars and Earth is a good topic; writing about the similarities and/or differences between quantum mechanics and knitting is not.
  2. After you have made your choice, decide on the criteria you are going to build your comparison on. Usually, objects/concepts possess several convex characteristics that are easy to recall. For example, if you write about mountains, the first properties that probably come to your mind are age, height, and geological structure. Comparing buildings, you can pay attention to the number of floors, architectural style, functions, and so on. You don’t need to dig into deep detail—focus on what lies on the surface, and build your essay around it. Three criteria is usually enough for comparison.
  3. Google the information regarding the criteria you have chosen. Search only for what is directly related to your paper, and ignore the rest (given you are not interested in your topic, but need to write and submit a paper quickly).
  4. Dedicate each paragraph of your essay to a single criterion; present the related information accordingly. For example, your first main body paragraph is dedicated to the geological structure of the Alps and Andes; first, present all the data on the Alps, then on the Andes. After this, write one or two sentences that connect the presented information. For example, “So, we can see that although processes that led to these mountains’ formation were similar, their geological structures are different.” Do the same for the rest of the paragraphs.
  5. Summarize your essay. You should also synthesize the information that has been presented to get a result.

That’s it. You may not get a perfect score following these tips, but at least it will save you from submitting a poorly-written paper. Good luck!

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