Basic Instructions for Organizing a Compare and Contrast Essay Rough Draft

Don’t Make This Typical Mistake with Comparison and Contrast Papers

Students often make one primary mistake with compare and contrast essays/comparison and contrast essays—that is, they think they are supposed to do both comparing and contrasting within one single paper—and that is not true. What you want to do is choose things, ideas, experiences, works of fiction, films, characters, etcetera that it would be fun to either compare or contrast. You only choose one—so you contrast differences between two highly dissimilar things or concentrate on how similar two things actually are.

So, How Do I Organize This Type of Essay?

With a comparison or contrast essay—you want to be careful of see sawing in each paragraph. For example—do not talk about a similarity, then a difference, vacillating back and forth because it creates a very choppy effect. Instead, let’s assume you were going to talk about how having a dorm mate in college is different than you thought it would be. You could talk about how you thought it would be harder than it is, for example, or easier than it is.

With either one you would need to move from an introduction, to a thesis statement, to a close.

In the introduction—first lay out the idea that you had assumed that having a roommate would be easy—and then add some details about what you assumed would be easy. Then, write a very clear thesis statement that states, in essence, that though you thought it would be easy, it is actually very hard. The rest of your essay would establish how it is hard!

Structure of a Typical Compare and Contrast Essay

  1. Introduction: I had assumed _________ about _____________.
  2. For example: I had assumed owning a puppy would be easy and a joy – that I would bounce out of bed every day ready to spend time with my new companion.

  3. Thesis statement—this should go after a few sentences and come last in your introduction(whether it is one or two paragraphs):
  4. What I learned about owning a puppy is it is very, very hard.

  5. Body Paragraphs—Now you construct strong paragraphs with topic sentences that guide the paragraph and introduce us to your main ideas.
  6. Here, exactly what was challenging about owning a puppy (training, potty training, messes, chewing, for example).

  7. Now, write an inventive close- and you’re finished!
  8. Try to say something about the overall experience—what you learned overall.

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