One of the most common forms of analytical essay which is assigned to students is a compare and contrast essay. It allows them to develop critical thinking skills and enhance their analytical and descriptive writing abilities. However, in order to write a good essay, it is important to plan it appropriately with the help of a compare and contrast essay outline which contains all of the necessary points and arguments between the two sides.
In this article, we will take you through the fundamentals of writing a compare and contrast essay. In this article, you will learn:
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What is a compare and contrast essay?
Ever wondered why debates, arguments and even mock trials, are so common and are widely seen in academic settings?
The most suitable answer to this question is that debates arguments and trials, allow us to present and have a deep look at the arguments presented by the two sides. In other words, debates and arguments present the distinctiveness and the similarities between two or more entities. It enables us to understand the topic in a much more efficient way.
Similarly, in almost every field of academics, students in high school, undergraduates, and students pursuing their master’s certification are often required to write a compare and contrast essay.
In a compare and contrast essay students pick a topic, which involves two sides and then, using their analytical thinking, and descriptive writing abilities present an in-depth comparison between the two and also highlight the key contrasting details. A compare and contrast essay requires deep study and background research on the topic, in order to fully understand the two sides and address their similarities and differences.
However, this is a lot easier said than done! Hence, in such types of essays where analytical thinking is to be demonstrated, it is important to write a detailed compare and contrast essay outline, before you begin writing.
Structure of a compare and contrast essay
In order to write a compare and contrast essay outline, you first need to understand its basic structure.
Like, most essays, the fundamental structure or the skeleton of a compare and contrast essay is the same. It contains three sections, the introduction, the body of the essay and the conclusion.
However, in a compare and contrast essay outline, you need to be much more detailed in order to keep your essay streamlined. Therefore, in addition to the intro, body and conclusion, you must also pay keen attention to the individual paragraphs.
Let us have a look at the section-wise structure of a compare and contrast essay:
Use the first one or two paragraphs to briefly introduce the topic and the present main aim of the essay.
Use the first paragraph in the body section to present the key similarities between the topics.
Body – Dissimilarities
After the similarities, you should now present the main differences between the two sides of the topic.
And finally, conclude the essay by addressing the thesis statement and how the comparison and contrast presented in the essay has resolved the questions.
Writing the compare and contrast essay outline.
Now that you have understood the main structure, it is now time to look at the main steps involved in writing a compare and contrast essay outline.
Formulating a detailed outline before writing the essay is paramount. Especially in a compare and contrast essay where the author has to juggle between multiple ideas and arguments; it becomes very common to lose sight of the main aim of the paragraph and take the essay in a completely different trajectory.
One of the most fundamental methods of forming a compare and contrast essay outline is to gather up all the key points and to arrange them in a well-organised manner as per the structure of the essay.
Below are the key steps involved in writing a compare and contrast essay outline:
Step 1: Preliminary research
The outline of an essay should always be written after performing the preliminary research for the topic and gathering up all the facts and the supporting evidence.
During your research, make sure you keep track of the sources identified and the facts and evidence you have uncovered.
Step 2: Identifying the aim and formulating the thesis statement
A thesis statement is one of the most important elements of a compare and contrast essay outline. It describes what the essay is all about and presents its key objectives. Forming a thesis statement before writing the essay outline will enable the author to have a more focussed approach to the whole process. A thesis statement will ensure that all of the arguments and facts are arranged appropriately in order to write a good compare and contrast essay outline.
Step 3: Organising the arguments and key points
After you finalise the main aim and objectives of the essay, you can now use that to arrange and organise the arguments and their supporting evidence which you found through research. Make a list and arrange each of your points in a way, that it is easy to follow and supports the aim of the thesis statement.
Step 4: Combining the structure and the arguments
The outline of almost every essay in the world is nothing but a suitable combination of the structure and the arguments which are required to be presented. Therefore, since each essay has a different topic, yet a similar structure, it is important that you write a unique essay outline.
As for the compare and contrast essay outline, each and every essay should have a different outline, because, in this type of essays, the author presents a comparison between two sides. Therefore, depending on the requirement of the course and the skills of the author, there may be multiple different ways to look at the two sides in order to figure out its differences and similarities.
Step 5: Formulating the outline
Once you combine your arguments with the structure of the essay, your compare and contrast essay outline should now be ready in your mind, all you have to do now is make the final adjustments and write it down.
Let us have a look at the basic layout of a compare and contrast essay outline:
Note: Depending on the nature of your essay and the guidelines provided by your professor, you may need to make adjustments in the above compare and contrast essay outline layout.
By following this outline, no matter which topic you have picked, you can write a suitable compare and contrast essay outline in no time.
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