© 2015 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Compare and Contrast Essay

Like a normal essay, but better.

If you've ever been flummoxed by an essay prompt that goes

  • Explain what _________has in common with ___________ .
  • How are ________ and _________ similar and different?
  • What's the difference between __________ and ______________?

Or, if your teacher's trying to be really obvious about it,

  • Compare and contrast ___________ and ____________,

then you need this course.

We show you a fool-proof way of organizing all those similarities and differences into something that doesn't look like the inside of your locker. We also show you how to go from something that resembles a grocery list to an actual essay with a thesis, body, introduction, and conclusion—the works.

And most important: We show you how to get people to actually care about all those similarities and differences you just organized into an A-worthy essay. Your readers will thank us. Tell them we like chocolate.

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. The Compare and Contrast Essay

This course is the cure for what ails the common compare and contrast essay. We break down the process into its simplest components, scaffolding the writing process and building up toward a beautiful, complete, thoughtful compare and contrast essay.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 1: Compare and Contrast for Dummies

Take out a piece of paper and fold it in half. Then unfold it. There should be a crease down the middle dividing the paper into two columns.

Now, at the top of the left column you've made, write SAME.

And on the right side, at the top, write DIFFERENT.

Now go find two things. Yes, any two things in the world. In the left column, list everything that's the same about them. In the right column, list everything that's different.

Boom. Compare and contrast. Course over.

Just kidding. (You didn't really think we'd let you off that easily, did you?) But all joking aside, comparing and contrasting stuff really is that easy. Even four-year- olds can do it.

What's not easy is convincing someone that what's the same and different about two things matters.

Quick! Read this list and tell us why this matters! Just kidding. The Compare and Contrast Essay: Cuneiform Edition is not until next year.

(Source)

For example, we don't really care that the real value of the minimum wage is different today than it was 50 years ago. But tell us that it's lower—and that the lower value means we probably won't be able to see that new Thor movie on opening weekend and make our car payments without working a double shift at Mickey D's? Now we're interested.

You've got to tell us why it matters. Without that, all that comparing and contrasting you've done is just a list. And lists are way lame. (We try and tell that to our parents whenever they come up with a list of chores to do over the weekend, but they just don't seem to be getting it.)

So, yeah. Course not over. In fact, we're just getting started.