Analytical writing is known to demonstrate thinking skills and any person of intellect should have the capability of evaluating particular similarities or differences between various entities -- whether it is art or literature, sciences or even movies and entertainment.

That’s why, a compare and contrast essay is one of the first essay assignments that students encounter, whether they are in high school or college.

Original: SourceThis type of essay examines two or more topics to compare their underlying similarities and contrast their subtle differences. Compare and contrast essays focus on bringing forward information that is not so obvious, arguing a point with hard facts or clearing up a dark area between different viewpoints.

In this article, you will learn more about how to write a 5-paragraph compare and contrast essay and do a great job at it.

How to Structure a 5-Paragraph Compare and Contrast Essay?

Before we proceed further, let’s understand why compare and contrast essays assigned?

Such essays are assigned by the professors to encourage students to delve into research, make connections between different texts, engage their minds in critical thinking and go beyond simple descriptions to generate an excellent analysis.

When students look for similarities and differences, they read and research and gain a deeper understanding of the two subjects in question. They find out the relationship between both the topics, examine the characteristics that are most significant and weigh the pros and cons of each. In the process they bring a certain conclusion to light.

The first step to a good essay is the structure. There are two ways to structure a 5-paragraph compare and contrast essay.

Two Ways to Structure a 5-paragraph Essay

1. Subject-by Subject Structure

All the researched information for comparing/contrasting the first topic is listed in the beginning, followed by relevant data for the second topic.

  • Introduction or Thesis Statement
  • Topic 1 Analysis
  • Transition paragraph
  • Topic 2 Analysis
  • Conclusion

2. Point-by-Point Structure

Each similarity or difference for one topic is examined and is subsequently followed by a study of the similarities or difference for the other.

  • Introduction or Thesis Statement
  • Point 1: Analysis of Topic 1 and Topic 2
  • Point 2: Analysis of Topic 1 and Topic 2
  • Point 3: Analysis of Topic 1 and Topic 2
  • Conclusion

comparing-contrasting-essay-structure.pngOriginal: SourceOne of the biggest essay writing mistakes students make is not structuring it well. So, keep these templates in mind to write a well-structured and cohesive essay.

How to Write a 5-Paragraph Compare and Contrast Essay: 6 Winning Strategies

We know that writing an essay isn't a piece of cake and requires proper research, accurate structure and a certain methodology. Here are some important guidelines that will help you craft that perfect 5-paragraph compare and contrast essay.

1. Pick your topic carefully

To deliver a well-written compare and contrast essay, one has to research everything there is to know about the topics. The goal for these types of essays is to find similarities or differences between the two topics and analyze them.

So, look for credible sources, make notes of whatever information is available and highlight points that are important and are needed to be remembered. Making this draft will provide you with a proper lead in creating a thorough essay.

Consider these three points while picking your essay topic:

  • Pick two topics that belong to the same broad category but have inherent differences. For example, prose versus poetry - both are forms of writing but are quite contrasting in nature.
  • Pick two subjects that may not have anything in common other than one surprising similarity. For example, bats versus whales - one is small and flies, one is massive and swims, but both hunt by using sound waves.
  • Pick two subjects that might appear to be the same but are different in many ways. For example, the Little Women novel versus the Little Women movie.

Keep in mind that your essay needs to make point-by-point, parallel comparisons or contrasts so that you know that you are evaluating both sides equally.

Understand which comparison criteria is the most relevant and which one is not. This will help prioritize your argument. Try to find interesting comparisons or contrasts for your essay rather than dry, boring points. This will make your essay more fascinating to read.

2. Organize your ideas

As you have finished brainstorming topic ideas for comparing and contrasting, organize your points according to the subject and highlight important characteristics from both the topics. Look for motives, consider major themes and select points that are central to the identity of both the topics. This will help you in writing a compelling, well-researched essay.

While brainstorming, even if the ideas that come to mind seem miniscule and trivial, writing them down is still the right step because these little notes will eventually come in handy while drafting your final essay.

It is also helpful to think about the question “so what?” as you strategize your essay, as this will make you question yourself and analyze your own points so that they can be viewed with clarity.

Here’s a useful video by College of DuPage on organizing your ideas while writing essays


3. Develop your thesis statement

The thesis statement is the most crucial part of the entire compare and contrast essay as it assists in creating a focused argument that is central to your assignment. It also gives the reader a road map about the subject matter present in this essay.

A good thesis statement needs to be specific and should encourage a good discussion around the topic, but should not exceed a single line of thought.

4. Create an outline

Once your list has been made, figure out if your topics have more similarities or differences in them, because then a basic outline can be created. If you find that there are more similarities than differences, focus on comparing the two topics, and if there are multiple and more interesting differences, you should choose to contrast the ideas in your essay.

In any assigned essay, the basic outline is divided into the introduction, three body paragraphs and lastly, the conclusion. This outline will form the skeleton of the essay and will help in structuring all the ideas and thoughts as well as organizing the main points of your topics.

While creating an outline for your essay, resort to sample templates as they are very useful and can give you a headstart on the structure and formatting of the essay.

5. Use supporting evidence

Always use credible and relevant sources for pulling information to write your essays, since you have two topics to research on and compare objectively. Referencing your data is the best way to prove the facts, ideas or even explain as to why you support this or that statement.

Wikipedia or blogs should not be used as credible sources as they are from one individual's perspective and can be randomly edited. Instead, use scholarly reports, articles, academic journals, books and websites to support your arguments.

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6. Write, proofread and edit

Once your outline is created and you have supporting evidence of your statements, organizing your points, your structure and your sources into a cohesive body is the most important step.

Important tip: make sure that your transition from one point of a topic to another is smooth and free-flowing. You wouldn't want the reader to get baffled by vague sentencing and improper structuring.

Use transition words as they are key to a smoother reading experience. For comparisons, use words such as -- similarly, likewise, comparatively, in addition to, etc. For contrasting, the following words can be used -- however, nonetheless, in contrast to, on the other hand, but, on the contrary, etc.

Give each topic equal time and information since the goal for this type of essay is to find similarities and differences between two subjects. Hence, if Topic A has 4 statements, make it a point to have 4 statements for Topic B as well.

Last but not the least, proofread the essay after you’ve completed it. You have worked so hard on this essay, the last thing you need is for some grammatical errors or spelling mistakes to bring your essay down, therefore proofreading and editing wherever required is extremely necessary.

Conclusion: Ace the 5-Paragraph Compare and Contrast Essay

So the next time you are assigned a 5-paragraph compare and contrast essay, remember to do your research, organize your thoughts and indulge in key takeaways from this article.

This will not only improve your own analytical skills and written expression, but also elevate your standing in the eyes of the faculty.

By following all the above mentioned methods, the entirely daunting process of crafting a stellar essay would not be so intimidating anymore.

If you are still in need of help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Writers Per Hour. Our expert writers are well-versed with compare and contrast essays and guarantee to deliver original, high-quality essays to meet your deadlines!