Common Mistakes in a Compare Contrast EssayTuesday, October 26th, 2010
Improve your compare contrast essays with these tips
A compare contrast essay should not be difficult to prepare. This kind of essay is characterized by a basis for comparison, developed in different point or sequences, and analogies, always between two (or sometimes more) terms. It is a very common kind of essay and teachers from many subjects ask their students to prepare one, eventually.
However, if you have never prepared such an essay so far, here we recommend you to pay special attention to certain details, in order to avoid common mistakes that can take your essay marking from an A to a lousy C minus…
Mistake #1: Choosing the wrong topic
Maybe it was the teacher who provided the essay topic, if that’s your case that’s ok. But if it is you who have to find the appropriate one, be very careful: when you are writing a compare contrast essay you need to think of two or more terms that can easily be related. For example, public education during the 1980’s and public education during the 1990’s. On the other hand, you can’t easily compare public education with public health, unless you deal with an awful amount of percentages, numbers, figures and statistics. If you choose two terms difficult to compare, your essay is most likely to fail.
Mistake #2: Skipping the introduction
For all compare contrast essays, a proper introduction is a must. Even though you may find obvious the reasons you choose for comparing the two –or three, or more- items, the reader will not necessarily share your opinions. So you want to start your comparison by explaining the purpose of your work: what do Poe and Lovecraft have in common that made you compare them? Why comparing the 18th Century Industrial Revolution in Britain with the rise of the Internet in the 1990’s? What do all evolution theories agree on?
You can’t compare a writing desk with a crow, as Lewis Carroll humorously demonstrated in Alice in Wonderland. So prove right from the start that your whole compare contrast essay has a point.
Mistake #3: Giving the essay an inappropriate structure
Before writing your essay, you will decide whether you are going to focus your analysis of the two or more terms in the similarities or in the differences between them. While a comparison focuses on the similarities between the terms, a contrast essay highlights its differences. Only then you’ll choose the structure.
Compare contrast essays should always begin with an essay introduction, in where you present the problem and your hypothesis, one or two paragraphs discussing the less important things (that is, similarities if it is a contrast essay, differences if it is a comparison essay), other one or two paragraphs, now referring to the main things (that is, similarities if it is a comparison essay, differences if it is a contrast essay), and end with a conclusion, in where you close your work.
In any case, remember to discuss first the less important things, and to leave the main things for afterwards.