How to write a compare and contrast essay

One of the essential writing skills is to compare and contrast in an academic essay. Simply, it is a type of essay where you evaluate the differences and similarities between two subjects.

Before starting

You’ll be asked to write a compare and contrast essay both in high school and university. Remember, comparing and contrasting are two different things, so you’ll need to decide if you’re going to compare or contrast. 

In your assignment instructions, you’ll be likely to have such essay topics:

Compare and contrast essay topics

On the other hand, some instructions are not clear whether you should compare and contrast. 

Other topics

Step 1: Find a good topic

You need two different subjects for a compare and contrast essay. However, these two must eventually have similar grounds. We provided some examples below, let’s check them out. 

After finding the topic, list the similarities and differences. It’s always better to visualize knowledge so that you can create well-organized academic essays.

Step 2: Prepare an outline

Upon listing all the differences and similarities between the two subjects, you need to define your main argument and prepare an outline.

Writing the thesis statement

When you look at your list of differences and similarities, you need to choose the most striking difference as your thesis statement. This will intrigue the reader.

Preparing the outline

In any academic essay, preparing an outline is very important. You can make use of a traditional essay outline, as shown below.

essay outline infographic (740 × 540 px) 3

This example is based on a common 5 paragraph compare and contrast essay (introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion). If you’re planning a longer essay, you may add more contrasting and comparing paragraphs.

There are different structures of writing a compare and contrast essay. For example, you may write a detailed paragraph for the first subject and switch to other one in the next.

You can also construct your paragraphs to talk about both subjects. You can certainly present similarities and differences on the same paragraph.

5-Paragraph Compare and contrast essay outline

Traditional vs. Online Learning

  1. Introduction
    1. Hook sentence
    2. Background information
    3. Thesis statement
    4. Signposting (show reader what you'll cover)

  2. Classroom Learning
    1. Topic sentence for classroom learning
    2. Benefits of classroom learning
    3. Limitations of classroom learning

  3. Online Learning
    1. Topic sentence for online learning
    2. Benefits of online learning
    3. Limitations

  4. Comparison
    1. Comparison: Hook
    2. In Depth Comparison

  5. Conclusion
    1. Wrap up the points made
    2. Rephrasing thesis statement
    3. Concluding sentence

Step 3: Introduction

Now that you’ve outlined your paper, it’s time to start writing your introduction. In your introduction, you:

Compare and contrast essay introduction example


Are you an iPhone minimalist or an Android customizer? Hook sentence While both the iPhone and Android phones have many features and capabilities, the primary distinctions are in their design, operating system, and app availability. Background information Despite having similar features and capabilities, the choice between iPhone and Android smartphones ultimately comes down to a balance of simplicity and customization. Thesis statement

Step 4: Body paragraphs

When you write your body paragraphs, don’t forget to support your arguments with research and quotes (APA or MLA) when necessary.

Compare and contrast essay body paragraph example

Body paragraph

Design: Common ground iPhones are renowned for their sleek, minimalist design and high-quality construction, with Apple's emphasis on simplicity and ease of usage. First subject In contrast, Transition phrase Android phones come in various styles and customization choices, allowing users to tailor their smartphones to their specific interests and preferences. Second subject

Step 5: Conclusion

Compare and contrast essay conclusion example


Ultimately, the decision between these two smartphone types comes down to personal tastes and requirements. Restatement While iPhones have a clean appearance and a user-friendly operating system, Android phones have more customization possibilities and a more extensive app selection. Summary Individuals may make an informed decision and purchase the finest smartphone for their requirements by evaluating criteria like design, operating system, and app selection. Concluding sentence

After writing your conclusion paragraph, proofread and double check your essay. We tend to make a lot of writing mistakes when we’re deep into something. So when you finish, proofread your paper for grammar and punctuation mistakes such as tense selection, capitalization, and passive voice.

Writing an essay is almost like telling a story. You either tell formally or informally. So, a story without good storytelling is boring. Transition phrases make your story progress smoothly.

Lastly, make use of spell check and grammar tools like Grammarly, Hemingway etc. during this step. After the grammar check and proofread, you’re finished.

If you’ve followed these steps carefully, you wrote a great compare and contrast essay.

5-Paragraph Compare and Contrast Essay

5-Paragraph Compare and Contrast Essay Example

Classroom vs. Online Learning

The concept of education has evolved significantly over the years, with technology now playing a key role in learning. Hook sentence Traditional classroom learning and online learning are two methods of education that have emerged as popular options for learners. Background Although both approaches aim to educate students, there are notable differences between them, that depends a lot on individuals and settings. Thesis statement In this essay, I will compare and contrast the benefits and drawbacks of traditional classroom learning and online learning. Signposting: Mention what you'll highlight in the essay

Body Paragraphs

Traditional classroom learning provides students with an environment in which they can interact face-to-face with their peers and instructors. Topic sentence for classroom learning This approach allows students to ask questions and receive immediate feedback, which is essential for effective learning. Additionally, traditional learning creates a sense of community among students, which can enhance their learning experience. Description & Benefits of classroom learning However, the traditional classroom setting has its limitations. For instance, students may find it difficult to keep up with the pace of the lesson or may struggle to ask questions in a crowded classroom. Limitations of classroom learning

Online learning, on the other hand, provides students with the flexibility to study at their own pace, place, and time. Topic sentence for online learning With online learning, students can access learning materials and lectures from anywhere in the world, making it convenient for learners with busy schedules or those who live in remote areas. Additionally, online learning provides students with the opportunity to interact with instructors and classmates through discussion forums and chat rooms. Description & benefits However, the lack of face-to-face interaction may hinder some students' learning experience, and it may be difficult for students who lack self-discipline to stay on track with their studies. Limitations

Another notable difference between traditional classroom learning and online learning is the cost. Comparison: Hook sentence Traditional classroom learning requires students to pay for textbooks, transportation, and accommodation, among other expenses. Online learning, on the other hand, eliminates these costs, making it more affordable for many students. Additionally, online learning allows students to access learning materials from reputable institutions across the globe, which may not have been possible with traditional classroom learning. However, online learning may require students to purchase a computer or other technological devices, which may be expensive for some students. In Depth Comparison


Consequently, both traditional classroom learning and online learning have their benefits and drawbacks. Traditional learning provides students with face-to-face interaction and a sense of community, while online learning offers flexibility and affordability. Wrapping up the comparison However, it is essential to note that these two approaches to learning are not mutually exclusive, and students can benefit from using both approaches. Rephrasing thesis statement Ultimately, the choice between traditional classroom learning and online learning depends on the student's needs, preferences, and circumstances. Concluding sentence

Key takeaways

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write a 5 paragraph compare and contrast essay?

The classic five paragraph structure for this essay type can be achieved by writing an introduction, three compare and contrast body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

What is a good hook for a compare and contrast essay?

Highlighting the most striking contrast of the two subjects might be a great idea for a compare and contrast essay hook.

How do you write a compare and contrast essay outline?

First, you need to write down your thesis statement. After that, construct your introduction, each body paragraph in detail, and conclusion. Outlines make it easier for you to write the actual essay.

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Dogukan Duman
Holds a Master Degree in Linguistics & Localization, has a keen eye for detail, a full stack language master working for national TV localization