The Successful Student's Guide to the Compare and Contrast Essay Format

compare and contrast essay format

Getting the compare and contrast essay format right is something that holds back even the most intelligent of students. A lot of students don't actually learn how to format it correctly due to the gulf in teaching standards that so many have to deal with. The good news is that the compare and contrast essay structure isn't difficult to get to grips with. In fact, the skills learned from this type of assignment can apply to a wide variety of different essay types.

Logical and Thoughtful

The flow of an essay is designed to surround logic. If it isn't logical then there's no real flow. The reader can feel as if there's a page missing from the student's work since it's so disjointed. Things like this are hard to keep up with and an examiner won't attempt to make sense of it. Instead of spending hours putting it together they will just stamp a low grade on the front of it. They don't care.

Don't give them the chance to do this, make the points flow. Each argument should run into the next one effortlessly. Think of it this way. The compare and contrast paper format will contain paragraphs. Paragraphs are designed to make things easier to read. But if these paragraphs were removed and one long wall of text ensued it would still make sense. Granted, it would be much more difficult to keep up, yet it would still be readable.

If this isn't the case then there's something wrong with the flow. The logic isn't there and it will require some mulling over. One problem could be that points of view and the opposing points of view could be mixed together. Rarely does this work effectively. Keep them segregated, keep them separate.


Paragraph Structure

One thing that's often forgotten with the compare and contrast assignment format is the influence of paragraph structure. The problem is that people look at the paragraph as a static tool. They don't take into account the fact that it's a malleable entity. When formed incorrectly they can ruin a good essay, but when done right they can add so much.

Take a look at the following paragraph structure and use it every time:

• Point.
• Evidence.
• Explanation.
• Link.

The point is, obviously, the main point. What is the argument and what is the point that this paragraph is attempting to make? Once that has been determined the evidence is needed. This is perhaps the most important part of a paragraph as it makes the point valid. Unsubstantiated statements are the bane of students as they instantly say to the examiner that this student is unprofessional or they didn't carry out their research.

Explaining the evidence. What does it actually mean? Linking and explaining can often be linked in this case since they are so closely related. Outline exactly how the piece of evidence and the point links back to the original question. Answer how it relates to the grand scheme of things.

Starts and Ends

Starting and ending the essay is a crucial part of the compare and contrast essay format. This is the one area where opinions and unsupported statements can be made. The introduction is merely the place where the overall viewpoint is stated. Decide on which way the question will be answered here and state it. Don't bother introducing any evidence at this point as it isn't the place for it.

The conclusion is about reasserting the overall point. Evidence from the main body can be brought in here. Just look at the conclusion as a summing up of the whole essay.