Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Guide with a Sample

What is a comparison and contrast essay?

Compare and contrast is academic writing that involves examining the similarities and differences between two subjects. It is an important academic writing that encourages students to engage in critical thinking, connect different ideas and provide valuable analysis of two subjects. It helps gain a deeper understanding of subjects by exploring their differences and similarities. In this article, we guide you through the process of writing a compare and contrast essay with a sample and additional tips to write an excellent paper.

Process of writing compare and contrast essay

Compare and contrast essays follow a specific flow as any other academic writing to ensure that the points are clearly illustrated. Below is how you can go about writing a compare and contrast essay:

Use a Venn diagram to brainstorm the similarities and differences

A Venn diagram helps perform a high level of analysis by brainstorming the subject on differences and similarities. It is a set of overlapping cycles representing two subjects. The separate section of the cycles contains the individual characteristics of the subjects while the overlapping section between them contains similar characteristics between the two subjects. The differences and similarities identified in the Venn diagram then act as key topics for your essay.

Develop the main argument or thesis statement

A thesis statement for compare and contrast essay offers a meaningful statement about the main topic. This involves considering what the similarities and differences say about the topic to develop a general argument.

Create an outline for your essay

An outline is as important in comparing and contrasting essays as other academic writing. It creates a flow that can be easily followed by the reader for better understanding. Your essay should follow the standard format consisting of: introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion.

Generate evidence to support your assertions

Supporting evidence adds to the eligibility and validity of your arguments. As you make assertions about the differences and similarities between the two subjects, ensure that they are supported by evidence from reputable sources like peer-reviewed academic sources. Evidence can be in the form of quotes from the subjects in a case such as a comparison of poetry or from other works.

Write a compelling introduction

The introduction section of your essay sets the right tone to attract the attention of the reader and encourage them to read more into the essay. Therefore, it is advisable that you start your introduction with a hook such as a bold statement about the general topic. This should be followed by an introduction of the subjects to be examined. Provide a brief description of the topic and end the introduction section with a thesis statement.

Write the body paragraphs

The body paragraphs should start with topic sentences that compare the two subjects. This can be a set of similarities and differences identified in the Venn Diagram that fall in one area. Then proceed to describe how the two subjects are different in that area and how they are similar in the same area. This is a description of the individual differences and similarities identified earlier in the Venn diagram.

Conclude your essay

Having proven that the two subjects for your essay are different or alike, you can conclude your essay with a great summary paragraph. This is a chance to reinforce your thesis by demonstrating how the body paragraphs support it. You should provide a summary of your essay by highlighting the key points in your comparison followed by your final thoughts about the subjects.

Proofread your essay

Like any other good essay, proofreading your work is an important process that cannot be ignored. Here are some of the things to consider in this stage of your writing:

  1. Make sure that the differences and similarities are clearly defined and explained
  2. Each subject should be allocated equal space
  3. Check for punctuations errors
  4. Check for spelling errors
  5. Revise the grammar
  6. Check the overall clarity of the essay
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Techniques or structure for writing compare and contrast essay

There are no definite rules for organizing your compare and contrast essay. However, your choice of organization has an impact on the readers’ processing and understanding of your work. Here are some of the ways you can organize your essay:

Subject-by-subject or block method

This technique of organizing your essay involves discussing one subject exhaustively first then moving the other subjects. You state and describe all the points about the first subject before moving to the other one. For example, if you were comparing between virtual versus real classrooms, you would write different paragraphs on virtual classrooms regarding different points or parameters such access to study materials, face-to-face interactions, and discipline and deadline. Next, you would write a similar number of paragraphs on real classrooms on the same topics.

This structure can be useful in other applications but not ideal in academic writing. The essence of the compare and contrast essay is to demonstrate how different or similar the two subjects are. However, this organization method simply provides a list of characteristics of the subjects. It does not provide the direct comparison but leaves it up to the reader to figure out the differences and similarities on their own. Therefore, it advisable that you accompany this organization method with a strong analytical paragraph that summarizes the similarities and differences.

Point-by-point or alternating method

This organization technique involves writing about a point of comparison for both subjects at a time. You describe an aspect of a subject in relation to the point and then then talk about an aspect of the other subject on the same point. Referring to our virtual versus real classrooms, you can discuss virtual classrooms in relation to the point of access to study materials and then talk about real classrooms in relation to the same topic in the same paragraph. If there is a lot of information about the topic, then you would discuss virtual classrooms in relation to a topic like face-to-face interaction in one paragraph and then talk about real classrooms in relation to the same topic in a separate paragraph.


Questions to consider in writing compare and contrast essay

Here is a list of some of the questions to guide your comparison and evaluation of the two subjects:

Questions for comparing people

  1. Where do they come from?
  2. What is their age, gender, class, and race?
  3. What are their achievements or impacts on society?
  4. How are they related to each other?
  5. What do they do?
  6. What is interesting about them?
  7. What are their beliefs?
  8. What differentiates them?

Questions for comparing pieces of writing

  1. What are the titles of the writings?
  2. What is their form, tome, mood, characterization, or plot?
  3. What information do they relay?
  4. Who made them?
  5. What form of writing do they take?
  6. What are the key themes covered?
  7. Do they differ in quality and delivery of the message?


Questions for historical events

  1. When did they happen and for how long?
  2. How did they occur?
  3. What was their significance?
  4. How did people interact during the event?
  5. What were their values?
  6. What types of rules and governance body were in place at that time?
  7. Who were the key personnel during the events?
  8. What was their cause?
  9. What was their overall impact on society?

Questions for ideas

  1. What are the ideas about?
  2. Who created them?
  3. What is their scope?
  4. At what time were they created?
  5. What were their claim and conclusions?
  6. Who defends them?
  7. How are they applied?
  8. Which one would you consider more plausible?

Sample of compare and contrast essay

Compare and Contrast Essay on Effect of Media on Audience

In the current context, video games ubiquitously form part of almost every child and adolescent in the United States (US). Statistical researches have indicated that up to 97% the youngsters in the US play at least video games once a day (Chamberlin, Barbara, and Ann 1). As a result, many studies have emerged so as to understand the benefits or consequences of the games to the young generations. Explicitly, the studies have indicated antagonistic debates concerning the stance, where some view the video games as consequential while others as beneficial. Nevertheless, evaluation of the studies reveals thatthe stances overlap in some arguments, which form the basis of this study. Therefore, this paper objects to compare and contrast specific studies that reiterated the effects of media on the target group. In particular, the document evaluates the works of Macrae and Rutledge, who both used studied video games vis-à-vis the young people so as to understand the benefits or consequences.The study uses the points such as aggression, violence, morality, complexity, diversity, behavior, and other social issues that relate to video gaming and the audience.


Article1: Fiona Macrae, "Violent Films, Video Games and TV Shows do make Boys Aggressive, Study Finds,”

           Empirically, Macrae wrote an article about how violent video games make boys become aggressive and develop some antisocial behaviors. That is, the article is specific to boys and perceives violent video games as contributors to antisocial behaviors of boys in society. According to Macrae, when they play violent games for a long time, the violent scenes become more normal to them; hence, they perceive aggression as ordinary actions (1). Practically, the research involved boys aged between 14 and 17 years so as to understand how brain activity change when playing or watching violent video games (Macrae 1). The author revealed that long-term exposure to the games makes boys more insensitive to brutality and less excited by the violent scenes. In essence, the article postulated that children and adolescents become accustomed to brutality or violent scenes when they play the videos over time. The researchers used "Sweat tests” to explain how the brain lit up in response to violent videos, which included street brawls and football hooliganism. At the same time, the article explains that videos that have no or little violence held the attention of the boys (Macrae 1).
According to Macrae, the brain changes and develops when accustomed to certain behaviors or actions. In particular, the brain section that controls emotions and subsequent emotional behavior are highly affected when the young play the games for long. In turn, emotions and behaviors influence the responses to external issues in the community. In the author’s words, playing violent games for a long time affects the sensitivity or how the brain gets lit up in case of violence and other aggressive acts. As a result, a person becomes more aggressive, violent, and easily accepts the act and behavior of aggression as normal and usual (Macrae 1). The anxiety and fear of violence reduce; hence,they are likely to commit offenses that relate to aggression. In other words, the reduction in brain sensitivity causes a corresponding reduction in the emotional component associates with aggression.

             As hinted, Macrae did not look into the complex perspective of video games as she was very particular on violent games. According to her, the videos change the behaviors, morality, and social conduct of the boys when they play overtime. Markedly, insensitivity and considering violence or aggression are antisocial behaviors that are taken as immoral. For example,the author disclosed that the games have made children indulge in street fights and reduce the boys’ levels of sympathy. The emotional connection to moral behaviors is tampered with; thus the young embrace or accept odd actions and behaviors that relate to aggression. For instance, the article relates violent videos to the surge in offenses committed by young people such as murder and street attacks. As such, it recommends the Board of Film Classification (BFC) to make a proactive decision on the age groups that is suitable for particular video games. In sum, this article reiterates on the negative impacts using a specific perception to video games that make boys more aggressive, insensitive to aggression, and likely to behavior commit offenses. However, the article refers to girls as more peaceful and less likely to be influenced by violent video games. Therefore, this article reveals the following points:

  • ·When boys play violent video games for a long time, their brain activities changes; hence, making them more aggressive. That is, the brain is less lit up by the violent scenes that affect their response to emotions
  • ·The emotional responses reduce and boys are likely to indulge in aggressive behaviors and feel less sympathetic due to distorted emotional attachment to others
  • ·The affected boys have a high likelihood to behave immorally and aggressively; for instance, committing offenses such as murder and street attacks.
  • ·The article mainly focuses on boys as the key audiences to violent videos and is more likely than girls to be influenced negatively.


Article2: Clay Rutledge "The Social Benefits of Video Gaming."

       As opposed to Macrae, Rutledge used a wider and complex perspective to explain the benefits of video games to both boys and girls. Rutledge’s article was to reveal the other side that antagonizes the idea that violent games increase aggression and hostility. Nevertheless, Rutledge acknowledged that continuous and long-term violent games may lead to the adoption of some antisocial behavior. Rutledge added that even though there is a bad side of violent video games, they can also be prosocial benefits. The article approves an assumption that stated that prosocial video games lead to behaviors that are prosocial.

          The author classified video games as extremely violent, prosocial, and neutral. Lemmings was used as the prosocial game while Tetris neutral to conduct experimental research on behavioral issues. It was revealed that experimenters who played both Lemmings and Tetris were engaged and quickly developed helpful behaviors. The participants who played the two games were tested on the willingness to help others, and the results were remarkable. For example, in the experiment where a girl was being harassed by an ex-boyfriend, ten participants who played the prosocial game showed uttermost willingness to help the girl out of the overall 18 participants. However, just 4 who played the neutral game were willing to help. In sum, the author classified video games in a complex mix such as antisocial, prosocial, neutral, violent, or non-violent. As aforementioned, extremely violent games such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Raw & Resident Evil, and WWE Smackdown can make youths violent and aggressive. The others such as simulation, racing, silly cartoon games,and sports often have positive impacts depending on the context and theme of the game. Article 2 reveals the t following points:


  • ·Extremely violent video games result in antisocial behaviors in the youngin cases of a steady diet of playing (longterm). However, the article reveals that benefits accrue if the games are prosocial. As hinted, the benefits occur within a short time; even during the game time.
  • ·Prosocial video games lead to prosocial behaviors such as increased willingness to help others in trouble. That, strong emotional attachments to others develop as the participants showed sympathy to the girl harassed by the ex-boyfriend.
  • ·Persons who acquire prosocial behaviors are less likely to indulge in immoral and unacceptable behaviors such as murder or street attacks. Instead, they are more willing to help others in trouble or the unfortunate.
  • ·The article views both boys and girls are subjects of the influence of video games. The author does not exhibit any variability of how video games impact on boys or girls.


       Both of the articles reveal that the development of aggression and immoral behaviors occur after long-term exposure to the violent video games. Monrae pointed out that long-term gaming makes boys’ brains be less lit up, insensitive, and accept aggression as normal behavior. Similarly, Rutledge acknowledged that a steady diet of violent video games impacts negatively as the young acquire some antisocial behaviors. Also, it is explicit that the audience or subjects of influence by violent video games are children and adolescents. Both the authors refer to the young, who are the common players as the subjects of benefits or consequences. While, Monroe is particular on the boys, but also gives a snapshot of how girls behavior, Rutledge is general on the gender issue.


Fiona Macrae’ Article

Clay Rutledge’ Article

The study was particular on boys

The study was general to boys and girls

The research was specific on violent video games

The study had a general view where the games were classified

The main impacts were on brain activities, emotions, aggression, and immoral behaviors

The impacts were classified as either prosocial or antisocial



        Notably, Macrae majorly studied the impacts of video games on boys. According to the article, boys are influenced faster and highly by violent video games than girls. The author refers to girls as peaceful and less likely to change their behaviors. Conspicuously, the participants of the study were only boys. Conversely, Rutledge included both boys and girls in the study and did not hint any variability of how the video games impact on either. Additionally, the first article was specific to violent games while the second article used a variety of video games classified as violent or non-violent and prosocial or antisocial and others like neutral. Conceptually, Macrae argued that violent games impact negatively on the emotions and brain activities that encourage immoral behaviors and normalcy to aggressiveness. However, Rutledge used the concept of willingness to help others as a way to divulge the benefits of prosocial video games.

      In sum, the article compared and contrasted two articles that have varied, but somewhat overlapping arguments concerning video games and young people. The point-based evaluation was based on the issues such as gender, aggression, behavior, morality, prosocial, and antisocial behaviors. Also, the analysis was pegged on the diversity or variation of the video games and how the characters of children and adolescents are influenced. As a parting shot, pursuant to the agreement that long-term exposure to extremely violent games has negative impacts, the Board of Film Classification (BFC) should adopt stringent policies that match the video games to the specific age groups.

Works Cited

Chamberlin, Barbara, and Ann Maloney. "Active Video Games: Impacts and Research." Oxford Handbooks Online (2012). Print.

Macrae, Fiona. "Violent Films, Video Games and TV Shows Do Make Boys Aggressive, Study Finds." Dailymail 19 Oct. 2010. Print.

Routledge, Clay. "The Social Benefits of Video Gaming." Dailymail 7 June 2010. Print.

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