Writing a Comparative Essay



Helpful Hints

Assignment Requirements

Due Dates and Point Values







In successfully completing this assignment, you will be able to:

  • Determine key differences and similarities in texts
  • Explain on those differences and similiarities in an organized, clear fashion
  • Draw a conclusion from your comparative analysis



1. Pick one of these two subjects to compare:

  • Compare and/or contrast two movies/books of a similar genre, then determine which is better
  • Compare and/or contrast two characters from the same movie/book, then determine which character is better
  • Compare and/or contrast two politicians or political parties, determining which is better
  • Compare and/or contrast two classes/subjects, determing which is better
  • Compare and/or contrast two items which you clear with me before midnight on Tuesday

2. Think about what characteristics you want to write about for your argument. You must have three similarities and/or three differences that you discuss in your paper, which should be 600-900 words.

3. Write a short paper containing an introductory paragraph with a clear thesis statement, body paragraphs that compare and/or contrast the two subjects in a thorough, organized, and equal manner, and a conclusion paragraph. Title it something creative. It should be cohesive, focused, and well-organized. Sources are optional. If you use a source/sources, it also must contain a Works Cited Page. As always, the source(s) can be anything academically acceptable.

5. Use MLA format for the parenthetical documentation and the Works Cited page, as we have gone over in class. BE CAREFUL NOT TO PLAGIARIZE. Finally, if you use a print source, you MUST make a photocopy of it and bring it physically to me (or scan it and send it to me) by classtime on Friday, Mar. 14.

6. A Rough Draft will be due on Sunday, Mar. 9 at noon. This draft should contain all the required elements, including length requirement. We will peer edit them in class on Monday and Wednesday.


Helpful Hints

  • Before writing, determine your judgment of which of the two items you are comparing is the better one
  • Before writing, brainstorm a list of similarities and differences. Take the three best ones of a category for your paper.
  • Before writing, determine which strategy you are going to use: subject by subject or point by point
  • It is often easiest to paragraph according to characteristics that you compare/contrast
  • Remember to use appropriate transitions before comparing or contrasting anything
  • Don't forget to put your name in a heading or title your paper.
  • Remember that everything must be connected with logical reasoning and explanation
  • Make sure your essay is proportionately balanced. You must spend as much time on each item and quality you are describing
  • You may use a source/sources in your paper (direct quote, paraphrase, or both) BUT you may not use more source material than your own explanation! We've discussed proper use of quotation and paraphrase before, so I won't repeat myself. Ask questions if you are having problems, however.
  • When checking your quotations/paraphrases, highlight the passages you used from your source, hold them up next to where they are in the paper, and check back and forth to see if you got it right. That's what I'll be doing when I check for plagiarism.


Assignment Requirements
How well you meet these requirements determines your grade. A good persuasive single-source essay will:

  • Have a clearly statement of purpose in the introduction - what is being compared or contrasted, how, and what item is better
  • Have three substantive similarities or three substantive differences that you discuss in your paper
  • Have an introduction which leads smoothly into the body
  • Have clear organization of ideas
  • Have direct explanation of why your comparisons or contrasts are valid, and why they support your opinion of which is better
  • Equally and thoroughly deal with both subjects
  • Have logical connections between points
  • Have clear, appropriate transitioning
  • Be focused - everything must go towards proving your thesis!
  • If you decide to use source/sources, it must be documented in the paper, right after it is used!
  • If you use a source/sources, have a separate Works Cited page that lists all source(s)
  • If you use a print source, bring a photocopy/printout of the pages you got yourquotes/paraphrases off of (you don't need to copy the whole thing, but you can't just do the title page)

Due Dates:
Sunday , Mar. 9 at noon: Rough Draft Due (25 pts)
Friday, Mar. 14 at classtime: Final Draft Due (75 pts)

Maximum Total Score: 100 pts.



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