How and Why a Comparison & Contrast Essay?

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English 101
Prof. Ashley Moser 
Assignment # 2: Comparative Contrast Essay

Rough Draft Due: 27 September (10% penalty off final grade if no rough draft)

Final Draft Due: 30 September (attached as file to email at

How and Why a Comparison & Contrast Essay? 

The Comparison & Contrast Essay assignment is meant to introduce you to the process of writing an argumentative essay utilizing critical thinking that examines the similarities and/or differences of two or more elements in order to conclude which is preferable and why.

One of the ways we get to know something new that we have no familiarity with is to compare it to something we do know. When you buy something new, you will often ask if it is better, the same, or worse than something similar you have had before. For example, when a new kind of soda or drink comes out, we will often ask if tastes like some other kind we already know. The same type of thinking is at work in a Comparison & Contrast essay.

For this assignment you will need to access the Bethel University library and find one source discussing a current social issue (Abortion, Gay Marriage, Gun Control, Legal Marijuana, etc. – you may not use any of these examples. It is best if you choose a topic that you do not already know a lot about and have a strong opinion on, because that will make objectivity more difficult). This library source needs to be from a scholarly journal. You will then find another article from a popular magazine or news publication utilizing Google or another internet search engine on the same topic.

Your assignment will be to read and annotate both articles, and then write an essay comparing and contrasting the elements found in these articles.

The Structure of the Essay 

The introduction that familiarizes your reader with the topic. It should include your main thesis of which article is better overall, and the categories you will be showing your comparison and contrast through. Categories you need to consider through comparison and contrast:

  • Contents of the article

  • Author credentials and credibility

  • Audience

  • Language used

  • Layout/Readability

  • References

  • Examples/Evidence

  • Professional Review

The body of the essay presents the comparison either point by point or examines the two or more elements individually to illustrate the similarities or differences.

The conclusion can restate the issue discussed and your position, or you can choose to pose a question about the issue to propel further inquiry.

A Compare/Contrast essay:

  • - clearly tells the reader what is being compared and/or contrasted so that they can focus on the reasons presented rather than trying to guess the main point

  • - uses specific categories or characteristics that the elements compared share as points of comparison.

  • - is written primarily in third person, but can use first person voice when using the writer's own experience as evidence.

  • - either presents each category or characteristic being compared, like this:

    • I. first characteristic

    • II. second characteristic

      • 1. Thing AAA is one way

      • 2. Thing BBB is a different way

    • III. third characteristic

      • 1. Thing AAA is one way

      • 2. Thing BBB is the same way

or presents each thing, like this:

    • I. Thing AAA

    • II. Thing BBB

      • 1. first characteristic is a different way

      • 2. second characteristic is a different way

      • 3. third characteristic is the same way

Submission Requirements

The essay should be 3-4 pages in length, typed in 12-point font size in Times New Roman, double-spaced with 1 inch margins.

The assignment when handed in will exist in two formats: (1) your final draft, emailed to me; and (2) hard copies of your peer-edited rough draft and both articles with annotations.

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