Academic essays are one of the best tools for discovering similarities and differences between many things. This technique can be very versatile and take different forms, so let us agree that comparison is not restricted to simply describing the sides that differ and coincide. 

To have an in-depth look into this concept, let us pay attention to the definition of comparing and contrasting. It says that this is a higher level of thinking skill, displaying that the one performing comparison can collect and analyze information, sort it out, perceive facts and events critically, offer hypotheses and draw conclusions using logic and reasoning. 

All in all, it uses all the skills and abilities that students were to master during the previous years. In this article, you are going to find some useful ways to help you compare like a pro and use these techniques in college studies. 

Writing an essay. 

A compare and contrast essay is, in fact, one of these techniques. Revealing major differences and similarities between two and more things in the written form is something you don’t leave high school and university without. 

This essay style is often assigned to compare concepts and things often confused with each other or, for some reason, overlap in certain spheres and criteria. 

Like in all other essays, here, you would write a thesis that displays the subject matter. The point is usually expressed like this: ‘Liberalism and conservatism.’ Two concepts can be compared in 3 methods:

  • Block method, or subjects by subject. Here you fully discuss one concept and move to the second. 
  • Similarities and differences. First, you go through things in common, then move to something, separating them in nature. 
  • Alternating method, or point by point. Take one aspect to compare and contrast both concepts and discuss another. 

Each paragraph should have a clear and concise topic sentence that will direct the flow of thoughts and arguments. Avoid spontaneous and messy acts of adding new ideas – it makes the essay disorganized. 

In case you are now struggling with crafting such essays on your own, do not panic and try to buy a comparison essay first to see how experts do it. They will also serve you as brilliant samples for the days when you need some extra guidance. 

Chronological comparison, or comparison over time. 

This is especially great for students of the historical faculty or those who get an assignment to track improvements of the same event or concept over time. For instance, topics can sound like ‘Paris in the 1600s and Paris now’ or ‘Europe before and after Covid-19’.

While this might get more difficult since one has to search for facts and data exactly from the given period of time, this is also an exciting way to reveal what the new and old technologies or traditions have in common. The block technique suits this method well: first, discuss one era, then another. 

The method is great for those inexperienced in writing as it allows them to simplify the comparison and contrasting procedure. 

Making T charts

The best ways to compare are often basic and simple, just like a T chart. Here you will have 2 columns, each with a heading, divided by 2 crossed lines that make a T-like form. 

One side can be dedicated to similar things and another to different, just like it is often done for pros and cons. Another great plus is using this chart when you prepare to write your essay and need to organize all the info in a clean and comprehensive way. 

Using analogies.

Now, this is a more creative way to compare, and it is by no means a major one. We would rather say it’s a secondary method that sometimes comes in handy. Analogies are based on one aspect, such as time, size, the similarity of movement, or other qualities. 

Still, be careful in what type of essay you use because they are often too figurative to shine in academic texts. 

Building Venn diagrams. 

Not all essays are pure text: some can contain charts and diagrams. Venn diagram is a great way to offer a full picture of comparison in a visual form. It consists of several circles (2 to 5 or even 6) that illustrate different aspects in which we oppose them. However, it shows similarities where circles overlap.

These simple methods are great to combine if possible and allowed by your college or university. To add, they are useful not only for main subjects but also for those where essays are a less common way of testing. 

We hope we have given you some food for thought, and these tricks for crafting a nice compare and contrast essay will serve you well, and your grades in all your college disciplines will benefit from them.