How to Write a Comparative Essay: Structure & Tips

A comparative essay may be something you are unfamiliar with in your schooling journey so far, the structure of the essay as a whole should be quite familiar to you. As you already know, having the correct structure and practices when writing is vital to having a good end product. This article will build on what you already know and teach you some new skills in how to write a comparative essay. 

What Is a Comparative Essay?

A comparative essay is an essay that contains an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. What makes a comparative essay different to other essays is that it compares and contrasts two different texts. 

A comparative essay is usually completed by students in years 10, 11, and 12 undertaking General English. However, students in other English subjects and younger grades can also be asked to write comparative essays, or students may have similar assessments in other subjects, such as writing a history essay.

how to write a comparative essay

Comparative Essay Structure

In a comparative essay, much like other essays, there is your introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. There are a few different ways you can structure your essay, but these elements stay the same. 

  • Introduction: In the introduction of a comparative essay, you should include; an overview and brief synopsis of the texts you are comparing, your thesis statement, and an outline of your arguments.
  • Body paragraphs: The body paragraphs of your comparative essay contain all of your evidence and arguments, this is by far the longest part of your essay. This is where you actually compare and analyse the texts. 
  • Conclusion: Your conclusion should not introduce any new information, but rather summarise your arguments and restate your thesis. 

How to Write a Comparative Essay Introduction

As mentioned above, your introduction should include: an overview and brief synopsis of the texts you are comparing, your thesis statement, and an outline of your arguments. A good practice to see if your introduction is long enough is to have your introduction be 10% of your total word count – so an 800-word essay would have an 80 word introduction. 

Your introduction is the first thing people are going to read, so make sure it addresses the overall question clearly and succinctly. The easiest way to do this is in your thesis statement. 

How to Write a Body Paragraph for a Comparative Essay

In the body of your essay you should have around two to four paragraphs. Each of your paragraphs should only surround one argument or idea that supports your thesis. 

There are two different ways you can structure the body of your essay, you can either: 

  1. Compare and contrast both texts in the same paragraph for each idea, or, 
  2. Dedicate paragraphs to each text individually. 

Both of these methods are perfectly acceptable, but there are limitations to both. For option one, it is important to remember you should be evenly analysing both texts, not favouring one over the other. It is also essential to remember for this option, to analyse in enough depth to support your argument. For option two, it is crucial that you are still comparing both texts. An easy way to do this is to us comparative language such as: however, conversely, in contrast, similarly. This is to ensure you are still meeting the requirements of the genre and task. 

How to Write a Comparative Essay Conclusion

As mentioned above, your conclusion should not bring up any new arguments but should summarise everything you have said up to that point. This includes restating your thesis and arguments. Much like your introduction, it is good practice to have your conclusion be approximately 10% of your overall word count. 

Comparative Essay Writing Tips

  • Create an outline: A well-structured outline helps you stay focused and ensures that your arguments flow logically from one point to the next.
  • Always link back to your thesis statement.
  • Reference as you go, do not leave it to the last minute.  
  • Emphasise differences and similarities: Make sure to clearly highlight the differences and similarities between the two subjects.
  • Use specific examples: Use concrete examples to illustrate your points and make your writing more persuasive.
  • Use appropriate terminology, vocabulary, and comparative words such as
    • On the contrary
    • Although
    • Furthermore
    • Similar to
    • Unlike
    • In the same way
    • Likewise
    • Compared to
    • In contrast
    • On the contrary
    • Yet
    • On the one hand … on the other hand.
  • Work with others to edit and refine your work, this may be using the support of an English tutor, or joining a study group. 
  • The best way to work towards getting an A in English is drafting! Write a first draft as soon as possible – it is easier to edit than a blank piece of paper!
  • Proofread and edit: Finally, make sure to proofread and edit your essay for grammar, spelling, and clarity.

Excel in Your Comparative Essay Writing!

The best way to improve your writing, whether it be comparative essays or any kind of essay, is to use the resources available to you. You can ask your teacher for help, form a study group with your friends and help each other, or you can get a tutor to help you!

Need a helping hand writing a comparative essay? A Team Tuition is here to help. With our tried and true tutoring methods, we can help you write impressive essays with our at-home and online tutoring. Find a tutor near you today!