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Teacher Tips and Answers

Prewriting for Comparison-Contrast Essays

Analyzing the similarities and differences between two things is one of the most fundamental thinking skills. It is also one of the most powerful. Comparing two candidates helps you choose the better leader and reject the dud. Discerning the key differences between two claims allows you to tell truth from falsehood. When you write a comparison-contrast essay, you use this powerful skill to understand both topics fully. You'll start by finding topics worthy of your attention.

Prewriting to Select Two Topics

If your topics truly interest you, analyzing them will be easy. You might also want to select two interesting topics from a current area of study so that your comparison-contrast essay can help you in more than one class. If you don't know what you want to write about, you can start by selecting an interesting general category from the Basics of Life list and thinking of two topics within that category.

For example, if you choose "Personality," you can compare two types of personality (introvert vs. extrovert) or two tests that measure intelligence (Stanford-Binet vs. Wechsler Intelligence Scale) or two psychological conditions (Asperger's syndrome vs. savant syndrome). If you choose "Food," you can compare and contrast two types of cuisine (French vs. German), or two processes for preserving meat (smoking vs. salt curing), or the history of two different drinks (coffee vs. tea).

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