Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

In this unit, students will write a compare and contrast essay on Runners vs Smokers. They will study a model essay written by Santiago and use Epstein's essay as a frame of reference. They will walk through a writing process begining with brainstorming ( tapping into prior knowledge on the topics), categorizing inforamtion to analyzing the similarities to differences. They will aslo research information to back up their claim on whether the two topics share more similarities or differences. They will analyze the information they will cite to support their claim.


  1. Keep Running vs. Quitting Smoking: which is harder?

  2. How to write a comparative analysis

Day 1
L.O. Students will read “Race…Other” and elicit points of similarities and differences between the two kinds of Puerto Ricans.
Aim: How does the author see her identity differently from the way her mother sees her?
Materials needed:

Activity 1: Write freely about an experience where you disagreed with someone on an issue but it turned out you agreed more that you disagreed.
Activity 2: Read the article “Race…Other” and underline similarities of the mother daughter views and circle their differences on Puerto Rican identity.
Activity 3: Create on a blank document a T chart and in each column,write mother’s view & daughter’s view. Jot down as many views as possible.
Activity 4: Categorize the information- race, attitude, self-image, choices, visions of future

Day 2:
Writing as a process worksheet
Step 1: Brainstorming



Step 2: Categorizing


Step 3: Sort information by similarities and differences

Smokers & Runner

Smoker & Runners

My Ideas



My Ideas















Step 4: Draw a conclusion: are there more similarities or differences between the two types of people?
Your answer to the above question will become your thesis of the compare nad contrast paper.

Step 5: How to structure the essay?

Read  “How to Write a Comparative Analysis” by Kerry Walk, for the Writing Center at Harvard University to learn about the structure of the essay
Excerpt: “Faced with a daunting list of seemingly unrelated similarities and differences, you may feel confused about how to construct a paper that isn't just a mechanical exercise in which you first state all the features that A and B have in common, and then state all the ways in which A and B are different. Predictably, the thesis of such a paper is usually an assertion that A and B are very similar yet not so similar after all. To write a good compare-and-contrast paper, you must take your raw data—the similarities and differences you've observed—and make them cohere into a meaningful argument. Here are the five elements required.

Whereas Camus perceives ideology as secondary to the need to address a specific historical moment of colonialism, Fanon perceives a revolutionary ideology as the impetus to reshape Algeria's history in a direction toward independence.
Whether your paper focuses primarily on difference or similarity, you need to make the relationship between A and B clear in your thesis. This relationship is at the heart of any compare-and-contrast paper.

You need not give equal time to similarities and differences. In fact, your paper will be more interesting if you get to the heart of your argument as quickly as possible. Thus, a paper on two evolutionary theorists' different interpretations of specific archaeological findings might have as few as two or three sentences in the introduction on similarities and at most a paragraph or two to set up the contrast between the theorists' positions.”

Day 3 Writing the Daft of the essay

Tip 1: If you have discerned more similarities on the two topics, then summarize the differences  and express them succinctly in the introduction. The body paragraphs then focus on the development of the differences.
Tip 2: Choose either block by block or point by point structure for your essay.
Tip 3: Evidence you provide for the comparison has to come from either the frame of reference by Epstein or your own research

Final Essay Check List