Most students will be required to write a comparative essay at some point in their academic career. A comparative essay is an academic paper which compares two or more topics, items, concepts, and more. The number of subjects compared in a comparative essay is generally discussed by the course instructor when the assignment is given. Comparative essays seek to discuss how items or concepts are similar, not how they are different.
Comparative essays are generally easy to write and should follow the same basic paper structure as any other academic writing assignment. A comparative report should have an introduction, a paper body, and a conclusion. The introduction part of the document should introduce the topic and should contain a thesis statement which will be supported throughout the remainder.
The body of the document is where the student should discuss the similarities of the items being compared. Although a comparative essay is intended to primarily discuss the how items are similar, there can be some, very basic, references to what makes the items different. However, it is imperative that students keep discussions of differences to a minimum because then the report becomes a compare and contrast essay instead of a comparative article.
The conclusion of the comparative essay is where students should restate the thesis and wrap up the discussion. This is generally where comparative essays give students trouble. It's difficult to know when to stop comparing. It is not necessary to compare each and every factor of the items or concepts. Students should select how many comparisons to make based on the length.
For instance, in a one-page paper, students might want to select the number of comparisons based on the number of body paragraphs. Since a one-page comparative essay generally has one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and one conclusion paragraph, the student might want to highlight three short comparisons, one per body paragraph, or one in-depth comparison to discuss throughout the entire three body paragraphs. Longer papers invite longer discussions and more comparisons.
Finally, comparative reports should follow the basic rules of report composition. Students should proof their documents to ensure that they have followed the citation guidelines given to them by the instructor. The report should also be proofed for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Paragraphs should hold complete thoughts and the document should be solid and well-written to ensure the best grade possible.
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