Comparative Essay Writing
How to write a comparative essay in the classroom

Mike Conner

Table of Contents:
    • Comparative Essay
Essay Writing
    • Comparative buzz words
    • Writing Process
    • Organization
    • Editing
Student Work
    • Work Samples
    • California Content Standards
Comparative essay writing
Focus Content Area:
English/Language Arts

Secondary Content Area:
History/Social Science
Grade Level:

This project introduces the steps in writing a comparative essay in the classroom.  This project is typically for students in grade six.  This comparative essay assignment will prepare students for an Ancient Greece writing assignment (Compare and Contrast the City-States of Athens and Sparta).


Comparative Essay

-  A Comparative essay presents a comparison between two things.  In this type of essay you may "discuss" ideas by writing about the case for and against something, or you may be asked to "compare" different views, events, people or things. 

As with other essays you need VERY clear about the purpose of the topic you are comparing.  The crucial element is to answer the question in an order that makes most sense to the reader.

Look at the following student essay sample to see the components of a comparative essay.


Essay Writing:

Comparative buzz words

Here are some comparative buzz-words that you can use in your writing in order to keep your essay concise and flowing.  Comparative buzz-words are words that you can use to transition sentences and paragraphs in your essay.

Some examples of comparative buzz words are:

Similarities                                                 Differences

is similar to                                                   on the other hand

both                                                              however

also                                                               but

too                                                                in contrast

as well                                                          while/unlike


Writing Process

The five steps to the Writing Process are: 

1. Prewriting - Get ideas/inspirations  about your writing.

2. Drafting - Transferring your ideas onto paper.  Writing your essay on computer or on paper.

3. Revising - Making any neccessary changes to your writing to make it sound better to your audience. 

4. Editing - Making grammar changes.  Examples would be:  Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, Subject/verb agreement, and Word usage.

5. Publishing - Sharing your finished work with your classmates.

You can choose a topic of your choice to write about.  Once you have chosen your topic, incorporate the five steps of the writing process into your essay. 

Some comparative sample topics are:

Compare and contrast:

1.  Watching a movie in the theatre or at home on DVD

2.  Vacationing at the beach or the mountains

3.  Fresh food instead of canned food


Use the following Venn Diagram worksheet to organize your writing before you start your essay.


Once your essay is done, you should read it over for any errors.  This means it needs to be edited.  You can read your essay yourself or you can have one of your peers review it for you.  The following is a checklist you can use to have a peer read over your essay and leave comments.

Student Work:

Work Samples


California Content Standards

The following California State Content Standards can be met through this writing lesson:

ELA.6.1.2. Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions:
a. Engage the interest of the reader and state a clear purpose.
b. Develop the topic with supporting details and precise verbs, nouns, and adjectives to paint a visual image in the mind of the reader.
c. Conclude with a detailed summary linked to the purpose of the composition.
ELA.6.1.3. Use a variety of effective and coherent organizational patterns, including comparison and contrast; organization by categories; and arrangement by spatial order, order of importance, or climactic order.
Evaluation and Revision
ELA.6.1.6. Revise writing to improve the organization and consistency of ideas within and between paragraphs.
ELA.6.2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
ELA.6.2.2. Write expository compositions (e.g., description, explanation, comparison and contrast, problem and solution):
a. State the thesis or purpose.
b. Explain the situation.
c. Follow an organizational pattern appropriate to the type of composition.
d. Offer persuasive evidence to validate arguments and conclusions as needed.