Compare-Contrast Essay Assignment


is synthesis?

When you synthesize two or
more texts in an essay, you find connections between the texts. 
You create a dialogue of sorts between the texts, showing how they
�speak� to each other.

is the purpose of synthesis?

Synthesis is a common
academic exercise.  When you
synthesize texts, you come to a new or deeper understanding of those texts and
the ideas within them.  When you look
at the ideas in one text alone, you focus only on your interpretation of that
particular author�s ideas.  When
you open your analysis up to two or more texts, you can see the ideas in a new
light by looking at how multiple authors complement and/or contradict each

is synthesis different from compare and contrast?

In some ways, these two
activities are similar.  But think of
synthesis as going beyond compare and contrast; in general, it is a more complex
intellectual task.  Instead of
looking at two separate things and finding similarities or differences, you
focus on how these two things (texts, in this case) actually work together to create a deeper understanding of a theme or idea.

should I organize a synthesis essay?

Because you want to show a
strong connection between the texts and maintain that throughout your essay, I
would encourage you to follow the general organizational pattern below. 
Notice that you�re going back and forth, from one text to the other, so
that connection is always there.


Introduction (introduce theme,
texts, thesis statement)

First point about the theme

Text #1�s perspective
on/treatment of that theme

Text #2�s perspective
on/treatment of that theme

Second point about the theme

Text #1�s perspective
on/treatment of that theme

Text #2�s perspective
on/treatment of that theme



Important additions:

  • You
    may choose to focus on more than two points. 
    The number of points you develop should be dictated by the content of
    your thesis, not by a formula.  Because
    of this, the number of points in each essay will vary from student to

  • Depending
    on the complexity of your suppor

    points, you may choose to write a paragraph
    that introduces the point in general, then follow with a separate paragraph
    for each text that develops the point.

  • Again,
    depending on the complexity and number of your suppor

    points, you may choose to write a paragraph
    that introduces the point in general, then follow that with a paragraph (or
    paragraphs) that refer to both
    texts (in the same paragraph).


Sample synthesis thesis

Both Rudolfo Anaya, in Bless
Me, Ultima
, and Allan Johnson, in Privilege,
Power, and Difference
, argue that by taking a path of greater
resistance, people can fight against societal injustice. 
In Bless Me, Ultima, the
characters of Antonio and Ultima challenge the choice of taking a path of least
resistance, as introduced by Johnson, by standing up against injustices.

In The
Woman Warrior
, Maxine Hong Kingston challenges the controlling image of the
lotus blossom as introduced by Yen Le Esperitu in �Ideological Racism and
Cultural Resistance.�

George Orwell, in his classic
essay, �Shoo

an Elephant,� describes how, as a police
officer for the British Imperial government, he acted against his own desires to
salvage his pride.  In �Just Walk
On By� Brent Staples reveals how, as a black man, he has come to change his
behavior because white people are uncomfortable with his presence. 
In critically examining these two essays together, it becomes clear that
both Orwell and Staples understand that most behavior is motivated by concerns
for how others view or judge us. 


 Back to Handouts.

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English 191 – WRITING WORKSHOP II – Zimbler

  • Syllabus

  • Effective Reading

  • Citing Sources — MLA Citation Style

  • Writing assignment#1

  • Writing assignment #2

  • Grading Rubric

  • Peer Editing

  • Out of Class Writing Assignment #3

  • classification essay example

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191 Syllabus

                                         ENGLISH 191: Writing Workshop II

Instructor: Joanne Zimbler Email: [email protected]

Office Hours: M,W,F 9:00-10:00 am (and by appointment) LB 217

Required Text: Foundations First – Kirszner, Mandell 4th Edition

Recommended text: college level dictionary

Course  overview

English  191  is  designed  for  students  who  need  to  practice  writing  thoughtful and  well  organized  short  compositions  in  standard  English.  Conducted  as  a  writing  workshop,  the  class involves  reading  and  discussion  of  lively  articles,  stories,  and  possibly  longer  works.  The  course  will  help you  increase  your  familiarity  with  the  style  and  organizational  format  of  written  English  and  improves your  ability  to  compose,  edit,  and  revise  sentences,  paragraphs,  and  short  compositions.  Writing  is  one of  the  most  essential  skills  you  will  need  to  be  successful  in  your  professional  and  personal  life. The  assignments  and  readings  we  will  cover  this  semester  will  strengthen  your  abilities  and  confidence  as both  a  reader  and  a  writer.  I  am  here  to  help  you  succeed  in  this  course.  You  are  highly  encouraged  to meet  with  me  throughout  the  semester,  especially  if  you  are  having  difficulty  with  the  material.

Course  Exit  Standards

Upon  successful  completion  of  the  required  coursework,  the  student  will  be  able  to: 1.  Analyze  short  essays  (approximately  2-­6  paragraphs  in  length)  to  identify  thesis,  topic, developmental  and  concluding  sentences,  as  well  as  transitional  expressions  used  to increase  coherence; 2.  Evaluate  compositions  for  unity,  sufficiency  of  development,  evidence,  coherence, and  variety  of  sentence  structure;;

  1.  Organize  and  write  an  essay  which: a)  addresses  the  topic  and  is  directed  by  a  thesis  statement b)  has  an  introduction,  body,  and  conclusion  and  demonstrates  a  basic  understanding of  essay  organization c)  shows  some  awareness  of  critical  thinking  and  linkage  of  evidence  with  assertion;; d)  develops  ideas,  moving  from  general  to  specific e)  is  easy  to  read  and  follow,  though  some  errors  in  grammar,  mechanics,  spelling, or  diction  may  exist f)  uses  a  variety  of  sentence  types

Student  Learning  Outcomes

Upon  successful  completion  of  the  course  the  student  will  be  able  to: 1.  analyze  a  short  essay  or  passage  such  as  the  final  exam  prompt  demonstrating knowledge  of  thesis,  topic,  developmental  and  concluding  sentences,  and  transitional expressions 2.  write  a  multi-­paragraph  length  essay  which  addresses  the  topic,  applies  knowledge  of essay  organization  conventions,  and  demonstrates  a  growing  awareness  of  critical thinking  through  its  development  of  ideas.  Essay  is  also  easy  to  read  and  follow 3.  assess  a  composition  for  unity,  development,  evidence,  and  coherence

Attendance  Policy

 If  you  wish  to  be  successful  in  English  191  (and  beyond!),  you  must  maintain  regular attendance.  It  is  very  important  that  you  do  not  miss  class,  or  you  will  quickly  become  lost. If  you  are  absent,  you  are  still  responsible  for  the  material  we  covered.  Please  befriend  a student  whom  you  can  contact  for  this  information.  Please  do  not  email  me  to  ask  what you  missed!  If  you  do,  I  will  refer  you  to  the  syllabus.

-­You are allowed no  more  than  three  absences. Three tardies/early departures will equal one absence.  If  you  are absent  more  than  three times,  I  may  exclude  you from  the  class.   -­‐If  you  decide  to  drop  this  class,  it  is  your  responsibility  to  perform  the  necessary  action via  the  Internet  or  Admissions.   -­‐This  course  will  be  based  upon  students’  needs;  therefore  our  schedule  is  tentative.


Late  Work

 If  you  are  absent,  you  need  to  hand  in  the  assignment  the  day  you  return.  Essays  will lose two points for  class  session  they  are  late.


Classroom  Policies

 I  do  not  accept  work  over  the  Internet,  but  I’m  more  than  happy  to  answer  questions about  the  material  or  meet  with  you  individually  to  discuss  your  progress.  Cell  phones and  electronic  devices  must  be  turned  off  at  all  times.  No  beeping,  buzzing  or  texting!  It  is extremely  distracting  and  disrespectful  to  your  fellow  students.  Please  recycle  and  throw away  your  own  litter.  Lastly,  be  respectful  of  your  fellow  students  and  teacher.


 Please  bring  the  required  text,  a  notebook,  and  pen  to  each  class.  We  will  practice grammar  together  as  a  group;  you  must  have  the  book  with  you  to  do  this.

Required  Materials

 Flash  drive  for  transporting  the  documents  we  work  on  in  class.


 English  191  is  a  four-­‐unit  course;  the  final  grades  are  PASS/NO  PASS.    A  missing assignment  or  a  plagiarized  one  will  receive  an  automatic  0.  Please  monitor  your  own progress,  but  feel  free  to  meet  with  me  at  any  point  if  you  have  questions  about  your grades  or  where  you  stand  in  this  course.    All  take-­‐home  essays  must  be  typed.

Your  grade  depends  on:

6  Grammar  quizzes ( 35 points each)                  220 points

3  essay  outlines (10 points each)                           30 points

7  essays (out of class and in class)                       294 points

Participation/ Attendance:                                          50 points

Final exam:                                                                   100 points

Pass  =  485  points  and  above

No  Pass=  484  points  or  below

*Students  with  a  verified  disability  who  may  need  any  reasonable  accommodation  for  this class  are  encouraged  to  notify  me  and  contact  the  Center  for  Students  with  Disabilities  at 818.240.1000,  extension  5905  .  All  information  will  remain  confidential.

Class  schedule

*The  schedule  is  subject  to  change  (I  will  notify  you  ahead  of  time  of  any  changes).

Week  1

Wed  2/20  Introductions/  Review  syllabus  /  Exchange  emails  with  a  classmate HW:  Bring  textbook  to  class  on Friday

Fr  2/22: Writing  &  grammar  diagnostic (no  grade  given)

Week  2

M  2/25   Review  diagnostics/ pg.27-49

W  2/27  Introduce  the  paragraph p. 51-72

Fr  3/1    Continue  the  paragraph p. 74-98

Week  3

M  3/4      Grammar:  the  simple  sentence p.217-222

W  3/6  Continue  the  paragraph  /  Finish  the  simple  sentence p. 223-229/  Begin out of class – narration writing  assignment  #1

Fr  3/8 In class writing

Week  4

M  3/11  Finish  the  paragraph/  Simple  sentence  quiz  #1/  peer review of writing assignment #1

W  3/13    Introduce  verbs p/ 365-379   

Fr  3/15 In class writing /  narration  assignment  #1 due

Week  5

M  3/18  Continue  verbs p. 380-396  /  Begin out of class description  writing  assignment  #2 

W  3/20  Nouns and pronouns p.397-430     work on  writing  assignment  #2

Fr  3/22  In class writing

Week  6

M  3/25    Begin fragments  p. 306-316

W  3/27 Continue  fragments p. 317-324/  Nouns and Verbs  quiz  #2

Fr  3/29 In class writing – In class writing assignment #1 due

Week  7

M   4/1 peer review of writing assignment #2

W  4/3 Finish  fragments p. 325-327/  Spelling p. 530-540

Fr  4/5 In class writing/  description assignment #2 due

Week  8

M  4/8  Begin classification essay –  out of class writing assignment #3

W 4/10 work on classification essay and fragments

Fr 4/12 Fragments quiz; in class writing

Week 9   


Week  10

M  4/22  Introduce  compound  sentence p.230-238

W  4/24 Continue  compound  sentence p. 239-247/  

Fr  4/26 In class writing

Week  11

M  4/29 Finish  compound  sentence/  Introduce adjectives and adverbs p. 431-435

W  5/1 peer review of classification essay due – writing assignment #3   Begin  writing  assignment  #4; adjectives and adverbs p. 436-445

Fr 5/3 classification essay due; in class writing


Week  12

M  5/6 /  Finish adjectives and adverbs p.436-445/

W  5/8  Begin argument essay- writing assignment #4

Fr 5/10 In class writing – In class writing compare/contrast essay due; compound sentneces and adjectives/adverbs quiz

Week  13

M  5/13 Introduce  run-­ons p. 289-295

W  5/15 Continue  run-­ons p.296-395

Fr 5/17 In class writing – exemplification essay

Week  14

M  5/20   Introduce  complex  sentence p. 248-253/  Prep  for  final  exam 

W  5/22  Run-­ons  quiz  #5/  Finish  complex  sentence p. 254-260/  Prep  for  final  exam

Fr 5/24  In class writing / in class writing – exempification essay due

Week  15

M  5/27 Memorial Day – no class

W  5/29   complex  sentence  quiz  #6/  Introduce fine tuning sentences p. 261-265 /  Prep  for  final  exam /  peer editing for argument essay – writing assignment #4   Continue fine tuning sentences p.266-277  

F  5/31  prep for final exam


Week  16

M  6/3 grammar final    arguement essay #4 due

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This Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Will Help You Beat Writer’s Block


It’s paralyzing. Moving forward seems impossible, and self-doubt creeps in. You feel like a lost puppy, unsure of what to do next.

compare and contrast outline

When writer’s block strikes, it can be doggone demoralizing. But the good news is that an outline is your best friend for getting organized and ready to write.

In this post, I’ll show you how to develop a compare and contrast essay outline that lets you kick writer’s block to the curb and craft a structurally sound essay about anything.

Let’s start with making sure everyone’s on the same page about what makes up a compare and contrast essay. Ready?

What Is a Compare and Contrast Essay?

Stuck on Your Essay?
Check Out These Example Compare and Contrast Essays
Yes! Show me examples.

In the simplest terms, a compare and contrast essay takes two subjects (i.e., objects, events, people, or places)—closely related or vastly different—and focuses on what about them is the same or what’s different or focuses on a combination of similarities and differences.

It’s not, however, just a simple comparison – that’d be too easy, right?

It must serve a larger purpose by doing one of the following:

  • State something unknown.
  • Clear up a misunderstanding.
  • Show that one thing is superior to another.
  • Lead to a new way of doing/seeing/understanding something.
  • Argue a point with supported facts.

There are several formats for writing a compare and contrast essay , but I’ll use point-by-point organization to make my outline.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: Point-by-Point Organization

The point-by-point comparison focuses on comparing and contrasting one aspect about both subjects at the same time.

It’s typically easier for readers to follow this structure. It provides a clear, easy-to-follow structure. To keep things simple, I’ll use a 5-paragraph essay structure to create a compare and contrast essay outline.

compare and contrast outline

The outline consists of three parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraphs
    1. The first difference between subjects
    2. The second difference between subjects
    3. The third difference between subjects
  3. Conclusion

Now that you have the basic structure down, let’s break down the components using my two favorite four-legged beasts: Molly and Morgan.

Compare and contrast outline

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: Introduction

compare and contrast essay outline The introduction is where you introduce your topic both in broad and specific terms. It’s also where make your thesis statement. The thesis statement provides the main point of or ideas within your essay.

The introduction has three key elements. I’ll go through each separately.

1. Introduction to the main topic

To introduce your main topic, you ideally want to start with a hook sentence and then detail the specifics of the topic itself.

Comparing and contrasting Morgan and Molly, my opening lines to introduce the topic might read something like this:

“Do opposites really attract? The law of attraction says they do, but is this phenomenon limited to humans? It’s definitely not, nor is it limited to romantic relationships. Dogs with drastically different personalities and habits form close attachments all the time.”

 2. Specific subjects to compare and contrast

Next you need to identify who or what you’re comparing and contrasting specifically under the main topic and theme.

The next lines in my introduction might look something like this:

“The dogs in my household, while similar in many ways simply because they’re dogs, are vastly different creatures. Molly is a 70-pound bully who likes to pounce, lick, and paw at canines and humans until she gets her way. Morgan, on the other hand, is a 50-pound sweetheart who is content with whatever is going on. Despite their differences, the two dogs are strongly attached to one another.”

3. Thesis statement

Finally, to wrap up your intro, you want to express the specific aspects you’re comparing and contrasting. This provides a clear idea of where your essay is going.

My thesis statement focuses on three specific habits/characteristics of my rambunctious dogs. It might be something like this:

“Most notably, Molly and Morgan differ in how they accessorize, what their favorite toys are, and how they deal with downtime, yet the two have a strong bond as ‘sisters’ who cuddle at every opportunity.”

Whew! The introduction is often the toughest part. It’s where you’ll lay out the structure of your essay. (For this reason, it’s usually a good idea to write the introduction last.) Since that’s done, we’ll move on to Part B, the body paragraphs.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: The Body Paragraphs

compare and contrast essay outline Since I’m focusing on just three aspects about Molly and Morgan, I’ll have three body paragraphs. Under the point-by-point organization for a compare and contrast essay outline, you’ll need as many paragraphs as the number of aspects you’re comparing and contrasting.

Each paragraph will have a topic sentence focused on the aspect you’re comparing and contrasting. Each paragraph will also have two details about each subject as they relate to the aspect:

Body paragraph #1

The topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph. The topic sentence of my first paragraph might look like this:

Aspect #1 – Topic sentence: “The first difference between Molly and Morgan is the way they accessorize; while both are budding fashionistas, each of the girls has her own personal style.”

compare and contrast essay outline

If you can ignore their cuteness (yup, I’m biased, but you have to admit they’re pretty adorable, right?), we’ll dive into the two details for each dog. My detail sentences might look like this:

Subject #1: Molly

  • Detail #1: “Molly takes the sporty approach and is perfectly content with her owner’s baseball cap firmly on her head.”
  • Detail #2: “Her choice in headwear is indicative of the brute, in-your-face interactions with her sister and owners.”

Subject #2: Morgan

  • Detail #1: “On the other hand, Morgan prefers the downhome, classic country look of a bandana.”
  • Detail #2: “Her accessory preference speaks to her humble, attention-loving and passive demeanor.”

See how easy crafting a paragraph is when you break it down?

You could write paragraphs in your sleep now, right? No? Okay, let’s do the same thing for the second and third body paragraphs.

Body paragraph #2

Aspect #2 – Topic sentence: “Another difference between the girls is their favorite toys; even though they are both equally protective of their favorites, their choices contradict their personalities.”

compare and contrast essay outline

Subject #1: Molly

  • Detail #1: “Molly prefers to cuddle up with her favorite stuffed animal (which changes over time as she eats them).”
  • Detail #2: “She often can be found protectively cuddling the stuffed animal in her sleep and making sure her owners give it plenty of love, too, by pushing the drool-covered plush in their faces at any opportunity.”

Subject #2: Morgan

  • Detail #1: “Conversely, Morgan prefers the traditional rawhide bone.”
  • Detail #2: “She will growl, snarl, and bare teeth to protect it from anyone (even her owners!).”

Two body paragraphs down – only one to go. If you’re struggling, just take a breather.

Take your time, and work through the outline one section at a time if you need to.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your compare and contrast essay outline doesn’t have to be either (unless you’re a procrastinator).

Body paragraph #3:

Now we’ll look at my third body paragraph. The final body paragraph wraps up the last aspect identified in the thesis. Mine might be constructed something like this:

Aspect #3 – Topic Sentence: “The final difference between the two pups is how they deal with downtime, more specifically, their ability to just chill while ignoring (or not ignoring) distractions.”

compare and contrast essay outline

Subject #1: Molly

  • Detail #1: “Molly isn’t content unless she’s getting attention, even if that attention is simply having a warm human body next to her; she’s frequently found flopping on the couch looking pensive and bored out of her pay-attention-to-me-now-or-I-will-lick-your face-endlessly mind.
  • Detail #2: “While it’s sometimes possible to catch a photo-op with her sandwiched between pillows wearing a pleading look, breaking out the camera usually produces a face-licking attack before the shot is even focused.”

Subject #2: Morgan

  • Detail #1: “Morgan, however, handles downtime differently. Perfectly content without constant attention, Morgan takes it as an opportunity to curl up and catch some ZZZs.”
  • Detail #2: “A heavy sleeper who snores and runs in her sleep while dreaming of chasing squirrels, Morgan is happy sleeping for hours and is undisturbed by camera flashes and clicks.”

That’s it. The body paragraphs are complete. Not so bad, was it?

While I had three body paragraphs, your outline might have only two. Or it might have five. It depends on the number of points you’re comparing and contrasting.

Now we’re ready to wrap things up with the conclusion. 

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline: Conclusion

Stuck on Your Essay?
Check Out These Example Compare and Contrast Essays
Yes! Show me examples.

Hot diggity dog! If you’ve made it this far, you’re in the home stretch—developing the conclusion of your compare and contrast essay outline.

The conclusion is the easiest part. You’ve already set the stage for it with your thesis statement and body paragraphs. It’s just a matter of putting it all together while focusing on three areas:

compare and contrast essay outline 1. Summary of main points

First, you want to summarize your main points. It’s more than a simple summary, though. You want to synthesize your thesis with the information in your body paragraphs.

I might summarize with a few sentences like this:

“In conclusion, these three aspects clearly show how Molly and Morgan go about their doggy lives in different ways. While Molly likes to accessorize with baseball caps, cuddle with stuffed animals, and sit around looking bored, Morgan prefers rawhide bones, relaxing solo, and sleeping contently whenever she can.”

 2. Evaluation

Next, you want to evaluate what you’ve discussed or talk about possible future developments.

This is where you show the greater purpose of your topic. Your conclusion should answer one question: What does it all mean?

As you work on this part, keep in mind that your conclusion should bring things full circle to your introduction.

My compare and contrast essay outline requires just focusing on an evaluation.

My evaluation sentences might look something like this:

“In some ways, the differences parallel their personalities—Molly as a brute and Morgan as a sweetheart. The differences also show how both dogs sometimes stray from their normal behavior, notably through how they interact with their favorite toys. Taken collectively, however, their differences don’t stop the law of attraction from coming into play. Though they like a different look, like to play with different toys, and like to relax differently, they adore each other and cuddle up together at every opportunity.”

 3. Significance

Finally, you need to show the significance of the differences. What was your end goal in showing the differences? (Hint: Refer back to your introduction and thesis statement if you’re stuck here.)

I might use one sentence to show the significance, tie everything back to the intro, and create finality all in one swoop by writing something like this:

“This shows that opposites really do attract—even among canines.”

Download Template for Your Own Compare and Contrast Outline

Have your own compare and contrast essay to write? Make the process easier, and banish writer’s block by downloading this compare and contrast essay outline in MS Word or PDF format to get started.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Template (.doc)

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Template (PDF)

Whether you’re ready to write or still flushing out your topic, using an outline keeps you on-task. It keeps you on-topic to create a logical, easy-to-follow format.

Additional Help for Your Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

Still struggling? Try reading some completed example compare and contrast essays . If that doesn’t work or you’re still feeling a bit unsure, read more about this type of essay .

Finally, don’t forget about editing and proofreading! Even the best writers make mistakes or have difficulty recognizing weak points in their own writing .

If you’re aiming to put your best paw—err draft—forward, have one of our talented  Kibin editors edit your essay for grammar, logic, clarity, and flow.

Write on, and best of luck!

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