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Engl 112 Week 3: Compare and Contrast Essay

Comparing and contrasting is something we do almost constantly. At the grocery store, we might decide what type of apples to buy based on taste preferences and price. At school, we might choose a topic for an essay based on our interest in the topic and our perception of its difficulty. At work, we might choose which candidate to hire for a position based on experience, educational background, and relevant skills. In each case, whether it is apples, essays, or future colleagues, we are using compare and contrast skills to help us to make a choice.

The essay you will begin writing this week and complete in Week 4 is inspired by Chapter 8: Comparing and Contrasting—Computers and Technology. Computers and technology influence every aspect of our daily lives, both at home and at work. Here are a few possible topics for your compare/contrast essay.

  • Working from home versus working from the office
  • Virtual relationships versus in-person relationships
  • E-sports versus “real” sports
  • Free software versus proprietary software
  • Attending college online versus attending in person
  • Autonomous vehicles versus conventional vehicles
  • Cloud computing versus on-site computing

Other topics are possible, but please consult your instructor if you would like to choose a topic not on this list.

On the other hand, please avoid topics that focus on simple preferences, such as the following.

  • Apple versus Samsung
  • Android versus IOS
  • XBox versus PlayStation
  • Any video game versus any other video game
  • Toaster versus toaster (see below!)

Compare/contrast essays are typically formatted in either a block pattern or a point-by-point pattern. For the sake of example, let’s pretend we are writing a compare/contrast essay about two toasters—a very dull topic! Here is how the essay might be organized in the block pattern.

Super Toaster

A. Features

B. Convenience

C. Reliability

Toaster Max

A. Features

B. Convenience

C. Reliability

Summary Analysis and Recommendation (Which toaster is better?)

On the other hand, here is how it could be organized in the point-by-point pattern.


A. Super Toaster

B. Toaster Max


A. Super Toaster

B. Toaster Max


A. Super Toaster

B. Toaster Max

Summary Analysis and Recommendation (Which toaster is better?)

The block approach and point-by-point approach are both acceptable essay formats. In general, the block format is probably a bit easier to write, and the point-by-point format allows for greater precision. Ultimately it is up to you to decide which format is better for your topic.

For additional tips and advice on writing a comparison/contrast essay, please see the Assignment Connection within the Week 3 Lesson.

Research Requirements

For this essay, you will need to cite at least two high-quality sources that consider contrasting points of view. For example, if you choose to compare and contrast working from home versus working from the office, you will need to find sources that focus on the benefits and drawbacks of working from home as well as the benefits and drawbacks of working from the office. Remember that each source listed in your references list must be cited in text, and that each source cited in text must be listed in your references.

Successful assignments will

  • choose an appropriate topic;
  • feature an introduction explaining the purpose and scope of the essay and include a clear thesis statement;
  • identify appropriate criteria to base the comparison and contrast upon;
  • conclude with an overall assessment;
  • be typed and submitted as a Microsoft Word document (.docx), with 12-point font;
  • follow current APA guidelines for essay format, content and citations, including title page and references pages;
  • be three to four double-spaced pages (750–1,000 words), not including the title page; and
  • be submitted for grading.

The assignment rubric is shown below.

Compare and Contrast Essay Assignment Rubric

Introduction and Thesis20It clearly states the subject of the compare and contrast and the criteria upon which the discussion will be based.
Organization30The essay is organized according to either block format or point-by-point format. The essay is divided into paragraphs in a logical fashion. Transition phrases are used effectively.
Development50The essay features a well-developed discussion based on the chosen criteria. The essay identifies the most important points of similarity and difference and explains why they are important. The essay meets or exceeds the minimum length requirement.
Research30The essay includes APA style in-text references to at least two relevant, high-quality sources. The essay includes a correctly formatted references list.
Style and Mechanics10The voice of the writer is clear, distinct, and appropriate. The writer’s message is clearly communicated with appropriate spelling and use of grammar and punctuation. Errors do not significantly interfere with meaning.
Total140The assignment meets or exceeds the above criteria.

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