Posted: March 12th, 2023

Prewriting: Comparison And Contrast

Prewriting: Comparison and Contrast

Advanced Composition : Prewriting: Comparison and Contrast

Lesson 7 Overview

You actively engage in

comparing and contrasting

every day. Whether you’re

shopping for a pair of

sneakers and comparing

websites to find the right

price or deciding which

route to drive to work, you

are using compare and contrast to determine the relative advantages

and disadvantages of each side. Compare and contrasts asks you to

focus on the similarities and differences of subject or topic, and to

analyze them for a specific purpose. Because you’ll be using

evidence to support your analysis, the essay you write at the end of

this lesson will require you to use secondary sources to support your


7.1 Explain the importance of comparison and contrast Reviewing Comparison and Contrast

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Read this assignment. Then, read pages 363–378 in your textbook.


Stanley is evil; Livingston is good. That’s sharp contrast. While both

Stanley and Livingston enjoy fishing, Stanley ties his own flies and

fishes in sparkling mountain streams, while Livingston uses a bamboo

pole and earthworms at the local fishing hole. That’s comparison and

contrast. To compare is to show similarities; to contrast is to show

differences. You make these judgments in your daily life without

thinking about it, comparing two people’s personalities or your current

television with an older one. We compare the advantages and

disadvantages of renting or buying and the nutritional value and cost

of one food compared to another. As you study the use of contrast

and comparison in a paper, think about how this pattern might be used

with other patterns, such as definition.

Reading Highlights

Pages 363–367

Carefully review the characteristics of comparison or contrast essays.

Key points for this pattern of development are

A clear purpose

A specific basis of


A fair appraisal

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Comparison or contrast makes a point. Why would a writer compare

white pine trees to Douglas fir trees? Perhaps he’s comparing and

contrasting their relative virtues as Christmas trees. Why would a

writer compare and contrast jogging and walking as aerobic exercise?

Perhaps she wants to compare the two with respect to the age and

physical condition of people who jog or walk. If a writer is a long-

distance runner, he or she might wish to praise the endorphin highs of

the three-mile jog as opposed to the milder joys of walking. Details

and sensory impressions provide the flavor of any effective

comparison or contrast.

Pages 367–378

College-level writing has two basic approaches to comparison and

contrast. The point-by-point approach is illustrated by “What Kind of

H2O Should You Drink?". As you read it, try to locate the points of

comparison or contrast. The piece by Sara Rashkin demonstrates the

subject-by-subject approach, in which the author compares different

types of water. The graphic organizers that follow the essay offer

examples of point-by-point and subject-by-subject approaches.

Compare and contrast the two samples to see how they’re different.

After reading Sara Rashkin's essay, turn to Graphic Organizer 15.3

and study it to see how subjects are framed and presented by the

author. Then turn back and study the four tips for integrating

comparison and contrast into a paper. Reviewing these key


several times is a good way to reinforce them so they become second

nature. Are you informing or persuading your audience? Do you need

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to take a stand on an issue? Be sure that your thesis reflects your

purpose and choose the method of development that would best

present your ideas to your


Key Points and Links


Key Points

To compare is to show similarities between two ideas, topics,

objects, people, and so on.

To contrast is to show differences between two ideas, topics,

objects, people, and so on.

The writer uses comparison and contrast to make a point.

Be sure your thesis reflects your purpose and choose the method

of development that would be best to present your ideas to your


Discover More: Literary Components: Reviewing, Comparing,

and Contrasting

Respond to the following based on your reading.

1. Complete Exercise 15.3 "Drawing a Graphic Organizer" on page


Discover More Answer Key:

Discover More: Literary Components: Reviewing, Comparing,

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and Contrasting

1. Answers will vary, refer to Graphic Organizer 15.3 in your

textbook for help.

7.2 Classify the methods of reading effectively and thinking critically Reading Actively and Thinking Critically


Read this assignment. Then, read pages 378–383 and 387–397 in your textbook.


As a pattern of development, comparison and contrast may be used

on its own or in combination with other patterns, such as narration,

argument, or definition. First, you must decide the purpose of your

essay, and then choose the best approach. By reading the examples

and studying the guidelines for writing and the flowchart for revision,

you’ll be preparing to write an effective essay of your own.

Reading Highlights

Pages 378–379

Review the guidelines for actively reading and thinking critically about

comparison and contrast essays. Key points for analysis include

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Understanding the main point

Identifying the basis of comparison and the main points of


Questioning the assumptions and opinions of the author

Examining the organization and how it affects the presentation of


Determining whether important points of comparisons have been


Pages 379–383

Look closely at the steps involved in the “Guided Writing Assignment,”

as comparison and contrast will be the dominant pattern of

organization you’ll be using to write the essay at the end of Lesson 7.

Then examine the flowchart for revision shown in Figure 15.1.

Pages 387–392

Even if you’ve already read this student essay, “His Marriage and

Hers: Childhood Roots” by Daniel Goleman, read it again, this time

applying your sharpened skills to reading more critically.

Pages 393–397

In the essay by Toby Morris, “On a Plate”, you’ll consider the use of

comparison and contrast combined with other patterns of


Key Points and Links

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Active reading and thinking critically applied to comparison and

contrast writing.

Remember to understand the main point of the essay, as well as

the main point of comparison and the main point of contrast.

Discover More: Effective Reading and Critical Thinking Methods

Respond to the following based on your reading.

Review the essay “Border Bites” by Heather Gianakos, then complete

items 1–5.

1. From Gianakos’s concluding paragraph, summarize the contrast

she makes between Southwestern and Mexican food.

2. What are the author’s points in paragraphs 1, 3, and 4?

3. What nutrition-oriented information in this comparison could be

used for another comparison/contrast approach to this topic?

4. Respond to all 3 questions under "Analyzing the Writer's


5. Respond to all 4 questions under "Thinking Critically about

Comparison and Contrast"

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Discover More Answer Key:

Discover More: Effective Reading and Critical Thinking Methods

1. Southwestern cuisine is heavy on fried or grilled beef, while

Mexican food is based on richly seasoned corn and tomato recipes.

2. Paragraph 1: Southwestern and Mexican cuisine overlap, but the

differences are due to divergent cultural traditions.

Paragraph 3: Corn meal was and is basic to Mexican cuisine, while

Anglos made tortillas with wheat flour.

Paragraph 4: Meat is included in both Southwestern and Mexican

cuisine, but the meats are prepared differently and served in different

ways in the two traditions.

3. Given today’s concern with obesity and excess fat in our diets, you

could compare and contrast the cooking methods (fried, grilled, or

slow-cooked), the amount of meat and fat in each style of cooking,

and the use of vegetables and seasonings in each type of cooking.

4. "Analyzing the Writer's Technique"

1. The title sounds clever but does not reveal much about the topic.

The introduction provides adequate background but only hints at

the interrelationships between southwestern and Mexican

cuisine, which are developed in the body of the essay.

2. Corn has been a staple in the American Southwest and Mexican

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cuisine since the time of the Aztecs, so there are no distinct

points to compare and contrast.

3. They enhance her credibility and offer sources of further


5. "Thinking Critically about Comparison and Contrast"

1. Tex-Mex cuisine is dropped. This strategy works because

Gianakos acknowledges our first thoughts about such cuisine and

then chooses two types on which to focus. Readers could feel

that Tex-Mex should not be mentioned at all. It may not be clear

whether Tex-Mex is distinct from "southwestern" cooking.

2. Gianakos takes a rather scholarly or historical approach to the

topic, so the tone is straightforward without humor or irony. Her

consistency makes this tone appropriate.

3. The phrase adds a little spice to the diction, playing on the

imagery of food. More such phrases might have made the essay

more descriptive and less scholarly or historical in tone.

4. Gianakos might have contrasted the fat content, nutritional, or

cooking time for southwestern versus Mexican dishes.

7.3 Prepare an outline or graphic organizer for a comparison and contrast essay using a specified topic Graded Project: Prewriting: Comparison and Contrast

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Your project must be submitted as a Word document ( x, )*. Your project will be individually graded by your instructor and therefore will take up to a few weeks to grade. Be sure that each of your files contains the following information:

Your name Your student ID number The exam number Your email address

To submit your graded project, follow these steps:

Log in to your student portal. Click on Take Exam next to the lesson you’re working on. Find the exam number for your project at the top of the Project Upload page. Follow the instructions provided to complete your exam.

Be sure to keep a backup copy of any files you submit to the school!

Comparison and Contrast Prewriting

Comparison and contrast involve analyzing similarities (comparison),

differences (contrast), or both. You use comparison and contrast

every day, for instance, when you’re trying to decide which washer

and dryer to buy, or whether to drive or take public transportation to



For this prewriting assignment, you'll prepare a graphic organizer or

outline for an 1,800- to 2,000-word essay using the comparison and

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contrast pattern of development. You’ll choose one of the assigned

topics below and begin your research. Four to six secondary sources

are required. You are required to use American Psychological

Association (APA) citation and documentation format for parenthetical

(in-text) citation and your list of references.

Review Comparison and Contrast, Chapter 15 in your textbook, and

complete exercises 15.1 and 15.2. These exercises will help you

identify the basis of comparison and to draft a thesis statement. Then

refer to graphic organizers 15.1 and 15.2 to see the structure of

comparison and contrast essays that use point-by-point and subject-

by-subject methods of organization. You’ll choose one of these

methods to organize your topic.

You do not need to use text boxes or create flowcharts for your exam.

Refer to the sample graphic organizer included in these exam

instructions and type your work in a word-processed document.


Choose one of the following topics:

Learning a job or skill in a course versus hands-on or experiential


Communicating in person or face-to-face versus communicating

electronically by text, direct message, email, and so on

Two approaches to addressing a problem that commonly occurs

in your current work or that you'll need to deal with in your future

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You'll need four to six reputable secondary sources for your

comparison and contrast prewriting. Refer to the essay “Alcohol or

Marijuana? A Pediatrician Faces the Question” by Aaron E. Carroll to

observe how Carroll uses his secondary sources to support his thesis.

Review Chapter 22, “Finding Sources, Taking Notes, and

Synthesizing Ideas.” Evaluate your sources to ensure that the

information you're using and passing on to your readers is accurate

and reliable.

Incorporate evidence from your secondary sources into your outline or

graphic organizer to plan your essay. You’ll need to use parenthetical

citation and include a list of references on the last page of your exam.

Refer to the APA style section in your text and the APA style guide in

the Writer’s Block (

umentation/apastyle) .


Follow steps one to five in the guided writing assignment in Chapter

15. These steps will help you to develop, plan, and organize your


Avoid using text boxes, arrows, lines, or flowcharts for your graphic

organizer. Instead, use a basic informal outline for your ideas, like the

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one you prepared for your illustration essay.

You can see the structure of Sara Rashkin’s “What Kind of H2O

Should You Drink” in Graphic Organizer 15.3 your textbook, but you'll

need to write a more in-depth outline or graphic organizer to create a

strong foundation for your 1,800- to 2,000-word essay. Incorporate

information from your secondary sources where it will support your

characteristics, and use APA format to include the sources in a

parenthetical citation and on your references list.



Format your prewriting and essay exams according to the following

instructions. Refer to the sample APA-style essay in your text.

1. Start with a title page that includes your



Student ID


Email address

2. Use the header function to insert your page number in the top

right margin of your document.

You do not need to include your essay title in the header.

3. Begin your document on page 2 after the title page.

Start page 2 with your title

Do not include abstracts in your essays.

Use transitional words, phrases, and sentences to guide

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your reader through your essay.

Do not use headings in your essay.

4. Include your references list on the last page of your document.

Do not submit it separately.

Grading Rubric







Skill Emerging


Skill Not



Thesis, Ideas, and Content

-The thesis makes a focused claim that can be sustained in a longer essay.

-The outline/organizer provides a detailed plan for the essay and incorporates secondary sources to support thesis and main points.

25-23 22-20 20-18 18-0


-Ideas are logically arranged in either subject-by-subject or point-by- point method of organization and help move paper forward.

-Each proposed main point is focused on one aspect of the topic and helps support the thesis statement.

25-23 23-21 20-18 18-0

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-Provided four to six potential secondary sources for research.

-Incorporated borrowed information from secondary sources using parenthetical (in-text) citation.

-Properly formatted using APA guidelines.

25-23 23-21 21-19 18-0


-The outline/organizer has been spell-checked and proofread to check for errors in word choice and typos.

-The paper is reasonably free of errors that interfere with a reader’s ability to understand the content.

15-13 13-11 11-9 9-0


-The prewrite is developed as an outline or graphic organizer.

- It includes all required information in a properly formatted cover page.

10-8 8-7 7-6 6-0

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