Professors love assigning compare and contrast essays to college students, and there’s a good reason for that! They require you to use your critical thinking skills to analyze two distinct ideas. You’ll begin to see and make connections that you might not have discovered otherwise. Often, these assignments lead to fantastic “Aha!” moments for students as they learn to see the bigger picture.  

But before the “Aha!” moment, you’ll need to choose a topic. What makes a great compare and contrast essay topic, and how do you pick the right one?  

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We’ve created this guide to help you understand the goal of your assignment. From there, you can easily choose a topic that stands out. We’ll include examples plus offer some tips on creating a thesis statement to help you start the writing process.  

Keep reading, and you’ll be on your way to writing a fantastic compare and contrast essay. 

Choosing Topics For a Compare and Contrast Essay 

Teachers across all subject areas assign compare and contrast essays 

Comparing means looking at two things and noticing what makes them similar. For example, roses and daisies both have structures such as stems, leaves, and petals.

Contrasting means looking at two things and noticing what makes them unique or distinct. For example, daisies are delicate flowers, whereas roses are hearty and resilient.   

In most cases, your professor will expect you to notice and write about both similarities and differences. You might compare and contrast two different books, characters, scientific theories, products, time periods, governments, or concepts. You can compare and contrast ideas, people, or literature across all subject areas. That’s why knowing how to write a strong essay can help you excel in every class.  

Often, the two ideas you choose will seem very different at first. In other cases, you might compare and contrast two things that seem almost identical. Your task is to determine what qualities they have in common, where they differ, and why that’s interesting about that.  

Brainstorming Compare and Contrast Essay Topic Ideas 

Good compare and contrast essay topics begin with two distinct but similar ideas. Start by looking critically at your assignment. 

Is your professor asking you to focus mostly on similarities or mostly on differences? Are they asking you to provide an evaluation of the similarities and differences of both? Understanding your essay goal can simplify the process of choosing a topic.   

In some cases, it makes more sense to contrast two things that are very similar. Your goal will be to write about their subtle but significant differences. For example, comparing Pepsi and Coke.  

In other cases, you might write about two things that seem very different and focus on their unexpected similarities. For example, two plays might have incredibly different plots but share a theme. 

It can be helpful to compare and contrast two things that you know have clear similarities and differences. It’s always possible to dig deep and find connections between two topics. Still, if they are too different, your paper will be less compelling.  

What Are Good Compare and Contrast Topics? 

A green apple next to an orange, which invites comparisons and contrasts

Here are a few examples of good compare and contrast essay topics across subject areas. 

  • History, Social Studies, or Politics: Compare and contrast two wars, civilizations, political movements, and legal cases. You can also compare and contrast time periods in different countries or regions
  • Literature: Compare and contrast two novels, poems, plays, or essays. You can also compare and contrast characters, themes, settings, or plots within pieces of writing
  • Science: Compare and contrast two different theories, fields, samples, or methodologies
  • Arts: Compare and contrast two different art movements, artworks, artists, styles, or pieces from different countries or regions  

How Do You Start a Compare and Contrast Essay? 

The first question many students ask is how to write a thesis statement for a compare and contrast paper. Once you choose your thesis, it’s much easier to create a compelling and cohesive introduction paragraph.  

How to Write a Thesis for Compare and Contrast Essays 

When considering your topic ideas, you began by choosing two similar but distinct things to compare. In most cases, your thesis statement will either express why those two things are alike or what makes them different. Choose the one that makes the most interesting and compelling argument.  

If your thesis statement relates to what makes two items different, make a superlative statement about why this is important. For example, you might state that one method is more effective than another. Alternatively, write about why one product is safer than the other, or that one paper is more persuasive than the other.  

If your thesis is about why two items are similar, your thesis should concisely explain what they have in common. For example, the theme that two books or poems share or the qualities that two populations have in common.  

Write Better Compare and Contrast Essays With PaperDue 

Take a moment to compare and contrast your understanding of compare and contrast essays. Do you have a better grasp of how to choose a compare and contrast essay topic? The process only gets easier when you start using the resources from PaperDue. You’ll find hundreds of sample topics and essays to help you write an incredible essay.  

Are you ready to write your introduction paragraph? Use our title generator to help you start your essay today!