How To Structure A Comparative Essay (VCE English Tips)

August 8, 2020joelleva

What is a comparative essay?

The comparative essay, in only its second year of being on the VCE English syllabus, is a cause for confusion for many students and teachers alike. Read on for one simple way to structure a comparative essay.

Comparative essay structure

How to write an introduction for a comparative essay

This can be structured in much the same way as a text response essay. Here, the only difference is that you will need to introduce both texts. Do not forget to make use of comparative language, which is an element of the VCAA criteria, which requires that students discuss "meaningful connections, similarities or differences between the texts”. Your introduction must address your overall contention, specific to the prompt, which should be an idea or concept running through your essay.

How to write a body paragraph for a comparative essay

Aim for around two to four body paragraphs, which should be developed using breadth and a wide scope of ideas. A good way to construct these paragraphs is to base each around a premise or main idea, and you will explore both texts through the lens of this premise.

You can choose either to compare both texts throughout the paragraph, or to go into depth in one text and then transition into exploring the other. No matter which method you choose, make you mention to which extent the two texts are similar or different (it's not enough to say "they are different" or "they are similar").

Relate the end of your body paragraph back to the overall contention, bringing both texts explicitly into focus.

How to write a conclusion for a comparative essay

Like the intro, this can be very similar to a text response conclusion! Make sure to be clear and concise, and sum up your main points from your body paragraphs. Aim to end with a strong, clear point of analysis, shining new meaning on both texts.

Comparative Essay Writing Tips

  1. Create an Outline: Develop a well-organised outline to keep your essay focused and ensure a logical flow of arguments. This framework serves as a roadmap, guiding you from one point to the next. Always connect your arguments back to your thesis statement for coherence.
  2. Reference Throughout the Process: Avoid last-minute referencing by incorporating it into your writing process. Cite sources as you go to maintain accuracy and credibility. This practice helps in seamlessly integrating evidence to support your comparisons.
  3. Highlight Differences and Similarities: Emphasise both differences and similarities between the subjects you're comparing. Provide a clear analysis of how they relate, diverge, or intersect. This enhances the depth of your comparison and adds richness to your essay.
  4. Utilise Concrete Examples: Enhance the persuasiveness of your writing by using specific examples. Illustrate your points with concrete instances that support your comparisons. This not only reinforces your arguments but also adds clarity to your overall narrative.
  5. Incorporate Comparative Vocabulary: make sure your essay contains appropriate terminology and comparative words, such as: "On the contrary," "Although," "Furthermore," "Similar to," "Unlike," "In the same way," "Likewise," "Compared to," "In contrast," "Yet," and "On the one hand...on the other hand."
  6. Collaborate for Improvement: Seek input from others, whether through an English tutor or a study group. Collaborating with peers can provide valuable insights and help refine your work. Different perspectives contribute to a more comprehensive and polished essay.
  7. Prioritise Drafting: Aim to draft your essay as early as possible. Getting your initial thoughts on paper makes the editing process more manageable. Remember, a first draft is easier to edit than starting with a blank page
  8. Proofread and Edit: Finally, proofread and edit your essay. Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and overall clarity. A well-polished essay enhances the overall impact of your comparative analysis.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: How To Take Notes To Maximise Success2U Maths Tips from a Past Student (98 in 2U Maths)! and Tips on Studying for Exams – Learnmate Tutoring.

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