Free Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Compare and contrast essays showcase your ability to find similarities and differences between two or more subjects or points of view. This type of essay is relatively easy and fun to write because you get to express your own thoughts instead of writing bare facts. You can draw parallels and analyze the relationships between objects while explaining to the reader your unique perspective.

  • Effects of coffee vs. tea on one’s cognitive ability during studying
  • Capitalism vs. Communism
  • American North and South during the Civil War
  • The anatomical differences between monkeys and humans
  • Freelancing vs. working in an office
  • What is better: a movie or a book?
  • The differences and similarities between Greek and Roman mythology
  • The educational system in the US vs. the UK
  • Online shopping vs. traditional shopping
  • Smaller class sizes vs. bigger class sizes
  • Living with parents vs. living on campus
  • Electronic book readers vs. physical books
  • Online dating vs. real-life encounters
  • UK English vs. American English: differences and similarities
  • The physical vs. the moral needs of people
  • Lord of the Rings vs. Game of Thrones
  • Horror films vs. comedies
  • Carnivorism vs. veganism
  • Biking to school vs. driving a car to school
  • Japanese culture vs. Korean culture

Compare and contrast essays are academic papers in which a student analyses two or more subjects with each other. To compare means to explore similarities between subjects, while to contrast means to look at their differences. Both subjects of the comparison are usually in the same category, although they have their differences. For example, it can be two movies, two universities, two cars etc.

Good compare and contrast papers focus on a central point, explaining the importance and implications of this analysis. A compare and contrast essay thesis must make a meaningful comparison. Find the central theme of your essay and do some brainstorming for your thesis.

This type of essay is very common among college and university students. Professors challenge their students to use their analytical and comparative skills and pay close attention to the subjects of their comparisons. This type of essay exercises observance and analysis, helps to establish a frame of reference, and makes meaningful arguments about a subject.

Finding the Best Compare and Contrast Essay Topics For You

When choosing a topic for your essay, remember that subjects cannot be drastically different, because there would be little to no points of comparison (similarities). The same goes for too many similarities, which will result in poor contrasts. For example, it is better to write about two composers, rather than a composer and a singer.

It is extremely important to choose a topic you are passionate about. You never want to come across something that seems dull and uninspiring for you. Here are some excellent ways to brainstorm for a topic:

  • Find categories: Choose a type (like animals, films or economics), and compare subjects within that category – wild animals to farm animals, Star Wars to Star Trek, private companies to public companies, etc.
  • Random Surprising Fact: Dig for fun facts which could make great topics. Did you know that chickens can be traced back to dinosaurs?
  • Movie vs. Book: Most of the time, the book is better than the movie — unless it’s Blade Runner or Lord of the Rings. If you’re a pop culture lover, compare movies vs. books, video games, comics, etc.

Some interesting ideas to consider:

  • Attending a college course vs. distance-based learning.
  • Writing a research paper vs. writing a creative writing paper. What are the differences and similarities?
  • The differences between a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree.
  • The key aspects and differences between the US and UK education systems.
  • Completing assignments at the library compared with doing them at home. Which one is the most efficient?
  • The similarities and differences of the behaviour between married and unmarried couples.
  • The similarities and differences between the EU (European Union) and ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations)?
  • The similarities and differences between American and Canadian English.
  • Writing an internship report vs. writing a research paper.
  • The differences between US colleges and colleges in the EU?

How to Start a Compare and Contrast Essay: Brainstorm Similarities and Differences

When you are set with your topic, the first thing you should do is grab a piece of paper and make a list with two columns: similarities and differences. Jot down key things first, the most striking ones. Then try to look at the subjects from a different angle, incorporate your imagination.

If you are more of a visual learner, creating a Venn diagram might be a good idea. In order to create it, draw two circles that overlap. In the section where it overlaps, note similarities. Differences should be written in the part of circle that does not overlap.

Let’s look at a simple example. Let one of the subjects be oranges, and the other one be apples. Oranges have thick peel, originally from India, and are tropical fruit. These characteristics pertain only to oranges and should be in the part of the circle that does not overlap. For the same section on apples, we put thin peel, originated in Turkey or Kazakhstan, and moderate to subtropical. In the section that overlaps, let’s put that they are both fruit, can be juiced, and grow on trees. This simple, yet good example illustrates how the same concept can be applied to many other complicated topics with additional points of comparison and contrast.

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