Essay Assignment: Compare/Contrast Essay—Prewriting and Draft

For this assignment, you will work through the prewriting and drafting stages of your writing process in a compare/contrast essay.

Compare/Contrast Essay Prompt

Choose one of the following topics for an essay developed by comparison and contrast. The topic you decide on should be something you care about so that the examples are a means of communicating an idea; not an end in themselves. Possible examples include:


  1. Two jobs you have held
  2. A good and a bad job interview


  1. Your relationship with two friends
  2. Two relatives

Places and Things

  1. A place as it is now and as it was years ago
  2. Two towns or cities.
  3. Nature in the city and in the country


  1. A passive student and an active student

Writing Your Compare/Contrast Essay


STEP 1: To get started writing, first pick at least one prewriting strategy (brainstorming, rewriting, journaling, mapping, questioning, sketching) to develop ideas for your essay. Write down what you do, as you’ll need to submit evidence of your prewrite.


STEP 2: Next, write a draft of your essay.

  1. Develop an enticing title.
  2. Think of specific, interesting details or events to incorporate into the essay to grab the reader.
  3. Let the essay reflect your own voice (is your voice serious, humorous, matter-of-fact?)
  4. Organize the essay in a way that may capture the reader, but don’t string the reader along too much with “next, next, next.”
  5. To avoid just telling what happens, SHOW us what happened with vivid examples and/or testimony. Make sure you take time to reflect on why this experience is significant.

Assignment Instructions

  1. Review the grading rubric as listed on this page.
  2. Choose a writing prompt as listed above on this page.
  3. Create a prewrite in the style of your choice for the prompt.
  4. Develop a draft essay according to the following formatting guidelines. Papers submitted that do not meet these formatting requirements will be returned to you ungraded.
    • Minimum of 3 typed, double-spaced pages (about 600–750 words), Times New Roman, 12 pt font size
    • MLA formatting
  5. Submit your prewriting and draft as a single file upload.


Be sure to:

  • Develop your essay by comparison and contrast.
  • Decide on something you care about so that the narration is a means of communicating an idea.
  • Include characters, conflict, sensory details as appropriate to help your essay come alive, if possible.
  • Create a logical sequence for your points of comparison.
  • Develop an enticing title.
  • Use the introduction to establish the situation the essay will address.
  • Avoid addressing the assignment directly (don’t write “I am going to write about…” – this takes the fun out of reading the work!).
  • Let the essay reflect your own voice (Is your voice serious? Humorous? Matter-of-fact?).
  • Avoid “telling” your reader about what happened. Instead, “show” what happens using active verbs and/or concrete and descriptive nouns and details.
  • Make sure you take time to reflect on why your points are significant.

If you developed your prewriting by hand on paper, scan or take a picture of your prewriting, load the image onto your computer, and then insert the image on a separate page after your draft.


Grading Rubric: Compare/Contrast Essay Prewriting and Draft

Criteria Rating: Meets Expectation Approaching Expectation Point Total: 50
Ideas The paper demonstrates outstanding or above average idea development demonstrating comparison and contrast between ideas. The writer sufficiently defines the topic, even though development is still basic or general. __/10 pts
Content The paper demonstrates outstanding or above average evidence of supporting the main point. Paragraphs are well-developed and clear, showing how things are similar or different, and why. The writer demonstrates sufficient support of the main point, but could use more supporting details. __/15 pts
Organization The organization is clear and showcases the central theme. The presentation of information is compelling. The organizational structure is strong enough to move the reader through the text without too much confusion. __/15 pts
Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions The writer demonstrates an outstanding word choice selection, flow and cadence, with well-built sentences and strong grasp of standard writing conventions. The writer demonstrates sufficient selection of words. The text tends to be more mechanical and contains some errors of standard writing conventions. __/5 pts
Prewrite Attaches a prewrite example showing forethought in developing ideas for the essay. Only partially demonstrate effective prewriting strategy __/5 pts