Tell us something we don't know (or might not notice)!

Now that you have the information and key information for a good essay answer, what is the question? Spend some time thinking from your instructor’s perspective and develop a good essay exam question that would be the prompt for you to write an essay from your brainstorming and chart developed in Steps 3 and 4.

There are two general formats for compare and contrast papers:

There are two primary ways to organize your compare and contrast paper.

Description: Two items linked by characteristics or attributes.

You can use a Double Cell Diagram (see for example the bubble graphic organizer at ) and start making your own for free online at or at . Or you can use the simple chart, available for download above.

Fran Hooker & Kate James, Webster University Writing Center, 2007

Be sure to use the appropriate terminology and skills from the course readings and specific to the discipline of art history. For example, in introductory art history courses, students are required in their exam essays typically to compare and contrast different works demonstrating not only their learned skills of formal visual analysis, but also their ability to place works and monuments in a historical context. This means comparing works not only in terms of the differences in their formal elements, but also in terms of the socio-political, theological, regional or cultural reasons behind those differences.

We encourage the educational use of the OWL. The  explains the specific permissions granted.

First sentence: I eat ice cream slowly.

In the following paragraph from “American Space, Chinese Place, ” writer Yi-Fu Tuan fully discusses space in America before turning to an analysis of place in China:

Second sentence: I eat cotton candies slowly.

Below is a sample of an introduction from a literary compare and contrast paper written by student Kate James: (Some of the terms she uses to indicate comparison and contrast are in boldface.)

writing dbq essays ap essay examples

Americans have a sense of space, not of place. Go to an American home in exurbia, and almost the first thing you do is drift toward the picture window. How curious that the first compliment you pay your host inside his house is to say how lovely it is outside his house! He is pleased that you should admire his vistas. The distant horizon is not merely a line separating earth from sky, it is a symbol of the future. The American is not rooted in his place, however lovely: his eyes are drawn by the expanding space to a point on the horizon, which is his future. By contrast, consider the traditional Chinese home. Blank walls enclose it. Step behind the spirit wall and you are in a courtyard with perhaps a miniature garden around a corner. Once inside his private compound you are wrapped in an ambiance of calm beauty, an ordered world of buildings, pavement, rock, and decorative vegetation. But you have no distant view: nowhere does space open out before you. Raw nature in such a home is experienced only as weather, and the only open space is the sky above. The Chinese is rooted in his place. When he has to leave, it is not for the promised land on the terrestrial horizon, but for another world altogether along the vertical, religious axis of his imagination.

As you approach a compare/contrast paper, ask the following questions:

What’s interesting and most revealing to my readers?

Next door, in the department store, there will be two women who know you by name and who can't wait to help you find what you need or will let you ruminate among the shelves if you want. In the drug store across the street, the pharmacist knows your aches and pains and what you've been taking for them the last five years and what upsets your stomach and knows to call your doctor when the prescription doesn't make sense. If there is a soda fountain there — naah, that's asking too much.

--from DiYanni, Robert and Pat C. Hoy. Frames of Mind. Thomson Wadsworth. 2005. p. 260

Overall, what’s more important—the similarities or the differences?

Do this exercise a week or so before your exam, using material already covered in class so that it is related to the material on which you will be tested for that exam.

--from DiYanni, Robert and Pat C. Hoy. Frames of Mind. Thomson Wadsworth. 2005. p. 260

First sentence: I want to buy an ice cream.

In this case, Kate decided that the integrated format would be more effective because it allowed for the side-by-side analysis of passages that illustrated the three primary qualities that she noticed in the poems.