Assignment: Compare/Contrast Essay—Prewriting and Draft

Length: 3 pages, double-spaced

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 using three points of analysis.  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.


  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


To get started writing your essay:

  1. Review What is an Essay?
  2. Take time to review possible subjects
  3. Use prewriting to help you focus and narrow your topic.

Remember that “essay starters” are everywhere.  If you keep a journal or diary, a simple event may unfold into an essay. Simply said, your essays may be closer than you think!


When drafting your essay:

  1. Develop an enticing title
  2. Use the introduction to pull the reader into your singular experience by setting up the problematic situation.
  3. Think of specific, interesting details or events to incorporate into the essay to grab the reader.
  4. Let the essay reflect your own voice (is your voice serious, humorous, matter-of-fact?)
  5. Organize the essay in a way that may capture the reader, but don’t string the reader along too much with “next, next, next.”
  6. 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 prewriting in the style of your choice for the prompt.Review the prewriting videos on the My Writing Process: Prewriting and Draft page if needed.
  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 (see the MLA Format page as needed)
    • Submitted as either a .Microsoft Word doc, .or rtf file
  5. 5. Submit your prewriting and draft as a single file upload.


Be sure to:

  • Develop your essay by comparison and contrast using the three-points-of analysis scheme
  • 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
  • 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 Ratings Point Total: 50
Ideas 15 pts: The paper demonstrates outstanding idea development.

12 pts: The paper demonstrates above average idea development.

11 pts: The writer sufficiently defines the topic, even though development is still basic or general.

9 pts: The paper has an idea that needs to be developed.

0 pts: There is no coherent idea.

15 pts
Content 15 pts: The paper demonstrates outstanding evidence of supporting the main point.

12 pts: The paper demonstrates above average evidence of supporting the main point.

11 pts: The paper demonstrates sufficient support of the main point.

9 pts: The paper requires more supporting evidence of the main point.

0 pts: There is little content supporting the main idea.

15 pts
Organization 15 pts: The organization is outstanding and showcases the central theme. The presentation of information is compelling.

13 pts: The organizational structure is above average.

10 pts: The organizational structure is strong enough to move the reader through the text without too much confusion.

8 pts: The writing needs a clearer sense of direction. The internal structure is weak.

0 pts: The organization is poor.

15 pts
Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions 5 pts: The writer demonstrates an outstanding word choice selection, flow and cadence, with well-built sentences and strong grasp of standard writing conventions.

3 pts: The writer demonstrates above average word choice selection, flow and cadence, with well-built sentences and strong grasp of standard writing conventions.

2 pts: The writer demonstrates sufficient selection of words. The text tends to be more mechanical and contains some errors of standard writing conventions.

1 pts: The writer demonstrates a limited vocabulary and lack of fluidity. Errors in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, usage and grammar repeatedly distract the reader and make the text difficult to read.

0 pts: No marks.

5 pts