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A list of compare and contrast essay topics for high school

During the school years, most grammar classes will require what is called a "compare/contrast" essay to be written. These essays test students on their ability to compare (show how two things or ideas are alike) or contrast (show how two things or ideas are different). Many students, once hearing the assignment, have no idea where to begin with these kind of essays. They may ask questions like, "What topics do we choose?" or "Which subjects are we not allowed to discuss?" These questions are very handy when the teacher has a set list of topics or requirements, however, if the teacher gives free reign, it may be hard for students to choose a topic for their essay. Below, there are a few examples of compare/contrast essay topics.

Easy Topics

Some students want easy topics, either because they do not have the imagination to write an entire essay on the differences and similarities of such topics as politicians points of view or because they do not want to do all the work associated with harder topics.

  1. Cats versus dogs
  2. Mom versus dad
  3. One restaurant versus another
  4. One action movie versus another
  5. Your friend's iPod versus your MP3 player

These topics may be easier because they can include knowledge that the student already has (i.e. cats are generally more laidback than dogs), so the student can spend less time researching the topic and more time just writing the essay.

Hard Topics

Although easy topics require less thought, they can also have a smaller intellectual reward for the over-achieving student who wants to take their knowledge to new levels.

  1. Political issues (like abortion or the death penalty)
  2. The Elizabethan Era versus the Victorian Era
  3. Two novels written by the same or different authors

These topics typically require much more time to write. The amount of research required can be sometimes double or triple the amount of easier as a topics. These topics may also require more thought because you had may have to decide after some time how broad spectrum you are willing (and able) to write about. Consider this: if you were writing about the United States as a whole, do you include every major event that has happened since the beginning of its creation? Probably not. The essay may become longer than the standard five paragraph format that most high school teachers will assign.


Choosing a topic can be overwhelming when there are so many different things to compare and contrast in the world, however, it may be easier to just find something you are interested in and go from there. For instance, if music is a particularly knowledgeable subject for you, maybe comparing your two favorite artists is the solution. Or, if science is more your thing, then contrasting Thomas Edison's and Nikola Tesla's ideas for electricity is a good topic to choose. All the topics discussed are completely doable and appropriate for high school grammar classes, however the topic should always be mentioned to the teacher in case the subject may be overstepping a school rule or boundary.

Hopefully, these topic ideas were helpful in guiding you toward a specific topic that you can easily write about. Just keep in mind that not all topics are suitable for your particular class. Some subjects may need to be more oriented toward the specific subject you are studying in your class rather than a random topic chosen out of a hat.

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