I have to write an essay for my AP world history class and my teacher said to use direct comparison, but I'm confused on what he means by that. Please Help!

In direct comparison, you compare and contrast two terms (whether it's two people, two events, two concepts, or whatever). You gather information on each term and then focus on the similarities and dissimilarities between them.

You can organize your essay in one of two ways. First, you can discuss each term separately and then include a section in which you draw comparisons and contrasts between them. Here's how this approach works if you were to compare and contrast two historical events:

  • Section one: You write about one of the events — covering, for example, initial conflicts leading up to the main event, key people and the roles they played, major battles, how the event ended, and its aftereffect.
  • Section two: You write about the second event, covering the same areas that you did in the first section. Remember to make your separate discussions of the historical events parallel — that is, in section two, address points in the same order that you used for section one.
  • Section three: You make a series of statements comparing and contrasting major aspects of the two events. Avoid simply repeating what you said in sections one and two.

The second way of organizing your essay is to first decide which aspects of the events you want to compare and contrast (initial conflicts, key people, major battles), and then structure your essay according to these. For example, you can identify the initial conflicts from both events and compare them. Then you compare the key people of the two events, then the major battles, and so on.

This type of organization has two advantages:

  • You are forced to focus on similarities and dissimilarities and less likely to include material that isn't pertinent.
  • You avoid repetition by eliminating a separate compare-and-contrast section.