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In this kind of paragraph, you are evaluating two alternatives or options according to a certain criterion. Which movie will you see this weekend? One’s at the Regal and costs $8 each. The other’s on my TV and costs $5 for the video rental. On what basis will you decide?

organizing principle

The table below is for minimum of 2 options and 3 criteria – expand to suit your situation

example from sports: Rating Percentage Index (RPI) for the NCAA men’s basketball committee

weighted criteria grid

option 1 weighted
option 2 weighted
criterion 1 X% evidence evidence
criterion 2 Y% evidence evidence
criterion 3 Z% evidence evidence

total score

 pts pts

For the RPI, the evidence is game scores, game locations, and strengths of schedules, which is all public, objective information. For your essay, the evidence will be the usual statistics, expert opinions, narratives, etc.

Instead of the RPI, the grid above will work for two movies (options 1 and 2) and the criteria of cost, convenience, and content, with convenience being as important as the other two combined.

How should you structure that comparison?


When should you use this pattern of thinking?


Examples of claims that compare and contrast



Which path should we take, path A or path B, and on what basis will we decide?

How can I decide which Australian university to attend for my study abroad semester?