It is important for an essay to have a strong introductory paragraph. Naturally, it is the first thing the reader sees and is the first chance to influence their impressions of the writer's credibility, organization, and style. Also, this paragraph is important because it establishes the controlling idea and prepares the reader for the argument. An introduction has three primary objectives:

  • To introduce the topic and prepare the reader for the argument
  • To respond clearly and directly to the task question
  • To establish the organization of the argument

General Statement and Background Information

The Hook

The essay should begin with a general statement that engages the reader and introduces the broad topic in an interesting way. However, try to avoid some of the common missteps students make when trying to engage the audience:

  • Avoid opening with a question—it is overdone and often seems too informal for academic writing:
    • How much money should the government invest in the arts?
    • Have you ever wondered why we are attracted to certain people?
  • Avoid opening with a statement that is too broad:
    • Since the beginning of time, people have searched for the meaning of life.
    • Throughout history, humans have tried to control nature.
  • Avoid opening with an obvious statement or dictionary definition:
    • Poverty is the state of being poor.

The most effective way to engage the reader is with a strong statement, oftentimes one that opposes a commonly held belief.

  • Strong hooks:
    • For many students entering university, the temptation to plagiarize content from the internet can be almost impossible to resist.
    • Over the last several decades, there has been a marked increase in the number of marriages ending in divorce, a fact which many feel points to a sign of moral decay and civilization’s decline.

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