How to Write a Hook
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A hook is an opening statement (which is usually the first sentence) in an essay that attempts to grab the reader’s attention so that they want to read on.
It can be done by using a few different types of hooks, which are a question, quote, statistic, or anecdote. Be mindful that the hook has to be related to the overall topic of the paper. Here are a few examples of each type of hook.
A question hook is when you ask the reader something that they can visualize and try to think of in their own minds. Then, the writer answers the question.
- Example: Have you ever watched the high-flying, jump shooting, slam dunking, ankle breaking players that play in the NBA? Every time I catch a game on television and I witness the thrill of the game, I can’t help but watch another one.
A quotation hook is when a quote is used and explained that has relevance to the topic at hand. Make sure this quote comes from a credible source. Also, talk about the quote’s meaning afterwards to ensure that the reader isn’t confused.
- Example: “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen” said Michael Jordan, arguably the best player to ever play in the NBA. Here, Jordan talks about how people want, dream, wish, and pray that they will one day make it to the big stage. These are usually the people that never make it. It is only when these dreamers and wishers take matters into their own hands and strive to be the best that they actually get to play professional basketball in the NBA.
A statistic hook can be used for more informational pieces of writing. The writer uses a quote from a source that relates to the main idea of the paper, but the quote must have some type of statistics, such as numbers, decimals, or and/or percentages. The meaning and relationship of the quote to the paper needs to be explained afterwards just in case the reader does not quite understand
- Example: “Just 0.00545 percent of the 550,000 boys playing high school basketball each year in the United States become a first-round draft pick — 1 in 18,333” stated Jeff Rabjohns, a writer for The Indianapolis Star, in an article titled “Prep players face long odds of making it to NBA.” Basically, only a few high school players will make it to the NBA. Even though there are many that strive, play, train, practice, and fight to be great, a huge majority of them do not make it.
When a writer uses a short story to relate to the topic and gain the reader’s attention, they are using an anecdote. This story can be a short, personal story or one that is a figment of your imagination. Make sure that it relates to the main idea of the paper. Show the relevance that it has to the topic of the paper.
- Example: When I was in high school, I remember playing in an AAU basketball league. We had to travel to downtown Philadelphia on the weekends for basketball practice. Each and every time we had basketball practice (which was at 8 a.m.), there was a boy around my age in the gym by the time we arrived. He was always covered in sweat, throwing up shots, practicing his layups, practicing his dribbling, and running laps around the gym. He was in such great shape. One day, I mustered up the courage to ask his about his ambitions, and he told me that he gets up at 5:30 a.m. to go to the gym and practice hard until my team comes in for practice. A few years later, this guy was entering the NBA draft from high school. When I saw him get drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, I knew exactly why. All that hard work had paid off for him. This is the hard work ethics and mindset that everyone that wants to make it to the NBA should have.
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How to Write a Great Essay Hook, With Examples
When you’re writing an essay , you naturally want people to read it. Just like the baited hook on a fishing line entices fish, your essay’s hook engages readers and makes them want to keep reading your essay.
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What is an essay hook?
An essay hook is a sentence or two that piques the reader’s interest, compelling them to continue reading. In most cases, the hook is the first sentence or two, but it may be the entire opening paragraph. Hooks for essays are always in the first section because this is where the essay needs to hook its reader. If the reader isn’t engaged within the first few lines, they’ll likely stop reading.
An essay hook also sets the tone for the rest of your essay. For example, an unexpected statistic in an essay’s first line can tell the reader that the rest of the essay will dispel myths and shed light on the essay’s topic .
6 types of essay hooks
1 rhetorical questions.
Rhetorical questions are popular essay hooks because they make readers think. For example, an essay might start with the question “Is it ethical to eat animals?” Before reading the rest of the essay, the reader answers the question in their mind. As they continue to read, the writer’s arguments challenge the reader’s answer and may change their mind.
When an essay discusses scientific subjects, social issues, current events, or controversial subjects, a fact or statistic related to the essay’s topic can be a compelling hook. For example, an essay about elementary student literacy might hook readers with a statistic about the percentage of fourth graders that are proficient readers.
The hook could be a fact or statistic that’s well-known and frames the topic in a relatable way, or it could be a completely unexpected or seemingly unintuitive one that surprises the reader. In any case, they set the tone for the rest of the essay by supporting the writer’s position from the outset.
Quotes are often used as essay hooks because they’re succinct, often recognizable, and when they’re from an expert source, they can support the writer’s position.
For example, an analytical essay comparing two books might hook readers with a quote from one of the books’ authors that sets the tone for the rest of the essay and gives a glimpse into that author’s work.
Anecdotes are often used as hooks in personal essays. A personal story makes the essay relatable, creating familiarity with the reader that makes them want to read more. An example of an anecdote hook is a persuasive essay about rerouting traffic on campus that starts with a personal story of a vehicular close call.
A description focuses on specific imagery related to the essay’s subject. For example, an argumentative essay in support of new recycling policies might hook readers with a bleak description of what happens to batteries and other hazardous materials when they aren’t recycled.
6 Common misconception
Similar to an unexpected fact, a hook that dispels a common misconception surprises the reader and educates them about something they likely misunderstood. For example, a compare-and-contrast essay about different mindfulness strategies might start with a common misconception about how mindfulness works.
Creating a hook for different writing prompts
Strong hooks for essays align with the essays’ tones, types, and topics. As you start working on an essay, think about your topic and goals for the essay. Are you trying to persuade the reader? Dispelling a common misconception can be the hook you need. Are you telling an entertaining personal story with bigger themes about your life experience? Start it off with an engaging anecdote. Are you defending a position? Share an unexpected fact and let the truth speak for itself.
Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell which kind of hook your essay needs. When this is the case, it can be helpful to write the rest of your essay, then come back to your introduction and write the kind of hook that would make you want to read that whole essay. Refer to your essay outline to ensure that it fits your essay goals.
Essay hook examples
- Is it too late to save our planet from climate change?
- Before I could speak, I sang.
- “If we are truly a great nation, the truth cannot destroy us.” —Nikole Hannah-Jones
- Contrary to popular belief, rats are among the most fastidious animals.
- I can’t be late for class—this could be the most important day of my life!
Essay hook FAQs
An essay hook is a sentence or two that grabs the reader’s attention and piques their interest, enticing them to continue reading.
What are the different types of essay hooks?
- Rhetorical questions
- Common misconception
Why is it important to have a good essay hook?
It’s important that hooks for essays be well crafted, because in many cases, the reader won’t continue reading an essay if it doesn’t hold their interest. The hook grabs their attention and makes them want to read on.
7 Sensational Essay Hooks That Grab Readers’ Attention
by Suzanne Davis | Jul 14, 2022 | Writing Essays and Papers | 12 comments
Do you want people to feel excited when they read your essay?
The secret is to get them interested in reading your essay by making the first part of your introduction intriguing. The best way to do that is by using attention-grabbing essay hooks.
So, what is a hook? It’s a piece of writing at the beginning of your essay that engages your reading audience. Usually, a hook is a sentence or group of sentences that draw people into reading your essay or research paper. A hook sparks a person’s curiosity. You want whoever reads your essay to wonder what happens next. Hooks also make an introduction stand out (which raises your chance of getting a high grade on your essay).
If you want to see all the elements of great introductions for research papers check my post, How to Write a Strong Introduction to a Research Paper at https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/how-to-write-a-strong-introduction-to-a-research-paper/.
When you write essay hooks that make your rea ders curious, you’ve taken the first step toward making them fall in love with your writing. Let’s dive in and look at essay hooks that will elevate your writing style!
7 Types of Essay Hooks
Here are 7 writing hooks that make readers want to find out what you will say in the rest of your essay.
- Interesting Question Hook
- Strong Statement/Declaration Hook
- Fact/Statistic Hook
- Metaphor/ Simile Hook
- Description Hook
- Quotation Hook.
1. The Interesting Question Hook
An interesting question hook is when you ask a question that relates to your essay or paper. And the only way a person can know the answer to that question is by reading your writing.
People are inquisitive. When we hear or read a question we want to know the answer. If we don’t have an answer then we need to find out.
So, when you start your essay with a question hook, this signals to your readers that if they keep reading you’ll give them the answer.
Here’s an example of an interesting question hook on the topic of succeeding in college:
What is the difference between successful college students and unsuccessful college students?
The goal of this essay hook is to make you want to learn what students who succeed in college do, and what college students who don’t succeed in college do wrong.
2. The Strong Statement/Declaration Hook
A strong statement hook is a sentence that makes an assertive claim about your topic. It connects to the thesis statement and shows the importance of your essay or paper.
A strong statement is a great technique because it doesn’t matter if your reader agrees or disagrees with your statement. They will want to see how you support your statement.
This is an example of a strong statement on the topic of the vegan diet.
Vegans are the healthiest group of people in the world.
This statement either supports your point of view about the vegan diet, or it makes you want to argue against it (especially if you love meat). Either way, you are curious about what the writer says.
3. The Fact/ Statistic Hook
Facts and statistics hook your reader because they give real information about a topic. You can impress your reader with your knowledge and evidence from the very beginning of your essay. But, you need to include facts that are accurate, interesting, and reliable. Evaluate your information and make sure it comes from a credible source. Some places to visit for statistics are The Pew Research Center https://www.pewresearch.org/ , and The CIA World Fact Book, https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/.
Here’s an example of a factual hook about an essay on gun ownership in the United States.
Almost two-thirds of American adults at some point in their life lived in a home with at least one gun.
The Pew Research Center, “America’s Relationship With Guns: An In-Depth Look at the Attitudes and Experiences of US Adults” http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/06/22/americas-complex-relationship-with-guns/
4. The Metaphor / Simile Hook
The metaphor/simile hook engages your readers because it makes them think about a topic in a different way. Your audience wonders what you mean and how you compare a topic to something that seems unconnected.
A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly compares one thing to another, but these two things seem unrelated. An example of a metaphor is: Her boyfriend is a rat. The boyfriend is not really a rat, but he behaves like one.
If your essay topic is on business blogging you could write the metaphor hook:
A business blog is a magnet pulling clients to a company.
A simile is like a metaphor. Both compare two unrelated things to each other, but a simile uses the words like or as to connect them. A simile is less strong than a comparison in a metaphor. An example of a simile is : Writing a research paper is like running a marathon when it’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
A simile hook for the essay about business blogging could be:
A business blog is like a magnet that pulls clients to a company.
5. The Story Hook
This is a hook where you begin with a short story or episode that relates to your topic. Readers love stories, especially a well-written story that is memorable. The key to a great story hook is making sure the story directly connects to your essay or paper topic. Your story can be personal or someone else’s story.
Here’s an example of a story hook for an essay about the differences between British and American English. I used my own story about a trip to England.
I got off the train and pulled my luggage behind me. A cab pulled up to the curb, and the driver got out. He lifted my luggage and said, “Miss, I’m just going to put your stuff in the boot.” I didn’t know what he meant until I saw him open the car’s trunk. Then I realized the boot means car trunk. I got in the cab, wondering how many other words would be different in England.
You’ll see this sto ry hook is longer than other types of essay hooks. That’s okay. Your hook can be longer, but it shouldn’t be a large part of your essay or paper. Compare the length of your hook to the length of the essay.
Also, consider your audience (especially an academic audience). Ask yourself, “Will a story hook be acceptable in this course?” If you’re unsure you can ask your teacher or professor or you could select a different type of hook.
6. The Description Hook
This is a hook where a vivid description of a scene draws your readers into your writing. A good description hook will make your reader want to know what comes next in your writing. It’s most popular in narrative essays, but you can use a description hook with any type of writing (yes even academic papers). But, like the story hook ask yourself, “Will this description hook be acceptable in this course?”
Here’s an example of a description hook for a personal narrative essay about saving a dog:
The dog howled in pain and limped along the side of the road. His leg was cut and blood streamed down his leg.
Doesn’t this scene make you curious about what will happen to the dog?
7. The Quotation Hook
This is a hook where you begin your essay with a quotation. The quotation could be from a famous person, but it doesn’t have to be. You can quote anyone if it connects to what you’re writing about.
If you write an essay on the topic of education you could start
Nelson Mandela said, “ Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world .”
If you want to use a quotation for a hook, make sure you quote the words exactly. Choose quotations where the words are striking, powerful, and/ or memorable.
Writing Challenge: Write 2 Essay Hooks
Essay hooks are a great way to intrigue all your readers. Select your favorite 2 types of essay hooks. Then write a hook for each kind you choose. Comment below and share your favorite one!
Have fun and be creative.
Photo by Bram Naus on Unsplash
I find that switching it up makes my content better. My favorite is to start with a question or a strong statement. I love this infographic. Well done!
Thanks Joanne! Question and strong statement hooks are great for getting readers to wonder what’s in your essay. I’m so glad you liked the infographic.
This is a great article, showing the variety of openings you can use in writing. Thank you for the tips!
I’m glad you liked it. I think hooks are great for writing.
[…] For more information about essay hooks see-https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/7-sensational-types-of-essay-hooks/ […]
Very good blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..
Any suggestions? Many thanks!
Hi Cindy, Those are great questions about blogging. I think the beginning point with starting a blog is determining your niche/focus, goals and your ideal readers. The next piece of advice is to really learn the style of writing blog posts. It’s a craft, so you should really start with a good grasp of the formatting, style, and techniques, etc. Since I don’t know your blog’s focus I can’t offer you more specific advice.
If you can afford it, I suggest paying for a domain name and hosting. There are free ones like WordPress.com etc. These will get you started, but if you want to use your blog for a business I really recommend starting with a paid option. I hope this helps you. Good luck blogging!
Thank you for this informative Eda’ya. My favorite hooks are question, strong statement and the fact. I think these are the best for an academic paper. Your infographic is excellent and memorable. Thank you! ??
Mehmet, Those are all great hooks! I think they would each be a great way to begin an academic paper too. I’m glad the infographic is useful to you. Thank you for the compliment.
These are great. I’ll have to file this away for my next writing student (and my next blog post!). For research papers, I used to use the fact/statistic hook a lot.
Beth, I’m glad you liked these essay hooks. I like the fact/statistic hook a lot too, and you’re right it is a great one for research papers.
I like question hooks & metaphoric ones…
I need to write to essays for tomorrow at English (preparing for Baccalaureate) & I’ll choose “success is not about luck” & “the importance of music in our lives” …
For the first one I’ll choose the first type of hook (for me it’s the easiest): “How can you be sure that when it comes to success, luck isn’t so important” or sth like this.
But for the second essay I’ll choose a metaphoric hook “music is the spot of light who makes shine in gray tones” or sth like this.
For the first one I was also thinking about sth statistically but idk not a kind of statistics about luck help in success or sth like this…
Ik, you can’t give me advices till tomorrow but I’ll be OK. Thx for this gorgeous inform. God bless you. All the best!
I think those are 2 great hooks to use with those essays. I love the metaphoric hook you came up with–it’s beautiful. I hope you do well with your essays. Good luck!
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Frequently asked questions
What is a hook.
The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.
To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
Frequently asked questions: Writing an essay
For a stronger conclusion paragraph, avoid including:
- Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the main body
- Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
- Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)
Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.
Your essay’s conclusion should contain:
- A rephrased version of your overall thesis
- A brief review of the key points you made in the main body
- An indication of why your argument matters
The conclusion may also reflect on the broader implications of your argument, showing how your ideas could applied to other contexts or debates.
The conclusion paragraph of an essay is usually shorter than the introduction . As a rule, it shouldn’t take up more than 10–15% of the text.
An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.
In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.
Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.
Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
- An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
- Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
- A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .
Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :
- Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
- However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
- It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.
Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.
The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .
However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.
Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.
In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.
A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .
Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :
- Ask a question about your topic .
- Write your initial answer.
- Develop your answer by including reasons.
- Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.
The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.
The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.
Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:
- In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
- In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
- In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory
At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.
Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”
In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.
Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.
Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.
The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.
The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.
Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.
You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.
If you have to hand in your essay outline , you may be given specific guidelines stating whether you have to use full sentences. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.
When writing an essay outline for yourself, the choice is yours. Some students find it helpful to write out their ideas in full sentences, while others prefer to summarize them in short phrases.
You will sometimes be asked to hand in an essay outline before you start writing your essay . Your supervisor wants to see that you have a clear idea of your structure so that writing will go smoothly.
Even when you do not have to hand it in, writing an essay outline is an important part of the writing process . It’s a good idea to write one (as informally as you like) to clarify your structure for yourself whenever you are working on an essay.
Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:
- The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
- The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.
It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.
Your subjects might be very different or quite similar, but it’s important that there be meaningful grounds for comparison . You can probably describe many differences between a cat and a bicycle, but there isn’t really any connection between them to justify the comparison.
You’ll have to write a thesis statement explaining the central point you want to make in your essay , so be sure to know in advance what connects your subjects and makes them worth comparing.
Some essay prompts include the keywords “compare” and/or “contrast.” In these cases, an essay structured around comparing and contrasting is the appropriate response.
Comparing and contrasting is also a useful approach in all kinds of academic writing : You might compare different studies in a literature review , weigh up different arguments in an argumentative essay , or consider different theoretical approaches in a theoretical framework .
The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.
Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.
If you’re not given a specific prompt for your descriptive essay , think about places and objects you know well, that you can think of interesting ways to describe, or that have strong personal significance for you.
The best kind of object for a descriptive essay is one specific enough that you can describe its particular features in detail—don’t choose something too vague or general.
If you’re not given much guidance on what your narrative essay should be about, consider the context and scope of the assignment. What kind of story is relevant, interesting, and possible to tell within the word count?
The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to reflect on a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.
Don’t worry too much if your topic seems unoriginal. The point of a narrative essay is how you tell the story and the point you make with it, not the subject of the story itself.
Narrative essays are usually assigned as writing exercises at high school or in university composition classes. They may also form part of a university application.
When you are prompted to tell a story about your own life or experiences, a narrative essay is usually the right response.
The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.
In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.
At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).
Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.
The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .
An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.
An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.
An expository essay is a common assignment in high-school and university composition classes. It might be assigned as coursework, in class, or as part of an exam.
Sometimes you might not be told explicitly to write an expository essay. Look out for prompts containing keywords like “explain” and “define.” An expository essay is usually the right response to these prompts.
An expository essay is a broad form that varies in length according to the scope of the assignment.
Expository essays are often assigned as a writing exercise or as part of an exam, in which case a five-paragraph essay of around 800 words may be appropriate.
You’ll usually be given guidelines regarding length; if you’re not sure, ask.
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How to Write a Hook: Start Off Your Essay Strong with This 2023 Guide
What is a Hook for an Essay: Importance and Purpose
Which section of your essay can make your readers dip their toes into your writing? Is it the body paragraphs where all the analysis is laid out? Or maybe the introduction, where you present your thesis statement and voice your perspective on the subject? Well, if you think it is the latter, then we must agree with your decision. However, let's get more specific; if we take the introductory paragraph to pieces, which piece gets the most recognition? You must have guessed from the article's title that we're talking about a hook. But first, let's define what is a hook for an essay before we walk you through the reasons why it deserves our pat on the back.
The hook is the initial sentence in a written work. Whether you're asking how to write a hook for a song, blog post, or term paper, know that the purpose of any effective hook is to seize the reader's attention. It can be one sentence long, often for shorter pieces, or composed of several lines - usually for larger pieces. Making the reader want to keep reading is what an essay hook accomplishes for your paper, just as an intriguing introduction does for any piece.
Our main emphasis in this guide is on creating a good hook for an essay. Nonetheless, these fundamental guidelines apply to nearly every format for communicating with your audience. Whether writing a personal statement, a speech, or a presentation, making a solid first impression is crucial to spur your readers into action.
How to Write a Hook for Different Kinds of Writing
Although it is a tough skill to master, understanding how to write a hook is crucial for academic writing success. By reviewing the most prevalent kinds of essay hooks, you can discover how to effectively captivate readers from the start and generate a hook that is ideal for your article. To do so, let's head over to the following sections prepared by our dissertation writers .
How to Write a Hook for a College Essay?
By mastering how to write a hook for a college essay, you have the opportunity to stand out from the hundreds of applicants with identical academic portfolios to yours in your college essay. It should shed light on who you are, represent your true nature, and show your individuality. But first, you need an attention-grabbing start if you want the admissions committee to read more of yours than theirs. For this, you'll require a strong hook.
Set the Scene
When wondering how to write a good hook for an essay, consider setting the scene. Open in the middle of a key moment, plunge in with vivid details and conversation to keep your essay flowing and attract the reader. Make the reader feel like they are seeing a moment from your life and have just tuned in.
Open with an Example
Starting with a specific example is also a great idea if you're explaining how you acquired a particular skill or unique accomplishment. Then, similar to how you established the scenario above, you may return to this point later and discuss its significance throughout the remaining sections.
Open with an Anecdote
Using an anecdotal hook doesn't necessarily mean that your essay should also be humorous. The joke should be short and well-aimed to achieve the best results. To assist the reader in visualizing the situation and understanding what you are up against when tackling a task or overcoming a challenge, you might also use a funny irony. And if this sounds too overwhelming to compose, buy an essay on our platform and let our expert writers convey your unmatched story!
How to Write a Hook for an Argumentative Essay?
If you write a strong hook, your instructor will be compelled to read your argument in the following paragraphs. So, put your creative thinking cap on while crafting the hook, and write in a way that entices readers to continue reading the essay.
Statistics serve as a useful hook because they encourage research. When used in argumentative writing, statistics can introduce readers to previously undiscovered details and data. That can greatly increase their desire to read your article from start to finish. You can also consider this advice when unsure how to write a good hook for a research paper. Especially if you're conducting a quantitative study, a statistic hook can be a solid start.
Use a Common Misconception
Another answer to your 'how to write a hook for an argumentative essay' question is to use a common misconception. What could be a better way to construct an interesting hook, which should grab readers' attention, than to incorporate a widely held misconception? A widespread false belief is one that many people hold to be true. When you create a hook with a misinterpretation, you startle your readers and immediately capture their interest.
How to Write a Hook for a Persuasive Essay?
The finest hooks for a persuasive essay capture the reader's interest while leading them to almost unconsciously support your position even before they are aware of it. You can accomplish this by employing the following hook ideas for an essay:
Ask a Rhetorical Question
By posing a query at the outset of your essay, you may engage the reader's critical thinking and whet their appetite for the solution you won't provide until later. Try to formulate a question wide enough for them to not immediately know the answer and detailed enough to avoid becoming a generic hook.
Use an Emotional Appeal
This is a fantastic approach to arouse sympathy and draw the reader into your cause. By appealing to the reader's emotions, you may establish a bond that encourages them to read more and get invested in the subject you cover.
Using these strategies, you won't have to wonder how to write a hook for a persuasive essay anymore!
How to Write a Hook for a Literary Analysis Essay?
Finding strong essay openers might be particularly challenging when writing a literary analysis. Coming up with something very remarkable on your own while writing about someone else's work is no easy feat. But we have some expert solutions below:
Use Literary Quotes
Using a literary quote sounds like the best option when unsure how to write a hook for a literary analysis essay. Nonetheless, its use is not restricted to that and is mostly determined by the style and meaning of the quotes. Still, when employing literary quotes, it's crucial to show two things at once: first, how well you understand the textual information. And second, you know how to capture the reader's interest right away.
Employ Quotes from Famous People
This is another style of hook that is frequently employed in literary analysis. But if you wonder how to write a good essay hook without sounding boring, choose a historical person with notable accomplishments and keep your readers intrigued and inspired to read more.
How to Write a Hook for an Informative Essay?
In an informative essay, your ultimate goal is to not only educate your audience but also engage and keep them interested from the very beginning. For this, consider the following:
Start with a Fact or Definition
You might begin your essay with an interesting fact or by giving a definition related to your subject. The same standard applies here for most types mentioned above: it must be intriguing, surprising, and/or alarming.
Ask Questions that Relate to Your Topic
Another solution to 'How to write a hook for an informative essay?' is to introduce your essay with a relevant question. This hook lets you pique a reader's interest in your essay and urge them to keep reading as they ponder the answer.
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Expert-Approved Tips for Writing an Essay Hook
Are you still struggling with the ideal opening sentence for your essay? Check out some advice from our essay helper on how to write a hook sentence and make your opening stand out.
- Keep your essay type in mind . Remember to keep your hook relevant. An effective hook for an argumentative or descriptive essay format will differ greatly. Therefore, the relevancy of the hook might be even more important than the content it conveys.
- Decide on the purpose of your hook . When unsure how to write a hook for an essay, try asking the following questions: What result are you hoping to get from it? Would you like your readers to be curious? Or, even better, surprised? Perhaps even somewhat caught off guard? Determine the effect you wish to accomplish before selecting a hook.
- Choose a hook at the end of the writing process. Even though it should be the first sentence of your paper, it doesn't mean you should write your hook first. Writing an essay is a long and creative process. So, if you can't think of an effective hook at the beginning, just keep writing according to your plan, and it will eventually come into your head. If you were lucky enough to concoct your hook immediately, double-check your writing to see if it still fits into the whole text and its style once you've finished writing.
- Make it short . The shorter, the better – this rule works for essay hooks. Keeping your hook to a minimum size will ensure that readers will read it at the same moment they start looking at your essay. Even before thinking if they want or don't want to read it, their attention will be captured, and their curiosity will get the best of them. So, they will continue reading the entire text to discover as much as possible.
Now you know how to write a good hook and understand that a solid hook is the difference between someone delving further into your work or abandoning it immediately. With our hook examples for an essay, you can do more than just write a great paper. We do not doubt that you can even write a winning term paper example right away!
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How to Write a Hook for an Essay
Ever hear that you never get a second chance to make a first impression? Well, that’s just as true for your writing as it is for meeting new people!
That’s because, to a reader, diving into something you have written is often the very first chance they have to discover anything about you. The first things they read help shape how they feel about you. And, of course, whether they want to keep reading at all!
To make a great impression, and to keep readers excited and engaged, you need a good hook. But what is a hook, and how can you craft an awesome one? That’s what we’ll explore below, by talking through different kinds of writing you may want to write a hook for, and then offering specific examples that you can use for inspiration.
What is a hook in an essay?
The hook is the first statement in a piece of writing. It may be composed of one sentence (generally for shorter pieces) or multiple sentences (for longer ones), but the goal of any good hook is to firmly get the reader’s attention.
This is one reason why both high school teachers and college professors often emphasize the importance of essay hooks when writing college essays (for example, with a Literary Analysis ). The title of your written work may be enough to get people to check it out, the same way you might click on an online article with an interesting title. However, an essay hook does the same thing for your essay that an exciting opening does for any article: it makes the reader excited to keep reading!
In this guide, we are mostly focusing on writing good hooks for essays. However, the general principles here extend to almost any form of audience communication. From personal statements to speeches and presentations, it’s virtually always important to strike a good impression by getting someone’s attention in an interesting way.
What are some good hooks for essays?
There are several standard approaches to writing a hook that can work well for many different types of writing:
An intriguing rhetorical question
A suprising fact or statistic
A relevant quotation
An interesting anecdote
An evocative image or description
A common misconception
But some of these approaches work better (sometimes much better) than others depending on what you’re writing. For example, a good hook for a personal narrative probably doesn’t fit with a research paper. So below, we have examples of a hook in an essay for different styles of papers. Use these sections, along with resources in our College Writing Center , to develop your own hooks for the writing tasks in front of you!
Adjusting hooks based on prompt and purpose
Creating the hook in an essay is often a difficult skill for writers to master. That’s because there is no “one size fits all” for how to create a hook for an essay. Instead, learning how to make a hook for an essay depends on your exact writing prompt as well as your exact purpose.
Below, we have important info on how to start a hook for an essay for a wide variety of different prompts and purposes. This information can help you create more dynamic essays no matter what your ultimate goal may be.
Writing a hook for an argumentative essay
“What is a hook in an essay?” This is something students usually first learn about when they are writing essays for high school classes, though sometimes students make it to college without a clear understanding of what a hook is and how to build one. And when the essay is argumentative , it’s important to learn how to create a properly argumentative hook.
A hook in an essay making a firm argument needs to do more than get the reader’s attention. Ideally, such a hook will also serve to set up and frame the argument so as to subtly get the reader on your side before they even discover your thesis. In this way, you can change the conversation before the reader even knows what you are talking about!
While not the only way to make argumentative hooks, one effective technique is to ask an interesting rhetorical question and using the word “you.” Because readers naturally want to answer questions, and because they are being directly addressed, these readers will perk up when reading your hook.
Finally, consider that because the hook is at the very beginning of your essay, this gives you creative freedom to be a tad mysterious in how you present certain ideas. In fact, the hook is basically the only part of your essay where being mysterious may be beneficial!
Example of a hook for an argumentative essay
Again, in an argumentative essay, the best hooks are the ones that both get the reader’s attention and get them to almost subconsciously take your side even before they know what that side is. For example, let’s say that you are writing a paper in which you oppose creating additional firearm legislation. Such a paper might start with a hook such as “What if your government were putting your family in danger, and you didn’t even know it?”
Here, we are deliberately playing into the mystery by not explicitly mentioning guns (but note that we probably don’t want to keep it mysterious for too long, or we might lose our reader). This makes the reader curious about the “danger” they are in, especially when we mention their family. At the same time, we are creating an oppositional view of the government, planting seeds for our eventual anti-legislation thesis.
Writing a hook for a personal statement
How to write a hook in an essay is a bit different when you are writing a personal statement . That’s because you aren’t introducing readers to an argumentative thesis. Instead, you are getting their attention in a way that also creates a positive impression of you as both a person and a writer.
In other words, a personal statement addressed to, say, a university undergraduate admissions committee has one major goal: to sell you to the reader. To clarify: most undergraduate colleges in the US admit most students who apply . But if you’re applying to competitive schools, your personal statement needs to demonstrate the kind of value you plan to bring to the institution.
Because of this, you need to craft your hook to match the rest of the statement. For example, if you are going to describe how you overcame an unforeseen challenge, a good hook might start with a moment of high tension before you present the challenge as it appeared to you at first: encompassing and insurmountable. This adds narrative weight to the part of your statement where you describe overcoming what seemed to be impossible. Or if you’re building a montage , an intriguing image might pull us in.
Long story short? You need to figure out how you want to structure your essay content . Then, you can craft a hook that perfectly leads into the rest of the work. Again, don’t underestimate how you can portray things mysteriously at the beginning of the essay to both showcase your creativity and to build reader interest!
Example of a hook for a personal statement
It’s easier said than done, but a good hook for a personal statement helps to establish tone and focus or even what kind of person you are while setting up the rest of the statement. For instance, let’s say I am writing a statement for a university application and the prompt asks the writer to describe a time when they overcame a great challenge or obstacle. The hook for such an essay might go like this: “I found myself face down on the wet mud, covered in equal parts hot shame and cold dirt. Nobody was as surprised as me, though, when I began to get back up again.”
Here, we use sensory details to capture the reader’s imagination and really put them into the moment. In this case, the moment is one of great failure and humiliation. Crucially, though, part of the hook involves quite literally rising from this failure. This shows the admission committee what kind of person you are: one who may get knocked down 10 times but will get up 11.
Writing a hook for a personal narrative
Writing a good hook for an essay may seem particularly daunting when you are writing a personal narrative. By definition, a personal narrative is a story of your life. Therefore, good essay hooks for such narratives need to both get the readers’ attention and introduce you to readers as a sympathetic character.
What does this mean in practice? Rather than touching on much (if anything) about the outside world, a personal narrative hook should usually share something about you as a person. Ideally, this shouldn’t just be basic info. Instead, it should be something that reveals more intimate information about you to your reader.
This might include writing about how you felt when a loved one died, or how it felt when you tried your best and you failed. It can be tough to write, but this level of vulnerability never fails to get the reader’s attention. And done well, such a hook instantly tells readers more about what kind of person you are. This may add some much-needed flavor and context to the rest of the narrative.
Example of a hook for a personal narrative
Writing a personal narrative involves a high degree of vulnerability. You are letting readers see past your exterior and glimpse who you really are. Therefore, a good hook for such a narrative should lean into this emotional rawness while telling us more about who you are as a person. For example, such a hook may read, “Nothing was ever the same since my grandmother died. Or at least, nothing would ever be the same about me again.”
There is obviously a kinship between the personal statement and the personal narrative. However, personal statements are generally about helping readers understand your values, insights, skills, qualities, and interests. Personal narratives, however, get more into how both the challenges and triumphs of your life have defined who you are as a person. And our hook above sets up a great personal tragedy that serves as a defining point of the writer’s life.
Writing a hook for literary analysis
Good essay hooks can be particularly difficult when you are writing a literary analysis (for an in-depth guide, head to that link). After all, when you are writing about someone else’s work, it can be daunting to try to come up with something very memorable on your own.
One possible approach to this hook is the classic: “if you can’t beat’em, join’em.” For example, you could always begin your literary analysis with a quote from the literature in question. You then follow this up with interesting commentary that helps to contextualize the rest of your intro.
You could also return to the argumentative technique of asking a rhetorical question but focusing it on something related to the literature. This helps readers think about old works in new ways and serves as a jumping off point for your own analysis.
However you begin the hook to your literary analysis essay, it’s important to demonstrate two things at the same time: one, that you know the written material very well. And two, that you know how to get the reader’s attention from the very first sentence.
Example of a hook in a literary analysis
When you write a literary analysis, it is sometimes difficult to find something new and unique to say. The last thing you want to do is just retell what happened in the story without adding anything to it! That’s why your hook needs to both get the reader’s attention and also showcase that you have something unique to say about the work you are analyzing.
One way to do this is to use a rhetorical question regarding some aspect of the work. The question needs to get the reader’s attention while simultaneously demonstrating your knowledge of the subject and the uniqueness of what you have to say. For example, in a literary analysis of The Great Gatsby , you might have a hook that begins, “What happens when you finally grasp the American dream and then feel it slip through your hands like a warm summer rain? This perfectly describes both Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. But as you read The Great Gatsby , it’s impossible to shake the feeling that it will describe all of us sooner or later.”
This hook serves as a dynamic introduction to your paper. It also helps set the stage for analyzing how the rise and fall of these characters is mirrored by the rise and fall of America itself. Finally, that evocative first line shows that not only do you have something unique to say, but that you have a way of expressing it that is worthy of this classic work of literature.
Writing a hook for a research paper
The methods for how to write a good hook for an essay change a bit when you are writing a research paper . That’s because research essays are typically a bit more down-to-earth than, say, an argumentative essay. As such, your hooks shouldn’t swing for the fences so much as they should provide surprising insights based on the research itself.
For example, depending on your research essay topic, one or more “scary stats” can really get readers’ attention because these stats help quantify some of the things you plan to write about. It’s one thing to call something like obesity in America a “growing” concern, and this may even elicit a mild chuckle from your reader (puns!). However, a cited statistic about how nearly 72% of the country is overweight instantly makes your reader sit up and pay closer attention.
While startling facts or stats are a great fit for almost any type of research paper, they resonate particularly well if you are arguing about the need to solve a major dilemma. Because these stats help outline why the problem is so major even as they get readers’ attention, you’ll be likelier to have these readers on your side as you begin discussing the need to solve this dilemma.
Example of a hook in a research paper
In a research paper, one of your major goals should be to establish your authority and expertise. The essay itself is going to build on the research you have conducted. And fittingly enough, clever use of the right research can help you create an unforgettable hook.
For example, let’s say that you are writing on the topic of solving homelessness in America. One very evocative way of beginning your essay would be to write, “America currently has more than 17 million vacant homes, yet somehow, homelessness has never been a bigger problem.”
The eye-opening stat alone is sure to get your reader’s attention. At the same time, it helps to highlight the absurdity of this particular problem by highlighting the obvious possible solution. This helps to get the reader on your side as you passionately argue for solving the issue.
Hook vs lead-in transition to the thesis
As you can tell, writing a hook for an essay can be challenging enough on its own. However, it can be extra challenging when you confuse the hook with other important parts of your intro.
For example, some writers confuse the hook with the lead-in transition to the thesis itself. To avoid this confusion, it’s important to learn how these different intro components play very different roles in your writing.
In practice, a good hook makes a difference when it comes to whether or not someone willingly continues to read what you have written. Think of it like this: a great title makes somebody curious enough to check out your writing in the first place. If they think the essay is boring or otherwise mundane, they stop reading. But if they think you have something surprising, insightful, or just plain funny to say based on your first sentence, they’ll probably keep going.
A hook is always at the beginning of your essay. However, as a general rule, it’s best to have your thesis at the end of your introductory paragraph or section. Because of this, your lead-in transition to the thesis occurs right before the thesis itself.
How do you write a lead-in transition to your thesis? It’s helpful to think of your introduction as an upside down triangle with the following components: a title (if used/needed) that makes readers curious, a hook that gets their attention, a surface level of background info, and then deeper background info. This deeper background info should provide more context and effectively serve as a lead-in transition to your thesis. For example, in an argumentative paper, you might have a lead-in describing the different sides people have taken about this topic before providing a thesis that lets readers know exactly where you stand on the matter.
One approach: Write your hook after you’ve finished your essay
Here’s some slightly unconventional writing advice. Next time you are stressing over hooks to start an essay , consider writing your body paragraphs and conclusion first . You can then go back and create a perfectly bespoke intro, complete with engaging hook.
When you get right down to it, writing the intro first is very difficult for most writers. After all, you are introducing us to an essay you haven’t written yet. Once you write out more of the essay, you should have an easier time developing every aspect of the thesis, including crafting a killer hook.
Get that first impression “write”
With these examples of a hook in an essay, you can do more than craft a better essay. You can also create a killer first impression right out of the gate!
It’s important to remember that a good hook can make the difference between whether someone delves deeper into your writing or decides to bail out right away. By mastering the skills of getting someone’s attention in such a way, you will become a better writer, speaker, and presenter. And each day presents another chance to hone your writing skills and create hooks and entire essays better than anything you have ever written before!
Special thanks to Chris for writing this blog post
Chris Snellgrove is an English Professor at Northwest Florida State College who specializes in literature, rhetoric, and business writing. As a freelance writer, Chris specializes in sales, marketing, pop culture, and video games. He has a B.A. in English from Troy University and both an M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Auburn University. When he’s not writing or talking to others about writing, Chris loves reading books, playing video games, watching horror movies, and disappearing into a comic book. He currently lives in Northwest Florida and would probably rather be at the beach right now.
Top values: Diversity / Equality / Social Justice
73 Essay Hook Examples
An essay hook is the first one or two sentences of your essay that are used to grab the reader’s attention and draw them into your discussion.
It is called a hook because it “grabs” the reader and doesn’t let them go! It should have something in there that makes the reader feel curious and intrigued, compelling them to continue reading.
Techniques for Good Essay Hooks
Here are a few techniques that you can use to write a good essay hook:
- Use a Quotation : Sometimes, a relevant quotation from a well-known author or expert can help establish the context or theme of your essay. Next time you’re conducting research for an essay, keep an eye out for a really compelling quote that you could use as your hook for that essay.
- Start with a Statement that is Surprising or Unusual: A surprising or unusually statement will draw a reader in, making them want to know more about that topic. It’s good if the statement contradicts common knowledge or reveals an insight about your topic that isn’t immediately obvious. These can be particularly good for argumentative essays where you’re putting forward a controversial or compelling argument as your thesis statement .
- Tell a Brief Anecdote : A short, interesting story related to your topic can personaize the story, making it more than just a dry essay, and turning it into a compelling narrative that’s worth reading.
- Use Statistics or Facts: Interesting, surprising, or shocking facts or statistics work similarly to surprising statements: they make us want to know more about a topic. Statistics and facts in your introductions are particularly useful for analytical, expository, and argumentative essays.
- Start with a Question: Questions that make the reader think deeply about an issue, or pose a question that the reader themselves has considered, can be really effecitve. But remember, questions tend to be better for informal and personal essays, and are generally not allowed in formal argumentative essays. If you’re not sure if you’re allowed to use questions in your essays, check with your teacher first.
Below, I’ll present some examples of hooks that you could use as inspiration when writing your own essay hook.
Essay Hook Examples
These examples might help stimulate your thinking. However, keep in mind that your essay hook needs to be unique to your essay, so use these as inspiration but write your own essay hook that’s perfect for your own essay.
1. For an Essay About Yourself
An essay about yourself can be personal, use “I” statements, and include memories or thoughts that are deeply personal to you.
- Question: “Have you ever met someone who could turn even the most mundane events into a thrilling adventure? Let me introduce myself.”
- Anecdote: “The smell of freshly baked cookies always takes me back to the day when I accidentally started a baking business at the age of nine.”
- Intriguing Statement: “I’ve always believed that you haven’t truly lived until you’ve read a book upside down, danced in the rain, or taught a parrot to say ‘I love pizza.'”
- Quotation: “As Mark Twain once said, ‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started.’ That’s a philosophy I’ve embraced in every aspect of my life.”
- Humorous Statement: “I’m a self-proclaimed ‘professional chocolate tester’ – a title that’s not only delicious but also requires extreme dedication.”
- Start with your Mission Statement : “My life motto is simple but powerful: be the person who decided to go for it.
- Fact or Statistic: “According to a study, people who speak more than one language tend to be better at multitasking . As a polyglot, I certainly live up to that statistic.”
- Comparison or Metaphor: “If my life were a book, it would be a blend of an adventurous novel, a suspense thriller, and a pinch of romantic comedy.”
- Personal Revelation: “Ever since I was a child, I’ve had an uncanny ability to communicate with animals. It’s an unusual skill, but one that has shaped my life in many ways.”
- Narrative: “The day everything changed for me was an ordinary Tuesday. Little did I know, a single conversation would lead me to discover my true passion.”
2. For a Reflective Essay
A reflective essay often explores personal experiences, feelings, and thoughts. So, your hooks for reflective essays can usually be more personal, intriguing, and engaging than other types of essays. Here are some examples for inspiration:
- Question: “Have you ever felt as though a single moment could change your entire life? This essay is going to explore that moment for me.”
- Anecdote: “I was standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, looking at the vast emptiness, and for the first time, I truly understood the word ‘perspective’.”
- Bold Statement: “There is a part of me that is still trapped in that room, on that rainy afternoon, holding the letter that would change everything.”
- Personal Revelation: “The first time I truly felt a sense of belonging wasn’t in a crowded room full of friends, but in the quiet solitude of a forest.”
- Intriguing Statement: “In my life, silence has been a teacher more profound than any words could ever be.”
- Quotation: “Einstein once said, ‘The only source of knowledge is experience.’ Now, looking back, I realize how profound that statement truly is.”
- Comparison or Metaphor: “If my life is a tapestry, then that summer was the vibrant thread that changed the entire pattern.”
- Narrative: “As the train pulled out of the station, I realized I wasn’t just leaving my hometown, I was leaving my old self behind.”
- Philosophical Statement: “In the theater of life, we are both the actor and the audience, playing our part and watching ourselves simultaneously.”
- Emotive Statement: “There is a sort of sweet sorrow in remembering, a joy tinged with a hint of sadness, like the last notes of a beautiful song.”
For an Argumentative Essay
Essay hooks for argumentative essays are often the hardest. This type of essay tends to require the most formal type of academic writing, meaning your hook shouldn’t use first person, and should be more based on fact and objectivity, often at the expense of creativity. Here are some examples.
- Quotation: “Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.’ If Jefferson were alive today, he would likely feel that this meed for a well-informed citizenry is falling well short of where he would aspire.”
- Provocative Statement: “Despite what romantic films may portray, love at first sight is merely a myth perpetuated by society. This essay will prosecute the argument that love at first sight is a myth.”
- Statistical Fact: “According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading psychological disability worldwide. Yet, mental health is still stigmatized and often overlooked. This essay will argue that depression should be seen as a health issue, and stigmatization of depression causes serious harm to society.”
- Comparison: “Much like an unchecked infection, climate change, if left ignored, can spread far beyond what it is today, causing long-term economic and social problems that may even threaten the longevity of humanity itself.”
- Contradiction : “While we live in an era of unprecedented technological advancements, millions around the world are still denied basic internet access.”
- Bold Declaration: “Animal testing is not only ethically unacceptable, but it also undermines the progress of medical research.”
- Challenging Belief: “Despite popular belief, the automation of jobs is not a threat but an opportunity for society to evolve.”
- Quotation: “George Orwell wrote in ‘1984’, ‘Big Brother is Watching You.’ In our modern society, with the advancement of technology, this is becoming more of a reality than fiction.”
- Intriguing Statement: “Despite countless diet fads and fitness trends, obesity rates continue to rise. This argumentative essay will argue that this is because medical practitioners’ approaches to health and weight loss are fundamentally flawed.”
- Statistical Fact: “Research reveals that over 90% of the world’s plastic waste is not recycled. This alarming figure calls for a drastic change in social attitudes towards consumption and waste management.”
- Challenging Assumption: “Society often assumes that progress and growth are intrinsically good, but this is not always the case in the realm of economic development.”
- Contradiction: “Western society upholds the value of freedom, yet every day, members of society cede personal liberties in the name of convenience and security.”
- Analogy: “Like an overplayed song, when a news story is repeated too often, it loses its impact. In the era of digital media, society is becoming desensitized to critical issues.”
- Relevant Anecdote: “In a village in India, the arrival of a single computer transformed the lives of the residents. This small anecdote underscores the importance of digital inclusion in today’s world.”
- Call to Rethink: “In a world where success is often equated with financial wealth, it is time for society to reconsidered what truly constitutes a successful life.”
For a Compare and Contrast Essay
A compare and contrast essay examines two issues, looking at both the similarities and differences between them. A good hook for a compare and contrast essay will immediately signal to the reader the subjects that are being compared and why they’re being compared. Here are sine ideas for hooks for a compare and contrast essay:
- Quotation: “As Charles Dickens wrote in his novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’. This could equally apply to the contrasting dynamics of urban and rural living.”
- Provocative Statement: “Despite popular belief, cats and dogs have more in common than society tends to think.”
- Comparison: “Comparing being an only child to growing up with siblings is like contrasting a solo performance with an orchestral symphony.”
- Contradiction: “While many view classic literature and contemporary fiction as worlds apart, they are more akin to two sides of the same coin.”
- Bold Declaration: “Android and iPhone may compete in the same market, but their philosophies could not be more different.”
- Statistical Fact: “Statistics show that children who grow up reading books tend to perform better academically than those who do not. But, the jury is out on how reading traditional books compares to reading e-books on screens.”
- Quotation: “As Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, ‘Sooner or later, we all sit down to a banquet of consequences.’ This statement can be used to frame a comparison between short-term and long-term thinking.”
- Provocative Statement: “Democracy and dictatorship are often seen as polar opposites, but are they are not as different as they seem.”
- Comparison: “Climate change and plastic pollution are two major environmental issues, yet they demand different approaches and solutions.”
- Contradiction: “While traditional classrooms and online learning are seen as separate modes of education, they can often blend into a cohesive learning experience.”
- Bold Declaration: “Though both based on merit, the structures of capitalism and socialism lead to vastly different societal outcomes.”
- Imagery: “The painting styles of Van Gogh and Monet can be contrasted as a stormy sea versus a tranquil pond.”
- Historical Reference: “The philosophies of the Cold War-era – capitalism and communism – provide a lens to contrast economic systems.”
- Literary Comparison: “The dystopian societies portrayed in George Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ serve as contrasting visions of the future.”
- Philosophical Question: “Individualism and collectivism shape societies in distinct ways, but neither one can truly exist without the other.”
See Here for my Guide on Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay
For a Psychology Essay
Writing an engaging hook for a psychology essay involves sparking the reader’s interest in the human mind, behavior, or the specific psychology topic you’re discussing. Here are some stimulating hooks for a psychology essay:
- Rhetorical Question: “How much control do we truly have over our own actions?”
- Quotation: “Sigmund Freud once said, ‘Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.’ This essay will explore whether this is universally true.”
- Provocative Statement: “Contrary to popular belief, ‘venting out’ anger might actually be fueling the fire of fury.”
- Comparison: “Just as an iceberg reveals only a fraction of its bulk above water, conscious minds may only be a small piece of who humans truly are.”
- Contradiction: “While it may seem counterintuitive, studies show that individuals who are more intelligent are also more likely to suffer from mental health issues.”
- Bold Declaration: “Despite advances in technology, understanding the human brain remains one of the final frontiers in science.”
- Statistical Fact: “According to a study by the American Psychological Association, nearly one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness. Yet, mental health continues to be a topic shrouded in stigma.”
For a Sociology Essay
Writing an engaging hook for a sociology essay involves sparking the reader’s interest in social behaviors, cultural phenomena, or the specific sociology topic you’re discussing. Here are ideas for hooks for a sociology essay:
- Quotation: “As Karl Marx once noted, ‘Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the fair sex.’ Sadly, society has not made much progress in gender equality.”
- Provocative Statement: “Social media, initially created to connect people, is ironically leading society into an era of unprecedented isolation.”
- Comparison: “Comparing society to a theater, where each individual plays a role, it is possible to start to see patterns and scripts embedded in daily interactions.”
- Contradiction: “While people often believe that technology is bringing society closer together, evidence suggests that it’s actually driving a wedge between people, creating ‘digital divides’.”
- Bold Declaration: “Human societies are constructed on deeply ingrained systems of inequality, often invisible to those benefiting from them.”
- Statistical Fact: “A recent study found that women still earn only 81 cents for every dollar earned by men. This stark wage gap raises questions about equality in the workforce.”
For a College Application Essay
A college essay is a personal statement where you can showcase who you are beyond your grades and resume. It’s your chance to tell your unique story. Here are ten potential hooks for a college essay:
- Anecdote: “At the age of seven, with a wooden spoon as my baton, I confidently conducted an orchestra of pots and pans in my grandmother’s kitchen.”
- Provocative Statement: “I believe that life is like a game of chess. The king might be the most important piece, but it’s the pawns that can change the entire course of the game.”
- Personal Revelation: “It wasn’t until I was lost in a foreign city, armed with nothing but a map in a language I didn’t understand, that I truly discovered my love for adventure.”
- Intriguing Question: “Have you ever wondered how it feels to be part of two completely different cultures, yet wholly belong to neither?”
- Bold Declaration: “Breaking a bone can be a painful experience. Breaking stereotypes, however, is an entirely different kind of challenge.”
- Unusual Fact: “I can recite the periodic table backwards while juggling three tennis balls. It’s a strange talent, but it’s a perfect metaphor for how I tackle challenges.”
- Quotation: “As Albert Einstein once said, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ This quote has defined my approach to learning.”
- Narrative: “It was a cold winter’s day when I first discovered the magic of turning a blank page into a world full of characters, stories, and ideas.”
- Metaphor: “Like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, my high school years have been a period of profound metamorphosis.”
- Humorous Statement: “Being the youngest of five siblings, I quickly learned that the best way to be heard was to become the family’s unofficial lawyer.”
Conclusion: The Qualities of a Good Essay Hook
As I wrap up this article, I want to share a few last tips on qualities that a good essay hook should have. Keep these tips in mind when writing your essay hook and using the above essay hook examples:
First, relevance . A good hook should be directly relevant to the topic or theme of your essay. The hook should provide a preview of what’s to come without giving too much away.
Second, Intrigue. A great hook should make the reader want to continue reading. It should create a question in the reader’s mind or present a fascinating idea that they want to know more about.
Third, uniqueness. An effective hook should be original and unique. It should stand out from the many other essays that the reader might be going through.
Fourth, clarity. Even though a hook should be captivating and original, it should also be clear and easy to understand. Avoid complex sentences and jargon that might confuse the reader.
Fifth, genre conventions. Too often, my students try to be so creative in their essay hooks that they forget genre conventions . The more formal an essay, the harder it is to write the hook. My general approach is to focus on statistics and facts, and avoid rhetorical questions , with more formal essay hooks.
Keep in mind that you should run your essay hook by your teacher by showing them your first draft before you submit your essay for grading. This will help you to make sure it follows genre conventions and is well-written.
Chris Drew (PhD)
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 10 Critical Theory Examples
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 13 Social Institutions Examples (According to Sociology)
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 71 Best Education Dissertation Topic Ideas
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 11 Primary Data Examples
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Good writing starts with a good first sentence. The first sentence of an essay is an important one. It is an opportunity to grab the reader's attention and make them want to read more. This is called the hook. A good hook for an essay catches the reader's attention and gets them interested in your topic. Let's go over the different types of hooks and the helpful ways to write them.
Essay Hook Definition
The hook is the first thing the reader sees in an essay. But what is it?
A hook i s an attention-grabbing opening sentence of an essay. The hook catches the reader's attention with an interesting question, statement , or quote.
The hook catches the reader's attention by making them want to read more. There are many ways to "hook" the reader's attention. It all depends on your essay.
A good hook is important to get the reader interested in what you have to say!
A Good Hook for an Essay
A good hook is attention-grabbing, relevant to the essay's topic, and appropriate for the writer's purpose. Let's take a close look at the different features of a good hook.
A Good Hook Is Attention-grabbing
Imagine you are scrolling through your email inbox. The "preview" feature shows the first sentence of each email. Why? Because the first sentence of the email is an important one! It shows you whether the email is worth reading. You use these "previews" to decide whether you want to open that email.
Think of the hook as that preview. The reader will use it to decide whether they want to read more.
A good Hook Is Relevant
Have you ever clicked on an article with an intriguing title only to learn that title was misleading? Misleading openers frustrate readers. Sure, it gets them interested. But it doesn't get them interested in the right thing.
A good hook gets the reader interested in the subject of YOUR essay. Therefore, the hook should be relevant to your topic.
A Good Hook Suits Your Purpose
What type of hook you use depends on the purpose of your essay.
Purpose in an essay is the effect the writer intends to have on the reader.
A good hook puts the reader in the right mindset to receive your ideas.
How do you want the reader to feel about your subject? What do you want them to care about?
5 Types of Hooks For Writing an Essay
The five types of hooks are questions, facts or statistics, strong statements, stories or scenes, and questions .
Four of them are as follows. The final one, "quotes," deserves its own spot! Examples are provided.
Questions for an Essay Hook
Another way to get a reader's attention is to ask an interesting question. This could be a rhetorical question or a question you answer in the essay.
A rhetorical questio n is a question with no real answer. Rhetorical questions are used to get a reader thinking about a subject or experience.
Rhetorical questions help the reader personally connect to your topic. Here's an example.
What would a world without war be like?
You can also ask a question you will answer in the essay. This type of question interests the reader because they want to know the answer. They have to read the rest of your essay to get it! Here's an example of that.
Why can't we watch anything without commercials anymore?
Facts for an Essay Hook
Did you know we create data every second of every day? By searching the web and using social media, we generate facts and statistics. Did that opener grab your attention? That's because it included a surprising fact .
A surprising fact or statistic can shock the reader into paying attention. It can also make them want to know more.
When writing a hook, you can use a fact or statistic that is:
- Relevant to your topic.
- Shocking enough to get the reader's attention.
- A good demonstration of your topic's importance.
1. Each year, people waste about 1 billion metric tons of food across the world.
2. We might think of computers as a modern invention, but the first computer was invented in the 1940s.
3. Children are always learning, and ask over 300 questions a day on average.
Stories for an Essay Hook
What better way to catch someone's attention than with a good story? Stories are great for getting the reader to think about an experience. Stories can come from anywhere!
Some places you might find stories for hooks are:
- Your personal experiences.
- Experiences of your friends and family members.
- Stories from books, tv, and film.
- Stories of famous people.
Which type of story you choose depends on your essay. What story would help the reader care about your subject? Here's an example of a story hook for an essay.
When my brother was 8 years old, he was diagnosed with Autism. After struggling with school and social situations for 25 years, I was also diagnosed with Autism. Why was I not tested in childhood like my brother? According to recent studies, it might be because I was a girl.
Note how the personal story of the writer highlights the point of their essay: gender differences in Autism diagnoses. This story gets the reader interested in the subject.
Sometimes a whole story is too much for a hook. In this case, you may find it helpful to simply describe one scene from a story. A vivid description of a scene can be very powerful. When describing a scene, paint a picture of what the scene is like for the reader. Make them feel as if they are there.
Here's an example of a great scene to start an essay.
I feel like I'm going to throw up. This is my third time taking the SAT exams. The words swim in front of my eyes, and everything I studied suddenly leaves my brain. I know I'm going to fail a third time.
Imagine this example is the hook for an essay about issues with standardized testing in schools. This scene is described in a way that shows how test anxiety is one of the big issues with standardized testing. It reminds the reader of what it's like for some students.
Strong Statements for an Essay Hook
Sometimes it's best to say what you mean upfront. A strong statement is a statement that takes a strong stance on an issue. Strong statements are particularly effective to argue a position or persuade.
The reader will either agree or disagree with your statement. That's okay! If the reader disagrees, they will at least be interested to see how you support your statement.
Online courses are the future of college.
Would the first example be as interesting if it said "Online courses are a promising avenue of teaching at the college level that we should explore in the future"? No! When writing a strong statement, use strong words. Keep it strong. Keep it direct. Keep it simple.
Quotes For an Essay Hook
The fifth and final way to write a hook way is to use a quote.
A quote is a direct copy of someone else's words. As an essay hook, a quote is a memorable sentence or phrase that gets the reader interested in your subject.
When to Use a Quote Hook
Use a quote for a hook in the following situations:
- When your topic or argument makes you think of a quote
- When someone else has already summed up your main idea perfectly
- When an example from a text you are analyzing perfectly sums up your analysis
Quotes seem like an easy choice for a hook. After all, using a quote means you don't have to come up with a sentence! But quotes are not always the best choice for a hook. Make sure the quote is relevant to your topic.
Examples of Quote Hooks
There are a few types of quotes you can use for a hook. Let's look at some examples of the different types of quotes in the table below:
Ways to Write an Essay Hook
To write a hook for an essay, consider your purpose, look for what's out there, and try different things. When writing a hook, there are a lot of options. Don't get overwhelmed! Take the following approaches:
Consider Your Essay's Purpose
What effect do you want to have on the reader? What do you want the reader to think or feel about your subject? Choose a hook that will give you that effect.
For example, if you want the reader to understand what an experience is like, tell a story. If you want the reader to feel the urgency of an issue, start with a surprising fact or statistic that demonstrates how important the topic is.
Look for What's Out There
Sometimes the perfect quote or story instantly comes to mind. Sometimes it does not. Don't be afraid to look! Use the internet, books, and friends to find ideas for hooks.
For example, let's say you are writing an essay arguing that teachers need better pay. You could look for stories of teachers who pay for their own supplies. Or if you are explaining the effects of hallucinogens, look for quotes from people who have experienced them.
Try Different Things
Can't decide what to do? Try out different types of hooks! See what works best. Remember, the best writing comes from trial and error. Here's an example.
You are writing an essay about the impacts of oil drilling on marine life. You look for a quote from a marine biologist. But all the quotes you find are inspirational! You wanted the reader to be outraged, not inspired. So, you tell a story to bring up those emotions. But your story is too long, and it doesn't really fit. Finally, you find a surprising fact about the death rates of whales that fits just right. Perfect!
Essay Hook - Key Takeaways
A hook is an attention-grabbing opening sentence of an essay. The hook catches the reader's attention with an interesting question, statement, or quote.
- A good hook is attention-grabbing, relevant to the essay's topic, and appropriate for the writer's purpose.
- The five types of hooks are quotes, questions, facts or statistics, strong statements, and stories or scenes.
- To write a hook for an essay, consider your purpose, look for what's out there, and try different things.
1 Elie Weisel. “One Must Not Forget.” US News & World Report. 1986.
2 Carrie Underwood. "Carrie Underwood: What I've Learned," Esquire. 2009.
3 American Civil Liberties Union. "The Case Against the Death Penalty." 2012.
Frequently Asked Questions about A Hook for an Essay
--> how do i write a hook for an essay.
To write a hook for an essay: consider your purpose; look for quotes, stories, or facts about your topic; and try different things to start the essay in an interesting way.
--> What is a good hook for an essay?
A good hook for an essay might be a quote, question, fact or statistic, strong statement, or story that relates to the topic.
--> How do I write a hook for an argumentative essay?
To write a hook for an argumentative essay, start off with a strong statement about your topic. The reader will be interested to see how you support your topic. Or you could start with a surprising fact or statistic, relevant quote, or story to get the reader interested in learning more.
--> How do I start a hook for an essay?
To start a hook for an essay, consider the effect you want to have on the reader and select a type of hook that will have that effect.
--> How do I come up with a hook for an essay?
To come up with a hook for an essay, consider your purpose, look for what's out there, and try different types of hooks to see what works best.
Final A Hook for an Essay Quiz
A hook for an essay quiz - teste dein wissen.
What is a hook for an essay?
What are the features of a good hook?
What is purpose in an essay?
True or false:
A quote for a hook has to come from someone famous.
False. A good quote can come from anywhere.
What is a quote ?
A quote is a direct copy of someone else's words. As an essay hook, a quote is a memorable sentence or phrase that gets the reader interested in your subject.
When should one use a quote for a hook?
When the topic or argument makes them think of a quote
What are the different types of quotes one can use for a hook?
What is a rhetorical question ?
A rhetorical question is a question with no real answer. Rhetorical questions are used to get a reader thinking about a subject or experience.
A writer wants to get the reader thinking about their argument. What type of question can they use to encourage the reader to want to learn the answer?
a question answered in the essay
When writing a fact or statistic for a hook, it should be:
relevant to the topic
Where are some places one can look for stories to use as a hook?
If a story is too much for a hook, what else can a writer do to get the reader interested in an experience?
describe one scene from a story
Which type of hook is particularly effective for arguing a position or persuading?
a strong statement
True or false:
It's okay if the reader doesn't agree with a strong statement used for a hook.
True! Even if the reader doesn't agree with the statement, they will be interested in seeing how the writer supports that statement.
What are some ways to write a hook when you're stuck?
consider the purpose of the essay
Relevancy is less important for a hook.
It is the effect the writer intends to have on the reader.
It does not intend for you to provide an answer. Rather, creates emphasis.
A fact or statistic should or could:
Be relevant to your topic
Aim for an essay hook description to be:
Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards
True or false: A quote for a hook has to come from someone famous.
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Flashcards in A Hook for an Essay 20
- Key Concepts in Language and Linguistics
- Essay Prompts
- Research and Composition
- Listening and Speaking
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