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The Ultimate Guide To Writing Great Hooks For Essays

Academic writing

Essay paper writing


No matter how interesting your text is, you will have to make an effort to grasp the audience’s attention throughout from the first lines of your paper. The best thing can do in this case is write a hook sentence that will encourage the reader to keep reading.

How to write a good hook sentence? Unfortunately, there is no magic formula that works for every text. However, the ways to hook a reader in an essay are plenty and you simply need to figure out which one works best in your case. In this article, we will not only share general tips on how to write a good hook for an essay but also some of the ways to hook a reader in an essay depending on what you are writing about.

What is a hook in an essay?

It is an opening sentence in your paper, which sparks the interest of your audience and encourages it to read your paper until the end. Good hooks to start an essay typically consist of 1 sentence. Since your readers will likely be college professors, writing interesting hooks for essays may take some practice as professors read thousands of essays each year. While you are unlikely to take them by surprise, opting for original hook ideas for essays instead of clichés like one of the top 100 quotes or basic facts everyone already knows will give you a chance to get a good mark for your paper.

How to write a hook for an essay?

  • Quotes, curious facts, statistics, and rhetorical questions are some of the most common hooks which will likely suit your paper no matter what your topic is.
  • Do not expect to come up with great hooks for essays right away. If you’re stuck or are not sure what to start with, create an outline for an essay and do a research first. Once you have a better understanding of what you are going to write about, it will be easier to think of a few different hooks for essays.
  • Writing a hook that is too wordy and complicated can be a bad decision. Don’t try to present all your writing skills in the first sentences in an attempt to impress the readers. Choose something simple yet shocking or interesting like recent statistics or uncommon fact.
  • Good hooks for college essays should properly fit into the text and serve not just as mere attention grabbers but conversation starters. If you name a random fact and leave it be without explaining why you have included it, the introduction will look confusing and your attempt to hook the audience will fail.
  • There are different types of hooks for essays, and it is important to distinguish where each of them would be appropriate. Starting a paper on a serious issue with a joke would definitely be a bad idea, the same as quoting someone infamous because you haven’t done enough research.
  • In order to write effective hooks for essays, one should have some understanding of human perception. As you probably know, first impressions are the ones to last the longest; at times, you only have about five seconds before a person decides if he or she likes you or not. Such principle applies not only to interpersonal interactions but to the written word as well. If you bore your readers with a long and monotonous foreword, you may lose their attention for the rest of the text, even if it is far more interesting than the introduction.
  • People generally like hearing something they are likely to agree with. Strong hooks for essays are those that are easy to relate to, but not necessarily commonly known.  Alternatively, you may try appealing to the audience’s need to argue. Starting your essay with a controversial statement that is thought-provoking but not offensive will definitely help you get more attention from readers.
  • Playing with the human need to solve puzzles and the itch of not knowing the answer can also help you come up with amazing hooks for essays. When the audience senses a mystery, two things happen: first, people become more alert, trying to find the answer to it, and second, they become extremely attentive towards what’s written next, hoping to find out the answer.
  • If you want to start with something unusual, try coming up with a mysterious hook. For example, you can introduce a paradox, which is a statement that seems absurd or contradictory but is actually true, or at least makes sense.
  • If you want to write creative hooks for essays, think of how much people love stories. For example, the best and the most successful TV commercials are the ones that have some memorable stories in them. While it is almost impossible to write a thrilling story in a few sentences, you may start with an interesting description of a scene or situation or depict an action.


How to create a hook for an essay: Types of hooks

Catchy hooks for essays are similar to earworms: they stick and seize the reader’s attention, and are likely to be remembered long after the essay is read. There are different types of hooks, and it is necessary to use them appropriately.

  1. A question. A question immediately engages a reader or a listener into a process of critical thinking, as they feel the need to find the answer. Try to avoid simple questions that require a “yes” or “no” answer.

Have you ever had a feeling that you had already lived through a moment, or even a day, like this before?

What is the meaning of happiness?

What would you do if you were sure you would get away with it?

  1. Quotes of famous people. Starting your essay with famous words of influential figures in certain fields, which are related to your topic, is a good idea if you have found a quote that will speak to the readers.

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75” Benjamin Franklin

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision” Hellen Keller

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it” William Arthur Ward

  1. A joke. Funny hooks for essays are great for breaking the ice, especially if the topic you are writing on is somewhat amusing. However, an appropriate joke in the beginning of an essay does not necessarily imply that the rest of the text should be funny.

My new business on eBay is a great success. Just sold my homing pigeons for the 17th time in a row!

Chocolate comes from cocoa, which comes from a tree, which is a plant. Therefore, chocolate is a type of salad.

If teachers really want you to follow your dreams, why do you get yelled at for falling asleep in class?

  1. An interesting fact. If you surprise the audience with an intriguing piece of information at the beginning of the writing process, they will be eager to know more.

It is estimated that you say 300 to 1000 words to yourself per minute.

There is an Indian village named “Piplantri”, which celebrates the birth of every girl child by planting 111 trees.

  1. Statistics. People are fascinated with numbers and precise data, so you can easily win their attention if you find the statistics that is relevant to your topic.

57% of consumers say that they would be somewhat or very influenced to think more highly of a business after seeing positive comments or praise online, and 16% say they only share positive reviews on social media.

20% of Millennials would prefer not to interact with cashiers at all in retail environment.

85% of people rely on Twitter and Facebook for their morning news.

How to write a good hook for an argumentative essay?

In an argumentative essay, your aim is to take a stance on a certain issue and argue for its validity. The first paragraph of an argumentative essay should provide some insight into the chosen topic and the reasons why the audience should be concerned about it. Good hooks for an argumentative essay are the ones that actually make the readers care and eager to learn more about the topic. Edgy rhetorical questions, shocking statistics, and powerful quotes of known specialists in the field of study are all among the most effective hook sentences for essays of this kind. Note that you might ask provocative questions, but it is important not to offend anyone. Knowing how to write a good hook for an essay without hurting people’s feelings but still getting them a little flustered is an art, and you can test your skills by asking your friends of family to read such controversial hooks before adding them to your papers.

Argumentative essay hook examples

For example, if the essay topic is “Should scientists use animals for research?” good hook sentence for argumentative essays might look like this:

More than 100 million different animals are being used for laboratory research, medical training, in-class demonstrations, and various experiments each year in the USA only. Some people may claim that it is an inevitable sacrifice for the sake of progress. But where is the line between animals being beloved pets and animals being experimental material?

How to write a hook for an expository essay?

The aim of expository essays is to show the results of writer’s research and their view of a certain issue as a result of it. Hooks for expository writing are generally the same as for argumentative essays, yet it is more common to start such papers with statistics or “myth busting” phrases explaining why certain beliefs are faulty. Rhetorical questions, jokes, and unusual facts might also serve as good hooks for expository essays if you find the right ones.

writing an essay

Examples of hooks for expository essays:

An expository essay hook can look like this:

Topic: “Single-sex education is gaining more popularity. Is it beneficial for students to learn in a single-sex environment?”

Recent studies have shown that girls from all-girl schools are more likely to take interest in STEM subjects and sports than their counterparts from mixed-gendered institutions. Could it be because there are no boys or no way for teachers to impose gender-biased opinions?

How to write a hook for a persuasive essay?

The main purpose of writing a persuasive essay is to persuade the audience that the author’s point of view is the right one by appealing to reader’s emotions and logic. This type of writing requires a deep immersion into the subject and a vast investigation of numerous resources. One of the key elements of a successful essay is a debatable thesis. An ambiguous thesis of a persuasive essay hooks the reader or the listener into an internal debate with the author and assures onward attention. It is thereby essential to distinguish a thesis from a fact, as debating about a fact will inevitably lead the narrative to a dead end.

Good hooks for persuasive essays are designed to warm up the audience’s interest, put a fresh idea into their minds, and boost critical thinking before introducing them to a controversial thesis. In this part of writing, it is vital to avoid clichés and any obvious phrases or questions.

Good hook sentences for persuasive essays

Here are a few persuasive essay hook examples for your review:

Topic: “Students should take a gap year before going to college or university”.

When it is not yet possible to give a person a right to vote, drink, or own property, asking them to choose what to do with the rest of their lives seems unfair. However, this is exactly what most high-school graduates are expected to do.

Topic: “Children should not be paid for doing chores”

Sometimes, it is not about “can money buy everything,” but whether it should. Showing children that contributing to the wellbeing of the family is something they will be paid for might give them the wrong idea that it is the only incentive needed. What happens if they find alternative means of making money or refuse to help with chores for other reasons?


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Essay paper writing

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