How to Start an Essay with Baits to Hook Your Readers

How to start an essay

Hey there! I’m sure you are reading this guide because you are struggling with how to start your essay.

  • Have you ever raged because you don’t know how to start an essay?
  • Have you ever blankly stared at the computer screen because you’re stuck?

If your answer is “yes”, then you’re not the only one who feels that way! I often take the beginning of the essay for granted because I tend to focus more on writing sound arguments. Looking back, I realized that the first sentence of any school paper keeps my readers glued.

The purpose of today’s lecture is to give you insights and techniques on how to begin your essay. Why? It takes time to create a “perfect” hook for your essay.

Let’s get started!

Can You Start an Essay With A Question?

Did you know that you can start off an essay with a question?

From my experience, it is okay to begin your essay with a question. A question is like your research objective. Let me give you an example:

  • Why did Croatia join the European Union (EU) and why is the theory applicable to the said country?

I will answer it by stating the reasons why Croatia joined the European Union. I will also argue as to why the theory of liberal intergovernmentalism best explains Croatia’s political move.

See? The question is there to fulfil the objectives of my paper.

Words to Start an Essay

Start an essay with different kinds of words

This highly depends on the type of essay you are going to write. Try to experiment which types of words best suits your essay.


It serves as a modifier of a noun. Adjectives are used to signify the quality or quantity, or even to specify it as something distinct.


  • Quiet people have the noisiest minds- or so I heard.
  • Cute animals are the best.


It modifies another adverb, an adjective, or a verb.


  • Unfortunatelyshe died of illness.
  • You are too proud of your achievements!


Nouns can be the subject of a verb. They can also be in a form of pronouns such as “He”, “She”, “They”, and etc.


  • I dare to dream big.
  • They ate their hamburgers like famished wolves.


Verbs express action or a mode of being.


  • I dare to dream big.
  • They ate their hamburgers like famished wolves.

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How to Start an Essay?

Do you know how to start an essay?

1Set the Tone!

Reflect on the following questions:

  • What are you going to write about?
  • Is it a paper about an academic paper about history or a fun experience in the countryside?

2Start With a Hook! (Obviously)

Reality check: Your audience will probably not read your whole paper if it does not have a catchy introductory sentence.

  • It should be a “trap.” If your readers are “trapped”, then they are more compelled to read the rest of your essay (at least, most of the time).

You can begin with the following:

  • Statistics- This is a common trick to use. If you are writing about nuclear weapons, you can say that nine countries possess a total 14,175 of the said weapons.


  • Definitions- All technical terms used in the essay should be introduced first. If you find it too generic, you can start your essay with facts or data. Then, you can follow it up with the definition of terms.


  • A DYK (did you know) fact- An interesting fact will draw your reader into your essay. For instance, you can say which country possesses the most nuclear weapons. 


  • An insight- You can write your thoughts or musings on the topic. Believe it or not, it’s one way to bait your readers.


  • A question- An attempt to engage with the reader or to fulfil your paper’s objectives.


  • A dialogue- This is perfect for narrative essays.


  • Thesis statement– It is the main claim of your essay. Generally, it is placed at the end of the introduction. However, it can be also be written at the beginning. As stated by my former social studies teacher, a thesis statement can be placed anywhere in the introduction.

Yes, that includes writing it at the start of an essay. Either way, it is best to clarify this with your teacher.

Whenever I begin my essays, I usually assume that the reader has zero knowledge of my topics. However, if you are writing for a specific audience, then that’s a different story.

In this context, general knowledge or obvious facts are not counted as interesting.

Points to remember:

  • Please remember to facts and statistics to your topic.
  • You would have to tailor your introductory sentence to the essay type you’re planning to write.
  • Remember to make the beginning of your essay flow smoothly and logically.
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How to Start an Essay (With Different Essay Types)

A student who knows how to start an essay (and different types of essays)

1Descriptive Essays

This genre allows you to describe an emotion, experience, person, or a place.

  • The description should be vivid in such a way that it paints a mental picture on the reader’s mind.
  • You have to use concise vocabulary to be able to write a more moving and cinematic essay.

Take note: You have to set the scene first before describing the subject.

Example #1:

  • Every Wednesday, I visit the park to take pictures of wildlife. What makes my trip interesting is seeing a young woman exercising in a secluded area of the park.

Example #2:

  • Waking up during the wee hours of the morning is an everyday struggle for me. My mind is set, but my body refuses to obey like a hard-headed child.

2Expository Essays

The purpose of an expository essay is to expound (or evaluate) an idea.

  • You are to supplement pieces of evidence to support your ideas.
  • It can be an analysis, a compare and contrast essay, or giving an example.

I recommend you to write a brief background on your topic. It can be a definition of terms, statistical data, or an insight.

Example #1:

  • South-South cooperation is a collaborative work between states in the Global South with regard to their political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and technical sectors.

Example #2:

  • It is important to engage in the transition from relief to development with the devastating effect of natural disasters and internal conflict. However, there are obstacles such as weak governments in affected countries, lack of collaboration, and the inability to expand the scope of programs implemented.

3Narrative Essays

Narrative essays allow you to write about your personal experiences.

  • Descriptive language plays a significant role here as it helps you concretize your experience to the reader.
  • It is okay to use the pronoun “I” since narrative essays are written from your point of view.
  • This type of essay should have a setting, plot, characters, or a conclusion/moral lesson.

To begin your narrative essay, you can try to pose a question to your audience to (hopefully) draw them into your life story.

  • Contextualize your essay by introducing the main character/s and the setting. A short background information would be a great option too.

Take note: You may also add a dialogue at the beginning. That’s another way to “bait” a reader.

Example #1:

  • I stared at the moving images on the screen as I mechanically pop one potato chip in my mouth. How many days had passed since I watched my favorite series?

Example #2:

  • Do you know what it feels like to not bring extra money?

4Persuasive/Argumentative Essays

You are required to justify your stance on a subject matter with solid evidence and sound arguments.

  • You have to convince your reader that your side of the argument is valid.
  • What makes it different from an expository essay is that the latter is more focused on giving facts.

Just like the expository essay, you can begin your argumentative essay by defining terms or adding background information. In the example below, I wrote about the Six-Party talks before expressing my stance on nuclear disarmament.


  • Xiaodon Liang (2012) states that the talks are a series of multilateral negotiations held since the year 2003 and attended by the following countries: China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and the United States. Its purpose is to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program. (A paper on North Korea’s Nuclear Program: Is Disarmament Possible? (2015))

There’s another type of essay we should consider, and that’s a college application essay.

  • It’s competitive because you have to demonstrate your writing skills to the committee.
  • Most importantly, you have to prove to them that you stand out from the rest of the applicants.

A college application essay, not only gauges your skills, but it also serves as a gateway to your personality.

How to Start a College Application Essay? (With Examples)

Learn how to start an college application essay

1Read the prompt!

Read and understand what is asked in the prompt. Do take note of the objectives of the prompt:

  • Do you need to prove a point?
  • Is the prompt asking you to narrate something?
  • Write!

As usual, start your essay with a killer hook. You can never go wrong with that. Apply what you have learned, but please make sure that your hook suits the essay prompt.

  • Write something interesting about yourself or your life experience/s. Believe me, you’re not a boring person because you have a story to tell. Bear that in mind.
  • Hey, you may even pose a question to your reader. Why not?

Example #1:

  • Volunteering? I despise it because it imposes forced charity to students. I admittedly used it to gain additional points in school. After all, nothing beats being the top of the class.

Example #2:

  • Disagreement is like pineapples on pizza; it breeds conflict.

Even if you set an excellent “trap”, the body (and the conclusion) of your essay must also engage the reader. Do you want the committee to be bored? Certainly not.

Take note: Just be yourself- in a good way I mean.

Get an A+ grade when you know how to start an essay

It is not enough to impress your readers with just the content of your paper. The first sentence is also a way to make a lasting impact on your audience. Hey, you could even score an A+ Who knows?

Don’t take the first sentence for granted, okay? The first impression is the last impression, and that’s actually how you start an essay.

Good luck and see you!

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