[as in IELTS (Writing Task 2), TOEFL and PTE Academic Tests]
What’s the best way to begin when you write an essay – with an opinion to give?
Most people would probably start with a simple sentence: “l agree/disagree with the statement that…”, or they would dive straight into the topic without a clear and distinct introduction.
Well, here are some ways to write ‘attention-grabbing’ introductions.
- Start with a ‘Rhetorical Question’
This is one of the easiest ways to begin writing. However, care should be taken to use mind-teasers rather than questions which are too simple. If virtually everyone can think of the answer with ease, then, in all likelihood, the reader would be lost at the very start. Remember, we have to make them think!
“Have you ever read a thousand-page book in a single day?” will make your readers start thinking!
In contrast, if the question is, “Do you like to read?” – that may not be very catchy.
- Write about a problem
We all face problems in life – don’t we? And we are almost certain to seek their solutions! In fact, a lot of our energy is spent trying to solve problems, day-in day-out. “A common problem faced by the average 21st century parent is how to control the amount of time spent by their children on electronic devices: TV, computer, smartphone, etc.”
When we start our writing with a problem, we naturally hook our readers into searching for a solution. The readers will start to think about how they might solve the problem or wonder what solution the writer has in store. However, we have to be careful not to spend too much time or space on the problem itself. This is an introduction, not the main body of the write-up.
- Start with a joke or write about a story
A joke or a short story that illustrates the main idea can also emotionally touch the reader. Using vivid descriptions and graphic details to appeal to the reader’s senses and emotions can be very effective. Let’s say, if we want to discourage certain unhealthy habits like eating junk food, or smoking, then we can describe their horrendous effects on particular groups of people, e.g. children who become obese, or the elderly who suffer from chronic cough and are unable to breathe freely.
Similarly, if the topic is an interesting place, we may describe what the readers would see, the sounds they would hear, or what they would taste, so they can almost feel they were there.
A joke, if it really gels-in with the topic, can also make the readers more interested in the ideas presented in the writeup.
How to Tell a Joke
Make sure the jokes are presented naturally, and in a funny way. Also, there’s no need to describe boring details, only the most important things should be mentioned, like who did what … and how: “The audience had a big laugh when, at a King of Memory competition, the winner actually forgot to take the trophy with him at the end of the ceremony!”
- Begin with a quote from an important person
This kind of introduction has two advantages. As with the other patterns, it gets your readers to think about what you will say next. In addition, the words of wisdom from renowned persons have an inspiring effect on most people, as they are likely to think, ‘If Nelson Mandela said this: “The more informed you are, the less arrogant and aggressive you are.” then it’s really worth paying attention to!’
- Write a bold statement or use an interesting piece of information or statistical data
If you begin with something like, “In the UAE, almost 70% of the population comprises of expatriates!” the readers are likely to become interested in whatever the topic may be.
- Start with important background information
At times, it’s necessary to furnish your readers with some background information for them to better understand the topic and the viewpoint you wish to present.
We may introduce an essay by stating … “In recent years, with the increasing awareness of health hazards due to pollutants in vehicle emissions, along with dwindling fuel reserves, the focus is now on safe and renewable energy sources.”