The formula for a perfect essay introduction

The intro to your essay is so important. Just like meeting someone for the first time, it is your first impression and sets the standard and expectations for the entire essay. You want it to be intriguing, engaging and concise, while also showing your mastery of the written language.

There are 5 things I look for in every introduction. You want your intro to stand out from the crowd – it needs to reach out from the page and slap your marker in the face. Remember that there are 80,000 Discovery essays written in the HSC – you need to distinguish yourself from the rest of them.

Here are the 5 things that make the prefect essay intro:

1. Commanding opening lines that establish you really know what you are talking about.

Every essay you write is dealing with a theme – whether it be Discovery or context or after the bomb mindsets. Those opening lines of your intro should reflect your understanding of that theme. Don’t open your introduction by diving straight in to your text – write a few lines about the theme. Define it, discuss it, even criticise it – just show that you understand it fully.

2. Provide every detail of your text

The expectation is to include the title, author, type and year. Whilst it won’t necessarily cost you marks if you fail to include these, it again shows that you understand fully what you are talking about.

3. Give a brief summary of your text through the scope of the theme

Outline your text, but don’t simply explain the story – outline how it connects to your argument. For example, you might discuss Prospero’s journey of self realisation and forgiveness, or Frost’s connection with nature as a source of Discovery. This needs to be brief, but you are still setting the expectation of what you are going to be discussing.

4. Answer the question boldly

We want to see you take a strong side on an argument. There is nothing more boring for a marker to read than an essay that sits on the fence – that defends an argument without passion or engagement. Some of the best essays I have ever written are those that actually argue against the question – because the student is willing to go against the standard flow of talking about how effective a composer is and actually highlight its flaws (this naturally has to be well supported with plenty of examples). Whatever you choose to do, ensure you take a strong position on the question – don’t be a fence sitter.

5. Bring it back to you, the audience

We want to know you have gained something from your study. The end of every introduction should come back to this – how has it challenged your views of the world – how has it grown you as a person? Always offer some personal insight – not with personal pronouns (unless Adv Module B), but by sharing how it has aided the responder or audience.

These are 5 steps that will allow you to write incredible introductions every time. Make the best first impression possible by nailing your introduction, and setting your essay up for success!

Mr Rowe

HSCmarking is a service that supports HSC students by giving them detailed and constructive feedback on their essays in 48 hours guaranteed. Upload your essays before every exam and assessment to ensure your essays are the very best they can be. Learn more here

How to choose the perfect related text

We have a little chat box on the bottom right of our website which is designed for students and parents to ask questions about what we do and how it works – but it ends up being used for all sorts of things and one of the most common questions we get is this:

“What is a good related text for Discovery???”

I wanted to tackle this both as a means of referring students to when we get that question, but also to help students who might be wondering the same thing.

First of all, it is a terrible question. It is far too broad. There is no one related text that works perfectly with every prescribed text. You don’t want to just find a related text that deals with discovery, you want a related text that supports your thesis.

You need to consider the prescribed text you are doing, the characters or poems you are going to focus on and the core themes you are going to draw from it.

For example, if you are doing the tempest, a great related text for your discussion on Prospero might not be as good as if you are focussing primarily on Miranda. Same for Robert Frost’s poems. You need to identify your own thesis before you can start looking for a related text.

To do this, take a look at the course rubric. It offer a dozen or so thesis statements that you can search for in your prescribed texts.

Once you have defined your thesis, then you want to choose a related text that matches it closely or is the complete opposite. You don’t really want in between. You either want to show that your RT supports your idea or opposes it. That is the whole point of the related text; to enhance your argument. Too often I see students choose RT’s that have nothing to do with their argument and therefore don’t earn the marks they deserve.

So unfortunately, there is no quick answer to the question of what makes a good Discovery related text. Sure, you can look for suggestions 0nline, but you really need to know your text intimately and understand the argument you are going to make before you can consider choosing a related text.

Have you written a practice Discovery essay and want to know how it compares to the other 80,000 that will be written in the HSC? Upload it now and in 48 hours you’ll get tonnes of detailed, actionable feedback that will help you sculpt it in to a band 6 response.


Good luck!

Mr. Jones. (English marker)


We are here to help.