May 23, 2017 HSC marking

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

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