Jun 19 2015

Capture your Reader’s Attention with Great Essay Hooks

Adela Belin photo Adela Belin Content strategist and writer
Knowledge Cell

“By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.”

Original: Source

What happens when you come across an article that starts this way?

You sit up and read.

Now, that’s the impact you want the first line of your essay to have. It needs to engage the reader and make them want to continue reading. If you manage to do that, it’s safe to say that you have won half the battle.

Let’s face it – attention spans are getting shorter with time which makes it all the more important to use a powerful essay hook.

What are essay hooks?

As the name suggests, essay hook refers to the first one or two sentences of your essay that ‘hooks’ your reader instantly and generates interest right from the beginning. The first sentence of your essay has the power to make or break it so ensure you choose the ‘hook’ well. As per our academic writing experts, essay hooks should be limited to 1-2 sentences.

Few Tips on How to Write a Catchy Hook for an Essay

Starting your essay with a sentence that is interesting, informative and attention grabbing sounds like a mammoth task, doesn’t it?

Original: Source

To make things simpler, here is an approach you can follow to craft the perfect essay hook -

Determine Your Readers

As a writer, you need to first establish who you are writing for and what is expected out of your essay. You need to put yourself in the reader’s shoes and brainstorm about what would interest them and keep them hooked.

Even though college essays have a captive audience, the challenge is drafting a unique essay and making it stand out in order to get good grades.

Objective Behind Essay

You cannot just include an essay hook for the sake of it. It needs to be in line with the overall format of writing. Whether you’re writing an argumentative, descriptive or narrative essay – your essay hook needs to vary accordingly.

For example, if you are writing a narrative essay, it is a good idea to start with an engaging anecdote that creates a personal connection with your reader at the very beginning.

You must also consider using a strong hook while writing your personal statement as that can increase your chances of being noticed. When asked about this, Mimi Doe, co-founder of Top Tier Admissions, a Massachusetts-based advising company shared a strong hook she came across which read as follows -

"I first got into politics the day the cafeteria outlawed creamed corn."

Reading this, Doe said, "I want to know about this kid. I’m interested."

Job done.

Work on an Outline

Working on the outline before starting the writing process is a seriously underrated practice. You will realize that doing this also helps you write a great hook for your essay because you are able to organize your thoughts, put a structure together and establish the tone and style.

Once that is done, you can think of drafting a hook that would be a perfect start for the essay.

However, developing an outline is not as easy as it sounds. Kari Wethington from Expert Village shares useful tips on how to structure the outline for your essayю

So, even though the hook is the first statement, it’s a good idea to work on it after you are done writing the entire essay.

Connect it to the Thesis

Yes, including an enticing hook does wonders to your essay but that does not mean you can start with any unrelated sentence just for the sake of it.

The hook needs to be relevant and as the thesis statement presents the main idea of the essay, it only makes sense that the essay hook is connected to the thesis.

8 Types of Hooks you Can Consider Using for your Essay

Now that you have established your audience and the objective of your writing, you can get down to crafting your essay hook. From using humor to posing a rhetorical question, there are several ways to begin your essay on an engaging and interesting note.

1. Famous Quote

A common way to begin your essay is with a famous quote. The quote you choose needs to be in line with your essay topic. You cannot be inserting a random quote that has no connection with the rest of your essay.

Quotes reaffirm your essay topic and give it a compelling start. However, make sure you don’t include vague and cliché quotes or phrases such as ‘Practice makes perfect’ or ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’ – they add no value to your essay because they are so over-used.

Hook Example

If you are writing an essay on public relations and reputation management, you can start with this famous quote by Warren Buffet –

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.

Similarly, if your topic revolves around success and leadership, you can begin by quoting Bill Gates –

Success is a lousy teacher. It makes smart people think they cannot lose.

2. Rhetorical question

It is also a good idea to start your essay with a rhetorical question that compels readers to think about the topic and generates interest to read further. Rhetorical questions are not meant to be answered, they are instead used to deliver a point.

Make sure the question isn’t too obvious, and the answer certainly shouldn’t be a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. From highlighting a pain point/problem to striking an emotional connection or stating a startling fact – you can hook readers with various kinds of rhetorical questions.

Hook Example

When you walk into a brick-and-mortar store, you have people around you to reach out for assistance but what happens when you log onto an e-commerce site?

Think about it - when did life stop being fun and exciting, when did it turn into a relentless race that just leaves you exhausted and whatever you do just does not seem to be enough?

3. Interesting Statistics

Shocking or unusual facts or statistics always manage to grab the reader’s attention and validate the point you are trying to make in your essay. It is a powerful way to set the tone of the essay and keeps your audience intrigued.

Spend quality time doing research about your topic and gather interesting data that you could begin your piece of writing with. Make sure you pick data from credible sources and remember to reference its source.

Cami Jones demonstrate the steps involved in using interesting statistics as an essay hook.

Hook Example

With around 3 billion active social media users in the world, this platform poses to be one of the biggest marketing tools to reach and engage with your target audience.

According to a Gallup research, 75% of employees in the U.S leave managers and not companies.

4. Share an Anecdote

People love stories, especially those that stem from personal experiences. The best part about anecdotes are the personal touch they bring to your essay. The perfect college essay anecdotes are those that are engaging, concise and relevant.

However, make sure the anecdote is followed by a strong transition statement that links the story to the rest of your essay, so it doesn’t seem to end abruptly.

Hook Example

As I stood in the metro and looked at the city pass by, I realized how much this place has given me. I came here as a shy, anxious woman in her early 20s and today, the transformation I see in myself is phenomenal.

Just when I was getting ready for a long, relaxing weekend, the unthinkable happened – I fractured my leg. What followed was weeks of bedrest and little did I know that those 6 weeks were going to be such an eye opener.

5. Challenge Misconceptions

Debunking myths and challenging common misconceptions can prove to essay hooks that evoke surprise or interest in readers. By challenging the reader’s understanding, you are more likely to grip their attention and keep them wanting to read further.

Hook Example -

Not all weight loss diets actually work. Did you know that studies showed that people who go on a diet are actually the ones most likely to gain weight in the future?

We have all heard about goldfish having a 3-second memory span. Truth is, they actually have very good memories for fish, with a memory span of 5 months.

6. Describe a Setting

When you begin your essay by describing a powerful setting, you leave the reader intrigued. Owing to the strong description, they want to know what happens next. Such a hook fits perfectly in a narrative essay.

Whether you are describing a setting or a character to give context, the key here is to be detailed and create a vivid picture. If it tugs the reader’s senses, you can consider the job done.

Hook Example -

“The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.” - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K Rowling

7. Tell a Joke

Yes, college essays are no joke (pun intended) but that does not mean you cannot add a tinge of humor in them, whenever appropriate. And what better place to insert them than the opening sentence.

The idea is to induce a smile or smirk on the reader’s face that catches their attention and keeps them invested in your writing. However, while using humor, ensure you are subtle and stay away from sarcasm.

Hook Example

“We do not have WiFi. Talk to each other”, read a signboard outside a restaurant and I couldn’t help but wonder.

8. Use Metaphors

Metaphors are a great way to lay emphasis on a point or leave the reader with a powerful imagery. It’s a creative way to begin your essay because it draws the reader in and makes them want to understand how two completely unrelated things are connected.

Hook Example

Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you are going to get.

I stood there, watching him drink like a fish - while a part of me wanted to leave, my love for him got the better of me.


Even though essay hook is just the first sentence, it is worth spending time over and crafting a compelling one to grab your reader’s attention. After all, the first impression is the last impression, so you better make it work for you.

If you are having trouble drafting your essay, we at Writers Per Hour are happy to offer you our services. Our team of highly skilled writers are experts in a wide range of subjects and are equipped to help you with various types of academic writing ranging from term papers and research papers to essays and dissertations.

So, contact us today and let us help you with your custom paper writing needs. You will surely be impress.

last edit at Sep 21 2022