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

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, making it all the more important to use a powerful essay hook.

What are essay hooks?

As the name suggests, an 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.

How many lines should a hook have?

A compelling hook should be no more than two lines long— any longer than that, and it might lose effectiveness. It should also be concise and get straight to the point without using too many words. The goal of the hook is to immediately grab the reader’s attention and make them curious.

What are some good college essay hook examples?

From using humor to posing a rhetorical question, there are several ways to begin your essay on an engaging and interesting note. Here are 16 hooks you can consider using for your college essay, along with examples for each.

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 insert 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.

Famous quote hook examples
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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 rhetorical questions.

Rhetorical question hook examples
  1. 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?
  2. Think about it - when did life stop being fun and exciting? When did it turn into a relentless race that leaves you exhausted, and whatever you do does not seem to be enough?

Interesting statistic

Shocking or unusual facts or statistics always 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 essay's tone and intrigue your audience.

Spend quality time researching your topic and gathering exciting data that you could begin your piece of writing with. Make sure you pick data from credible sources and remember to reference its source.

Interesting statistic hook examples
  1. With around 3 billion active social media users worldwide, this platform poses as one of the most significant marketing tools to reach and engage with your target audience.
  2. According to Gallup research, 75% of employees in the U.S. leave managers and not companies.

Share an anecdote

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

However, ensure 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.

Anecdote hook examples
  1. As I stood in the metro and looked at the city passing by, I realized how much this place had given me. I came here as a shy, anxious woman in her early 20s, and today, the transformation I see in myself is phenomenal.
  2. Just when I was getting ready for a long, relaxing weekend, the unthinkable happened – I fractured my leg. What followed was weeks of bed rest, and little did I know that those six weeks were going to be such an eye-opener.

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.

Challenge misconception hook examples
  1. 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?
  2. We have all heard about goldfish having a 3-second memory span. The truth is, they actually have very good memories for fish, with a memory span of 5 months.

Describe a setting

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

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

Describe a setting hook example
  1. “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.

Tell a joke

Yes, college essays are no joke (pun intended), but that does not mean you cannot add a tinge of humor to 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.

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

Use metaphors

Metaphors are a great way to emphasize a point or leave the reader with 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.

Metaphor hook examples
  1. Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you are going to get.
  2. 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.

Make a declaration or a bold claim

Making a strong statement or a bold claim can draw in readers and signal that you will make some compelling points. It will make them interested in further exploring what you want to say. This strategy works best if you can find a unique perspective on the topic that will surprise readers.

It doesn’t matter if your reader agrees with you— the important thing is that they are engaged and interested enough to want to learn more about your argument.

Bold claim hook example
  1. Global warming is not just an issue – it’s an absolute crisis.

Describe a ‘What If’ scenario

Another way to get into your reader's mind is by describing a hypothetical scenario that relates to the topic of your essay.

Create a ‘What if’ scenario and let the readers solve the puzzle in their minds. This strategy works best when writing a persuasive essay.

‘What if’ scenario hook example
  1. Imagine a world without cell phones…what would life be like?

Make a comparison

Using analogies or comparisons between two seemingly unrelated things can create a unique and memorable hook for your essay. When introducing your essays, capture the readers’ attention by giving them a concrete example they can relate to.

The key to using this strategy is to find two things that have some commonality and use them to highlight why your argument matters so much.

Comparison hook example
  1. Poverty is like being stuck in quicksand; no matter how hard people try, they just keep sinking deeper into debt and despair.

State the obvious (but in an exciting way)

However, for this strategy to make a lasting impact, you have to make it interesting enough.

State-the-obvious hook example
  1. Racism is still alive and well in America today; pretending otherwise does nothing but allow it to continue unchecked.

Describe a historical event

Another creative way to introduce an essay and hook your readers is by describing a historical event related to your topic. A historical event can establish context and provide an interesting starting point for the essay.

It can be anything from a significant event like World War II or a more localized event, such as the founding of your hometown or college. You don’t need to go into too much detail—just enough to set the scene and provide context for the story you are telling in your essay.

Tell them to ‘Imagine.’

Starting your essay with “imagine” can create a captivating introduction for your readers. Ask them to imagine themselves in a particular situation or place, and then explain how it relates to what you’re discussing in your essay.

This technique will help create suspense and excitement. It will also engage your readers emotionally and make them want to read to the conclusion.

‘Imagine’ hook example
  1. Imagine if everyone had access to clean water.

Make a confession

Everybody likes listening to confessions, making them an effective way to hook your readers.

If you confess something when starting your essay, you’ll pique the readers’ curiosity. This will make them want to learn more about what happened and why it happened.

Confessions intrigue readers into your thought process and allow them to connect with you. This will make them more interested in reading your essay further.

Confession hook example
  1. I spend too much time on my phone.
  2. I'm addicted to Netflix.

Give them a riddle or puzzle to solve

Finally, if you want to challenge your readers, try giving them a riddle or puzzle at the beginning of the essay! Ask them a question related to your topic, and then encourage them to think about the answer as they continue reading.

You can also give them clues throughout the essay as they try to figure out the answer independently.

Riddle hook example
  1. What travels faster than light but doesn't require fuel?

What are some hook examples for argumentative essays?

When writing argumentative essays, you can use hooks such as quotes from famous people, statistics, anecdotes, or rhetorical questions.

For example, if you were writing an argumentative essay on why climate change is real, you could start with a quote from America’s former Vice President, Joe Biden, saying, “Climate change is real, and we must act now.”

Final thoughts

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

If you have trouble drafting your essay, we at Writers Per Hour are happy to offer you essay writing help.

Our highly skilled essay writers for hire 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 impressed.

Last edit at Jan 24 2023

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Written by

Adela Belin

Adela Belin is a content writing & marketing expert at Writers Per Hour. She writes about motivation, education, personal development, and everything in between. She hopes to make a difference in people’s lives by sharing relevant stories inspired by her journey. As a seasoned expert, Belin is a frequent contributor to Lifehack, AllBusiness, and LiveChatINC and runs her blog.
View all my posts
Enjoy reading? Write for our blog
Adela Belin photo

Written by

Adela Belin

Adela Belin is a content writing & marketing expert at Writers Per Hour. She writes about motivation, education, personal development, and everything in between. She hopes to make a difference in people’s lives by sharing relevant stories inspired by her journey. As a seasoned expert, Belin is a frequent contributor to Lifehack, AllBusiness, and LiveChatINC and runs her blog.
View all my posts
Enjoy reading? Write for our blog