Many test takers often do not know how to start writing an essay and might lose quite a lot of time before they actually start to write. However, if you are well aware of a few simple steps you need to take, the process will become quick and effortless. Here are four steps you should follow in order to write an effective introductory paragraph.
Read the essay task carefully and make sure you understand what is required of you. Essay prompts will often contain two or three sentences – to illustrate a situation and ask your opinion. In examples below, note how you can be asked to provide answers to one or two questions:
In many cities today, most people live in large apartment blocks. Does this kind of accommodation has more advantages or disadvantages?
Some people consider price as most important thing to consider when buying a product (such as a cell phone) or a service (e.g medical treatment). Do you agree or disagree?
In education and employment, some people work harder than others. Why do some people work harder? Is it always a good thing to work hard?
You should be able to give answers to each of the question put by the essay task.
Decide what your view on the topic is and brainstorm reasons for it. Do you have enough of them? How will you order them? It is possible that you will not be able to come up with arguments to support your point of view whereas there will be many ideas for the opposite side. Go for the one you can write about, not the one you think is right. Examiners do not assess your opinion, they want to see how well you can express yourself.
By brainstorming ideas for your essay, you are also thinking of organizing them into a clear and logical order. Sometimes test takers consider this as an unnecessary and time-consuming activity. However, if you skip this step, you are running the risk of redoing parts of your essay later on, which in turn can not only look scruffy but more importantly will ruin cohesive structure of your essay. Thus, do make sure you spend a few minutes considering your arguments and planning your structure.
Let us have a look at some ideas for «In many cities today, most people live in large apartment blocks. Does this kind of accommodation has more advantages or disadvantages?» question.
Closeness to other people
Safer than living in houses
The ability to enjoy nice views from higher floors
Noise from neighbors
As there are more advantages on the list, the decision is made in their favour, regardless of whether we really feel that way.
Paraphrase the situation given in the essay task. By restating the essay prompt in other words, you let the examiner know that you understand it. Use synonyms and different parts of speech as well as changing sentence structure for an effective paraphrase. For example:
Original: In many cities today, most people live in large apartment blocks.
Paraphrase: Many people in urban areas choose to reside in big blocks of apartments.
Write a thesis statement – a sentence in which you express your opinion. Start with words and phrases showing that the opinion belongs to you (use a comma after it) and continue with your actual opinion. Going back to our example:
In my opinion, although living in an apartment has limitations such as noise disturbance and lack of gardens, advantages of such housing are far more.
Finally, the introductory paragraph is ready:
Many people in urban areas choose to reside in big blocks of apartments. In my opinion, although living in an apartment has limitations such as noise disturbance and lack of gardens, advantages of such housing are far more.
You may also use the following phrases to introduce your opinion:
- In my opinion,
- From my point of view,
- I think…
- I believe…
- I am confident that…
- I am convinced that…
- I personally feel that…
As you see, there is nothing difficult in writing an introduction for your essay, but it is a very important step. You just need to follow the simple rules, and your introduction will look perfect. Good luck!