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SAT Essay – 8 Ways To Write A Great Introduction
You can’t afford to have writer’s block because you only have 25 minutes to write your SAT essay. So to help my students put pen to paper faster, I created these 8 techniques for creating a compelling introduction quickly. Try them and they will help you too.
1. Understand the message first
The first thing you need to do to write a great introduction is to make sure you know what you’re writing about first. The biggest mistake I’ve seen in scoring SAT Essays is that many students misread the prompt. To avoid this, I have my students underline or circle important words and phrases to make sure they have really digested the message. I suggest you do the same.
2. Use an analogy or metaphor
Analogies require creativity. A trait that SAT Essay students like to reward. For an essay in which the question was “Is it true that to get ahead people have to make sacrifices?” A student created the following analogy,
“To climb a mountain a person must struggle and strive. And this is the case with any worthwhile goal…”
3. Tell a short anecdote
You can create an engaging introduction by telling a short (1-2 sentence anecdote) like the following.
When I trained for my first marathon it was difficult and often painful. But I wanted to have the achievement of running 26.2 miles, so I did it anyway. To move forward in life requires sacrifice.
4. Use a quote that has not been used in the application
It’s helpful to memorize quotes you like. You never know when they might come in handy on the test. For example, for the essay topic “Do Mistakes Lead to Growth?” wrote one of my students
Someone once asked Edison, “How can you feel good about your work, having failed nine hundred and ninety-nine times at making a light bulb?” To this Edison replied: “I have not failed so many times, I have only learned nine hundred and ninety-nine ways not to make a light bulb. Why did Edison react in this way? Because he knew that mistakes are always experiences that lead. to learning and growth.”
This was a great quote to start your essay and would definitely impress your SAT Essay students.
5. Mention a topic in the news
SAT essay experts often say to stay away from the news in the body of your essay. And they are right. However, in the introduction it can be very helpful IF you have the facts straight AND it’s even better if it’s a news story that’s not well covered. If you use this idea, make sure it fits the theme clearly.
6. Make up an anecdote using very specific details
I don’t recommend this, as you don’t need a creative intro badly enough to bother coming up with one. I had one student who insisted on trying this and theirs were so bad at first that anyone could guess they were fake. Eventually, though, he started giving such specific details that I couldn’t tell if it was real or not. So you can trick the students if you want, but I don’t recommend it.
7. Use a cliché in an inventive way
Most books and articles on writing say to stay away from clichés, but it’s a secret from professional writers that changing a cliché catches people’s attention.
A student used the following cliché to make a great introduction to the topic “Which is a better indicator of a person’s true character, their actions or their words?”
“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a saying that applies to the news industry but it also applies to people. The image created by a person’s actions tells us a thousand words about them and goes much further than words to tell us about a person’s real thoughts and feelings. Several examples from literature and history demonstrate this point.
Using the cliché “A picture says a thousand words” to make actions speak louder than words is very unique and very powerful.
8. When all else fails, make a quick summary of what you will cover in your essay
Be sure to clearly state your thesis and indicate which categories of information your examples come from
For example, “Examples from history, literature, and science will show that people care too much about what others think of them.”
Above all, remember that you don’t need to write an impressive introduction so badly that you sacrifice the rest of your essay. I actually taught my students to write body paragraphs first, as they are just as important. Then, when they could write them quickly, I taught them how to write great introductions and powerful conclusions.
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