Hooks for Essays

Having a good hook for an essay is imperative when writing a good essay. The hook of an essay is the first thing your reader will see. It is important to grab the readers attention and make sure they are engaged at the beginning of your essay. If you do not give a good essay hook, the reader will most likely lose interest and may even stop reading your essay.

Students are required to write essays all the time, so it is important to master the skill of essay hooks. Students may write essays for academic purposes, informative purposes, or for their college essay. All of these essays will require an essay hook to engage the reader. We will review everything that goes into writing an essay hook, including different hook ideas and when to use them, and different examples of essay hooks.

Good Hooks for Essays

An essay hook will be found in the opening paragraph of your essay. It is usually the first one or two sentences. Having a good essay hook will help garner interest in what you are writing about and will help increase your grade and make your essay more memorable. Having a memorable essay comes in handy when writing college application essays – the recruiters will read hundreds of essays, so it is important to stand out!

There are many different types of essay hooks that students can use to engage their audience. Some hooks may be better suited for certain types of essays – you may not want to use a humorous essay hook when writing a serious essay. Below are our favorite essay hooks with examples.

Short Story

A short story is the perfect way to engage the reader. This can be a personal story or a story about someone or something else that pertains to the essay. Providing a personal story is a good way to connect with your audience on a personal level.

I worked many jobs growing up as a kid, but nothing compares to the summer where I worked at the zoo tending to the elephants.

My grandfather and I had a very special connection. When I was 9, he took me to Disneyworld. It was our last day of vacation and it was pouring out. He spent the whole day at the theme park, in the pouring rain, to see me happy.


A fact is another great way to start an essay and hook the reader. This fact can either be a statistical fact about something relevant to the essay or an interesting/shocking fact. A shocking fact is going to grab the readers attention, but make sure the source of the fact is reliable.

During the great recession, the value of homes dropped by 17% and did not recoup their value until 2011.

Poverty is a major issue in politics. More than 80% of all human beings live on less than $10 a day. Most people are concerned with the wrong issues – they should be concerned about poverty.

When looking for good facts or statistics, focus on things that you think your readers will find interesting. You can use various sources when looking for facts like:

  • Websites
  • Magazine
  • Newspapers
  • Journals
  • Interviews
  • Documentaries
  • Films and movies


Try to find information that is recent and not outdated. Outdated information may not be relevant anymore and could hurt your essay hook. Make sure your information source is credible as well. Do some of your own research to fact check.

Rhetorical Question

A rhetorical question is a question in which the reader is not expecting an answer. The reader is asking this question to help spark discussion, thoughts, and discourse. A lot of times, the answer to rhetorical questions are obvious or are answered immediately by the writer.

  • “How could I have missed the early warning signs?”
  • “Wouldn’t it be awesome if cars could drive themselves?”


A quote can be a great hook for essays, especially if there is an expert or someone famous that has a quote about the topic of your essay. If you are writing an essay about U.S. history, you may want to include a quote from George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. As long as the quote serves a purpose, it will be an appropriate hook for your audience.

  • “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
  • “History is a set of lies agreed upon” – Napoleon Bonaparte

For more quote ideas, check out our motivational quotes for college students.


A statement can be used to help get your point across while also hooking your audience. There are a couple of different statements that can be used as a hook. A bold statement could be something that not a lot of people believe in or something that goes against societal norms. This is a great way to spark conversation and debate among your readers. Another statement that could be used is a contradictory statement. This would be a statement that has two different ideas stated. This is another way to spark conversation.

  • “Don’t believe everything you think.”
  • “Drunk words are sober thoughts.”


A definition can be a powerful hook for essays by defining something that your readers may not be familiar with. The definition will help lay some of the groundwork for your essay while also grabbing the attention of your audience. You can define the main topic of your essay or define something smaller that is still relevant to help engage your readers.

The United States of America defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents.”

A shot on goal could be left to one’s interpretation. The NHL defines a shot on goal as “a shot that directs the puck towards the net and either goes into the net for a goal or is stopped by the goaltender for a save.”


A metaphor is a figure of speech that refers to one thing by mentioning something else. It is used as a figure of speech to make implicit, implied, or hidden comparisons between two unrelated things that share similar characteristics in some respects. After reading that definition you may not fully understand was a metaphor is, and that’s OK! We use metaphors in our everyday life, and we may not even notice it. A metaphor can grab the attention of your readers by comparing two unrelated things that are relevant to your essay.

  • War is the mother of all battles.
  • Lebron James really put the team on his back during the 2016 title run with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Paint a Picture

Painting a picture can help visually engage the audience and hook the reader. Obviously, we are not talking about painting a literal picture. A writer can paint the picture by describing the setting, scene, attributes or way in which things happened. The more descriptive the writer can be, the better “picture” they will be able to paint for their audience.

It was a hot summer day in July. The waves were crashing and the beach was packed. In the distance, you could hear the faint yell of a women. All of a sudden, the lifeguard jumped from his post and sprinted towards the ocean.

Let me start off by painting a picture of my principal. He is a little, old man with glasses. He has fading black hair and always wears jeans with a sport coat. He has a very soft voice and is always calm.

When to Use an Essay Hook?

There are many different essay hooks that can be used to grab the attention of your audience. There is a time and a place to use specific hooks depending on what kind of essay you are writing. You could have a good essay hook, but if it does not fit the context of your essay, the reader may become agitated or disinterested.

Research Essay Hooks

There is not a right or wrong way to develop a hook for a research paper. With that being said, there are some hooks that may work better than others. For instance, you will not want to use humor or a metaphor for a research paper. A research paper should have a more serious tone and should not be vague, so you can throw humor and metaphors out the window. It will be more effective to use one of the following hooks when writing an attention-grabbing research paper:

  • Interesting, statistical or shocking fact about the subject matter
  • A rhetorical question that encourages thoughts and discussion
  • Define something that will be talked about in the research paper

Argumentative Essay Hooks

As with research essay hooks, there is not right or wrong way to develop a hook for your persuasive essay. However, there are some hooks that would be better to use than others. For a persuasive essay, you will want to convince the audience on a specific topic. Consider the following hooks when writing a persuasive essay:

  • Short story about something pertaining to your essay
  • Interesting, statistical or shocking fact about the subject matter
  • A rhetorical question that encourages thoughts and discussion
  • Metaphor on something relevant to your essay
  • Painting a picture for your audience to connect on a better level with them
  • Bold statement to catch their attention

College Application Essay Hooks

When writing a college application essay, it is important to keep in mind that the recruiter is reading hundreds of these essays every day. It will be vital to write something that is going to catch their attention and make them remember you and your essay. One of the best ways to do this is with an interesting hook. Don’t start your essay off with saying “Hi, my name is _____ and I am from _____.” You can guarantee the reader is not going to be engaged and may even stop reading your essay. Consider some of these hooks when writing a college application essay:

  • Short story about yourself
  • Interesting or shocking fact about yourself
  • Painting the picture of yourself, your upbringing, your family, etc.
  • Bold statement about something your passionate about

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