Category Archives: Education

Ultimate Tips on Writing Lab Reports

writing lab reportsLab reports are an important part of all laboratory courses, including Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Natural Science, and usually a significant part of your grade. A lab report is your chance to show what you did in your experiment, what you learned and what the results meant.

When preparing a report, it is always important to be attentive to the requirements and guidelines as they may vary greatly. Some instructors require to include lab reports into the lab notebook, while others ask to prepare the separate reports. There may be some differences in format and writing style. However, there are universal guidelines for scientific writing, and you need to make sure that your report follows them.

Lab Report Essentials

1. Title

The title should be brief and describe the main point of your investigation. Aim for less than 10 words.

2. Abstract

In about 100 or 200 words, summarize the purpose of your lab report and major conclusions.

3. Introduction

Provide background information and explain the objectives of the lab. In other words, say why you did the experiment. Keep it short!

4. Methods and materials

List the materials and methods used but don’t overwhelm the reader with details.

5. Results

Summarize the important data from the experiment, describe what they mean.

6. Discussions

Compare expected results with actual results, explain the results in terms of the purpose, suggest how the they could be improved.

7. References

Include a reference list if it is required.

General Tips on Writing

In scientific writing, it is important to follow the specific rules to make sure that your report presents data and outcomes in a clear and persuasive way.

1. Be concise. You need to say as much as needed while using as few words as possible. A lab report is not an essay, it should be concise, straightforward and to the point. Avoid repetitions and unnecessary details.

2. Write in the third person. When you’re describing an experimental procedure, don’t use the words “I,” “we,” “my.” This may be a bit difficult to get used to, so pay special attention to the wording in your lab report.

3. Use correct verb tenses. It can be difficult to decide which tense (present or past )to use in your report. When describing the experiment, you need to use the past tense, as it has already been conducted. When you are talking about the equipment, theory or report that still exist, use the present tense.

4. Write about the real results. Resist the temptation to lie about the results in your lab report. Write about what really happened and not what should have happened. If something went wrong, it would be a great idea to suggest some ways to improve the work in future.

5. Don’t copy the lab manual. A manual can be a helpful guideline when you need to explain the purpose of your experiment. However, it is essential to use your own words when describing the results.

When the report is written, reread it, watching specially for lack of precision. Make sure you have enough time to edit and proofread your work thoroughly.

5 Ways to Enjoy Your Spring Break If You’re Stuck on Campus

spring breakSo, you’re stuck on campus during your spring break. Sure, you’re a little jealous of your friends who are going on a wild trip to Panama City Beach and will enjoy pool parties and crazy nightlife. But don’t be upset. Spring break on campus can be as fun as it is on a trip!

Check out the following suggestions to make your vacation productive and surprisingly fun.

1. Make New Friends

Staying on campus during the whole break can be lonely, but you shouldn’t forget that many students also skip the trip. As well as you, they wonder how to spend free time with pleasure. Therefore, if you feel lonely, figure out who else is on campus and enjoy a great time with new friends. You can plan a dinner out, shopping or a movie night in someone’s room. This will make your holiday experience much more enjoyable.

2. Redo Your Dorm Room

Use free time during a spring break to rearrange your dorm room and make it cozy and fashionable. Refreshing your living space will have a positive impact on your mood and general well-being when you return to classes. Experiment with the interior redecoration, buy new furniture or get rid of the unnecessary things. Consider to cover the walls with posters, photo collages or your own paintings. Redoing your room is a great way to stay busy during a vacation.

3. Try Something New

Staying on campus during a spring break doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to sleep and watch Netflix all the time. With no obligations and no busy schedule, you have enough time to try something new. Pick up a great hobby and master your talents. Forget about being a “coach potato” and impress everyone with your new skills. Cooking, scrapbooking, building models, yoga, origami, photography – the opportunities are endless. Choose the one you like and start practicing while you have free time.

4. Start Getting Into Shape

When was the last time you had a great workout? Can’t remember? Then take advantage of your spring break and start getting into shape. There are many inexpensive ways to stay active. Don’t miss a chance to visit a gym a few times during a vacation. Consider running, biking or long-distance walking. To spend more time on the fresh air, you can take a mat and do some yoga or pilates. Exercising is good for your body, mind and spirit, so spend free time effectively.

5. Get That So Much-Needed “Me Time”

Instead of your classes, work and extracurricular activities, you can finally focus on yourself. You can spend time on the things you like. Watch a film, read an interesting book, paint your nails or go for a walk. Choose the best way to treat yourself and finally tackle that to-do list. Taking some time for you and your hobbies is beneficial for your piece of mind.

Whether it’s your first time staying on campus during a spring break or your last one, make it a vacation you will remember!

Writing Lessons You Can Learn From Your Favorite TV Shows

Writing lessons form your favorite TV showIt’s one of the best ways to wind down during a study break or a lazy Sunday: tuning in to Hulu or Netflix for some of your favorite shows.

But do you ever stop to ask yourself why you love these shows so much? Something about them has captured your attention.

What if you could make your writing as captivating as those TV shows you love? What if you could write an essay, story, or lab report that held your reader’s attention to the very end?

Maybe that seems far-fetched, but some of the qualities that make these shows unforgettable can also be applied to your writing.

Here’s how.

1. “Blackish:” Show, don’t tell.

You probably love this show because of its humor, and the funny, well-developed characters. Another great thing about the show is the understated social message. Beneath the humor, there is an undercurrent of commentary on racism and LGBT issues. But no one is holding a billboard announcing: “Attention! This is an example of racist stereotyping!” Instead, we see this message played out through the actions and behavior of the characters.

Any essay or report that you write also has a message, or a “thesis.” In effective writing as in a good TV show, this message is revealed through details, examples, and quotes rather than simple and obvious statements.

2. “Game of Thrones:” Realism and accuracy always win.

Although “The Game of Thrones” belongs to the fantasy genre, the writers purposely limit elements of magic in favor of making the story an accurate reflection of the dark and brutal way of life in medieval times. The violence and the dark stories of intrigue make the viewer feel like they are experiencing the Middle Ages firsthand. This is part of what makes the show so appealing.

Your writing will also be more appealing to your readers if you strive for realism and accuracy. Take the extra time to research your topic thoroughly to bring your reader the true blood and guts of your subject.

3. “The Walking Dead:” Examining a problem from all sides.

What if an apocalyptic event occurred in which those who died became brain-eating zombies?

“The Walking Dead” has held steady success for eight seasons by thoroughly exploring this premise. It examines the differing motivations of the characters, how these characters react differently to the post-apocalyptic world, and how these actions influence the story.

Just like a zombie apocalypse, the problems that you explore in your writing have different sides and affect people in different ways. A stock market crash will be experienced differently by a CEO than by a factory worker, and their reactions will affect one another. A good essay or report will examine a problem from all possible angles.

4. “Criminal Minds:” Deliver the profile.

“Criminal Minds” is a great detective show, with a twist. Instead of profiling the crime itself, the B.A.U. team solves it by compiling a list of clues about the killer, which gives them the ability to determine who and where he is going to attack next.

An effective paper will present the reader with a “profile” in the introduction, outlining the list of clues that have led to a particular conclusion. Then you can develop your paper as if you were solving a crime.

5. “Breaking Bad:” How does change happen?

The character of Walter White is a case study on how events can change a character from good to evil. The well-intentioned chemistry teacher is transformed by the events of poverty and illness into a ruthless drug dealer.

Are you analyzing some kind of transformative change in your paper? What are the factors that led to that change? As you examine the transformation in depth, you may find that it is every bit as complicated and intriguing as the sea-change of Walt White.

So don’t worry about your next writing assignment! With a little imagination, you can make it into a hit!

The Ultimate Checklist for Research Proposal Writing

the-ultimate-checklist-for-research-proposal-writingHow to convince the committee that you have a distinguished project and an exceptional plan to prepare it? To write an outstanding research proposal!

There is no single format for all research proposals because different disciplines and academic institutions have different formats and requirements. However, there are some components that should be included in every proposal.

We’ve prepared this ultimate list for research proposal writing to get you through the process as smoothly as possible.

Cover Page

Make sure that a cover page includes all necessary information to identify your topic, institution and degree:

  • concise and eye-catching title
  • your name and qualifications
  • department and university
  • your supervisor’s name

Your cover page provides the first impression of your proposal, so check one more time whether the title introduces the key ideas of your project and presents the right direction of your investigation.

Table of Contents

Make certain the table of contents:

  • presents the parts of a research proposal in a hierarchical way, with the help of titles and subtitles
  • indicates exact page references for every part

Introduction

The main aim of the introduction is to provide background for your research problem. Think about it as a narrative written to answer these 4 important questions:

1. What is the core research problem?
2. Which topic of study is related to it?
3. What methods should be used to analyze the problem?
4. Why is this research important?
After reading your introduction, the reader will have an understanding of what you want to do. Your introduction may include a theoretical starting point, a personal motivation or historical/cultural/ social/political information about the research question.

Purpose and Aims of the Study

This section describes the objectives and desired outcomes of your work to find the answers for the researched problem. Make sure:

  • the purpose is expressed in terms of the broader context of the study
  • there are not too many research questions, so the focus is manageable
  • the aims are related to the stated purpose

Literature review

The literature review demonstrates that you are aware of the diversity of material that is related to your research proposal. You need to show understanding of the relative theories, studies and models. Successful literature review:

  • keeps focus on the literature essential to your investigated problem
  • combines various theories, findings and arguments on the topic
  • gives the reader enough ties to the literature that you have found and read during the research
  • shows that you can take a critical approach to your area of research

Research Design

The research design is aimed at describing your plans and methods and should:

  • indicate the research operations you will use and the way you will interpret the results of these operations
  • specify why these methods are the best way to investigate the problem
  • anticipate any potential challenges you may face while finding information or analyzing data
  • provide a timetable and action plan to explain how each of the tasks will be carried out

Expected Outcomes

Surely, you don’t have the results when you start writing your proposal, but you should have some suggestions about the possible outcomes. Therefore, this section should provide:

  • the expected results
  • a series of paragraphs foreseeing the importance of the research

Glossary of Terms

Make sure you have a list of:

  • specialised terms
  • words
  • concepts
  • acronyms

and their meanings.

References

Be sure to reference texts and sources that play a significant role in your analysis, in addition to your planned readings. These include:

  • all textbooks
  • journal articles
  • relevant books
  • Internet sources

These references will help you avoid plagiarism, so make sure to cite them properly.

A high-quality proposal not just promises success to your project, but also impresses your committee about your potential as a researcher. Therefore, make sure your writing is coherent and compelling, and your research idea is clearly stated and persuasive.

Before submitting the completed work, check it carefully to make certain that your research proposal has all essential sections and follows all specified instructions. Our ultimate checklist will help you with that!

Common Mistakes in College Paper Writing

essay-writing-mistakes

Writing assignments for college credit take all different shapes and requirements—and of course, present a variety of stresses. Ultimately, though, a paper is a great opportunity to explore your own ideas and express independent conclusions. Even if you admit to not being the best writer, there is room for success in college paper writing, as long as you see the pitfalls coming and divert via the route of clarity, logic, and compliance.

To follow are some common mistakes students make in college paper writing. Take heed and weed costly errors out of your prose; after all, mistakes are less often related to your skills as a writer, and more often the result of carelessness and bad habits.

Failing to Understand the Assignment

Not taking time to comprehend what a paper assignment calls for is a huge error. Most professors offer ample detail about what they want, so get into the fine print. If the professor assigns 500 words, meet that expectation. Don’t short the essay by 19 words and assume it’s fine because it’s still “in the ballpark.” It is always better to go over by 5 to 10 words (no more) than to miss a word-count benchmark. And don’t question this part of an assignment: there’s method to a prof’s madness in requiring that writers get it said in so many words.

Get clarity, too, on documentation requirements: are in-text citations appropriate, or does this instructor craves footnotes? Ask about how much and what kind of source material you should access and annotate, then dig into research.

Informal Language and Colloquialisms

An academic paper should be presented in formal, academic English; this is no time for “street talk” or for “text speak.” A good rule of thumb is to avoid abbreviations altogether (that includes contractions) and never to rely on slang or jargon. For example, the phrase “a lot” seems to convey something like “many” or “much.” In all actuality, though, “a lot” presents like a noun, especially with the article in play. The phrase is vague; leave it out.

Steer clear of everyday expressions and “trendy” language too, unless the professor indicates this college paper can accommodate it. Elevate tone, elevate content, and elevate end results.

Using First Person and Direct Address

Academic writing typically calls for some amount of objectivity, where first-person announcements like “I feel” or “I contend” aren’t the best options. After all, it is your essay, so isn’t the “In my opinion” construct a given? Take a step back. Distance yourself from the “speaker” platform by using “the author” in place of first person; just don’t get too carried away so that you end up sounding like a stuffed shirt!

And direct address (writing “you this, you that”) is just one more common mistake—and it’s particularly dangerous. Plug in “one” to keep from putting words into a reader’s mouth and to avoid making the reader feel targeted.

Misusing Basic Punctuation

One major pitfall for most writers, especially in college paper writing where authors are spread thin and in a rush, is punctuation. Being comma-happy means your prose is interruptive and stilted; not having an independent clause on either side of a semi-colon confuses a reader. Slow down and edit carefully. In fact, keep a style guide on hand: make use of writing resources available in the library and via online platforms, because every writer needs instant access to the rules and regs regarding grammar, punctuation, and usage.

The Best Quotes to Beat Procrastination

procrastination-writing

Procrastination is a particularly cunning beast. It lures you into feeling of false comfort and then disappears, leaving you face to face with panic and work overload monsters. And be sure: it will never be your ally in this battle.

Luckily, you don’t have to be the first person to fight the traitor. Lots of great people have conquered it and developed their own successful tactics and strategies. We’re not going to instruct you on the ways to do so. The ultimate goal is to inspire you to find the one that works particularly for you.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

The saying belongs to Pablo Picasso. We tend to think artists and the creatives in general are usually in conflict with schedules, deadlines and all kind of organizational pressure. However, Picasso’s example vividly demonstrates that even the most unconventional thinkers realize: getting things done is a precondition of success.

“It is awfully hard work doing nothing.”

A brilliantly witty playwright Oscar Wilde, obviously knew a thing or two about life in general and procrastination in particular. Postponing a task till the very last minute is actually exhausting, since the looming perspective of the need to face it never leaves your mind, bringing you to the state of constant anxiety. Eventually, you get tired of procrastinating, not of the actual dealing with a problem. Add the feeling of guilt and you’ll get the bitter cocktail no one really wants.

“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Theodore Roosevelt couldn’t get it wrong. Fear of failure is one of the most common reasons of delaying work on a task. The trick is that it automatically leads to failure. Mistakes often lead to fascinating experiences. They make you ask for help, get to know more people and generally go down the path of self-development. Procrastination is a way to nowhere. In fact, it’s not even a way.

“If and When were planted, and Nothing grew.”

This precious piece of wisdom says it all. You don’t get to see the results of your work unless you actually do something.

Of course, the most complicated thing here is to make the first step towards change. However, you may use a couple of simple tricks to make the transition far more manageable.

  • Divide the task into small chunks. Let’s say you’ve got a research paper to write. Most of the time you’ll be reluctant to even think about it, taken all the weight of responsibility into consideration.
    Why not try a different way? First, you may google the topic to find proper sources to quote in your work. Then you get to the point of formulating a thesis statement. After that, you craft a detailed outline. And then fill in the gaps!
  • Push through the hard times. Perseverance is often the key element that brings you to the successful completion of the task. This will definitely require significant effort. Nevertheless, once you conquer the first obstacle, the following ones get a little easier.
  • Praise yourself! Positive reinforcement does miracles to one’s productivity. Having finished a small task, reward yourself with a little prize. A piece of fruit, time to surf social media, a short nap – something that makes you feel awesome emotionally and physically.

Any struggle gets easier when you’re no alone. When it comes to fighting procrastination – you definitely have a great crowd to accompany you. So get inspired and get down to work!

How to Do Research for an Essay Without Wasting Time

essay-research

So, it sounded like a good idea to take six classes this semester, but now that you have four or five essays all due by midterm, you’re rethinking that decision. Relax, you’ve got this. Doing the research for your essay is arguably the most challenging part of the whole process, so knowing how to do it quickly and efficiently puts you a little closer to finishing your essays on time and with good results. Let’s look at how to expedite essay research when you’ve got a goal to achieve and deadlines looming near.

Create an Outline

The outlining step to writing an essay can’t be skipped, no matter how short on time you are. Determine how you want to open the essay and what you want to say in the body and the conclusion. Determine if any research is required for information you plan to include. List the facts you want to substantiate as you make your outline, since this streamlines what you’re looking for when you dig into research.

Review Requirements

Essay requirements are like Forest Gump’s proverbial box of chocolates; you really never know what your professors are going to ask of you when it comes to writing assignments. One professor may require that you use peer-reviewed sources only, while some others may even accept Wikipedia as a source. Refer to the specific requirements of the essay before you start researching, and get up to speed on what is expected of you (instead of finding out later that a source is not acceptable).

Reserve Materials

Plan well in advance for your essay by reserving any materials that you need from the library. You don’t want to be the 12th student waiting on a particular book when you have to tackle the nitty-gritty and get your paper written. If your school doesn’t have an item that you need in its campus library, turn to your public library instead. Many librarians will even order books and other media that patrons need if the facility does not own the item already; all you have to do is ask.

Take Advantage of Your School’s Library Database

Now you probably prefer searching the materials online, but at one time, students just like you had to actually go to a library and page through peer-reviewed journals themselves to find scholarly articles and studies. Today, even the smallest community colleges usually provide students digital access to databases of material such as EBSCO, Medline/Pub Med, Health Reference Center Academic, Oxford University Press, and more. With just a few search terms entered into your library’s collective databases, you can find oodles of information in seconds and sort it by resource type. Some databases even include a works cited entry for journal articles and other publications, making it easy to construct your works cited page as you choose your resources (be sure to determine if your professor prefers MLA or APA style first).

Take Notes

Note what you want to use from each source as you evaluate and research, keeping the notes organized in the order in which you plan to use the material in the essay. Making a single page for each resource can make it easier to cite things as you go along and keep you on track and moving toward the finish line. You can also make use of research management tools, sometimes available in library databases, such as EndNote or Zotero, to help you organize your material, annotate your work, and generate the reference list for you.

Finally, pace yourself and avoid getting side-tracked. Staying on-task is important to efficient research, within reason. Be sure to allow yourself a break to stretch or even grab some fresh air to keep you alert and in tune to the job at hand. Before you know it, you’ll be finished and ready to move on to the next essay in your pile.

Best Music to Write Essays to: Focus, Think, Write

essay-writing-music

If you’re like most students, writing can be frustrating, especially if you’re tense, stressed, or facing a looming due date for an important essay. The answer to staying focused and tapping into your creative juices may be as nearby as your earbuds: music. A whole body of research suggests that listening to music while you write boost’s your brain’s capacity for spatial-temporal reasoning, which is responsible for creative thinking (and thus, writing). So what type of music improves your concentration and focus the most?

Choosing a Genre

Various studies have been undertaken over the years on music and focus, particularly when it comes to writing (and also, studying), and researchers have found that music sans lyrics is the most effective at keeping you on task and churning out meaningful words. Music with words can be distracting to some writers, causing them to pay more attention to the lyrics than they are to the creative process.

That’s not to say you can’t throw on an epic soundtrack if you’re dealing with a bugger of an essay, a little Kanye, if you’re feeling like a superstar at a particular moment in time, or even some Adele to soothe your soul while you bring your ideas to life. However, electronic music, with its ambient notes and repetitive beats, and Baroque-period classical music, with its harmonic chords, are thought by researchers to be the best at releasing the inner Stephen King or G.R.R. Martin. “Brandenburg Concerto #3” by Johann Sebastian Bach gets numerous nods from researchers when it comes to heightening concentration and productivity.

Although choosing music from these genres can be as personalized as your own specific tastes, there are lots of recommendations floating around the interwebs when it comes to the “right” songs for writing. But don’t worry, we have a writer-approved playlist to help you focus and unleash your creativity.

  • First Breath After Coma” by Explosions in the Sky. If you’ve watched “Friday Night Lights,” then you’ll recognize this tune as the theme song for the show. This instrumental has limited vocals and is interesting enough without being really intense, so you can focus on the job at hand – writing.
  • You Wish” by Nightmares on Wax. This electronic instrumental has an R&B twang and provides tranquil background noise to get your neurons pumping and the words flowing.
  • So What” by Miles Davis. This 60’s instrumental from one of jazz’s greatest will help you maintain focus without distracting you from what you’re writing about.
  • The Bridge of Khazad Dum” by Howard Shore on “The Lord of the Rings” soundtrack. You don’t have to live in the Shire to appreciate this soothing instrumental.
  • Metamorphosis II” by Philip Glass. This piano solo provides mood-lifting background noise for your late-night writing enjoyment.
  • Time” by Hans Zimmer from the “Inception” soundtrack. This peaceful instrumental will keep you focused and relaxed.
  • Shempi” by Ratatat. This vocal-free instrumental has a high-energy feel, helping you stay alert and keep your focus on pushing through the last few hundred words of your research paper.

White Noise

White noise is also worth a mention for breaking the boredom of silence that weighs down some writers. Picture it: crickets chirp, birds sing, and thunder rolls in the background while you pound out 1,000 words on the French Revolution. Words flow like milk and honey from your fingertips, and you finish up your piece with enough time left over to binge watch a few eppys of your favorite show before heading off to bed. That’s the power of white noise. Although not exactly music per se, white noise can put an end to the monotony of quietness, which can, ironically be a big distraction.

Create your own white noise mix with Noisli, a free app (also available on laptops and PCs) with an on-board mixer that lets you add nature sounds, storm sounds, coffee shop sounds, and water sounds, among others, to find the right level of background noise for your tastes.

Music is a great source of inspiration. Find the perfect tune and have fun working on your next assignment.

Skills You Need for College

skills-for-college

You have finally made it to high school graduation and college is looming large in the near future. But are you ready? You know your way around a scientific calculator, and you can write a killer research paper, but do you have the soft skills to be a successful college student? Being academically prepared and being prepared in other areas of your life are two different things altogether.

College readiness goes beyond the courses you’ve taken and the SAT and ACT exams you’ve sat for. Some of the skills that you need to be a successful college student are often not found in a classroom setting. Let’s take a look at some skills you need to ensure your successful passage from graduating senior to lowly freshman undergrad, ready to “adult.”

Time Management

Time: we only get so much of it, and what you do with it really matters. For this reason, one of the most valuable skills you need to hone prior to heading off to college is time management. (Consequently, mastering time management is a good idea, since you will need this skill in nearly every area of your life in adulthood). Learn now how to prepare a schedule that factors in time spent in class and time spent studying and preparing – really studying and preparing – for each class. Now balance that with everything else that you’ll want and need to do once you’re “out on your own”. Maybe you need to factor in time for working, and you’ll naturally want to make time for attending student activities and hanging with your friends. Creating a schedule that works for you is a skill that must be learned, even if on the fly, by all successful college students.

Study Skills

Even if you have some mad study skills in high school, college-level work is another animal altogether. What was “good effort” in high school may not equally translate in college. Learn how to take notes effectively, use the library for research, and hone your study skills now – you’ll need them when you’re taking advanced classes in college.

Managing Stress

Stress management is essential for college students. Whereas before, you were in a more sheltered high school and home environment, living on campus means doing many of the things that adults have to do, all on your own. Eat well, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly to keep stress to a minimum. Find coping mechanisms, whether it’s prayer or yoga, to help you de-stress.

Managing Money

While some high school graduates have the money management thing down pat, the truth is most kids fresh out of school have no idea how to budget and handle money. Learn all you can now about making and sticking to a budget, balancing your checkbook, and living within your means. Most college students live on a shoestring budget, so learning how to get the most for your money and avoiding indulgent purchases is important.

Self-Care

You’ve so far had your parents to monitor your health for the most part. Now you’re in charge. You have to learn how to care for your physical health. Practicing good hygiene and self-care, making time for proper nutrition, and seeking medical attention when a problem arises is all on your shoulders now.

Personal Responsibility

Learning personal responsibility is key to mastering all of the above skills. Personal responsibility means being honest and having integrity, but it also means respecting the rules and following them. It is also your responsibility to avoid risky behaviors that are often enticing to young students and making smart choices now instead of making decisions that might negatively impact your otherwise bright future. In essence, you are the master of your ship, and it’s in your hands how you steer your course.

Writing a Strong Hook Sentence: Start with a Knock-Out

hook-sentence

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” wrote Charles Dickens in his “A Tale of Two Cities.” This sentence, with its riddle-like structure that both challenges and enthralls the reader, is often used to define the hook sentence concept. As the name implies, a hook sentence “hooks” the reader from the get-go and keeps him actively engaged with the words on the page. Getting the reader’s attention early on in your essay is paramount to keeping his attention going so that he’ll actually want to read the rest of your work. The good news is that you don’t need Dickensian aspirations to come up with a killer hook sentence for a simple essay. Let’s look at how you can sell your reader on what your essay has to offer.

Identify the Audience for Your Paper

If you’re writing an essay, you likely are writing to please one person only – your instructor, teacher, or professor. In this case, your audience is clearly defined, and the hook sentence that you write for this type of essay may be completely different from the hook you might come up with if you were writing an essay to share in the school paper with your friends. The audience determines the message that you portray in your hook sentence; it should speak directly to the audience, and the audience should be able to easily relate to what you say on its own level.

Figure Out What Matters to Your Audience

It can also help to determine what matters to your audience. Your professor is looking for specific information; likely this means that you should demonstrate knowledge of the subject being discussed. The professor may also be looking for mastery of APA or MLA style elements. By contrast, if you’re writing an opinion piece for the newspaper, then write with an eye to appealing to like-minded readers with whom you share a common concern.

Effective Hook Sentences

There is no formula for creating a hook sentence, so let your creativity and a few proven strategies guide you. Consider these examples:

  • Give advice. “If you want to have friends, you have to be a friend first.”
  • Provide an anecdote. Use a short or unbelievable factoid or story about an incident or person to get the reader’s attention. “Mariah Carey lives in an apartment worth millions of dollars, but her sister is homeless.”
  • Make a bold statement. “Before long, doctors will be able to print new kidneys using 3D printing systems.”
  • State a contradiction. “Donald Trump claims he can balance the national budget, but he’s filed bankruptcy several times.”
  • Define something as your hook. “Agoraphobics are people who do not go out of their homes for extended periods of time; some haven’t been shopping in years.”
  • Present the reader with a dilemma. “Enforcing immigration laws keeps terrorists out of the country, but it also breaks up families and destroys lives.”
  • Go for a quote. “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I don’t know” – W. H. Auden.
  • Open with humor. “I am not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
  • Ask the reader a rhetorical question. “What does it really mean to be bored?”
  • Share a statistic or factoid. “As many as 80 percent of students report cramming for finals the night before.”
  • Share a personal tidbit. “When I was growing up, there was no Internet, so kids looked up information in encyclopedias.”

Ultimately, the hook sentence you choose should be one that sparks interest and that is directly relatable to what you plan to write and the style you choose for your essay. A good hook can make or break your essay, so put a little elbow grease into crafting yours to make your essay shine.