How to Write a Hook for an Essay. 11 Hook Types Explained with Examples

11 takes on how to write a hook for an essay

Table of contents:
  1. What is a hook?
  2. Why is a hook essential for your essay?
  3. 11 types of essay hooks
  4. How to write a good hook for any assignment
  5. Where to find ideas for writing an essay hook
  6. Final word of advice

The first line of an essay is like an opening scene in a movie. If the opening is drawn-out and dull, you’ll pick something else to stream, and so will your readers if you fail to grab their attention within the first few seconds. It’s a common rule marketers, advertisers, and best-selling authors have used for decades. So if you want your papers to be memorable, leave an impression, and score top marks, learning how to write a good hook for a college essay is a must. Luckily, you’ll find everything you need to know in this guide.

What is a hook?

A hook is the opening line of your paper, whether it’s an essay, a term paper, or a novel. It is supposed to draw the reader’s attention and keep them interested long enough to get them hooked until the finish line.

Remember that the hook is only the first part of an essay. You can’t lure the reader in without building on your momentum. The opening paragraph should also introduce your topic and provide a strong thesis statement. 

Before we detail how to write good essay hooks, let’s review a few questions that will help you at the brainstorming stage. Think about them and answer honestly to get the best insights:

  1. Is your essay argumentative, narrative, informative, or personal?
  2. Which tone and writing style will you use?
  3. Who do you expect (or want) to read your work?
  4. Will you go with a traditional structure or a creative one?


Tip from SpeedyPaper:

Write the introduction and hook after the rest of your paper is ready. It will be easier to answer the questions and choose the right tone and information. Just remember to give yourself enough time to work on the hook before the submission deadline.

Why is a hook essential for your essay?

A hook makes your essay irresistible, like a thrilling novel or catchy song. Consider it your first hook when figuring out how to title an essay. It's the initial point of contact, setting the tone and evoking curiosity. As you delve into how to start an essay, the introduction further elaborates this intrigue, luring your reader deeper into your words.

Crafting a compelling hook gives your audience a reason to invest their time. It ensures your piece doesn't become just another paper in a stack. Instead, it becomes an exciting journey of ideas and insights.

But why go through this intricate process? Why not just pay to do research paper samples and be done with it? While that's an option, nothing matches the sense of accomplishment you'll feel from a well-received piece you've penned yourself. A well-crafted hook is your ticket to this invaluable experience.

11 types of essay hooks

We’ve gone over “What is an essay hook?”. Now let’s look at your options and examples before we dive into what type of hook works best for each college assignment.

Question hook

Human brains are wired to answer questions, so an exciting question hook is universal and works for most assignment types. Besides, it can be easy to develop. But remember to avoid yes or no questions and make your queries pointed and thought-provoking. You can also include a series of pointed questions, but don’t turn your introduction into an interrogation. Too many questions, just like generic queries, will not engage the reader, which is what a good hook is all about. 

What made Germans blindly follow Hitler’s world domination plans?

Does knowing the estimated date of death make people act differently? 

Strong statement hook

Starting your paper with a bold declaration is easy. All you need to do is answer a provocative question with a controversial response. But remember that your declaration hook should be in line with the rest of the introduction and paper as a whole, meaning there should be enough evidence to support your claim. Without backing, your hook is nothing but clickbait, and no one likes that.

Sugar is as strong a drug as narcotics and should be similarly regulated.

Fact or definition hook

Dictionary definition has long been the golden standard of college essays and can still be effective if you weave it into your narrative. The problem is that most definitions are obvious and rather dull. So in most cases, an interesting fact or an unexpected interpretation of the definition would be a better choice for an essay hook.

Urban Dictionary includes dozens of colloquial words and phrases for drugs and addiction, from Mary Jane to Jim Jones and beyond.

Statistic hook

Just like questions, our brains love numbers. That’s why so many posts online start with “Top-10”. You can use this psychology quirk to your advantage if you find a figure that fits your topic and is unexpected enough to surprise your readers into wanting to learn more. Remember to cite the source of information used in your hook for an essay, as it’s unlikely to be common knowledge.

There are 30 million more men than women of marrying age in China, and the gender disparity will only worsen as a long-term consequence of the “one-child laws”.

Metaphor hook

Creative writing assignments are best-suited for using a simile hook, as other writing styles lean towards less flowery language and imagery. You can weave an extended metaphor throughout the paper, finding similarities between disparate subjects and topics. But don’t mix in other metaphors to avoid confusing the reader.

School is a lot like prison, with a sentence as long as you’d get for a serious crime. Principals and teachers aren’t that different from wardens and guards.

Personal story hook

If you’re working on a personal essay or your college admission paperwork, opening with a short scene from your experience is a logical choice of an essay hook. As with all other hook types, your story should be relevant to the narrative and short enough to fit within the first couple of sentences. Ask your professor if the first-person narration is appropriate if you’re not sure starting with “I” is a good idea.

I was at the beach with my grandma when I nearly drowned. It was her dog who saved me.

Tip from SpeedyPaper:

If you want to take your writing to the next level, leave the story hanging and provide a resolution in conclusion. This trick will give your essay a classic symmetry often used in novels and movies.

Description hook

So many books start with a brief yet vivid description of a scene because most of us are visual thinkers. We need details to see the setting before our mind’s eye. You can lead your paper with a backdrop and add sounds, smells, and other sensory information to make it more memorable. 

Sitting in front of a tiny fire, listening to the cracking of wood, and huddling into scratchy wood blankets, the travelers didn’t know what was waiting for them in the morning.

Quotation hook

Opening your papers with literary quotes and quotes from famous people is a timeless staple, and it works for most assignments. So if none of the other hooks work for you, a suitable quote is always an option. You can now use Google to find thousands of quotes on any topic, so be picky and choose the line that works best with the rest of your paper. You can lead with the quote or build it into your analysis, question, or statement.

John F. Kennedy said, “ask not what your country can do for you,” but what does the US do for its citizens?

Common misconception

Disproving myths and misconceptions is a great way to open an informative essay, as it presents surprising data in a non-confrontational way. Make sure your essay hook relies on objective and trustworthy data; otherwise, the rest of your paper will look weak.

Many believe decaffeinated coffee is 100% free of caffeine, but that is not the case, as most current processing methods leave a significant percentage of the compound behind.

Anecdotal hook

“Anecdotal” doesn’t always mean funny or humorous, though your opening lines can certainly be so, especially if you’re working on a narrative or personal piece. An anecdote is a short story that relates to the essay topic and draws the reader’s attention. If you use this type of hook, remember that most academic pieces do not allow the use of first-person singular pronouns.

Bill and Paul met in a tiny Albuquerque garage to build what would later become one of the biggest IT corporations in the world. 

Thesis statement hook

Traditionally, introductions use the hook and background information to lead the reader to the thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph. However, you can open with the thesis if you think it’s interesting and exciting. In this case, you’ll provide background information after the thesis, so you’ll need to think of a good transition into the first body paragraph.

Humanity is on a path to self-destruction, so space colonization may be the only way to preserve humankind and start from a blank slate without repeating the same mistakes we made on Earth.

How to write a good hook for any assignment

With so many options available, you’re probably wondering how to choose a good hook for your assignment. Let’s take a closer look at examples of essay hooks and go over the most suitable projects for each type. 

Type of hook Example hook Works for Doesn’t work for
Question What use are college classes if they don’t teach anything about real life? Argumentative, persuasive, personal, and informative essays Narrative pieces
Statement College education is useless because it doesn’t teach anything about real life. Most assignments Narrative essays
Definition Education is defined as the process of acquiring knowledge. Most assignments Creative writing
Statistic One in three college students does not complete their undergraduate program. STEM pieces, argumentative and persuasive essays, informative papers Personal, narrative, and creative writing
Metaphor Getting a college degree is like investing in cryptocurrency: you never know if you’ll become rich or lose everything. Personal, narrative, and creative writing STEM pieces, argumentative and persuasive essays, informative papers
Anecdote My mom didn’t speak to me for a month after I said I wouldn’t be applying to college. Personal, narrative, and creative writing STEM pieces, argumentative and persuasive essays, informative papers
Description The sea of people flooded the courtyard on graduation day, and their voices blended into the sound of crashing waves. Personal, narrative, and creative writing, persuasive essays Informative and argumentative papers
Quote Nelson Mandela believed that “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”. Most assignments STEM papers
Misconception Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg make many believe every college dropout becomes a self-made billionaire, but only 1% of startups survive. Most assignments Argumentative essays


Now that you know how to write a good essay hook, take a look at how to build it into a paper with a smooth transition into the topic background and thesis statement. Check out an essay sample from the SpeedyPaper sample collection we’ve chosen specifically for its inspiring introduction.

Where to find ideas for writing an essay hook

As you’ve learned, hooks require a particular style and information to have the most significant impact. And once you’ve chosen the suitable hook style, finding samples or data should be the next step. If you’re stumped, consider one or more of the following options to find a good hook for an essay:

  1. TED Talks and scientific clips. Most will start with an intriguing hook you can borrow or mimic.
  2. Statista, government databases, and other statistics sources. Numbers draw attention and make your writing look well-researched.
  3. Scientific articles. Pay attention to abstracts, conclusions, and visual aids, as they hold the critical information you can use.
  4. Best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. Skim the first paragraphs of your favorite reads to remember what drew you in.


Professional writers spend decades honing their skills, so don’t be disappointed if you cannot come up with a good essay hook on your first try. The more you work on it, the better your essay openings will become. And you can always reach out for quick paper help if you need a hand with the introduction.


Tip from SpeedyPaper:

Start a hook collection. Copy and save the best one-liners from movies, opening sentences from books, and interesting facts about your classes. Remember to include source information and categorize them using tags or headers. Whenever you’re stuck writing a hook, find inspiration in this library. 

Final word of advice

Now you know how to write a good hook for an essay, whether it’s your admission application or routine assignment. But what if you’re stuck at the prewriting stage, still brainstorming topics? SpeedyPaper can help with that, too. Our extensive library hosts thousands of samples you can use to develop an exciting topic and find references and insights on how to write a creative essay or a research paper. Check out the most popular entries across different fields:

  1. Disappointing experiences, failures, and wrong decisions
  2. Summary and analysis of Witches Loaves by O’Henry
  3. Google stakeholder analysis
  4. The theme of love in Romeo and Juliet
  5. Chevening award reference letter
  6. Literary analysis of Mericans by Sandra Cisneros
  7. Summary and analysis of Amusing the Million by John F. Kasson
  8. Sample worksheet answers for the Oregon Trail computer game
  9. Character analysis of Edward Scissorhands
  10. Article analysis of Under My Skin by Chris Adrian
  11. Dental hygiene and oral healthcare
  12. Amazon business practices through the lens of Porter’s Diamond model
  13. Economic and ethical principles of health maximization
  14. Literary analysis of A Black Man Talks of Reaping poem