How to write a good essay introduction
Whenever my students get an essay from school (irrespective of the subjective), they would just stare blankly at the page and hope the pen would start to scratch words on to the paper by itself.
The reason why it is so difficult to put pen to paper is because they have no idea of how to write the introduction and they are difficult to do because of two reasons. First, it is the first paragraph and make a start on anything is always difficult. Second, an introduction lays the foundation for the rest of the essay to flow from and hence requires more mental effort than any other section. As the saying goes, “well begun is half done”! Here are some good tips on how to write a good introduction.
Set the context
All essay questions have an inherent background to which the issues being considered flow from. This background/context needs to be concisely laid out in the introduction so that the audience understands from which perspective the author is coming from. This is very similar to an author setting the scene in fiction so that readers have some grasp of the background to help them move along the story.
Acknowledge the command words
As the names suggest, command words instructs the student the way the question should be answered and indicates the level of detail, sophistication and style which is required in the answer. Examples of typical command words include “Discuss” and “Evaluate”. Simply put, to discuss is to explain the issues and background mentioned in the essay title. To evaluate is to make judgements and subjective comments about the topics under consideration. Only one to two sentences are needed in the introduction to acknowledge that these command words have been taken into account of.
Outlining the scope of the essay
At the end of the introduction, the reader would expect to have some sense on how the essay is structured and the direction in which the will flow. This could be as simple as stating the number of points you intend to make in support/against (or both) of the issue under consideration. Alternatively, you may also define the key terms to ensure set the limits of discussion. Framing the scope of the essay helps the writer become more focused and rigorous in the way he/she writes.
I have provided a sample introduction below based on the following points above.
Essay Title: Discuss and evaluate whether the British economy will benefit from a fall in interest rates.
This question is very typical type of question found in GCSE/IB level amongst the social sciences and humanities subject.
The British economy has been experiencing severe economic problems in the past 12 months due to the global economic downturn and the aftershocks of the Greek default (Setting context). Immediate measures are called for to address the situation (explaining the relevance of the context). Given the limited scope for using fiscal policies, the implementation of monetary policies via lowering interest rates are regarded as the most suitable course of action despites its shortcomings (Setting context + setting foundation for “evaluate” by acknowledging that IR also has shortcomings). In the following, the benefits of falling interest rates via the implementation of monetary policy for the British economy will be discussed and evaluated (outling scope by specifying falling interest rates when monetary policy is implemented + acknowledging the command words “Analyse” and “Evaluate”).