Writing an Introduction

Writing an introduction to an essay can be one of the most difficult of writing tasks - how to start? For those of us who stare blankly at the equally blank computer screen which awaits our well-considered words, it can be easier to skip the introduction and come back to it when the rest of the essay is finished. This option doesn't exist in exams, of course, so it is worth learning a few basic rules to help when writer's block hits.

This quiz tests the principles of writing a good introduction.

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  1. Out of the following, which would be the preferable length for an introductory paragraph?
    It would be very difficult to do the job of an introduction in one or two sentences. A full A4 page will always be too long an introduction at GCSE
  2. Pupils are often taught to write 'In this essay, I will ....' -- Which of the following would make the most elegant replacement for this construction?
    Sometimes pupils think it sounds more humble to say 'I think...' or 'I will argue'. It is better to state your argument plainly and clearly. The reader (your teacher or examiner) will know that your argument is what you think and that your essay is what you wish to argue
  3. How does Shakespeare compare love and friendship in The Merchant of Venice? - Which key words should be mentioned in an introductory paragraph written in answer to this question?
    'Compare' would not be absolutely essential because it would be possible (and perhaps preferable) to use a synonym for the word
  4. Your argument must...
  5. One of the most important purposes of an introductory paragraph is to 'hook' the reader. This can be achieved by...
  6. An essay's argument is...
    Your argument is your answer to the essay question, which will be the main point you wish to make. The rest of the essay should be structured to refer back to and support this point
  7. Your introduction should mention the subject of your essay. This is also called the...
    Your topic might be a play, two poems to compare, an author, a theme, a character, the use of language in a text, etc. Whatever your topic is, your introductory paragraph must mention it
  8. Which of the following is true?
    A brief outline in the introductory paragraph guides your reader through your essay and, therefore, your argument
  9. In An Inspector Calls, what is the effect created by Inspector Goole's manner of showing each character the photo of Eva Smith? - Which key words should be mentioned in an introductory paragraph written in answer to this question?
    While you should not copy the full question, you can rephrase it in your answer. Exam questions say precisely what they intend, which means that most of the words in the question are very important
  10. Which of the following is NOT one of the purposes of an introductory paragraph?
    If you said everything you had to say in the introduction, there would be no reason for the reader to finish the essay

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