How to write an introduction

Once you have the timeline of your essay, you will need to begin the process of writing. Your introduction will serve as the first point of contact between you and the examiner/your teacher – as such, what you are doing is creating a first impression and, as we know, first impressions count. Make the wrong first impression, and the rest of your essay will feel like an unfriendly and confusing experience for the reader.

The Foundation: Your Introduction

You have chosen a location for your house. You have chosen the style of your house. Now, you need to start laying the foundations. Your introduction is the foundation to your essay. In the same way that a house needs a foundation in order for it to be constructed with balance and solidity, your essay requires an introduction that will provide the same function. If you follow the advice given in this and the following sections, and use your plan effectively, you will be able to construct, over and over, a robust, yet beautifully crafted, introduction for any question that you are faced with.

01 Intro 00 0101 Intro 00 02

Top Tip 1

One easy way we, at The Coursework Club, help our students remember the purpose of each of the three sections of an essay, is this:

Introduction
“To tell them what you’re going to tell them”.

Main Body
“To tell them”.

Conclusion
“To tell them what you’ve already told them”.

The Purpose of an Introduction:


  • To take the examiner ‘out’ of his/her context and place him/her in the context of your essay. CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT.
  • To introduce the subject of your essay.
  • To explain what your argument is (your thesis/your main point).
  • To provide a clear path into the main body of your essay.
  • To address the key terms of the question directly.
  • To demonstrate your understanding of the subtleties of the question.
  • To introduce some of the main content of your essay.
  • To introduce some of the historiography (historical interpretation/views of historians) surrounding the topic you have chosen

Top Tip 2

Write your intro/essay as if you were attempting to explain something to someone for the first time. Imagine that the examiner has no knowledge of the subject, but is intelligent enough to grasp complex issues, provided you explain these issues clearly, simply, and with keen organisation.

‘Building’ Your Introduction

Imagine you are viewing your completed essay from above. You should get a sense of the essay as a whole – as an overview. You can see the ‘big picture’ because this is your essay and you have constructed it word by word; you have built your ‘house’ brick by brick. You know what the topic is, you know the details, you have created a wonderful argument, you have bravely chosen an array of interesting sources, and you have drawn it all together in a stunning conclusion.

Now think of this – the examiner, or your teacher, cannot see the big picture; they have not yet seen the finished house. They have no idea what you have planned or where you are going, they have not seen the construction process and they haven’t yet ‘walked’ through your finished ‘house’. Remember, the examiner has probably read a hundred essays (some of which will not have been particularly pleasant to read) - walking through a number ‘houses’ which would not have made him feel at home. If an examiner does not feel comfortable in your essay, they will feel very nervous. Your house must make the reader feel comfortable.



Question

How do you make the reader feel more comfortable, more relaxed, more secure in your ‘house’?"

Answer

You build the most reassuring of foundations for your house – a great introduction to your coursework.


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