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Sentence Starters: Ultimate List to Improve Your Essays and Writing

Ashley Shaw

Ashley Shaw

How to start a sentence

This blog post is going to be about … No. Too boring.

Today, I am going to talk to you about ... No. Too specific.

This is a blog post for all writers ... Nope. Too generic.

Has this ever been you while writing? I get it. Writing a good sentence can be hard, and when you have to string a whole lot of them together, the task can become daunting. So what do you do?

From the first sentence you write to the very last, you want each one to show your style and motivate your reader to keep reading. In this post, we are going to think about how you start your sentences.

sentence starter tip

What Is a Good Sentence Starter for an Essay Introduction?

What is a good sentence starter for a body paragraph, 25 useful transitions, can i repeat a sentence starter, how can i rephrase "in conclusion".

The first paragraph of a paper can make or break your grade. It is what gets your audience into the topic and sets the whole stage. Because of this, it is important to get your readers hooked early.

The first sentence of a paper is often called the hook. It shouldn’t be anything ordinary. It should have strong language and be a little surprising, with an interesting fact, story, statistic, or quote on the topic.

Because it is designed to pull the reader in and surprise them a little, it is often good to avoid pre-written sentence starter examples when writing your hook. Just get into it here, and worry about the flow later.

Here are some examples:

Spider webs were once used as bandages.

I taught myself to read when I was three. At least, that’s the story my parents tell.

Recent studies suggest that the average person lies at least once in every conversation.

“The world is bleeding and humans wield the knife,” or so says environmental scientist So Andso.

(P.S. Except for example 1, which is true, I just made all of these up to demonstrate my point. So, please don’t quote me on these!)

Once you jump right in with your hook, it is time to start working on ways to move sentences along. Here is where you may need some sentence starter examples.

In your first paragraph, you basically want to connect your hook to your thesis. You’ll do this with a few sentences setting up the stage for your topic and the claim you will make about it. To do that, follow the tips found in the next section on body paragraphs and general sentence starter tips.

Many of the tips I am about to discuss can be used anywhere in a paper, but they are especially helpful when writing body paragraphs.

Let’s start with one of the most important types of sentence starter in essay writing: transition words.

How Do I Use Transitions in an Essay?

Definition of Transitions

If you want to start writing terrific sentences (and improve your essay structure ), the first thing you should do is start using transition words.

Transition words are those words or phrases that help connect thoughts and ideas. They move one sentence or paragraph into another, and they make things feel less abrupt.

The good thing about transition words is that you probably know a lot of them already and currently use them in your speech. Now, you just need to transition them into your writing. (See what I did there?)

Before we get into examples of what a good transition word is, let’s look at a paragraph without any transitions:

I went to the store. I bought bacon and eggs. I saw someone I knew. I said hello. I went to the cashier. They checked me out. I paid. I got my groceries. I went to my car. I returned home.

Yikes! That is some boring writing. It was painful to write, and I am sure it is even worse to read. There are two reasons for this:

  • I start every sentence with the same word (more on this later)
  • There are no signposts showing me how the ideas in the paragraph connect.

In an essay, you need to show how each of your ideas relate to each other to build your argument. If you just make a series of statements one after the other, you’re not showing your instructor that you actually understand those statements, or your topic.

How do we fix this? Transition words. Roughly 25% of your sentences should start with a transition word. If you can hit that number in your essay, you’ll know that you’ve made meaningful steps towards demonstrating your understanding.

Of course, hitting that number isn’t enough—those transitions need to be meaningful. Let’s look at the different types of transitions and how you can use them.

What Are Words Like First , Next , and Last Called?

You probably already use some transitions in your essays. For example, if you start a paragraph with firstly , you’ve used a transition word. But transitions can do so much more!

Here are 25 common transitional words and phrases that you could use in your essay:

  • Additionally / In Addition
  • Alternatively / Conversely
  • As a result of
  • At this time
  • Consequently
  • Contrary to
  • First(ly), Second(ly), etc.
  • In contrast
  • Nonetheless
  • On the other hand
  • Particularly / In particular
  • In other words

Common Transitional Words

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it is a good start.

These words show different types of relationships between ideas. These relationships fall into four main categories: Emphasis , Contrast , Addition , and Order .

What Are Emphasis Transition Words?

These phrases are used when you want to highlight a point. Examples from my above list include clearly , particularly , and indeed . Want to see some more? Follow my bolded transitions: Undoubtedly , you understand now. It should be noted that you don’t need to worry.

How Do You Use Addition Transitions?

These words add on to what you just said. These are words like along with , moreover , and also . Here are some more: Not only are you going to be great at transitions after this, but you will also be good at writing sentences. Furthermore , everyone is excited to see what you have to say.

How Can I Use Transitions to Contrast Ideas?

This is the opposite of addition, and you use it when you want to show an alternative view or to compare things. Examples from my list include words like nonetheless , contrary to , and besides .

Here are some more: Unlike people who haven’t read this article, you are going to be really prepared to write great sentences. Even so , there is still a lot more about writing to learn.

How Do I Order Ideas in My Essay?

A good first step is using order transition words.

This set of transitions helps mark the passage of time or gives an order to events. From the list, think of things like first and finally . Now for some extras: At this time yesterday , you were worried about starting sentences. Following this , though, you will be an expert.

The four types of transitions

Now that you get the concept of transitions, let’s go back to that poorly written paragraph above and add some in to see what happens:

This morning , I went to the store. While I was there, I bought bacon and eggs. Then I saw someone I knew. So I said hello. After that , I went to the cashier. At that time , they checked me out. First , I paid. Next , I got my groceries. Following that , I went to my car. Finally , I returned home.

(Notice the use of commas after most of these transitions!)

This isn’t the best paragraph I’ve ever written. It still needs a lot of work. However, notice what a difference just adding transitions makes. This is something simple but effective you can start doing to make your sentences better today.

If you want to check your transition usage, try ProWritingAid’s Transitions report . You’ll see how many of each type of transition word you've used so you can pin-point where you might be losing your reader.

prowritingaid transitions report for essay

Sign up for a free ProWritingAid account to try it out.

What Are Some Linking Phrases I Can Use in My Essay?

As well as individual words, you can also use short phrases at the beginning of your sentences to transition between ideas. I just did it there— "As well as individual words" shows you how this section of the article is related to the last.

Here are some more phrases like this:

As shown in the example,

As a result of this,

After the meeting,

While this may be true,

Though researchers suggest X,

Before the war began,

Until we answer this question,

Since we cannot assume this to be true,

While some may claim Y,

Because we know that Z is true,

These short phrases are called dependent clauses . See how they all end with a comma? That's because they need you to add more information to make them into complete sentences.

  • While some may claim that chocolate is bad for you, data from a recent study suggests that it may have untapped health benefits .
  • Since we cannot assume that test conditions were consistent, it is impossible to reach a solid conclusion via this experiment .
  • As a result of this, critics disagree as to the symbolism of the yellow car in The Great Gatsby .

The bolded text in each example could stand on its own as a complete sentence. However, if we take away the first part of each sentence, we lose our connection to the other ideas in the essay.

These phrases are called dependent clauses : they depend on you adding another statement to the sentence to complete them. When you use a sentence starter phrase like the ones above in your writing, you signal that the new idea you have introduced completes (or disrupts) the idea before it.

Note: While some very short dependent clauses don’t need a comma, most do. Since it is not wrong to use one on even short ones (depending on the style guide being used), it is a good idea to include one every time.

Definition of a dependent clause

Along with missing transitions and repeating sentence structure, another thing that stops sentences from being great is too much repetition. Keep your sentences sharp and poignant by mixing up word choices to start your sentences.

You might start your sentence with a great word, but then you use that same word 17 sentences in a row. After the first couple, your sentences don’t sound as great. So, whether it is varying the transitional phrases you use or just mixing up the sentence openers in general, putting in some variety will only improve your sentences.

ProWritingAid lets you know if you’ve used the same word repeatedly at the start of your sentences so you can change it.

ProWritingAid's Repetition Report

The Repeats Report also shows you all of the repeats in your document. If you've used a sentence starter and then repeated it a couple of paragraphs down, the report will highlight it for you.

Try the Repeats Report with a free ProWritingAid account.

Now that you have your introduction sentences and body sentences taken care of, let’s talk a little about conclusion sentences. While you will still use transitions and clauses as in the body, there are some special considerations here.

Your conclusion is what people will remember most after they finish reading your paper. So, you want to make it stand out. Don’t just repeat yourself; tell them what they should do with what you just told them!

Use the tips from above, but also remember the following:

Be unique. Not only should you vary the words you use to start different sentences, but you should also think outside of the box. If you use the same conclusion sentence starter everyone else is using, your ideas will blend in too.

Be natural. Some of the best writing out there is writing that sounds natural. This goes for academic writing, too. While you won’t use phrases like "at the end of the day" in essay writing, stilted phrases like "in conclusion" can disrupt the flow you’ve created earlier on.

Here are some alternatives to "in conclusion" you could use in an essay:

  • To review, ... (best for scientific papers where you need to restate your key points before making your final statement)
  • As has been shown, ...
  • In the final analysis, ...
  • Taking everything into account, ...
  • On the whole, ...
  • Generally speaking, ...

If you’re looking for more ways to rephrase "in conclusion," take a look at our complete list of synonyms you can use.

in conclusion alternatives

There may not be a set word or words that you can use to make your sentences perfect. However, when you start using these tips, you’ll start to see noticeable improvement in your writing.

If you’ve ever heard people talk about pacing and flow in academic writing, and you have no idea what they mean or how to improve yours, then this is your answer. These tips will help your writing sound more natural, which is how you help your ideas flow.

Take your writing to the next level:

20 Editing Tips From Professional Writers

20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers

Whether you are writing a novel, essay, article, or email, good writing is an essential part of communicating your ideas., this guide contains the 20 most important writing tips and techniques from a wide range of professional writers..

sentences to start an essay about yourself

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Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.

Ashley Shaw is a former editor and marketer/current PhD student and teacher. When she isn't studying con artists for her dissertation, she's thinking of new ways to help college students better understand and love the writing process.

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How to Write a Short Essay About Yourself: Step-By-Step

Updated 06/4/2022

Published 06/19/2020

Yvonne Bertovich

Yvonne Bertovich

Contributing writer

Learn how to write about yourself with confidence, including step-by-step instructions and examples of things to write about yourself.

Cake values integrity and transparency. We follow a strict editorial process to provide you with the best content possible. We also may earn commission from purchases made through affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more in our affiliate disclosure .

Writing or even talking about yourself may not come easily to you. However, for professional or educational reasons, it’s often a necessity. There are other instances when writing about yourself may make more sense, as you can provide the rawest and most honest perspective.

Jump ahead to these sections:

Steps for writing about yourself, tips for writing about yourself creatively or confidently.

  • Examples of Things to Write About Yourself

You should feel empowered—not intimidated—in taking on a writing project about yourself. Use it as a way to challenge how you view your own experiences, talents, and more. We’ll discuss some steps for writing about yourself as well as provide a few examples.  

Writing isn’t for everyone, especially when it’s required. As much as you may dislike it, following the steps below can help the process go that much more smoothly.

If you find that following a different order than what we’ve recommended for you works better for your process, feel free to adjust accordingly. 

Step 1: Determine your purpose 

What’s causing you to write this “thing” about yourself? What exactly are you writing? It may surprise you that people write all kinds of pieces for themselves—even writing your own obituary isn’t out of the question anymore. 

The more specific you can get with yourself about your purpose will help the rest of the process. If it’s something stressful, like a college admission essay or a cover letter, try to frame the project in a different light. 

For example, “I’m writing this essay to show people my heart and how passionate I am about removing disparities and barriers in healthcare. I believe in my abilities, and I want to further my education, so I can help heal people.”

Step 2: Ask yourself some questions 

For any good piece of writing, there has to be fact behind it (if even these facts are abstract in narrative or fiction). The best way to gather facts about any subject is to ask a variety of questions, both soft- and hard-hitting. 

You may ask these questions internally, during research, or directly and literally. Treat this question step as a self-interview.

Here are some questions to ask yourself . You may also ask yourself:

  • What is my goal of writing this piece?
  • What themes or ideas do I want to focus on?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are some important lessons I’ve learned?
  • What do I want others to know or understand about me?

Step 3: Organize your answers 

After asking yourself the example questions above as well as others, you should be sure to write down your answers and begin organizing them if you haven’t already. 

It may be tempting to just answer your own questions in your head as you go—but don’t. This will just make the writing step more difficult. You may think that you’ll remember every good point or profound thought you come up with, but memory is a tricky thing. 

If you’re working through your questions during a time when you’re not ready or able to sit down and type or scribble them out, at least make some notes in your phone or in a journal so you can have some descriptive hints for later. No matter how big of an epiphany you may have, it’s possible you’ll forget it. 

Step 4: Write a draft 

If your ideas are already fairly organized, writing your draft should come fairly easily to you. The draft process, however, is when you can start spicing things up with anecdotes, your own personal voice, themes, metaphors—all that fun stuff. The point in you writing something about yourself for yourself is for the very reason that you can make it unquestionably you .

Dull, watered-down words or even over-hyped language from a thesaurus plug-in isn’t going to impress anyone. Writing something about yourself (unless the assignment is creative or unorthodox) isn’t the time to act like something you’re not.

All of this being said, don’t stress yourself out too much. Letting your ideas flow freely and then editing or revising them later is how you should approach the process anyway. You don’t want to put too many restrictions on your ideas from the get-go. Warring with yourself about your ideas while writing is only going to tire you out sooner. 

Think about it—you may spend hours trying to write a piece while overthinking that’s no better than a draft you could have written in 30 minutes on the fly. Not being totally in love with your first draft is normal. It just allows you that much more room to improve. 

Step 5: Put your progress aside

Much like during the draft process, it’s very possible to overthink your work after it’s mostly done. If you constantly keep re-reading it or rehashing your ideas in your head, they may start to sound odd, or you may try to add where you need to trim. 

For example, the same concept applies to repeating the same word over and over aloud — it’ll likely start to sound strange or even wrong the more you hear it. This also applies to music — ever play a song you love over and over till you hate it? 

You need to give your words and your brain some time to rest away from each other until you try to make any drastic edits or changes. That being said, you may love what you’ve written already and decide you don’t need to change a thing—that’s great!

Step 6: Review and edit

After your break, you can pick up your writing once again. Read it with a critical eye. Go back and think deeply about your purpose and any provided prompts. Have you answered everything you intended to or are required to?

It’s not uncommon—though devastating—to write an entire piece only to realize you wrote from the wrong frame of reference or focused on the wrong issue. For example, if you were asked to write about a challenge you overcame in your life by following an important virtue, but you only wrote about winning a basketball championship and not the struggle behind it, this may miss the mark. 

If you find a good number of issues in your work, don’t feel tempted to scrap the entire thing. What may work instead is to copy and paste your writing line-by-line into a new document. This way, you can save as much as possible while being sure to resolve even small discrepancies.

Step 7: Finalize your work

After you’ve undergone the brutal process of self-editing (or enlisting help from someone else you trust) you can prepare yourself for the home stretch. Finalizing your work shouldn’t take very long.

Y our process may differ; however, it’ll likely come down to reading over your work a few more times just to make sure you haven’t missed words, punctuation, or proper grammar. 

It’s OK to use this step to feel proud of yourself, too. You may not take a lot of time to reflect on your life and everything you’ve been through—it’s important to practice self-love in this way and celebrate your accomplishments.

Talking or writing about yourself may not be everyone’s cup of tea. For example, did you need to provide a fun fact recently but draw a blank? You’re not alone. In fact, many people have a false assumption that they’re boring. 

On the flip side, perhaps you’re used to talking about yourself, or, at least you’ve got the “fake it till you make it” type of confidence down-pat. However, you too can only benefit from adding a bit more razzle-dazzle to your spiels and writing assignments. Here are a few tips for writing about yourself creatively or confidently.  

Allow yourself space

If you have an upcoming project or writing assignment that has you on edge, consider stepping away. Even if you don’t consider yourself an outdoorsy person, a walk around the block may help you breathe and get your creativity flowing. Naturally, the more sound your idea or angle, the more confident you’ll feel about your upcoming performance.  

Keep that ego in check

An underinflated ego is just as bad as an overinflated one. Pay close attention to your internal dialogue when approaching new projects or writing tasks (or, honestly anything that comes up during your day). How much of what swirls around in your mind is fact? How much of it is just fleeting thoughts or opinions? You are not your thoughts, and you always have choices. Make good ones and be kind to yourself. 

Try this: Instead of thinking to yourself, “Wow, this is a really complex writing assignment. I can’t do this.” Or, “How am I ever going to get into my dream school with this essay? I’m not a strong writer.” 

Change your internal dialogue to, “I have good ideas. I may not have my plan figured out right now, but I’ll get it done,” or, “I have so many great skills to bring to the table and I am very passionate about what’s brought me here. I will convey this the best I can.”

Crowdsource

Sometimes an outside opinion can give us much-needed perspective. Ask your friends, family, loved ones, or coworkers to describe you in a few words or even in abstract ways. Don’t view this as you’re fishing for compliments. Ask your loved ones for honesty, as this insight can only help you when writing about yourself. 

Build up a fuel bank

Pulling inspiration out of thin air may not always be possible. However, if you build up a few reliable sources of inspiration, the next time a project hits, you’ll be prepared. You can fuel your creativity and confidence in a variety of ways. 

For example, you can create certain playlists for different moods, save favorite art or graphics in a digital folder or keep printed versions in your home or office, write down affirmations or notes-to-self in a journal or app, and so on. 

Reflect on past accomplishments and setbacks

Even if you aren’t a fan of journaling, writing about yourself is far easier if you take the time to reflect, if only mentally. If you know you have a deadline to write about yourself in the near future, you may want to physically or mentally jot down a few real-life examples or experiences that come to mind. 

But how do you get in the right headspace to reflect? What if you only witness recurring thoughts about past events while trying to fall asleep? Be sure to practice the first tip in this section: Give yourself some space to think. For once, limit the distractions, keep all other screens put away or turn on your "do not disturb" feature.

Now, think about some past accomplishments or setbacks that may not even seem relevant to the topic of the assignment. You may have an epiphany about unrelated things or discover something about how you operate. For example, you might realize that you feel less nervous in social and professional settings if you call out your anxiety as being excited. 

Examples of Writing About Yourself

Even if you feel super confident about writing about yourself now, we wanted to provide a few short examples to help you get started. Your tone, word choice, and more may differ depending on which piece you’re working on.

Here are some tips for writing or publishing your life story you may also find helpful. 

In a memoir or essay

Those were probably the best and the worst days of my life. I had never felt more happy and never felt more sad. I felt as though I were so close to having everything I had ever wanted, yet it seemed with every step forward, I had to take two steps back. It was exhausting. How did I get through it? To be quite honest, I have no damn idea. 

Perspective helped. I knew I could have had it way worse; I knew that my struggle wasn’t unique. I knew, too, that even when the small wins would come they’d have yet another loss right on their tails. I paid dearly for having too much heart and optimism, so I regularly had to hose myself down with logic and pessimism. 

On your blog or website

If you’re reading this, it’s too late. Just kidding! That’s just a really good Drake album. I wanted to take some time to talk about what’s been going on in my life lately for those of you who are nosey enough to care. Again, kidding, I know some of you really care. I’m so grateful to have even this small following that I have. It’s wild, really. Who would have thought that people want to know what’s going on in my head at any given time? Joke’s on you guys, though, because I don’t fully know all the time. 

I guess I’ll start off by saying that work has been a whirlwind. As you all know, it isn’t an easy time for anyone, so please don’t take this declaration as a complaint. I’m thrilled to still have a job despite everything going on. However, leaving this reflection at just that would be doing both myself and you all a disservice. It’s weak. It doesn’t really describe what’s been going on. Allow me to continue.  

In a college essay

When I was young, my grandmother told me I couldn’t please everyone — that some people just wouldn’t like me for no reason at all. This was very hard for me to swallow at times. What does this have to do with who I am today and why I plan to attend your university? 

Well, this early lesson demonstrates that in order for this world to keep spinning, we all have to be unwavering in our own pursuits. We are ourselves. We can’t be anyone else. In that, we all have the responsibility to bring our unique talents, wisdom, and heart to the table — even when we’re seated across from people who may not like us. 

Sometimes Only You Can Do It

Writing about yourself may always be challenging for you, but who better to do so than who knows you best? If you work through the process in every situation and give yourself some patience, there’s no question that you can’t craft something amazing. You may also be interested in this article about how to write family stories .

Your written words mean more than you think. This becomes a part of your legacy when you're gone, and it's one of the ways you'll be remembered. While many families choose custom urns from Foreverence or even to craft memorial diamonds from Eterneva , your words are something that live after you're gone.

While it might not seem natural at first, learning to write about yourself, your perspective, and your experiences carries a lot of significance. Who knows who might read these words when you're gone?

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sentences to start an essay about yourself

Crafting Compelling Sentence Starters for Essays

Embarking on the journey of essay writing can often feel like standing at the edge of a cliff, especially when it comes to crafting that perfect opening line. The initial words of your essay set the tone and can either captivate your reader or lose their interest. In this article, we'll explore various strategies and examples of sentence starters that can elevate your essays, making them not just informative but also engaging and thought-provoking.

The Art of the Opening Sentence

The opening sentence is your first impression, your chance to grab the reader's attention. It's the gateway to your thoughts and arguments, setting the stage for what's to come.

Why Are Good Sentence Starters Important?

  • Engagement: A compelling starter draws the reader in, piquing their curiosity.
  • Direction: It sets the tone and direction of your essay.
  • Context: A well-crafted opening provides a glimpse into the essay's context.

Examples of Effective Sentence Starters

  • "In the realm of X, it is often debated that..."
  • "Imagine a world where X is the norm..."
  • "X is a phenomenon that has captured the attention of many..."

Types of Sentence Starters

Depending on your essay's tone and subject, different types of sentence starters can be employed.

Question Starters

  • "Have you ever wondered what it would be like to X?"
  • "Why is X considered essential in the field of Y?"

Statement Starters

  • "The concept of X has evolved significantly over the years."
  • "X is a testament to the power of Y."

Quotation Starters

  • "As X once said, '...'"
  • "The words of X resonate deeply in the context of Y."

Tailoring Starters to Your Essay

The key to choosing the right starter is understanding the purpose and tone of your essay. Is it argumentative, descriptive, or narrative? Each type demands a different approach to engaging your reader.

Tips for Crafting Your Own Starters

  • Know Your Audience: Tailor your language to resonate with your readers.
  • Be Concise: Keep it clear and to the point.
  • Be Original: Avoid clichés to make your essay stand out.

Summary and Key Insights

Mastering the art of the opening sentence can transform your essays from mundane to memorable. It's about making a connection with your reader and setting the stage for your ideas.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a sentence starter too cliché.

A cliché starter is one that's overused and predictable, lacking originality and failing to engage the reader.

Can I start an essay with a quote?

Absolutely! A relevant and thought-provoking quote can be an excellent way to start an essay.

How long should a sentence starter be?

It should be concise enough to be impactful but long enough to set the context.

Is it okay to start an essay with a question?

Yes, starting with a question can be a great way to engage the reader's curiosity.

Can humor be used in essay sentence starters?

If appropriate for the topic and audience, humor can be an effective tool.

The right sentence starter can be the difference between an essay that resonates and one that falls flat. It's your first step in a dialogue with your reader, so make it count.

Looking for more than just tips? Our expert content writing agency offers professional writing services, SEO content, and unlimited revisions to ensure your essays and content not only start strong but also leave a lasting impression.

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15 Tips for Writing a College Essay About Yourself

What’s covered:.

  • What is the Purpose of the College Essay?
  • How to Stand Out Without Showing Off
  • 15 Tips for Writing an Essay About Yourself
  • Where to Get Free Feedback on Your Essay

Most students who apply to top-tier colleges have exceptional grades, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities. How do admissions officers decide which applicants to choose among all these stellar students? One way is on the strength of their college essay .

This personal statement, along with other qualitative factors like teacher recommendations, helps the admissions committee see who you really are—the person behind the transcript. So, it’s obviously important to write a great one.

What Is the Purpose of the College Essay? 

Your college essay helps you stand out in a pool of qualified candidates. If effective, it will also show the admissions committee more of your personality and allow them to get a sense of how you’ll fit in with and contribute to the student body and institution. Additionally, it will show the school that you can express yourself persuasively and clearly in writing, which is an important part of most careers, no matter where you end up. 

Typically, students must submit a personal statement (usually the Common App essay ) along with school-specific supplements. Some students are surprised to learn that essays typically count for around 25% of your entire application at the top 250 schools. That’s an enormous chunk, especially considering that, unlike your transcript and extracurriculars, it isn’t an assessment of your entire high school career.  

The purpose of the college essay is to paint a complete picture of yourself, showing admissions committees the person behind the grades and test scores. A strong college essay shows your unique experiences, personality, perspective, interests, and values—ultimately, what makes you unique. After all, people attend college, not their grades or test scores. The college essay also provides students with a considerable amount of agency in their application, empowering them to share their own stories.

How to Stand Out Without Showing Off 

It’s important to strike a balance between exploring your achievements and demonstrating humility. Your aim should be to focus on the meaning behind the experience and how it changed your outlook, not the accomplishment itself. 

Confidence without cockiness is the key here. Don’t simply catalog your achievements, there are other areas on your application to share them. Rather, mention your achievements when they’re critical to the story you’re telling. It’s helpful to think of achievements as compliments, not highlights, of your college essay.  

Take this essay excerpt , for example:

My parents’ separation allowed me the space to explore my own strengths and interests as each of them became individually busier. As early as middle school, I was riding the light rail train by myself, reading maps to get myself home, and applying to special academic programs without urging from my parents. Even as I took more initiatives on my own, my parents both continued to see me as somewhat immature. All of that changed three years ago, when I applied and was accepted to the SNYI-L summer exchange program in Morocco. I would be studying Arabic and learning my way around the city of Marrakesh. Although I think my parents were a little surprised when I told them my news, the addition of a fully-funded scholarship convinced them to let me go. 

Instead of saying “ I received this scholarship and participated in this prestigious program, ” the author tells a story, demonstrating their growth and initiative through specific actions (riding the train alone, applying academic programs on her own, etc.)—effectively showing rather than telling.

15 Tips for Writing an Essay About Yourself 

1. start early .

Leave yourself plenty of time to write your college essay—it’s stressful enough to compose a compelling essay without putting yourself under a deadline. Starting early on your essay also leaves you time to edit and refine your work, have others read your work (for example, your parents or a teacher), and carefully proofread.

2. Choose a topic that’s meaningful to you 

The foundation of a great essay is selecting a topic that has real meaning for you. If you’re passionate about the subject, the reader will feel it. Alternatively, choosing a topic you think the admissions committee is looking for, but isn’t all that important to you, won’t make for a compelling essay; it will be obvious that you’re not very invested in it.

3. Show your personality 

One of the main points of your college essay is to convey your personality. Admissions officers will see your transcript and read about the awards you’ve won, but the essay will help them get to know you as a person. Make sure your personality is evident in each part—if you are a jokester, incorporate some humor. Your friends should be able to pick your essay from an anonymous pile, read it, and recognize it as yours. In that same vein, someone who doesn’t know you at all should feel like they understand your personality after reading your essay. 

4. Write in your own voice 

In order to bring authenticity to your essay, you’ll need to write in your own voice. Don’t be overly formal (but don’t be too casual, either). Remember: you want the reader to get to know the real you, not a version of you that comes across as overly stiff or stilted. You should feel free to use contractions, incorporate dialogue, and employ vocabulary that comes naturally to you. 

5. Use specific examples 

Real, concrete stories and examples will help your essay come to life. They’ll add color to your narrative and make it more compelling for the reader. The goal, after all, is to engage your audience—the admissions committee. 

For example, instead of stating that you care about animals, you should tell us a story about how you took care of an injured stray cat. 

Consider this side-by-side comparison:

Example 1: I care deeply about animals and even once rescued a stray cat. The cat had an injured leg, and I helped nurse it back to health.

Example 2: I lost many nights of sleep trying to nurse the stray cat back to health. Its leg infection was extremely painful, and it meowed in distress up until the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t mind it though; what mattered was that the cat regained its strength. So, I stayed awake to administer its medicine and soothe it with loving ear rubs.

The second example helps us visualize this situation and is more illustrative of the writer’s personality. Because she stayed awake to care for the cat, we can infer that she is a compassionate person who cares about animals. We don’t get the same depth with the first example. 

6. Don’t be afraid to show off… 

You should always put your best foot forward—the whole point of your essay is to market yourself to colleges. This isn’t the time to be shy about your accomplishments, skills, or qualities. 

7. …While also maintaining humility 

But don’t brag. Demonstrate humility when discussing your achievements. In the example above, for instance, the author discusses her accomplishments while noting that her parents thought of her as immature. This is a great way to show humility while still highlighting that she was able to prove her parents wrong.

8. Be vulnerable 

Vulnerability goes hand in hand with humility and authenticity. Don’t shy away from exploring how your experience affected you and the feelings you experienced. This, too, will help your story come to life. 

Here’s an excerpt from a Common App essay that demonstrates vulnerability and allows us to connect with the writer:  

“You ruined my life!” After months of quiet anger, my brother finally confronted me. To my shame, I had been appallingly ignorant of his pain. 

Despite being twins, Max and I are profoundly different. Having intellectual interests from a young age that, well, interested very few of my peers, I often felt out of step in comparison with my highly-social brother. Everything appeared to come effortlessly for Max and, while we share an extremely tight bond, his frequent time away with friends left me feeling more and more alone as we grew older.

In this essay, the writer isn’t afraid to share his insecurities and feelings with us. He states that he had been “ appallingly ignorant ” of his brother’s pain, that he “ often felt out of step ” compared to his brother, and that he had felt “ more and more alone ” over time. These are all emotions that you may not necessarily share with someone you just met, but it’s exactly this vulnerability that makes the essay more raw and relatable. 

9. Don’t lie or hyperbolize 

This essay is about the authentic you. Lying or hyperbolizing to make yourself sound better will not only make your essay—and entire application—less genuine, but it will also weaken it. More than likely, it will be obvious that you’re exaggerating. Plus, if colleges later find out that you haven’t been truthful in any part of your application, it’s grounds for revoking your acceptance or even expulsion if you’ve already matriculated. 

10. Avoid cliches 

How the COVID-19 pandemic changed your life. A sports victory as a metaphor for your journey. How a pet death altered your entire outlook. Admissions officers have seen more essays on these topics than they can possibly count. Unless you have a truly unique angle, then it’s in your best interest to avoid them. Learn which topics are cliche and how to fix them . 

11. Proofread 

This is a critical step. Even a small error can break your essay, however amazing it is otherwise. Make sure you read it over carefully, and get another set of eyes (or two or three other sets of eyes), just in case.

12. Abstain from using AI

There are a handful of good reasons to avoid using artificial intelligence (AI) to write your college essay. Most importantly, it’s dishonest and likely to be not very good; AI-generated essays are generally formulaic, generic, and boring—everything you’re trying to avoid being.   The purpose of the college essay is to share what makes you unique and highlight your personal experiences and perspectives, something that AI can’t capture.

13. Use parents as advisors, not editors

The voice of an adult is different from that of a high schooler and admissions committees are experts at spotting the writing of parents. Parents can play a valuable role in creating your college essay—advising, proofreading, and providing encouragement during those stressful moments. However, they should not write or edit your college essay with their words.

14. Have a hook

Admissions committees have a lot of essays to read and getting their attention is essential for standing out among a crowded field of applicants. A great hook captures your reader’s imagination and encourages them to keep reading your essay. Start strong, first impressions are everything!

15. Give them something to remember

The ending of your college essay is just as important as the beginning. Give your reader something to remember by composing an engaging and punchy paragraph or line—called a kicker in journalism—that ties everything you’ve written above together.

Where to Get Free Feedback on Your College Essay 

Before you send off your application, make sure you get feedback from a trusted source on your essay. CollegeVine’s free peer essay review will give you the support you need to ensure you’ve effectively presented your personality and accomplishments. Our expert essay review pairs you with an advisor to help you refine your writing, submit your best work, and boost your chances of getting into your dream school. Find the right advisor for you and get started on honing a winning essay.

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

sentences to start an essay about yourself

9 Tips for Writing an Essay About Yourself

You know yourself better than anyone else, but writing about yourself can still be tough! When applying for scholarships or to college, essay prompts  can feel so general (and yet so specific!) that they leave us stumped.  So we’ll show you 8 tips to write an essay about yourself, so that you can land more scholarships. (Psst – Going Merry makes applying easy .)

1. Create a List of Questions

2. brainstorm and outline, 3. be vulnerable, 4. use personal examples, 5. write in the first person, 6. don’t be afraid to show off…but stay on topic, 7. show personality , 8. know your audience, 9. proofread and edit.

Let’s start with some examples of personal essay prompts:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Describe a challenge or event that made you who you are today.
  • What are your short and long-term goals, and how do you plan to achieve them?
  • Write about a time you failed at something. How did it affect you?

These are just a few of many scholarship essay prompts that require you to look internally, to answer a question, solve a problem, or explain a scenario in your life.  

We get it. You might not be a big fan of bragging about yourself, or you might want to keep your personal stories to yourself. But by opening up and sharing your story, you can show scholarship providers, colleges and universities who you are, and why you’re deserving of their scholarship.

(Don’t just take our word for it – check out our scholarship winners page full of students like you who were brave enough to share their stories with us).

how to write an essay about yourself

To get started, check out these 9 tips on how to write an essay about yourself:

After reading through the scholarship essay prompt, breathe, and make a list of smaller questions you can answer, which relate to the big essay prompt question. 

Let’s say the main essay prompt question asks you, “What were challenges or barriers you had to work to overcome?” Then the smaller questions might be something like:

  • What is your background? Family, finances, school.
  • What was challenging about that background?
  • What’s your greatest accomplishment? How did you get there? How have previous challenges influenced your goals?

Think of these questions as mini-prompts. They explain your story and help you answer the main essay prompt with more details than if you just answered it without a plan in place.

After considering smaller questions, it’s time to brainstorm your answers.  Take out a pen and paper – or open up a document on a computer – and take your time in answering each mini-prompt. Organize your responses in order:

  • Intro to main essay prompt.
  • Answer about 3 mini-prompt questions.
  • Conclude by rewriting the answer to the main essay prompt with a summary of your mini-prompt answers.

This organization will help you stay on topic and answer the prompt directly. (Or check out these 6 scholarship essay examples for alternative essay structures.)

Don’t be afraid to let your strengths, challenges, and personal stories shine through in your essay! Scholarship and admissions committees love to see that you’re self-aware how you can improve as a person, or how you’ve grown because of your experiences. Honest writing can help tell the best stories (in this case, YOUR story).

how to write an essay about yourself

Since this essay is all about you , you should make your answer as specific as possible! Avoid using generalizations (e.g., “I’m really good at music). Instead, go for more personalized statements (e.g., “My fourth-grade teacher Ms. Matay really inspired me to pursue my interest in the clarinet”). Your personal examples are what will help your scholarship essay stand out among the thousands of applicants..

 You’re telling your story, so write from your perspective! You can narrate your story. You can provide an overview of what you learned from your experiences. However you choose to answer the prompt, we recommend writing in an active tone, and using “I” and “me” throughout your essay.

Most students worry about bragging in their essay, but we say go for it! This is your time to shine, so highlight your accomplishments and strengths.  Review your essay to make sure that you’re keeping the tone informative and that you’re still on topic. (Brag while answering the essay prompt; don’t just mention random, unrelated but impressive facts about yourself!)You can use this brag sheet where you can brainstorm your accomplishments. While the worksheet is geared toward requesting letters of recommendation , you can still use it to write out your hobbies, interests, college list , and strengths to help you answer your scholarship essay prompt.

how to write an essay about yourself

Just because it’s an essay doesn’t mean it has to be dry and boring. This essay is all about you, so let your personality shine through. If you’re the class clown, you can use a bit of humor. If you wear your heart on your sleeve, don’t be afraid to show emotion. Trying your best to express who you are as a person will have a huge effect on the admissions or scholarship committee!

If you’re applying for a scholarship, research the scholarship provider. If you’re applying to college, research the school. Understanding what makes the provider/college unique and what their motivations are, will allow you to incorporate that information in your essay. For example, many scholarships are funded by private companies that sell products. You might want to reference those products in your essay. A good example of this is Emily Trader’s essay for the Life Happens organization , where she uses her personal narrative to explain the importance of insurance planning, since that is the mission of the organization (which is funded by insurance companies).

The last step in answering your essay prompt is to double-check your work! One typo can be distracting and cause scholarship providers to scratch their head while reading the essay. ( Psst, humble brag: Going Merry’s application platform includes spellcheck because we’ve got your back .) In addition to proofreading for typos and grammatical errors, also consider whether the sentence or paragraph structure makes sense. Are you breaking paragraphs in the right place? Are you using topic sentences well to signpost your main ideas? Does the essay flow? Consider these “bigger” structural questions too.  You might also want to ask a friend, family member, teacher, or guidance counselor to review your essay. They might catch something you didn’t see the first time around, and that can really help your essay! In fact, that is scholarship winner Daniel Gill ’s #1 tip. (Another tip is to apply for scholarships using Going Merry !)

how to write an essay about yourself

Also, check out this helpful list of the 10 most common scholarship essay topics while you’re brainstorming!

Top 10 Most Common Scholarship Essay Prompts Graphic

Now that you know how to write an essay about yourself, it’s time to start applying for scholarships! Remember: You’ve got this. 

Sign up for your free Going Merry profile . From there, you can easily upload and submit your essay for thousands of scholarships. We make it easy so you’ll only need to enter your profile information once! And then, you can apply away. In fact, we even have some bundled scholarships so that you only enter your essay once, to apply for multiple scholarships at the same time.

Or if you’re not ready to register, simply sign up to receive an email with 20 new scholarship opportunities each week. Just enter your email address below:

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College Essays

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If you've been sitting in front of a blank screen, unsure of exactly how to start a personal statement for college, then believe me—I feel your pain. A great college essay introduction is key to making your essay stand out, so there's a lot of pressure to get it right.

Luckily, being able to craft the perfect beginning for your admissions essay is just like many other writing skills— something you can get better at with practice and by learning from examples.

In this article, I'll walk you through exactly how to start a college essay. We'll cover what makes a great personal statement introduction and how the first part of your essay should be structured. We'll also look at several great examples of essay beginnings and explain why they work, how they work, and what you can learn from them.

What Is the College Essay Introduction For?

Before we talk about how to start a college essay, let's discuss the role of the introduction. Just as your college essay is your chance to introduce yourself to the admissions office of your target college, your essay's beginning is your chance to introduce your writing.

Wait, Back Up—Why Do Colleges Want Personal Statements?

In general, college essays make it easier to get to know the parts of you not in your transcript —these include your personality, outlook on life, passions, and experiences.

You're not writing for yourself but for a very specific kind of reader. Picture it: your audience is an admissions officer who has read thousands and thousands of essays. This person is disposed to be friendly and curious, but if she hasn't already seen it all she's probably seen a good portion of it.

Your essay's job is to entertain and impress this person, and to make you memorable so you don't merely blend into the sea of other personal statements. Like all attempts at charm, you must be slightly bold and out of the ordinary—but you must also stay away from crossing the line into offensiveness or bad taste.

What Role Does the Introduction Play in a College Essay?

The personal statement introduction is basically the wriggly worm that baits the hook to catch your reader. It's vital to grab attention from the get-go—the more awake and eager your audience is, the more likely it is that what you say will really land.

How do you go about crafting an introduction that successfully hooks your reader? Let's talk about how to structure the beginning of your college essay.

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How to Structure a Personal Statement Introduction

To see how the introduction fits into an essay, let's look at the big structural picture first and then zoom in.

College Essay Structure Overview

Even though they're called essays, personal statements are really more like a mix of a short story and a philosophy or psychology class that's all about you.

Usually, how this translates is that you start with a really good (and very short) story about something arresting, unusual, or important that happened to you. This is not to say that the story has to be about something important or unusual in the grand scheme of things—it just has to be a moment that stands out to you as defining in some way, or an explanation of why you are the way you are . You then pivot to an explanation of why this story is an accurate illustration of one of your core qualities, values, or beliefs.

The story typically comes in the first half of the essay, and the insightful explanation comes second —but, of course, all rules were made to be broken, and some great essays flip this more traditional order.

College Essay Introduction Components

Now, let's zero in on the first part of the college essay. What are the ingredients of a great personal statement introduction? I'll list them here and then dissect them one by one in the next section:

  • A killer first sentence: This hook grabs your readers' attention and whets their appetite for your story.
  • A vivid, detailed story that illustrates your eventual insight: To make up for how short your story will be, you must insert effective sensory information to immerse the reader.
  • An insightful pivot toward the greater point you're making in your essay: This vital piece of the essay connects the short story part to the part where you explain what the experience has taught you about yourself, how you've matured, and how it has ultimately shaped you as a person.

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How to Write a College Essay Introduction

Here's a weird secret that's true for most written work: just because it'll end up at the beginning doesn't mean you have to write it first. For example, in this case, you can't know what your killer first sentence will be until you've figured out the following details:

  • The story you want to tell
  • The point you want that story to make
  • The trait/maturity level/background about you that your essay will reveal

So my suggestion is to work in reverse order! Writing your essay will be much easier if you can figure out the entirety of it first and then go back and work out exactly how it should start.

This means that before you can craft your ideal first sentence, the way the short story experience of your life will play out on the page, and the perfect pivoting moment that transitions from your story to your insight, you must work out a general idea about which life event you will share and what you expect that life event to demonstrate to the reader about you and the kind of person you are.

If you're having trouble coming up with a topic, check out our guide on brainstorming college essay ideas . It might also be helpful to read our guides to specific application essays, such as picking your best Common App prompt and writing a perfect University of California personal statement .

In the next sections of this article, I'll talk about how to work backwards on the introduction, moving from bigger to smaller elements: starting with the first section of the essay in general and then honing your pivot sentence and your first sentence.

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How to Write the First Section of Your College Essay

In a 500-word essay, this section will take up about the first half of the essay and will mostly consist of a brief story that illuminates a key experience, an important character trait, a moment of transition or transformation, or a step toward maturity.

Once you've figured out your topic and zeroed in on the experience you want to highlight in the beginning of your essay, here are 2 great approaches to making it into a story:

  • Talking it out, storyteller style (while recording yourself): Imagine that you're sitting with a group of people at a campfire, or that you're stuck on a long flight sitting next to someone you want to befriend. Now tell that story. What does someone who doesn't know you need to know in order for the story to make sense? What details do you need to provide to put them in the story with you? What background information do they need in order to understand the stakes or importance of the story?
  • Record yourself telling your story to friends and then chatting about it: What do they need clarified? What questions do they have? Which parts of your story didn't make sense or follow logically for them? Do they want to know more, or less? Is part of your story interesting to them but not interesting to you? Is a piece of your story secretly boring, even though you think it's interesting?

Later, as you listen to the recorded story to try to get a sense of how to write it, you can also get a sense of the tone with which you want to tell your story. Are you being funny as you talk? Sad? Trying to shock, surprise, or astound your audience? The way you most naturally tell your story is the way you should write it.

After you've done this storyteller exercise, write down the salient points of what you learned. What is the story your essay will tell? What is the point about your life, point of view, or personality it will make? What tone will you tell it with? Sketch out a detailed outline so that you can start filling in the pieces as we work through how to write the introductory sections.

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How to Write the First Sentence of Your College Essay

In general, your essay's first sentence should be either a mini-cliffhanger that sets up a situation the reader would like to see resolved, or really lush scene-setting that situates your audience in a place and time they can readily visualize. The former builds expectations and evokes curiosity, and the latter stimulates the imagination and creates a connection with the author. In both cases, you hit your goal of greater reader engagement.

Now, I'm going to show you how these principles work for all types of first sentences, whether in college essays or in famous works of fiction.

First Sentence Idea 1: Line of Quoted Direct Speech

"Mum, I'm gay." ( Ahmad Ashraf '17 for Connecticut College )

The experience of coming out is raw and emotional, and the issue of LGBTQ rights is an important facet of modern life. This three-word sentence immediately sums up an enormous background of the personal and political.

"You can handle it, Matt," said Mr. Wolf, my fourth-grade band teacher, as he lifted the heavy tuba and put it into my arms. ( Matt Coppo '07 for Hamilton College )

This sentence conjures up a funny image—we can immediately picture the larger adult standing next to a little kid holding a giant tuba. It also does a little play on words: "handle it" can refer to both the literal tuba Matt is being asked to hold and the figurative stress of playing the instrument.

First Sentence Idea 2: Punchy Short Sentence With One Grabby Detail

I live alone—I always have since elementary school. ( Kevin Zevallos '16 for Connecticut College )

This opener definitely makes us want to know more. Why was he alone? Where were the protective grown-ups who surround most kids? How on earth could a little kid of 8-10 years old survive on his own?

I have old hands. ( First line from a student in Stanford's class of 2012 )

There's nothing but questions here. What are "old" hands? Are they old-looking? Arthritic? How has having these hands affected the author?

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. (Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre )

There's immediately a feeling of disappointment and the stifled desire for action here. Who wanted to go for a walk? And why was this person being prevented from going?

First Sentence Idea 3: Lyrical, Adjective-Rich Description of a Setting

We met for lunch at El Burrito Mexicano, a tiny Mexican lunch counter under the Red Line "El" tracks. ( Ted Mullin '06 for Carleton College )

Look at how much specificity this sentence packs in less than 20 words. Each noun and adjective is chosen for its ability to convey yet another detail. "Tiny" instead of "small" gives readers a sense of being uncomfortably close to other people and sitting at tables that don't quite have enough room for the plates. "Counter" instead of "restaurant" lets us immediately picture this work surface, the server standing behind it, and the general atmosphere. "Under the tracks" is a location deeply associated with being run down, borderline seedy, and maybe even dangerous.

Maybe it's because I live in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where Brett Favre draws more of a crowd on Sunday than any religious service, cheese is a staple food, it's sub-zero during global warming, current "fashions" come three years after they've hit it big with the rest of the world, and where all children by the age of ten can use a 12-gauge like it's their job. ( Riley Smith '12 for Hamilton College )

This sentence manages to hit every stereotype about Wisconsin held by outsiders—football, cheese, polar winters, backwardness, and guns—and this piling on gives us a good sense of place while also creating enough hyperbole to be funny. At the same time, the sentence raises the tantalizing question: maybe what is because of Wisconsin?

High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour. (David Lodge, Changing Places )

This sentence is structured in the highly specific style of a math problem, which makes it funny. However, at the heart of this sentence lies a mystery that grabs the reader's interest: why on earth would these two people be doing this?

First Sentence Idea 4: Counterintuitive Statement

To avoid falling into generalities with this one, make sure you're really creating an argument or debate with your counterintuitive sentence. If no one would argue with what you've said, then you aren't making an argument. ("The world is a wonderful place" and "Life is worth living" don't make the cut.)

If string theory is really true, then the entire world is made up of strings, and I cannot tie a single one. ( Joanna '18 for Johns Hopkins University )

There's a great switch here from the sub-microscopic strings that make up string theory to the actual physical strings you can tie in real life. This sentence hints that the rest of the essay will continue playing with linked, albeit not typically connected, concepts.

All children, except one, grow up. (J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan )

In just six words, this sentence upends everything we think we know about what happens to human beings.

First Sentence Idea 5: The End—Making the Rest of the Essay a Flashback

I've recently come to the realization that community service just isn't for me. ( Kyla '19 for Johns Hopkins University )

This seems pretty bold—aren't we supposed to be super into community service? Is this person about to declare herself to be totally selfish and uncaring about the less fortunate? We want to know the story that would lead someone to this kind of conclusion.

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. (Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude )

So many amazing details here. Why is the Colonel being executed? What does "discovering" ice entail? How does he go from ice-discoverer to military commander of some sort to someone condemned to capital punishment?

First Sentence Idea 6: Direct Question to the Reader

To work well, your question should be especially specific, come out of left field, or pose a surprising hypothetical.

How does an agnostic Jew living in the Diaspora connect to Israel? ( Essay #3 from Carleton College's sample essays )

This is a thorny opening, raising questions about the difference between being an ethnic Jew and practicing the religion of Judaism, and the obligations of Jews who live outside of Israel to those who live in Israel and vice versa. There's a lot of meat to this question, setting up a philosophically interesting, politically important, and personally meaningful essay.

While traveling through the daily path of life, have you ever stumbled upon a hidden pocket of the universe? ( First line from a student in Stanford's class of 2012 )

There's a dreamy and sci-fi element to this first sentence, as it tries to find the sublime ("the universe") inside the prosaic ("daily path of life").

First Sentence Idea 7: Lesson You Learned From the Story You're Telling

One way to think about how to do this kind of opening sentence well is to model it on the morals that ended each Aesop's fable . The lesson you learned should be slightly surprising (not necessarily intuitive) and something that someone else might disagree with.

Perhaps it wasn't wise to chew and swallow a handful of sand the day I was given my first sandbox, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. ( Meagan Spooner '07 for Hamilton College )

The best part of this hilarious sentence is that even in retrospect, eating a handful of sand is only possibly an unwise idea—a qualifier achieved through that great "perhaps." So does that mean it was wise in at least some way to eat the sand? The reader wants to know more.

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. (Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina )

This immediately sets readers to mentally flip through every unhappy family they've ever known to double-check the narrator's assertion. Did he draw the right conclusion here? How did he come to this realization? The implication that he will tell us all about some dysfunctional drama also has a rubbernecking draw.

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How to Write a Pivot Sentence in Your College Essay

This is the place in your essay where you go from small to big—from the life experience you describe in detail to the bigger point this experience illustrates about your world and yourself.

Typically, the pivot sentence will come at the end of your introductory section, about halfway through the essay. I say sentence, but this section could be more than one sentence (though ideally no longer than two or three).

So how do you make the turn? Usually you indicate in your pivot sentence itself that you are moving from one part of the essay to another. This is called signposting, and it's a great way to keep readers updated on where they are in the flow of the essay and your argument.

Here are three ways to do this, with real-life examples from college essays published by colleges.

Pivot Idea 1: Expand the Time Frame

In this pivot, you gesture out from the specific experience you describe to the overarching realization you had during it. Think of helper phrases such as "that was the moment I realized" and "never again would I."

Suddenly, two things simultaneously clicked. One was the lock on the door. (I actually succeeded in springing it.) The other was the realization that I'd been in this type of situation before. In fact, I'd been born into this type of situation. ( Stephen '19 for Johns Hopkins University )

This is a pretty great pivot, neatly connecting the story Stephen's been telling (about having to break into a car on a volunteering trip) and his general reliance on his own resourcefulness and ability to roll with whatever life throws at him. It's a double bonus that he accomplishes the pivot with a play on the word "click," which here means both the literal clicking of the car door latch and the figurative clicking his brain does. Note also how the pivot crystallizes the moment of epiphany through the word "suddenly," which implies instant insight.

But in that moment I realized that the self-deprecating jokes were there for a reason. When attempting to climb the mountain of comedic success, I didn't just fall and then continue on my journey, but I fell so many times that I befriended the ground and realized that the middle of the metaphorical mountain made for a better campsite. Not because I had let my failures get the best of me, but because I had learned to make the best of my failures. (Rachel Schwartzbaum '19 for Connecticut College)

This pivot similarly focuses on a "that moment" of illuminated clarity. In this case, it broadens Rachel's experience of stage fright before her standup comedy sets to the way she has more generally not allowed failures to stop her progress—and has instead been able to use them as learning experiences. Not only does she describe her humor as "self-deprecating," but she also demonstrates what she means with that great "befriended the ground" line.

It was on this first educational assignment that I realized how much could be accomplished through an animal education program—more, in some cases, than the aggregate efforts of all of the rehabilitators. I found that I had been naive in my assumption that most people knew as much about wildlife as I did, and that they shared my respect for animals. ( J.P. Maloney '07 for Hamilton College )

This is another classically constructed pivot, as J.P. segues from his negative expectations about using a rehabilitated wild owl as an educational animal to his understanding of how much this kind of education could contribute to forming future environmentalists and nature lovers. The widening of scope happens at once as we go from a highly specific "first educational assignment" to the more general realization that "much" could be accomplished through these kinds of programs.

Pivot Idea 2: Link the Described Experience With Others

In this pivot, you draw a parallel between the life event that you've been describing in your very short story and other events that were similar in some significant way. Helpful phrases include "now I see how x is really just one of the many x 's I have faced," "in a way, x is a good example of the x -like situations I see daily," and "and from then on every time I ..."

This state of discovery is something I strive for on a daily basis. My goal is to make all the ideas in my mind fit together like the gears of a Swiss watch. Whether it's learning a new concept in linear algebra, talking to someone about a programming problem, or simply zoning out while I read, there is always some part of my day that pushes me towards this place of cohesion: an idea that binds together some set of the unsolved mysteries in my mind. ( Aubrey Anderson '19 for Tufts University )

After cataloging and detailing the many interesting thoughts that flow through her brain in a specific hour, Aubrey uses the pivot to explain that this is what every waking hour is like for her "on a daily basis." She loves learning different things and finds a variety of fields fascinating. And her pivot lets us know that her example is a demonstration of how her mind works generally.

This was the first time I've been to New Mexico since he died. Our return brought so much back for me. I remembered all the times we'd visited when I was younger, certain events highlighted by the things we did: Dad haggling with the jewelry sellers, his minute examination of pots at a trading post, the affection he had for chilies. I was scared that my love for the place would be tainted by his death, diminished without him there as my guide. That fear was part of what kept my mother and me away for so long. Once there, though, I was relieved to realize that Albuquerque still brings me closer to my father. ( Essay #1 from Carleton College's sample essays )

In this pivot, one very painful experience of visiting a place filled with sorrowful memories is used as a way to think about "all the other times" the author had been to New Mexico. The previously described trip after the father's death pivots into a sense of the continuity of memory. Even though he is no longer there to "guide," the author's love for the place itself remains.

Pivot Idea 3: Extract and Underline a Trait or Value

In this type of pivot, you use the experience you've described to demonstrate its importance in developing or zooming in on one key attribute. Here are some ways to think about making this transition: "I could not have done it without characteristic y , which has helped me through many other difficult moments," or "this is how I came to appreciate the importance of value z, both in myself and in those around me."

My true reward of having Stanley is that he opened the door to the world of botany. I would never have invested so much time learning about the molecular structure or chemical balance of plants if not for taking care of him. ( Michaela '19 for Johns Hopkins University )

In this tongue-in-cheek essay in which Michaela writes about Stanley, a beloved cactus, as if "he" has human qualities and is her child, the pivot explains what makes this plant so meaningful to its owner. Without having to "take care of him," Michaela "would never have invested so much time learning" about plant biology. She has a deep affinity for the natural sciences and attributes her interest at least partly to her cactus.

By leaving me free to make mistakes and chase wild dreams, my father was always able to help ground me back in reality. Personal responsibilities, priorities and commitments are all values that are etched into my mind, just as they are within my father's. ( Olivia Rabbitt '16 for Connecticut College )

In Olivia's essay about her father's role in her life, the pivot discusses his importance by explaining his deep impact on her values. Olivia has spent the story part of her essay describing her father's background and their relationship. Now, she is free to show how without his influence, she would not be so strongly committed to "personal responsibilities, priorities and commitments."

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College Essay Introduction Examples

We've collected many examples of college essays published by colleges and offered a breakdown of how several of them are put together . Now, let's check out a couple of examples of actual college essay beginnings to show you how and why they work.

Sample Intro 1

A blue seventh place athletic ribbon hangs from my mantel. Every day, as I walk into my living room, the award mockingly congratulates me as I smile. Ironically, the blue seventh place ribbon resembles the first place ribbon in color; so, if I just cover up the tip of the seven, I may convince myself that I championed the fourth heat. But, I never dare to wipe away the memory of my seventh place swim; I need that daily reminder of my imperfection. I need that seventh place.

Two years ago, I joined the no-cut swim team. That winter, my coach unexpectedly assigned me to swim the 500 freestyle. After stressing for hours about swimming 20 laps in a competition, I mounted the blocks, took my mark, and swam. Around lap 14, I looked around at the other lanes and did not see anyone. "I must be winning!" I thought to myself. However, as I finally completed my race and lifted my arms up in victory to the eager applause of the fans, I looked up at the score board. I had finished my race in last place. In fact, I left the pool two minutes after the second-to-last competitor, who now stood with her friends, wearing all her clothes.

(From "The Unathletic Department" by Meghan '17 for Johns Hopkins University )

Why Intro Sample 1 Works

Here are some of the main reasons that this essay's introduction is super effective.

#1: It's Got a Great First Sentence

The sentence is short but still does some scene setting with the descriptive "blue" and the location "from my mantel." It introduces a funny element with "seventh place"—why would that bad of a showing even get a ribbon? It dangles information just out of reach, making the reader want to know more: what was this an award for? Why does this definitively non-winning ribbon hang in such a prominent place of pride?

#2: It Has Lots of Detail

In the intro, we get physical actions: "cover up the tip," "mounted the blocks," "looked around at the other lanes," "lifted my arms up," and "stood with her friends, wearing all her clothes." We also get words conveying emotion: "mockingly congratulates me as I smile," "unexpectedly assigned," and "stressing for hours." Finally, we get descriptive specificity in the precise word choice: "from my mantel" and "my living room" instead of simply "in my house," and "lap 14" instead of "toward the end of the race."

#3: It Explains the Stakes

Even though everyone can imagine the lap pool, not everyone knows exactly what the "500 freestyle" race is. Meghan elegantly explains the difficulty by describing herself freaking out over "swimming 20 laps in a competition," which helps us to picture the swimmer going back and forth many times.

#4: It Has Great Storytelling

We basically get a sports commentary play-by-play here. Even though we already know the conclusion—Meghan came in 7th—she still builds suspense by narrating the race from her point of view as she was swimming it. She's nervous for a while, and then she starts the race.

Close to the end, she starts to think everything is going well ("I looked around at the other lanes and did not see anyone. 'I must be winning!' I thought to myself."). Everything builds to an expected moment of great triumph ("I finally completed my race and lifted my arms up in victory to the eager applause of the fans") but ends in total defeat ("I had finished my race in last place").

Not only that, but the mildly clichéd sports hype is hilariously undercut by reality ("I left the pool two minutes after the second-to-last competitor, who now stood with her friends, wearing all her clothes").

#5: It Uses a Pivot Sentence

This essay uses the time expansion method of pivoting: "But, I never dare to wipe away the memory of my seventh place swim; I need that daily reminder of my imperfection. I need that seventh place." Coming last in the race was something that happened once, but the award is now an everyday experience of humility.

The rest of the essay explores what it means for Meghan to constantly see this reminder of failure and to transform it into a sense of acceptance of her imperfections. Notice also that in this essay, the pivot comes before the main story, helping us "hear" the narrative in the way she wants us to.

Sample Intro 2

"Biogeochemical. It's a word, I promise!" There are shrieks and shouts in protest and support. Unacceptable insults are thrown, degrees and qualifications are questioned, I think even a piece of my grandmother's famously flakey parantha whizzes past my ear. Everyone is too lazy to take out a dictionary (or even their phones) to look it up, so we just hash it out. And then, I am crowned the victor, a true success in the Merchant household. But it is fleeting, as the small, glossy, plastic tiles, perfectly connected to form my winning word, are snatched out from under me and thrown in a pile with all the disgraced, "unwinning" tiles as we mix for our next game of Bananagrams. It's a similar donnybrook, this time ending with my father arguing that it is okay to use "Rambo" as a word (it totally is not).

Words and communicating have always been of tremendous importance in my life: from silly games like Bananagrams and our road-trip favorite "word game," to stunted communication between opposing grandparents, each speaking a different Indian language; from trying to understand the cheesemonger behind the counter with a deep southern drawl (I just want some Camembert!), to shaping a script to make people laugh.

Words are moving and changing; they have influence and substance.

From an Essay by Shaan Merchant ‘19 for Tufts University

Why Intro Sample 2 Works

Let's take a look at what qualities make this essay's introduction particularly memorable.

With the first sentence, we are immediately thrust into the middle of the action —into an exciting part of an argument about whether "biogeochemical" is really a word. We're also immediately challenged. Is this a word? Have I ever heard it before? Does a scientific neologism count as a word?

#2: It Shows Rather Than Tells

Since the whole essay is going to be about words, it makes sense for Shaan to demonstrate his comfort with all different kinds of language:

  • Complex, elevated vocabulary, such as "biogeochemical" and "donnybrook"
  • Foreign words, such as "parantha" and "Camembert"
  • Colorful descriptive words, such as "shrieks and shouts," "famously flakey, "whizzes past," and "hash it out"
  • "Fake" words, such as "unwinning" and "Rambo"

What's great is that Shaan is able to seamlessly mix the different tones and registers these words imply, going from cerebral to funny and back again.

#3: It Uses a Pivot Sentence

This essay uses the value-extraction style of pivot: "Words and communicating have always been of tremendous importance in my life." After we see an experience linking Shaan's clear love of his family with an interest in word games, he clarifies that this is exactly what the essay will be about—using a very straightforward pivoting sentence.

#4: It Piles On Examples to Avoid Vagueness

The danger of this kind of pivot sentence is slipping into vague, uninformative statements, such as "I love words." To avoid making a generalization the tells us nothing, the essay builds a list of examples of times when Shaan saw the way that words connect people: games ("Bananagrams and our road-trip favorite ‘word game,'"), his mixed-language family ("grandparents, each speaking a different Indian language"), encounters with strangers ("from trying to understand the cheesemonger"), and finally the more active experience of performing ("shaping a script to make people laugh").

But the essay stops short of giving so many examples that the reader drowns. I'd say three to five examples is a good range—as long as they're all different kinds of the same thing.

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The Bottom Line: How to Start a College Essay

The college essay introduction should hook your reader and make her want to know more and read more.

Good personal statement introductions will contain the following features:

  • A killer first line
  • A detailed description of an experience from your life
  • A pivot to the bigger picture, in which you explain why and how this experience has shaped you, your point of view, and/or your values.

You don't have to write the introduction first, and you certainly don't have to write your first sentence first . Instead, start by developing your story by telling it out loud to a friend. You can then work on your first sentence and your pivot.

The first sentence should either be short, punchy, and carry some ambiguity or questions, or be a detailed and beautiful description setting an easily pictured scene. The pivot, on the other hand, should answer the question, "How does the story you've told connect to a larger truth or insight about you?"

What's Next?

Wondering what to make of the Common Application essay prompts? We have the complete list of this year's Common App prompts with explanations of what each is asking as well as a guide to picking the Common App prompt that's perfect for you .

Thinking of applying to the University of California system? Check out our detailed guide on how to approach their essay prompts and craft your ideal UC essay .

If you're in the middle of the essay-writing process, you'll want to see our suggestions on what essay pitfalls to avoid .

Working on the rest of your college application? Read what admissions officers wish applicants knew before applying .

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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How to Write About Yourself

Last Updated: July 31, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Lucy Yeh . Lucy Yeh is a Human Resources Director, Recruiter, and Certified Life Coach (CLC) with over 20 years of experience. With a training background with Coaching for Life and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at InsightLA, Lucy has worked with professionals of all levels to improve the quality of their careers, personal/professional relationships, self marketing, and life balance. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 5,692,657 times.

Whether you're writing an essay about yourself for a scholarship, a self-introduction, or a personal bio for a job application, coming up with the right words to capture what makes you unique can feel challenging. Fortunately, there are tips and tricks that can make writing about yourself a breeze. Want some help getting across just how impressive, interesting, and skilled you really are? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about putting yourself into words effectively, complete with examples.

sentences to start an essay about yourself

Writing of the Autobiographical Nature

Step 1 Introduce yourself...

  • Who are you?
  • What is your background?
  • What are your interests?
  • What are your talents?
  • What are your achievements?
  • What challenges have you faced?

Step 2 Start with a...

  • What is your most interesting or unique quality? What word(s) describes you the best? Choose that topic.

Step 4 Use a few good details.

  • Bad: I like sports.
  • Ok: I'm a fan of basketball, football, tennis, and soccer.
  • Good: My favorite sport is football, both to watch and to play.
  • Better: When I was growing up, I would watch Big Ten football with my dad and brothers every Saturday, before we'd go outside and toss the football around. I've loved it ever since.

Step 5 Be humble...

  • Braggy: I'm the best and most dynamic worker at my company right now, so you should want to hire me for my talents.
  • Humble: I was lucky enough to be awarded three employee of the month awards at my current job. Turns out it was a company record.

Writing Personal Essays for School

Step 1 Choose a memorable story to tell.

  • Common themes or prompts for autobiographical essays include overcoming obstacles, great successes or spectacular failures, and what you learned about yourself.

Step 2 Focus on a single theme or purpose.

  • Depending on the assignment, you may need to connect a personal anecdote to a reading or an idea from class. Start brainstorming topics that are connected to that idea, to give yourself a variety of options to choose from.

Step 3 Write about complex topics, not cliches.

  • Common autobiographical essay cliches include sports stories, mission trips, and dead grandmothers. While these can all make for excellent essays if done well, it is difficult to stand out when telling the story of how your lacrosse team lost a big game, then practiced hard, then won. It has been written before.

Step 4 Limit the timeline...

  • If you want to tell the story of your nasty break-up, start with the break-up, do not start with the star-crossed way you met. You have got to get immediately to the tension in the story.

Step 5 Use vivid details.

  • When you have an idea of your topic, start writing a "memory list" of specific things that you remember about the event. What was the weather like? What did it smell like? What did your mother say to you?
  • Your opening paragraph will set the tone for the rest of the essay. Rather than telling the dull biographical details (your name, your place of birth, your favorite food), find a way to express the essence of the story you are going to tell and the themes you are going to explore in your essay.

Step 6 Start in the...

Writing a Cover Letter for an Application

Step 1 Find the prompt.

  • Outline your qualifications and highlight your talents in a cover letter.
  • Write about who you are.
  • In a cover letter, describe how your education and experience qualifies you for this position.
  • Explain how this opportunity will benefit your career goals.

Step 2 Match the style to the purpose.

  • When in doubt, keep it brief and serious. If you are unsure whether or not telling an amusing anecdote about your friend's bachelor party is appropriate in a cover letter, it is probably best to leave it out.

Step 3 Describe why you are writing in the first paragraph.

  • "I'm writing to apply for the entry-level position with Company Inc. advertised on your website. I think my experience and training makes me an ideal candidate for this position."
  • Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to include your name in the body of the letter: "My name is John Smith and I am applying...." Your name will be included in the signature , as well as the header of a cover letter, so there is no need to put it in the text itself.

Step 4 Structure the cover letter as cause and effect.

  • Who you are and where you come from.
  • Where you want to go.
  • How this opportunity would potentially help you get there.

Step 5 Detail your talents and skills specifically.

  • Be as specific as possible. It is alright to note that you are "A passionate leader in all walks of life" but it would be much better to write about an example of a time you lead in a surprising way.
  • Stay focused on skills and talents that connect specifically to the thing you are applying for. Extracurricular involvement, leadership roles, and other types of outstanding achievement may be important to you personally, but it may be totally extraneous. If you include something, ensure to connect it specifically to the goal of the cover letter.

Step 6 Describe your goals and ambitions.

  • Be as specific as possible. If you are writing a university cover letter, it is obvious that you have to have a degree to get a job as a doctor, but how did you come to choose this field? Why did you choose this school? What, specifically, do you want to take away from the experience?

Step 7 Explain how both parties will benefit from your selection.

  • Be careful about using a cover letter to critique a business. It is not the time to describe the suffering of a particular brand over the previous fiscal quarter, then promising that you will be able to turn it around with your ideas. That might not go over well if you are hired, and then you are unable to live up to the promise.

Step 8 Do not mistake...

  • Even if it is impressive, a high GPA or class ranking does not belong in a cover letter. Highlight it on your resume, but do not include it in two different places of the application.

Step 9 Keep it brief.

  • Mailing address
  • Telephone and/or fax number

Lucy Yeh

Expert Trick : Save time and effort by creating one generic format that you can use for many different job applications by tweaking the specific content for each one. Start with a general introductory paragraph , then a section or two fleshing out your resume and expertise as it relates to the job, and finish it off with a closing paragraph and a note of thanks.

Writing a Short Biography Note

Step 1 Write about yourself...

  • Pretend you are writing about someone else. Write your name and start describing that person like a character or a friend: "John Smith is the Executive Vice President of Company Inc..."

Step 2 Explain your position or title.

  • If you are a jack of all trades, say so. Do not be afraid to list "actor, musician, mother, motivational speaker, and professional rock climber" if they all apply equally.

Step 3 Briefly list your responsibilities or accomplishments.

  • It is common to list degrees that you have received. Pay particular attention to anything that ties into the work you are writing about. If you have special training, include it here.

Step 4 Include a bit of your personal life.

  • "John Smith is the Executive Vice President of Company Inc., in charge of marketing and overseas acquisitions. He received an MBA with distinction from Harvard and lives in Montauk with his cat Cheeto."
  • Do not overshare. It can seem funny to immediately start with "John Smith loves rafting and hates eating Cheetos. He's a total boss" and such bio notes can be appropriate for some venues, however be careful to avoid awkward oversharing. Telling everyone about your killer hangover might be best left for after work talk.

Step 5 Keep it brief.

  • Stephen King, who is one of the most successful and popular authors in recent history, has a bio note that just lists the name of his family members, his hometown, and his pets. Consider leaving out the self-congratulation entirely.

Community Q&A

wikiHow Staff Editor

  • Remember that you’re supposed to talk about yourself, it’s the main topic. Don’t talk about your friends or family, even though you may feel tempted to. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • If you are having a difficult time writing about yourself, search online for examples of personal writing, in order to get some ideas and inspiration. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
  • Don't think about how others feel about you. Everyone thinks from a different perspective. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0

sentences to start an essay about yourself

You Might Also Like

Write a Personal Bio

  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/how-to-write-about-yourself
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/brainstorming/
  • ↑ https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/choosingsources/chapter/narrowing-a-topic/
  • ↑ https://www.yourdictionary.com/articles/essay-about-self-writing
  • ↑ https://writingcommons.org/article/using-first-person-in-an-academic-essay-when-is-it-okay/
  • ↑ https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/6-unconventional-ways-start-cover-letter/
  • ↑ https://english.washington.edu/writing-cover-letter
  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/career-goal-statement-examples
  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/resume-vs-cover-letter
  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/whats-the-ideal-cover-letter-length
  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/how-to-format-a-cover-letter-example
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/first-vs-third-person
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-write-bio/

About This Article

Lucy Yeh

If you have to write an autobiographical description of yourself, write down a list of your talents, interests, and accomplishments. Use this list to help you choose one specific topic for your description, such as your academic achievements or your leadership qualities. Use specific, unique details to support your topic, such as being awarded an academic scholarship or the fact that you were president of the newspaper in high school. You can list bits of your personal life, but be careful not to overshare. If you want to write about yourself a cover letter or personal essay, keep reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write an Essay About Yourself With Tips and Examples

22 December 2023

last updated

Essays are essential in demonstrating student’s proficiency in writing academic texts. Basically, this proficiency includes writing creatively and without notable mistakes and errors. By considering writing essays about themselves, students should follow the same approach that they use when writing other types of essays, including research papers. In essence, authors should focus on preparation, stage set up, writing process, and perfecting their compositions. Also, these steps are essential in ensuring the writer’s essay is of high quality. In turn, these essays on yourself do not rely on external research to strengthen the main arguments. On the other hand, papers rely on personal anecdotes to make them authentic and original. Hence, a student needs to learn how to write an essay about yourself.

General Guidelines of Writing an Essay About Yourself

Essay writing is one of the activities that students engage in to develop their creative writing skills. Unlike a research paper , an essay that a student writes about yourself does not rely on external research. Basically, one can argue that this type of article is exploratory. Also, it explores the writer’s life across different settings, such as school life, home life, and social life. While such essays may differ from a research essay in content, it follows the same structure: introduction, body, and conclusion. Then, a research paper utilizes external research to make it relevant, but a personal essay that a student writes about yourself uses personal anecdotes to create relevance. In other words, since such a piece explores the student’s life, it is only prudent for a person to include one or several stories that give readers a glimpse into their personality.

How to write an essay about yourself

Writing an Essay About Yourself: A Step-by-Step Guide

The strategy of writing academic texts is almost the same, regardless of the kind of the type of text. In short, whether academic writing involves a research essay, report, thesis paper , dissertation , or personal story, writers must engage in some activities, which are similar across these types of papers . Basically, these activities include preparation, stage set up, writing process, and wrap up of the writing process.

Step 1: Preparation

Preparation is the first step in writing an essay of any type. Basically, this stage has several components, including defining the topic, preparing ideas, and considering the audience. Concerning the topic, a person who writes about yourself can use the instructor’s theme or choose one if none is provided. In the latter case, authors should settle for a topic that interests them, one that they can find information to back up claims and arguments easily. When it comes to writing all about me essay, students should choose topics that allow them to capture a broad perspective about their lives. On preparation of ideas, students need to reflect on their lives, including positive and negative experiences and strengths and weaknesses. About the audience, they should write with expectations of instructors in mind.

Step 2: Setting Up the Stage

After preparation, the next step in academic paper writing is to set up the stage. Basically, components of this step include making notes, creating an essay outline , and creating an annotated bibliography. When writing an essay about yourself, a student should make notes when reflecting on your own experiences. In this case, a personal anecdote comes into play. Then, authors should use a personal account, highlighting a positive or negative experience and areas of strength or weakness. When it comes to creating an outline, students should use academic standards of essay outlines – introduction, body, and conclusion. Although it is unnecessary to write down these headings, authors must ensure that those reading all about me essays can identify where each of these sections begins and ends. In turn, there is no need for an annotated bibliography since no external research is required.

Step 3: Writing Process

After preparing and setting up the stage, students start writing their essays about themselves. Basically, components of this step include making the first draft, ensuring the paper captures everything that authors intend to write about, has a thesis statement , and captures the writer’s concluding thoughts. In this case, first drafts are essential because it allows writers to have an opportunity to perfect their papers through revisions and editions. Then, the thesis statement is the writer’s guide. Besides, it dictates what authors should focus on in body paragraphs. In turn, concluding thoughts are the writer’s words that summarize lessons learned. Hence, each of these components is essential in an essay about yourself.

Step 4: Wrapping Up

After writing the first draft, students begin to write the final draft. But before they start, they should read and reread the first draft to ensure it is free of any grammatical mistakes and other writing errors, such as inconsistent arguments and illogical flow of ideas. For example, if writers identify such mistakes and errors, they should revise and edit an essay about yourself accordingly. In turn, revisions help authors to eliminate inconsistencies in arguments and illogical flow of ideas, while editions help them to fix grammatical mistakes, such as a lack of punctuation or wrong use.

Use exceptional writing services that guarantee original and well-researched papers.

Main Features of Writing All About Me Essay

1️⃣ topic and concluding sentences.

When writing an essay about themselves, students should begin each body paragraph as they would in any other article – start with a topic sentence. Basically, this sentence captures a single idea that writers interrogate in a particular section, meaning that it offers an insight into the paragraph’s content. On the other hand, a concluding sentence is final thoughts about what writers have said in a specific section. Then, rules of academic writing dictate that the concluding sentence links the topic sentence with the thesis statement. In other words, it is the part of a single paragraph that creates sense for readers regarding the topic sentence and its place in the writer’s main argument.

2️⃣ Transition, Peer Review, and Final Draft

Students need to ensure that, as they write an essay about themselves, they create a logical flow of ideas from the beginning paragraph to the end. Basically, such elements may be transition words, like “consequently,” “furthermore,” “nevertheless,” and “hence.” To ensure that students do not miss identifying errors in their essays, they should subject their work to a peer review. For example, this aspect involves giving the first draft to a mentor who reads through it to make sure it is perfect. When mentors are satisfied with the paper’s quality, students start writing the final draft. However, they should also read through it at least twice and subject it to peer review before submitting it to a specific department.

3️⃣ Specific Information

As indicated, writing an essay about yourself differs from a research paper because it does not rely on external research to back up claims and arguments. Instead, writers utilize a personal story to shed light on their experiences and attributes. In this sense, such personal anecdotes are the specific information necessary for an essay about yourself. Moreover, this information is specific to a person provided through reflective writing. Hence, a personal essay that a student writes, which is about yourself, should be exploratory, descriptive, and thoughtful.

Common Mistakes

Like any other academic text, writing an essay about oneself is often prone to mistakes. For example, some of the common mistakes that writers or students make when writing an essay about yourself include writing about things that do not help readers to have a proper grasp of their personality and using exaggeration. Basically, writing an essay about yourself should enhance the readers’ understanding of authors – their life experiences, attributes, likes and dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses. In turn, exaggeration involves using information that is likely to be untrue to impress readers. To solve the first mistake, writers need to focus on personal anecdotes, as they help to highlight instances of the author’s life that is worth noting. To avoid exaggeration, students should desist from trying to impress and seek to be authentic in their writing.

Example of Writing an Essay About Yourself

My First Year of School by Zac

I walked into the classroom, shaking in terror. The class was full of howler monkeys, but I was not with howler monkeys. I was with a bunch of five and six-year-old kids. I acted as if I was watching a horror movie until I met the super lovely Mr. Keig. Mr. Keig was the best teacher in the universe.

Mr. Keig was like a giant to us, and he still is. At first, I was scared of Mr. Keig, but I found out he was super friendly. He taught me how to read and write. Add and subtract. He even taught me how to make school fun. At the beginning of school, I was horrified by math and reading. I was soon shown that those subjects were not formidable opponents, but I had yet to meet my match.

Writing. I hated writing. I had met my match, my enemy, my formidable opponent. The reason I hated writing was that I wrote slowly.  It took too long for me to write, and I was always the last one to finish my newest story. It was also ever boring for me. It was hard to find inspiration or the urge to take a step up. Math and reading, on the other hand, I sped through like Speed Racer. I was still shy, and I only had a few friends in the first couple of weeks of kindergarten. I figured out making friends was not a piece of cake. I eventually made friends. Thank God that problem was over.

Even though we got to play and create our own art, sometimes, school days were dull. Sometimes days felt like they were two million years long. There were other times when I was terrified about a test, and it seemed like the paper was laughing at me, and my pencil was dodging my paper. I was sweating, shaking, and FREAKIN’ out. I eventually pulled it together and got my test done. Relieved, relaxed, and incredibly calmed down. Tranquil and thrilled I was. It felt like I was soaring through the sky a million miles per minute.

What I learned from my year in kindergarten was to face your fears.  If you are scared, don’t run away from your worries. Another lesson I learned was not to judge a book by its cover. I assumed the school was going to be extremely hard, and tests were going to be impossible. I assumed wrong. The school (kindergarten) was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. While kindergarten was a bit challenging, I knew I could succeed if I set my mind to it and work hard.

Summing Up on How to Write an Essay About Yourself

Essay writing is an essential activity in a student’s life, as it exposes one to the dynamics of creative writing. When writing such an essay, authors learn how to use personal stories to highlight their positive and negative experiences, including strengths and weaknesses. In essence, such stories replace external evidence that writers use in research essays. Then, the guide to effective writing of such an essay includes several components, including preparation, stage set up, starting the writing process, and wrapping it up. Also, these aspects of writing an essay about yourself allow a person to build own thoughts, organize papers, and perfect academic texts. As a result, perfection involves revising any inconsistent ideas and illogical arguments and revising any grammatical mistakes, such as punctuation errors.

When writing an essay about yourself, a student should master the following tips:

  • Be thoughtful, but not fretful. Writers should, through reflection, highlight areas of their lives that provide an insight into their personality. In this case, they should do it without fear of what readers might think about them.
  • Keep an essay personal. The majority of the essay’s information should be about an author. For example, such elements involve talking about life experiences, attributes, strengths, and weaknesses. In turn, the use of personal anecdotes is essential in achieving this goal.
  • Do not guess what readers want to hear. Students should not seek to impress readers, but they need to inform them.
  • Feel free to be creative. Without exaggeration, authors should use personal stories creatively to keep readers interested in essays.
  • Tell readers something that they do not already know. The best way to keep readers interested is to use stories that writers have probably never shared publicly. In turn, such stories or experiences inject all about me essays with an aspect of amazement.
  • Ask for input from close ones. Students can ask parents, friends, mentors, counselors, coaches, and teachers to provide ideas, as they know about personally.
  • Polish a paper about yourself. Essays should not be about the writer’s story only. In turn, it should demonstrate the writer’s proficiency in writing by lacking grammatical mistakes and other notable errors.

To Learn More, Read Relevant Articles

How to start an essay with a quote with examples, how to title an essay: basic guidelines with examples.

Home › University › How To Write A Personal Statement? 10 Tips + Student Questions Answered › How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

  • Published January 20, 2023

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Table of Contents

We’re regularly asked the question “ how to start a personal statement ”? It’s a challenging task for anybody but worry not as we’re here to help guide you through the process. 

The introduction is the first thing the admissions committee will read. That’s why the first sentence of a personal statement should be a catchy, attention-grabbing hook or story that grabs the reader’s attention and sets up the main point of your essay.

A lacklustre introduction may lose your readers’ interest, preventing them from reading the rest of your personal statement!

But don’t worry, this article will guide you on writing a personal statement introduction, a few examples of opening sentences and how to captivate the admissions tutors. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Top Tip: Leave Your Introduction For Last

You know what they say, the hardest thing to do is  start . So skip the introduction for now and focus on the main body of your personal statement. If you’re not sure what your main content should be, read out how to write a personal statement guide.

After nailing down the main points, you’ll have a concrete idea of how your introduction can captivate the reader and stay relevant to the bulk of the writing. Go ahead and work on the rest of your personal statement.

Come back when you’re finished! And if you’re worried about your conclusion then check out our advice on  personal statement conclusions .

2. Cut To The Chase

You only have  4,000 characters  to sell yourself as an ideal student candidate. Make each character and paragraph count! That means forget about flowery words and directionless statements. When you start your personal statement, explain your motivations for choosing your course in one or two sentences.

Although you will discuss this in-depth in the main body of content, capturing your reader’s attention with a quick overview of why you’re enthusiastic about your chosen course is crucial. That’s why capturing the reader’s attention by jumping straight to the point is key to starting a personal statement.

how to write a personal statement introductions

3. Be Specific

Never give vague details when expressing why you want to pursue your course. “I always wanted to be an engineer since I was a kid,” or “I want to become a doctor because I enjoy science” isn’t advised. 

On that note, if you’re applying to medicine refer to our guide on  how to write a medical personal statement . We suggest being more specific than that, and you can include your academic achievements too. Here are a few suggestions that may help you:

  • You witnessed an inspirational figure in your life solve a massive problem with a specific skill set (doctor, engineer, etc.)
  • While you were at a charity event, you encountered a problem that kept people in deprivation. By pursuing this course, you’re a part of the solution.
  • You’re good at, and you enjoy a specific skill set. The course you’re eyeing puts great emphasis on this particular skill.
  • There was a moment in your life when you succeeded in solving a problem. You felt significant by doing so, and you want to keep doing that for the rest of your life (teaching poor children how to read)
  • You watched a movie or read a book that ignited your passion for the course. After doing volunteer work or part-time employment related to your course, you’re determined to pursue it.

Craft a sentence or two that encapsulates the core of your “why.” Do this, and your reader will want to read more!

4. Demonstrate Knowledge In Your Chosen Course

An essential element of starting a personal statement is to express why you’re enthusiastic about taking your chosen course. You need to demonstrate that you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself into in the process. Answer any of these prompt questions for inspiration:

  • What do you find interesting about the course?
  • How do you believe the course will help you achieve your goals?
  • How will you use your chosen course to contribute to society?
  • What hurdles do you expect to encounter, and how will you handle them?

Decide which of these questions fits best into the main content of your  personal statement . Write your answer in a sentence or two, weave them into your application essay and think about the help you received from your tutors in the past.

5. Ditch The “Since I Was A Child” Line

We’re often asked  what not to put in a personal statement  and “Since I was a child” is a cliche statement that gets thrown around haphazardly. How many students have said this at least once in their personal statements?

Recalling your childhood passions is a weak “why” for pursuing your course. Why? Because the admissions committee is looking for a relevant and up-to-date reason.

When you were little, you had zero knowledge and little enthusiasm to become successful in your field. You had no idea what skillsets you needed or what other options were available to you.

But if you were to cite a recent event in your life that supports your determination to pursue your course, that screams “educated choice” right there. And  that  is what the admission committee is looking for after reading hundreds, if not thousands of introductions.

6. Brainstorm Several Versions Of Your Opening Lines

The desire to get it right the first time paralyses you from starting. So permit yourself to write freely. Write as many versions of your opening lines as possible.

Don’t worry about the grammar, spelling, or character count just yet. Type everything that goes off the top of your head. When you’re done, take a look at your list.

Cross out the ones you dislike, and encircle the ones you think have potential. Then start piecing the puzzle pieces together to check out if the intro lines fit with the rest of your personal statement. 

If you’ve found three potential opening statements, try reading them aloud together with the rest of your personal statement. Do they flow seamlessly into one another? Make the necessary adjustments. Play around with it until you feel you’ve hit the spot.

7. Make Your Opening Statement Error Free

Your opening statement is your hook line. Spelling or grammatical errors at the start discourage your reader from reading further. If you have errors at the beginning, you’ll most likely have them in your main content!

So make sure your English is simple, flawless, and straightforward. Run your personal statement through a tool like Grammarly to weed out most of the errors.

The Hemingway app is also a helpful tool for checking for passive voice and other writing problems. Take advantage of writing assistant tools, especially if you’re a non-native English writer.

8. Read Examples Of Personal Statements

Read as many personal statement examples as you can. Any that captivated you, keep them in your notes. Figure out  why  these statements stood out to you compared to the others. What elements can you place in  your  personal statement?

When reading personal statements that put you off, find out why. What characteristics do they have that elicit a negative reaction from you? List them down, and make sure you avoid them.

After this exercise, you should have a few more ideas about your personal statement introduction.

9. Ask For Feedback

Never underestimate what feedback can give you. Ask your family, friends, and acquaintances about your opening statement. Does your personality shine through? Is it straight to the point? Does it flow smoothly with the main content of your personal statement?

Listen to what they have to say. Jot down important points. You’ll need their feedback to get a second opinion on whether it works for you or not.

10. Give Yourself Time

Your chosen career depends on your college education. And a first crucial step is to convince the admission committee you’re worth accepting into your university. You have to give your personal statement your best shot. Give yourself enough time to brainstorm and think everything over.

You can’t finish a complete,  well-written personal statement  in a week. Much less overnight!

So make sure you set aside enough time to put your best foot forward. After finishing a complete draft of your personal statement, put it down. Forget about it for a few days. Then come back and reread it.

With a fresh set of eyes, you’ll notice details you may not have seen before! Revise as much as you need.

Do I Need To Write An Introduction For A Personal Statement?

Yes, we recommend writing an introduction for your personal statement as it provides context to the rest of your writing. The introduction is an opportunity to make a good first impression and capture the university admissions officer’s attention.

What is a good opening sentence for a personal statement?

Here are some examples of a good opening sentence for a captivating introduction. Note how it ties into the university degree almost straight away with first-hand experience:

  • “Growing up in a small town with limited resources sparked my curiosity and drive to pursue higher education and make a positive impact in my community.”
  • “From a young age, I have been fascinated by the intricacies of the human mind and the power of psychology to improve people’s lives.”
  • “As a first-generation college student, I am determined to break barriers and pave the way for future generations through a career in law.”
  • “My passion for sustainable design was ignited by a volunteer trip to a developing country, where I witnessed the devastating effects of environmental degradation firsthand.”
  • “A chance encounter with a blind person and their guide dog inspired me to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, with the goal of improving the lives of animals and their human companions.”

Please do NOT use these in your personal statements, use these to guide you on how you want to start your personal statement.

Can You Open Your Personal Statement With A Quote?

It is a risky move to open your personal statement with a quote and can come across as clichéd or insincere to the university admission officers. However, there are rare occasions when it can work, just make sure the quote relates to your degree and experience you’re writing about.

Get Ready To Write Your Personal Statement

How does one start a captivating personal statement? Take the time to think about what makes an effective introduction.

Read examples of personal statements from other students to glean ideas for how yours might stand out. Once you have read through some good ones, they should be more than just two or three!–look closely at what elements made them so successful. 

Then try applying those same principles on how to start a personal statement! Don’t forget to bookmark this post for future reference.

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sentences to start an essay about yourself

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How to Write an Essay Introduction (with Examples)   

essay introduction

The introduction of an essay plays a critical role in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. It sets the stage for the rest of the essay, establishes the tone and style, and motivates the reader to continue reading. 

Table of Contents

What is an essay introduction , what to include in an essay introduction, how to create an essay structure , step-by-step process for writing an essay introduction , how to write an introduction paragraph , how to write a hook for your essay , how to include background information , how to write a thesis statement .

  • Argumentative Essay Introduction Example: 
  • Expository Essay Introduction Example 

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction Example

Check and revise – checklist for essay introduction , key takeaways , frequently asked questions .

An introduction is the opening section of an essay, paper, or other written work. It introduces the topic and provides background information, context, and an overview of what the reader can expect from the rest of the work. 1 The key is to be concise and to the point, providing enough information to engage the reader without delving into excessive detail. 

The essay introduction is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire piece and provides the reader with a roadmap of what to expect. Here are key elements to include in your essay introduction: 

  • Hook : Start with an attention-grabbing statement or question to engage the reader. This could be a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a compelling anecdote. 
  • Background information : Provide context and background information to help the reader understand the topic. This can include historical information, definitions of key terms, or an overview of the current state of affairs related to your topic. 
  • Thesis statement : Clearly state your main argument or position on the topic. Your thesis should be concise and specific, providing a clear direction for your essay. 

Before we get into how to write an essay introduction, we need to know how it is structured. The structure of an essay is crucial for organizing your thoughts and presenting them clearly and logically. It is divided as follows: 2  

  • Introduction:  The introduction should grab the reader’s attention with a hook, provide context, and include a thesis statement that presents the main argument or purpose of the essay.  
  • Body:  The body should consist of focused paragraphs that support your thesis statement using evidence and analysis. Each paragraph should concentrate on a single central idea or argument and provide evidence, examples, or analysis to back it up.  
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion should summarize the main points and restate the thesis differently. End with a final statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Avoid new information or arguments. 

sentences to start an essay about yourself

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an essay introduction: 

  • Start with a Hook : Begin your introduction paragraph with an attention-grabbing statement, question, quote, or anecdote related to your topic. The hook should pique the reader’s interest and encourage them to continue reading. 
  • Provide Background Information : This helps the reader understand the relevance and importance of the topic. 
  • State Your Thesis Statement : The last sentence is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and directly address the topic of your essay. 
  • Preview the Main Points : This gives the reader an idea of what to expect and how you will support your thesis. 
  • Keep it Concise and Clear : Avoid going into too much detail or including information not directly relevant to your topic. 
  • Revise : Revise your introduction after you’ve written the rest of your essay to ensure it aligns with your final argument. 

Here’s an example of an essay introduction paragraph about the importance of education: 

Education is often viewed as a fundamental human right and a key social and economic development driver. As Nelson Mandela once famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is the key to unlocking a wide range of opportunities and benefits for individuals, societies, and nations. In today’s constantly evolving world, education has become even more critical. It has expanded beyond traditional classroom learning to include digital and remote learning, making education more accessible and convenient. This essay will delve into the importance of education in empowering individuals to achieve their dreams, improving societies by promoting social justice and equality, and driving economic growth by developing a skilled workforce and promoting innovation. 

This introduction paragraph example includes a hook (the quote by Nelson Mandela), provides some background information on education, and states the thesis statement (the importance of education). 

This is one of the key steps in how to write an essay introduction. Crafting a compelling hook is vital because it sets the tone for your entire essay and determines whether your readers will stay interested. A good hook draws the reader in and sets the stage for the rest of your essay.  

  • Avoid Dry Fact : Instead of simply stating a bland fact, try to make it engaging and relevant to your topic. For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of exercise, you could start with a startling statistic like, “Did you know that regular exercise can increase your lifespan by up to seven years?” 
  • Avoid Using a Dictionary Definition : While definitions can be informative, they’re not always the most captivating way to start an essay. Instead, try to use a quote, anecdote, or provocative question to pique the reader’s interest. For instance, if you’re writing about freedom, you could begin with a quote from a famous freedom fighter or philosopher. 
  • Do Not Just State a Fact That the Reader Already Knows : This ties back to the first point—your hook should surprise or intrigue the reader. For Here’s an introduction paragraph example, if you’re writing about climate change, you could start with a thought-provoking statement like, “Despite overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe in the reality of climate change.” 

Including background information in the introduction section of your essay is important to provide context and establish the relevance of your topic. When writing the background information, you can follow these steps: 

  • Start with a General Statement:  Begin with a general statement about the topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific focus. For example, when discussing the impact of social media, you can begin by making a broad statement about social media and its widespread use in today’s society, as follows: “Social media has become an integral part of modern life, with billions of users worldwide.” 
  • Define Key Terms : Define any key terms or concepts that may be unfamiliar to your readers but are essential for understanding your argument. 
  • Provide Relevant Statistics:  Use statistics or facts to highlight the significance of the issue you’re discussing. For instance, “According to a report by Statista, the number of social media users is expected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025.” 
  • Discuss the Evolution:  Mention previous research or studies that have been conducted on the topic, especially those that are relevant to your argument. Mention key milestones or developments that have shaped its current impact. You can also outline some of the major effects of social media. For example, you can briefly describe how social media has evolved, including positives such as increased connectivity and issues like cyberbullying and privacy concerns. 
  • Transition to Your Thesis:  Use the background information to lead into your thesis statement, which should clearly state the main argument or purpose of your essay. For example, “Given its pervasive influence, it is crucial to examine the impact of social media on mental health.” 

sentences to start an essay about yourself

A thesis statement is a concise summary of the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, or other type of academic writing. It appears near the end of the introduction. Here’s how to write a thesis statement: 

  • Identify the topic:  Start by identifying the topic of your essay. For example, if your essay is about the importance of exercise for overall health, your topic is “exercise.” 
  • State your position:  Next, state your position or claim about the topic. This is the main argument or point you want to make. For example, if you believe that regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health, your position could be: “Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health.” 
  • Support your position:  Provide a brief overview of the reasons or evidence that support your position. These will be the main points of your essay. For example, if you’re writing an essay about the importance of exercise, you could mention the physical health benefits, mental health benefits, and the role of exercise in disease prevention. 
  • Make it specific:  Ensure your thesis statement clearly states what you will discuss in your essay. For example, instead of saying, “Exercise is good for you,” you could say, “Regular exercise, including cardiovascular and strength training, can improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.” 

Examples of essay introduction 

Here are examples of essay introductions for different types of essays: 

Argumentative Essay Introduction Example:  

Topic: Should the voting age be lowered to 16? 

“The question of whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 has sparked nationwide debate. While some argue that 16-year-olds lack the requisite maturity and knowledge to make informed decisions, others argue that doing so would imbue young people with agency and give them a voice in shaping their future.” 

Expository Essay Introduction Example  

Topic: The benefits of regular exercise 

“In today’s fast-paced world, the importance of regular exercise cannot be overstated. From improving physical health to boosting mental well-being, the benefits of exercise are numerous and far-reaching. This essay will examine the various advantages of regular exercise and provide tips on incorporating it into your daily routine.” 

Text: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee 

“Harper Lee’s novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is a timeless classic that explores themes of racism, injustice, and morality in the American South. Through the eyes of young Scout Finch, the reader is taken on a journey that challenges societal norms and forces characters to confront their prejudices. This essay will analyze the novel’s use of symbolism, character development, and narrative structure to uncover its deeper meaning and relevance to contemporary society.” 

  • Engaging and Relevant First Sentence : The opening sentence captures the reader’s attention and relates directly to the topic. 
  • Background Information : Enough background information is introduced to provide context for the thesis statement. 
  • Definition of Important Terms : Key terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to the audience or are central to the argument are defined. 
  • Clear Thesis Statement : The thesis statement presents the main point or argument of the essay. 
  • Relevance to Main Body : Everything in the introduction directly relates to and sets up the discussion in the main body of the essay. 

sentences to start an essay about yourself

Writing a strong introduction is crucial for setting the tone and context of your essay. Here are the key takeaways for how to write essay introduction: 3  

  • Hook the Reader : Start with an engaging hook to grab the reader’s attention. This could be a compelling question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or an anecdote. 
  • Provide Background : Give a brief overview of the topic, setting the context and stage for the discussion. 
  • Thesis Statement : State your thesis, which is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be concise, clear, and specific. 
  • Preview the Structure : Outline the main points or arguments to help the reader understand the organization of your essay. 
  • Keep it Concise : Avoid including unnecessary details or information not directly related to your thesis. 
  • Revise and Edit : Revise your introduction to ensure clarity, coherence, and relevance. Check for grammar and spelling errors. 
  • Seek Feedback : Get feedback from peers or instructors to improve your introduction further. 

The purpose of an essay introduction is to give an overview of the topic, context, and main ideas of the essay. It is meant to engage the reader, establish the tone for the rest of the essay, and introduce the thesis statement or central argument.  

An essay introduction typically ranges from 5-10% of the total word count. For example, in a 1,000-word essay, the introduction would be roughly 50-100 words. However, the length can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the overall length of the essay.

An essay introduction is critical in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. To ensure its effectiveness, consider incorporating these key elements: a compelling hook, background information, a clear thesis statement, an outline of the essay’s scope, a smooth transition to the body, and optional signposting sentences.  

The process of writing an essay introduction is not necessarily straightforward, but there are several strategies that can be employed to achieve this end. When experiencing difficulty initiating the process, consider the following techniques: begin with an anecdote, a quotation, an image, a question, or a startling fact to pique the reader’s interest. It may also be helpful to consider the five W’s of journalism: who, what, when, where, why, and how.   For instance, an anecdotal opening could be structured as follows: “As I ascended the stage, momentarily blinded by the intense lights, I could sense the weight of a hundred eyes upon me, anticipating my next move. The topic of discussion was climate change, a subject I was passionate about, and it was my first public speaking event. Little did I know , that pivotal moment would not only alter my perspective but also chart my life’s course.” 

Crafting a compelling thesis statement for your introduction paragraph is crucial to grab your reader’s attention. To achieve this, avoid using overused phrases such as “In this paper, I will write about” or “I will focus on” as they lack originality. Instead, strive to engage your reader by substantiating your stance or proposition with a “so what” clause. While writing your thesis statement, aim to be precise, succinct, and clear in conveying your main argument.  

To create an effective essay introduction, ensure it is clear, engaging, relevant, and contains a concise thesis statement. It should transition smoothly into the essay and be long enough to cover necessary points but not become overwhelming. Seek feedback from peers or instructors to assess its effectiveness. 

References  

  • Cui, L. (2022). Unit 6 Essay Introduction.  Building Academic Writing Skills . 
  • West, H., Malcolm, G., Keywood, S., & Hill, J. (2019). Writing a successful essay.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education ,  43 (4), 609-617. 
  • Beavers, M. E., Thoune, D. L., & McBeth, M. (2023). Bibliographic Essay: Reading, Researching, Teaching, and Writing with Hooks: A Queer Literacy Sponsorship. College English, 85(3), 230-242. 

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How to Begin an Essay: 13 Engaging Strategies

ThoughtCo / Hugo Lin

  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

An effective introductory paragraph both informs and motivates. It lets readers know what your essay is about and it encourages them to keep reading.

There are countless ways to begin an essay effectively. As a start, here are 13 introductory strategies accompanied by examples from a wide range of professional writers.

State Your Thesis Briefly and Directly

But avoid making your thesis a bald announcement, such as "This essay is about...". 

"It is time, at last, to speak the truth about Thanksgiving, and the truth is this. Thanksgiving is really not such a terrific holiday...." (Michael J. Arlen, "Ode to Thanksgiving." The Camera Age: Essays on Television . Penguin, 1982)

Pose a Question Related to Your Subject

Follow up the question with an answer, or an invitation for your readers to answer the question.

"What is the charm of necklaces? Why would anyone put something extra around their neck and then invest it with special significance? A necklace doesn't afford warmth in cold weather, like a scarf, or protection in combat, like chain mail; it only decorates. We might say, it borrows meaning from what it surrounds and sets off, the head with its supremely important material contents, and the face, that register of the soul. When photographers discuss the way in which a photograph reduces the reality it represents, they mention not only the passage from three dimensions to two, but also the selection of a point de vue that favors the top of the body rather than the bottom, and the front rather than the back. The face is the jewel in the crown of the body, and so we give it a setting." (Emily R. Grosholz, "On Necklaces." Prairie Schooner , Summer 2007)

State an Interesting Fact About Your Subject

" The peregrine falcon was brought back from the brink of extinction by a ban on DDT, but also by a peregrine falcon mating hat invented by an ornithologist at Cornell University. If you cannot buy this, Google it. Female falcons had grown dangerously scarce. A few wistful males nevertheless maintained a sort of sexual loitering ground. The hat was imagined, constructed, and then forthrightly worn by the ornithologist as he patrolled this loitering ground, singing, Chee-up! Chee-up! and bowing like an overpolite Japanese Buddhist trying to tell somebody goodbye...." (David James Duncan, "Cherish This Ecstasy." The Sun , July 2008)

Present Your Thesis as a Recent Discovery or Revelation

"I've finally figured out the difference between neat people and sloppy people. The distinction is, as always, moral. Neat people are lazier and meaner than sloppy people." (Suzanne Britt Jordan, "Neat People vs. Sloppy People." Show and Tell . Morning Owl Press, 1983)

Briefly Describe the Primary Setting of Your Essay

"It was in Burma, a sodden morning of the rains. A sickly light, like yellow tinfoil, was slanting over the high walls into the jail yard. We were waiting outside the condemned cells, a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages. Each cell measured about ten feet by ten and was quite bare within except for a plank bed and a pot of drinking water. In some of them brown silent men were squatting at the inner bars, with their blankets draped round them. These were the condemned men, due to be hanged within the next week or two." (George Orwell, "A Hanging," 1931)

Recount an Incident That Dramatizes Your Subject

"One October afternoon three years ago while I was visiting my parents, my mother made a request I dreaded and longed to fulfill. She had just poured me a cup of Earl Grey from her Japanese iron teapot, shaped like a little pumpkin; outside, two cardinals splashed in the birdbath in the weak Connecticut sunlight. Her white hair was gathered at the nape of her neck, and her voice was low. “Please help me get Jeff’s pacemaker turned off,” she said, using my father’s first name. I nodded, and my heart knocked." (Katy Butler, "What Broke My Father's Heart." The New York Times Magazine , June 18, 2010)

Use the Narrative Strategy of Delay

The narrative strategy of delay allows you to put off identifying your subject just long enough to pique your readers' interest without frustrating them. 

"They woof. Though I have photographed them before, I have never heard them speak, for they are mostly silent birds. Lacking a syrinx, the avian equivalent of the human larynx, they are incapable of song. According to field guides the only sounds they make are grunts and hisses, though the Hawk Conservancy in the United Kingdom reports that adults may utter a croaking coo and that young black vultures, when annoyed, emit a kind of immature snarl...." (Lee Zacharias, "Buzzards." Southern Humanities Review , 2007)

Use the Historical Present Tense

An effective method of beginning an essay is to use historical present tense to relate an incident from the past as if it were happening now. 

"Ben and I are sitting side by side in the very back of his mother’s station wagon. We face glowing white headlights of cars following us, our sneakers pressed against the back hatch door. This is our joy—his and mine—to sit turned away from our moms and dads in this place that feels like a secret, as though they are not even in the car with us. They have just taken us out to dinner, and now we are driving home. Years from this evening, I won’t actually be sure that this boy sitting beside me is named Ben. But that doesn’t matter tonight. What I know for certain right now is that I love him, and I need to tell him this fact before we return to our separate houses, next door to each other. We are both five." (Ryan Van Meter, "First." The Gettysburg Review , Winter 2008)

Briefly Describe a Process That Leads Into Your Subject

"I like to take my time when I pronounce someone dead. The bare-minimum requirement is one minute with a stethoscope pressed to someone’s chest, listening for a sound that is not there; with my fingers bearing down on the side of someone’s neck, feeling for an absent pulse; with a flashlight beamed into someone’s fixed and dilated pupils, waiting for the constriction that will not come. If I’m in a hurry, I can do all of these in sixty seconds, but when I have the time, I like to take a minute with each task." (Jane Churchon, "The Dead Book." The Sun , February 2009)

Reveal a Secret or Make a Candid Observation

"I spy on my patients. Ought not a doctor to observe his patients by any means and from any stance, that he might the more fully assemble evidence? So I stand in doorways of hospital rooms and gaze. Oh, it is not all that furtive an act. Those in bed need only look up to discover me. But they never do." ( Richard Selzer , "The Discus Thrower." Confessions of a Knife . Simon & Schuster, 1979)

Open with a Riddle, Joke, or Humorous Quotation

You can use a riddle , joke, or humorous quotation to reveal something about your subject. 

" Q: What did Eve say to Adam on being expelled from the Garden of Eden? A: 'I think we're in a time of transition.' The irony of this joke is not lost as we begin a new century and anxieties about social change seem rife. The implication of this message, covering the first of many periods of transition, is that change is normal; there is, in fact, no era or society in which change is not a permanent feature of the social landscape...." (Betty G. Farrell, Family: The Making of an Idea, an Institution, and a Controversy in American Culture . Westview Press, 1999)

Offer a Contrast Between Past and Present

"As a child, I was made to look out the window of a moving car and appreciate the beautiful scenery, with the result that now I don't care much for nature. I prefer parks, ones with radios going chuckawaka chuckawaka and the delicious whiff of bratwurst and cigarette smoke." (Garrison Keillor, "Walking Down The Canyon." Time , July 31, 2000)

Offer a Contrast Between Image and Reality

A compelling essay can begin with a contrast between a common misconception and the opposing truth. 

"They aren’t what most people think they are. Human eyes, touted as ethereal objects by poets and novelists throughout history, are nothing more than white spheres, somewhat larger than your average marble, covered by a leather-like tissue known as sclera and filled with nature’s facsimile of Jell-O. Your beloved’s eyes may pierce your heart, but in all likelihood they closely resemble the eyes of every other person on the planet. At least I hope they do, for otherwise he or she suffers from severe myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), or worse...." (John Gamel, "The Elegant Eye." Alaska Quarterly Review , 2009)

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Third Wheel

After a Breakup, Does an Ex Get to Stay on Your Grid?

Addressing the very 21st-century question of whether to archive or memorialize past relationships on your Instagram account.

A pair of hands with fingernails painted several different colors tapping on the screen of a smartphone.

By Gina Cherelus

In the Third Wheel column, Gina Cherelus explores the delights and horrors of sex, dating and relationships.

Picture this: Your relationship is over. Now what? You probably let your close friends and family know, as well as your therapist, who will shepherd your healing journey. You might even turn to Spotify, Shakespeare or the StairMaster to cope.

Eventually, you’ll delete or hide away (“archive,” to use Instagram’s preferred term) every trace of your ex on your Instagram and other social media profiles. Or you won’t, choosing instead to leave the photos and videos of your past lover on your page. What do you do with the footprints of your relationship on Instagram once it’s over? There’s no right or wrong move. It really depends on whom you ask.

Averee Conkle, a human resources worker in Denver, said that she had removed every single ex from her Instagram page, which she likes to keep filled mostly with images of people who still mean a lot to her, like friends and family.

“I think if it would have maybe ended differently or things like that, I would have a different thought process behind it,” said Ms. Conkle, 26, who added that she hadn’t dated many very nice guys. “But from the boyfriends that I have had, I don’t think they deserve a spot on there.”

“Now, maybe the healed version of me wouldn’t care as much,” she added. “But the way things ended, I would just rather it’s out of sight, out of mind, and then I can just move on.”

The home of the “ hard launch ,” the Instagram grid has become the way many people announce their major life updates: a new relationship, an engagement, a marriage. And with the introduction of other features like Instagram Stories, which allows users to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours, the weight of the grid has become that much heavier.

While many might be worried that leaving an ex on one’s grid could signal to a potential suitor that there’s some processing still to be done, Ms. Conkle said that if she were to date a guy who still had his ex on his page, it wouldn’t really bother her.

“I think that maybe shows that they ended on a good note,” she said. “I think I’d maybe bring it up on a date. I don’t think I would ever make it about the post, but I would definitely like to know how their last relationship ended.”

In relationships, a grid post of a new girlfriend or boyfriend can be a declaration to the world that you are claiming this person in a serious way. If a relationship ends, it is common for some to quietly remove photos of their former partner, perhaps to signal to followers and new suitors that they are single, or because the heartbreak made it too painful or embarrassing to face the posts. Or they leave the posts up because those moments were a part of their life’s history and therefore should be remembered.

To save face, some people have a third approach: not posting the person they are dating at all until the couple are engaged.

Ashley C. Ford, an author and editor, started her Instagram page around 2011. Her husband, whom she has been with on and off for more than a decade, appears early on her profile, and even during periods when they weren’t involved. She’s in favor of leaving the posts up after breaking up.

“Even though we haven’t been together that entire time, there are other people who appear in photos who I was involved with when he and I were not together,” she said. “It’s this record of people who I’ve known, people I’ve loved, experiences I’ve had.”

Ms. Ford, who wrote the memoir “Somebody’s Daughter,” said that she understood why some people rush to remove evidence of their past relationships from public view, or why others say they won’t post a significant other until they’re engaged or on their honeymoon. But she doesn’t think it should be done out of shame.

“The embarrassment that you put in effort and it didn’t work out is so wild to me because that is literally the function of life,” she said. “You are going to try a lot of things, you are going to do a lot of things that are not going to work out. And 90 percent of the time, the reasons why it didn’t work out are completely out of your control.”

Indeed, you can’t control if someone lies to you, cheats on you or falls short on promises. Regardless of what stage you and the other person are in, whether you’re just beginning to date or in an exclusive relationship, “a ring won’t save you from that disappointment,” Ms. Ford said.

“I don’t want women to feel like the fact that you chose to love; that you were vulnerable; that you opened yourself up to someone and that you allowed them the opportunity to show up for you with as much love and with as much care and with as much commitment, and they failed? ” she said. “That should never be your shame.”

Send your thoughts, stories and tips to [email protected] .

Gina Cherelus covers dating, relationships and sex for The Times and writes the weekly dating column Third Wheel . More about Gina Cherelus

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