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Alpha Student – How to start an essay: the opening sentence
Quotation Introduction: Many writers are tempted to start their essay with a quote. You should try to resist this temptation, as most quotes will look forced. Admissions officers will be turned off if it is apparent that you searched through a book of famous quotes and came up with a quote from some famous philosopher about whom you know nothing. The quotation introduction is most effective when the quote you choose is unusual, funny, or obscure, not too long, and from those to whom you are closest. Choose a quote with a meaning you plan to reveal to the reader as the essay progresses. The admissions committee is interested in how you respond to the quote and what that response says about you.
Often, the hardest words to write in an essay are the opening ones
A pet peeve: Many writers lead with a cute but tangential introduction intended to lure the reader into the essay's real argument. This practice afflicts sermons, papers, in-class presentations, and final exam essays, and is equally annoying everywhere. It wastes space and time, misleads your reader, and distracts both writer and reader from your actual objective. Keep your introduction integral to your argument, regardless of how others have trained you to write. Catchy is fine; cute is irritating; tangential is out.