It’s midnight. Your paper is due in eight hours.
You stare at a blank document with no idea what to write.
Anxiety only makes it worse. If only you could write something
. In frustration, you bury your head on your desk.
The first paragraph of a college essay, or any essay, is usually the most challenging. It’s also the most important, because it will guide the structure and set the tone of the entire essay.
In a traditional essay, the first paragraph often contains the thesis statement. This thesis statement is a one-sentence summary of the paper’s main argument.
Let’s imagine that your teacher or professor assigned this topic for a five-page essay:
“The SAT is an unfair test for international students and should no longer be required for admission. Do you agree or disagree?”
Here are five approaches to help you with writing on this topic:
#1. Tell a Story
– Nadia had dreamed of going to Harvard from the time she entered kindergarten. “It was my mother’s dream for me,” she said. Every Saturday, she spent 10 hours at a “cram school” studying for the SAT while her friends went to the mall and watched movies. …
#2. Use a Memorable Quote
– “All the SAT measures is how well you take the SAT. It does not reveal how smart a person you are,” wrote blogger Amanda Chan. Chan is one of a growing number of SAT critics who argue that the college admission test is culturally biased. ...
#3. Define a Word
– Most people know that the SAT is an important test used for college admission in the United States. But most people don’t know that “SAT” was originally an acronym for “Scholastic Aptitude Test.” But what exactly is “scholastic aptitude” and how can it be measured? …
#4. Present an Amazing Fact
– Of the 1.6 million students who took the SAT in 2013, only 43 percent of test-takers met the SAT’s definition for being prepared for college. It is natural to blame teachers and test takers for not studying hard enough. But, perhaps, the test itself is flawed …
#5. Present a Problem
– Every year the dreams of millions of international students are shattered over their performance on a single test — the dreaded SAT. Years of hard work are reduced to a single test on a single day. Is the SAT the best way to for universities to choose the best students? ...
Good luck!This story first appeared in VOA Learning English. Would you share how you've begun your essay? Copy it into the comments below and on our Facebook page.