Hooks and How to Write Them

Hooks and How to Write Them

Starting your essay with a powerful and captivating hook will get admissions officers excited to read every word that follows. Set the stage for your ideas and arguments! If you are writing a shorter supplemental essay, you have even less space to impress, so grab your reader from the very first sentence.

There are many directions you can go with your hook. Here are five different hooks to inspire your writing process:

  • Dialogue
  • Drawing your reader right into a conversation can set a scene, pique curiosity, or establish the dynamic of a relationship. It lets the reader know that this relationship is significant and makes them want to know and understand more. Example: “‘You’re just like mom!’” My little sister insisted. I paused to wonder, is that really such a bad thing?”

  • Sensory Experience
  • Starting with descriptive language can help the reader feel like they’re experiencing your story with you. Maybe it’s a taste, a sound, or a feeling that quickly drops the reader into your world. Example: “The cool, damp feeling of the clay against my skin quickly melted my worries away.”

  • Controversial Statement
  • This one is relative. You definitely don’t want to offend your reader, but consider hooking them in with an uncommon opinion or idea. Think of the viral TikToks that start with, “This is going to be a hot take, but…” Example: “I believe in spoiling movies. Knowing the end can change our perspective on the journey– an insight that’s shaped my approach to life.”

  • Personal Statistic
  • Personal statistics can quantify something unique about you, making the reader curious to learn more. Example: “By age 17, I had lived in four different countries, learned three languages, and developed a palate for foods most people can’t pronounce. But what I really gained was a sense of home that transcends geography.”

  • Contrast
  • Start with a stark contrast between two elements, one of which will be the focus of your essay. Example: “Two hands: One wielding a paintbrush and swirling colors on canvas, the other gripping a scalpel in the sterile, white environment of an operating room. Both belong to me.”


    Remember that you have only a few sentences to grab the attention of your reader. Instead of being overwhelmed by the task of curating the perfect hook, look around you! Your perfect hook is already ingrained into your unique story. Get creative, and have fun with it. 

    ESAI’s College Admissions Tool will not only help you formulate your own unique hook, it will also help you to outline your essay, and revise the final product!

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