Writing Strong Introductions for Argumentative Essays

The introduction is a crucial part of any successful argumentative essay. It needs to grab the reader’s attention, provide background information, present your central thesis statement, and preview your main supporting points. Read on for tips to help write a compelling introduction for your argumentative essay.

Understanding the Purpose of an Introduction

Before writing your introduction, it’s important to understand its core goals:

  • Engage the Reader: An effective hook immediately captures your audience’s interest. To draw readers in, use an intriguing fact, quote, anecdote, or question.
  • Provide Background Information: Give context about the topic and define key terms the audience needs to know to follow your essay. Build common ground.
  • Present the Thesis Statement: Your introduction should culminate in a concise argumentative thesis statement outlining your central argument or position.

Components of a Good Argumentative Essay Introduction

Here are the key components of an engaging intro:

The Hook

The hook is the first 1-2 sentences of your introduction designed to grab the reader’s attention immediately. An effective hook makes readers curious and compelled to keep reading. Some options for argumentative essay hooks include:

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  • Surprising or alarming statistic: Open with a startling fact or figure related to your topic. For example: “According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 14.2 million American adults suffer from major depressive disorder each year.”
  • Rhetorical question: Pose an intriguing question that prompts readers to think. For example: “Should access to medications that can prevent suicide be gatekept by doctors when nurse practitioners are equally qualified prescribers?”
  • Relevant quotation: Start with a thought-provoking quote from an expert or study related to your topic. For example: “According to a 2022 Lancet Psychiatry study, ‘Restrictions placed on APRNs’ prescribing of essential psychotropic medications are neither warranted nor in the best interests of patients.'”
  • A brief anecdote: Open with a short narrative illustrating the real-world significance of your topic. For example: “When Tonya’s teenage daughter began experiencing suicidal thoughts, the nearest psychiatrist was booked for months. Only the timely prescription for Zoloft from a nurse practitioner prevented tragedy for the family.”

Choose your hook carefully to capture attention while introducing the significance of your topic. Avoid exaggerations or overly general hooks. Ground your opening in specifics.

Background Information

After the hook, include 2-3 sentences providing important context for the reader to understand your topic and argument. Outline the origins of the issue, cite any relevant historical information, and define controversial or ambiguous terms.

Concise background information primes the reader to be receptive to your thesis. However, beware of including trivial facts or defining commonly understood concepts. Share only the most vital contextual details.

Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is a 1-2 sentence assertion of your central argument or main claim about the topic. It belongs at the end of your introduction, following any background information. An effective thesis statement previews the angle you will take in the essay without going into too much detail. Use transition words for a smooth progression and coherent flow of ideas.

For example:

  • Weak thesis: “This essay will examine the debate over nurses prescribing medications.”
  • Stronger thesis: “Though concerns persist about patient safety, the extensive training and education of nurse practitioners qualifies them for full prescriptive privileges for common psychiatric medications such as SSRIs.”

The thesis gives readers early insight into the significance and direction of your argument. Make sure it is precise, focused, and argumentative rather than neutral. Your introduction hinges on this statement of purpose and position.

Dos and Don’ts of Writing an Introduction for an Argumentative Essay


  • Capture interest right away with a strong hook
  • Provide just enough context to frame the topic
  • State your thesis clearly and directly
  • Keep it short; don’t spend too many words on the intro


  • Open with a bland, generic statement
  • Dump too much background info that bores the reader
  • Bury or obscure your thesis
  • Make the intro too long or wordy

Writing Your Argumentative Essay Introduction

Follow these steps when drafting your opening paragraph:

Step 1: Understanding Your Topic

Before you start writing, deeply familiarize yourself with the argumentative essay topic. Thoroughly research the issue from multiple perspectives. Understand key definitions and historical background. This ensures you can provide readers with sufficient context.

Step 2: Define Your Stance

After researching the issue, determine your central argument or position. Decide what claim you want to make in the essay that can be supported with evidence. Write this argument down as your preliminary thesis statement.

Step 3: Craft a Compelling Hook

With your topic and stance clarified, brainstorm creative ideas for an opening hook. Consider using a startling statistic, thoughtful question, relevant quotation, or brief anecdote to capture attention. Choose a hook grounded in specifics.

Step 4: Provide Background Information

Present 2-3 sentences explaining the origins of the issue, citing any useful historical facts. Define potentially ambiguous or controversial terms related to the topic. Keep this section concise but informative.

Step 5: State Your Thesis

Clearly assert your central argument or main claim in 1-2 sentences following the background information. The thesis statement previews your position without giving everything away.

Step 6: Preview Your Main Points

In 1-3 sentences, map out the key evidence and supporting points you intend to use to build your argument. Providing this roadmap helps orient the reader.

Step 7: Revise and Edit

Once you have a draft introduction, revise to refine wording, improve clarity, and enhance the flow between sentences. Verify it checks all the boxes for an engaging intro.

Step 8: Refine the Hook and Thesis

Pay special attention to polishing your hook and thesis statement. These two elements are critical to an effective introduction.

Case Study: Good vs. Bad Introduction

Now let’s compare a weak introduction against a stronger one:

Weak Introduction

The debate about whether nurses should be allowed to prescribe certain medications has been going on for a long time. Some say nurses should be able to prescribe medications like antidepressants, while others say they shouldn't. This essay will look at both sides of the debate.

This introduction lacks an effective hook, provides minimal background, and does not state a clear position. It needs more compelling facts and a thesis statement previewing the writer’s stance.

Stronger Introduction

With suicide rates still dangerously high across the U.S., expanding nurses' scope of practice to include prescribing some psychiatric medications could be a lifesaving policy change. Though nurse practitioner groups support expanded prescriptive authority, physician associations raise concerns about patient safety. In this essay, I will favor allowing advanced practice registered nurses to prescribe medications like SSRIs to increase access to mental health treatment.

This version draws the reader in with an alarming statistic, supplies helpful context, defines key groups involved, and asserts the writer’s stance.

Final Thoughts on Argumentative Essay Introductions

The introduction sets the tone, provides context, and presents the thesis statement in a way that piques the reader’s interest and prepares them for the arguments to come. Take the time to craft a compelling opening paragraph, and your essay will start on the right foot.

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