Higher History Introduction Essay Paragraph

Step 6: Write introduction and conclusion

Introductory and concluding paragraphs function together as the frame around the argument of your essay. Or, using the visual image of book-ends holding the books – the body of your essay – together. It is important to write the introduction and the conclusion in one sitting, so that they match in mirror image to create a complete framework.

The Introductory Paragraph

When you’ve finished writing the middle paragraphs, the body of your essay, and you’re satisfied that the argument or case you’ve presented adequately supports your thesis statement, you’re now ready to write your introduction.

The introduction

  • Introduces the topic of your essay,
  • ‘Welcomes’ the reader with a general statement that engages their interest or that they can agree with,
  • Sets the scene for the discussion in the body of the essay,
  • Builds up to the thesis statement,
  • Prepares the reader for the thesis statement and your argument or case, but does not introduce points of argument,
  • Concludes with the thesis statement.

In preparing the reader for the thesis statement, there are many approaches in writing an introduction that can be taken. The following are just a few:

  • Provide historical background,
  • Outline the present situation,
  • Define terms,
  • State the parameters of the essay,
  • Discuss assumptions,
  • Present a problem.

The following examples from Model Essays One and Two show how introductory paragraphs are developed.

Analysis

The first six sentences in this introductory paragraph prepare the reader for the thesis statement in sentence 7 that the three key elements of a successful essay are ‘focus, organisation, and clarity

  1. Sentence 1 makes the generalisation that students ‘find essay writing difficult and frustrating’, and
  2. Sentences 2 and 3 expand on this generalisation.
  3. Sentence 4 reinforces the idea of difficulty.
  4. Sentence 5 turns the paragraph away from the difficulties of essay writing towards a way of addressing the difficulties by breaking the essay into components. (The word ‘however’ signals this change of direction.)
  5. Sentence 6 suggests that there are three of these components, preparing the way for the thesis statement that ‘focus, organisation, and clarity’ are these components.

Title

Just as the introductory paragraph is written after the argument or case of the middle paragraphs has been written, so the title is written after the essay is completed. In this way, it can signpost what the reader can expect from the essay as a whole.

Note that the thesis statement has been re-worded, picking up the idea from the first sentence that the essay has had a long history in the phrase ‘continues to be‘ and strengthening ‘valid’ to ‘valuable‘.

Analysis

The first four sentences in this introductory paragraph prepare the reader for the thesis statement in sentence 5 that the essay ‘continues to be a valuable learning and assessment medium’.

  1. Sentence 1 makes the generalisation that despite the age of the genre, essays are still set as assessment tasks.
  2. Sentence 2 notes that the genre has changed but some characteristics remain, and;
  3. Sentence 3 lists some of these characteristics.
  4. Sentence 4 asserts essay writing is demanding, but the ‘learning dividends are high’, which leads into the thesis statement.

The Concluding Paragraph:

The concluding paragraph completes the frame around the essay’s argument, which was opened in the introductory paragraph.

The conclusion

  • Begins by restating the thesis,
  • Should be a mirror image of the first paragraph,
  • Sums up the essay as a whole,
  • Contextualises the argument in a wider scope, but does not introduce new points,
  • Leaves the reader with a sense of completion.

The following examples from Model Essays One and Two show how concluding paragraphs are developed.

Analysis

  1. Sentence 1 restates the thesis that focus, organisation, and clarity are the key elements of a successful essay. The phrase ‘Clearly then’ implies that, having read the case for focus, organisation, and clarity being identified as the ‘key elements’, the reader agrees with the thesis.
  2. Sentence 2 acknowledges the importance of the essay’s content but asserts that sound content isn’t enough for success.
  3. Sentence 3 sums up the points made in the middle three paragraphs.
  4. Sentence 4 restates the generalisation the essay started with – that students find essay writing difficult – but then ends on a high note with the prediction that addressing the key elements discussed in the middle paragraphs will ensure success.

Analysis

  1. Sentence 1 restates the thesis that the essay continues to be a valuable learning and assessment medium.
  2. Sentences 2 and 3 summarise the main points of the middle three paragraphs.
  3. Sentence 4 picks up the reference to the age of the essay genre, with which the essay begins, but then affirms the essay’s continuing relevance.

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5 Steps to Writing an Historical Essay


Written by Liz Cooksey

High School Social Studies Teacher


     The purpose of this guide is to walk a high school student through an easy step-by-step process of writing an historical essay.

     Writing an essay for history is not necessarily the same as it may be for an English class.

    Through the next few pages we will cover a basic overview of the process while also pointing out some "do's and don'ts" of writing an historical essay.

 

Step 1: Brainstorm

 Once you have read the question or prompt, you must determine the key points you will need to address and then brainstorm ideas that will support your points.

 



Step 2: Create a Thesis Statement

The purpose of a thesis is to summarize the key arguements of your essay into one firm statement. Strong thesis statements usually need to include about 3 points that you intend to prove through the essay.

When coming up with your thesis for a historical essay there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure to include specific examples that you will later discuss in detail
  • Do not use 1st person
  • Do not write refer to "this essay"

 


Step 3: Create an Introduction Paragraph

Creating an introduction paragraph becomes more easy once the thesis has been determined. The purpose of this paragraph is only to introduce your ideas, not describe in detail or length.  

When writing your introduction there are a few ideas you need to keep in mind:

  • Open with a broad statement
  • Each sentence should get a little more specific and detailed, but not actually discussing the content of the essay.
  • The introduction paragraph should conclude with the thesis you have already constructed.

 

  Some people may prefer to write their thesis first as we have done here, or some may choose to begin writing their introduction paragraph and then figure out the thesis as they get there. Neither way is wrong!


Step 4: Write the Body

The majority of your work will appear here, in the body of the essay. This will usually be a minimum of 3 paragraphs (more or less depending on how many points included in you thesis).

Between each major idea you need to use creatively phrased transition statements that allow the flow of the essay to not be disrupted.

The key to a good body portion of your essay is to remember to only discuss 1 major idea per paragraph. Make districtions between you major ideas in order to help support your thesis.


Step 5: Conclusion

The conclusion is the easiest part of your essay. Here you should wrap up you main ideas that you have thoroughly discussed and argued throughout your body paragraphs.

Make sure not to introduce any new points here. this is simply to close out your final thoughts. You should, however, restate the ideas from  your thesis within the conclusion paragraph.

Here is a visual representation of what your essay should look like:



Several pointers for writing your essay:

 

  • DON’T use 1st person
    • No “I” “me” “we” “us"

 

  • Don’t use definitive's…
    • “never” “always”

 

  • Don’t say it unless you are SURE!!!
    • If you aren’t, then phrase is as “likely”

 

Here are a few phrases that may help you out as you begin to write:



What do you do now???

 

GET STARTED!!!

 

Follow these 5 steps and you'll be sure to impress your history teacher with your historical writing skills!

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