(However, as always, there are more options that can be located online or through a teacher or tutor.) The overarching goal of the attention-getter should be to snag the reader through an original and intriguing opening.
Transition words are clues to your reader that help them follow your ideas. You can use these words to link and transition between ideas, sentences, and paragraphs. For example, writers often use transition words when listing ideas, as in the following paragraph:
I prefer watching television shows instead of movies for a number of reasons. First, TV shows are shorter, so I don’t spend as much time watching them as I do when watching movies. Second, TV shows are drawn out over many episodes over many seasons, so I can get to know the characters better than the characters in a two-hour movie. Finally, I like watching television shows more than watching movies because they give me something to look forward to each week.
You can use transition words for a variety of purposes aside from listing. Transition words for different purposes are listed below. Try using these in your writing to help guide readers through your essay.
Notice that the first sentence restates the thesis. The second and third sentences summarize the essay’s subpoints. Finally, the fourth sentence leaves the reader with an interesting final impression.
No new information is presented in this paragraph. Instead, the writer sums up what has been written so far and leaves the reader with a last thought. While the content of the paragraph is very similar to the introduction, the paragraph itself is not exactly the same. This is important. Even though the goal of the conclusion is to restate a lot of the information from the introduction, it should sound different because the conclusion’s purpose is slightly different from the introduction.
Practice writing a conclusion using the sample essay topic and the thesis statement. Remember to support the points you have gathered. Remember to restate your thesis, summarize your subpoints, and leave the reader with an interesting final impression.
For more information development and details, please visit these Purdue OWL resources:
The paragraph below is an example body paragraph about finishing school.
"The first step I will take to getting a better job is to finish school. I can get a course catalogue from the community college and study it to see what classes sound interesting. After I think about what sounds interesting and would be helpful to me, I can decide which ones I want to take. Then, I can meet with an academic advisor to get advice about what courses I would need to get my degree. After I figure out what classes to take and get advice from an advisor, I can sign up for the classes I need and want to take."
Your turn! Write down a few details that develop and support each of the three subpoints you chose in Lesson 2. Next, practice writing a body paragraph. Begin with one of the topic sentences that you drafted in Lesson 2 and write a few sentences that reflect the supporting details you’ve brainstormed for that subpoint.
Your thesis statement will identify your main idea and preview the rest of your essay. Remember that this can be either one or two sentences. You will probably place your thesis at the end of your introduction paragraph. You can use the other sentences in your introduction to introduce your topic, create interest, and provide necessary background information.
Let's look again at the sample essay topic from Lesson 1 and Lesson 2.
Sample Essay Topic
What is one important goal you would like to achieve in the next few years?
In your essay, identify that one goal and explain how you plan to achieve it. Use your personal observations, experience, and knowledge to support your essay.
The paragraph below is an example introduction for this topic. As you read, think about what each sentence does within the paragraph. What sentence(s) introduce the topic and create interest? What sentence(s) provide background information? What sentence(s) identify the main idea and preview the rest of the essay?
"Making goals for myself and working toward them keeps me on my toes and makes my life interesting. There are many goals that I would like to achieve throughout my life. I have begun working toward many of them by looking into going back to school and thinking about what I’d like to do for a career. One major goal I would like to accomplish in the next few years is getting a better job. My plan to get a better job is to finish school, prepare a resume, and then search for jobs."
Notice how the first two sentences introduce the topic and create interest in it. The third sentence provides some background information for the reader. Although this background information might not be absolutely necessary, it gives the reader some background for the essay and also creates interest in the topic. The final two sentences identify the main idea and preview the rest of the essay. Notice also the movement from general to specific in this paragraph. When you read carefully through the paragraph, you’ll notice that each sentence is a bit more specific than the last. It’s a good idea to move from general to specific like this in your introduction.
Now try writing your own introduction. Use the sample essay topic, the brainstorming, and the outline work you completed in Lessons 1 and 2 to help you. Remember to include two or three sentences that introduce your topic, create interest, and provide necessary background information. Finally, include one or two sentences that identify your main idea and preview the rest of your essay.
When you are in a rush to get your ideas on paper, it can be easy to overlook sentence-level correctness. However, carefully editing your composition for correctness is an important step to writing the GED essay. Following conventions of Edited American English (EAE) is one factor readers will use to score your essay. This lesson provides information about the conventions of EAE. The lesson also provides examples of common errors and how to correct them. Lastly, the lesson discusses strategies for finding and correcting your own errors. As you review ESE and practice finding your errors, the lessons for Part I of the Language Arts Writing Test might also be useful.
Think about each of these questions in relation to the sample essay topic.
What is the essay prompt asking you to do?
The sample essay question asks the writer to identify one goal and explain how she or he will achieve it.
What is your main idea?
For example, if you're writing an essay about your career goals and you're in the middle of a career transition, your main idea might on getting a better job.
What are your subpoints?
Our example writer has chosen three subpoints to support her main idea: (1) finish school, (2) prepare a resume, and (3) search for jobs.
Your thesis statement should respond directly to the essay prompt and sum up your main idea. It is also helpful to preview your subpoints in the thesis statement. So, once you have everything identified (what the essay prompt is asking you to do, what your main point is, and what your subpoints are), you can put it altogether. A thesis statement for the sample essay topic might sound like this:
You will notice that each of these sentences uses key words—“first, next, and final”—to transition between each paragraph. This is a very smart thing to do when writing your topic sentences, because words like these help your reader follow your points and connect them to one another. For more examples of transition words and phrases, see Lesson 4 on word choice.
Now you try! Write three topic sentences that correspond to the three subpoints you have chosen in response to the sample essay topic. Remember to keep the sentences clear and focused on the main idea of each body paragraph.
For more information about organizing your essay, please visit these Purdue OWL resources:
You may have heard teachers in the past talk about the thesis statement. The thesis statement is a sentence that summarizes the main point of your essay and previews your supporting points. The thesis statement is important because it guides your readers from the beginning of your essay by telling them the main idea and supporting points of your essay.
Generally, the thesis statement is the final sentence of your introduction. Sometimes, it is a good idea to use two sentences. For example, you might identify your main point in one sentence and then identify your supporting points in a second sentence. (Some might call this second sentence a preview sentence.) Other times, your thesis statement will only be one sentence. Either is acceptable, but remember that you need a clear thesis statement at the end of your introduction so that your reader understands your main point and knows what to expect from the rest of your essay.
To create your thesis statement, consider the following.
What is the essay prompt asking you to do? (It will be helpful to look at the key words that you’ve underlined). Are you being asked to describe something, compare the advantages of disadvantages of a topic, argue an opinion, or something else?
In Lesson 1, we discussed how to brainstorm ideas using idea maps and lists. We also discussed how to choose a main idea. It is most effective to select your main idea and subpoints before writing your essay because you can use your main idea and subpoints to make an outline.
Look back at the sample essay question and brainstorming methods from Lesson 1.
I would like to get a new job. I want a job that will challenge me. I will prepare my resume to get a new job. I should also have someone look over my resume to give me advice. I will find a new job after I prepare my resume by searching job listings on the Internet and in the newspaper.
Do you notice how all the paragraph’s sentences sound similar? Each begins with the same subject—“I.” Also, the sentences are all the same structurally because they begin with a subject and a verb. Finally, each sentence is about the same length. We can make this paragraph sound far more interesting if we vary the sentences a bit. Consider the revised paragraph below.
I would like to get a new job that will challenge me. First, I will prepare my resume and have someone look it over to give me advice. After I prepare my resume, I will search job listings on the Internet and in the newspaper.