Improving your AoS introduction – substance over style

When writing an extended response within a restricted timeframe, such as during an assessment task or exam, you must begin with a strong thesis. A thesis should ‘attack’ the question by clearly expressing your understanding of what is being asked.

Begin by reading the question carefully – ask yourself: what are the key words? What am I expected to do?

One simple activity during an exam – once your reading time is complete, is to annotate the question. Do this by identifying key words and jotting down synonyms. You could construct word banks before the exam that cover key ideas from the rubric, too.

A simple thesis could then be written through re-writing the question in your own words. As you continue writing your response, these words could also be used in your topic sentences so that you avoid repeating key terms.

When collecting synonyms for key words, write down every idea you have – you can always discount words that don’t actually fit within a sentence or paragraph later – don’t block ideas as they will lead to other words and ideas. For example, note words that are evaluative, or demonstrate other aspects of your ideas (in yellow in the above graphic).

So, from the original question

Discoveries often require individuals to reconsider their perspective and develop a new understanding of the world around them.

you might decide that

People revise their appreciation of the world by altering attitudes in response to a deeper comprehension of situations.

is a reasonable expression of your own understanding of the question.

This is the beginning of your introduction. The following slide is a basic outline of what must be included in a basic introduction.

You might also consider including a sentence of elaboration after your thesis. In the above example of simply re-writing the question, there is a lack of detail about the concept of discovery. Think how this adds depth to the thesis:

People revise their appreciation of the world by altering attitudes in response to a deeper comprehension of situations. This occurs through both planned and spontaneous discoveries that provoke transformations for characters in texts which are readily identified by readers.

If you neglect to include rich detail, you are only making an entrance rather than giving the marker a complete introduction that provides an overview of what will follow in your essay. Consider the lack of detail provided by this entrance

if one figure represents a thesis and two others are stand-ins for a text. Take the time to introduce each text in a separate sentence with textual detail – more like a formal introduction.

Each body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that contains a reference to the concept of discovery. The next 3 – 5 sentences need to explain specific textual details and language features. Finish each paragraph with a link sentence that includes a reference to your thesis or the question AND evaluative language.

Make sure you leave time to write a solid conclusion to complete your response. If time is rapidly disappearing, quickly finish the paragraph you are writing, and devote your remaining time to crafting your conclusion. Take a deep breath, glance back at your introduction and topic sentences then open your final paragraph with a re-write of the question and/or including words from your thesis.

Consider how this graphic lists important details to include:

For practice papers, look at the resources on the Hunter Sports High School Discovery weebly:

Another useful post is Re-discovering the Drafting Process

*featured image from:

*stare in a prolonged and procrsatinating way at the ‘making an entrance’ gif here


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