Tips and Tricks for Writing a Standout Introduction for your PA School Essay

Mark Twain once famously said “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.”   When you’re ready to dive into writing your personal narrative, the most difficult part can actually be the introduction!

It’s easy to appraise your attributes and come up with your most favorable characteristics because you know what your admissions panel is looking for but unfortunately, there is no guideline for your introduction or theme. This means the most difficult task for many applicants can actually be gathering all of those favorable characteristics and figuring out how to present them in a clear, concise, and interesting way.

Your introduction should create excitement for the reader while also creating expectations of what’s to come later on in your narrative. There are three easy ways to do this: anecdotes, facts, and quotes.

This tends to be one of the easiest ways to open a personal narrative because they reveal something personal about you through a personal experience. For an anecdote to be an efficient introduction, it must be compelling and interesting, but it should also refer to a true event because if it’s not real or true, it will come off as contrived.

The following is an example of a great introductory anecdote:

                  “I would have never guessed that today would be the day. He was pale as a ghost and sweating                  profusely as we walked into the emergency room. It was a day I would never forget.”

This short anecdote provides the reader with everything they need- a distinctive voice, a basic plot, some characterization of the people involved, a clear setting, and momentum from the excitement of what will come next.

If you’re struggling to come up with an introductory anecdote, consider stating facts to create contradictions, drama, irony, or humor.   For example, stating a fact about the demographics of PAs can create intrigue if you follow up with how you don’t fit within those demographics but have worked to get yourself to the place you are today. The setting of your personal narrative can also be established using facts.   This also takes the pressure off of you to tell a compelling personal story, but make sure you choose a fact or facts that relate to the main content of your personal narrative, otherwise you risk your narrative coming across as disjointed.

Quotes are by far one of the easiest ways to begin a personal narrative.   The words of others tend to draw a reader into the story because they instantly create intrigue about how the following content will relate to the quote. The best way to utilize a quote is to find one that means a lot to you that can be easily applied to your personal experiences.   If possible, try to pick a lesser-known quote so you don’t risk seeming unoriginal.