Often students feel tired from the effort of researching and writing an essay and toss in a few rushed words to finish up. But, the conclusion is the last paragraph your marker will see of your writing effort. So, it is worth putting in the last dregs of your intellectual energy to come up with a convincing conclusion. Fortunately, conclusions have a pattern (recipe) you can follow so that you can write a convincing conclusion.
About conclusion paragraphs
Conclusion paragraphs are about 5% of your essay word count (e.g. about 50 or so words per 1000 word essay). In clearly-written sentences, you restate the thesis from your introduction (but do not repeat the introduction too closely), make a brief summary of your evidence and finish with some sort of judgment about the topic. You can follow this basic pattern (recipe) for writing introduction paragraphs to help you get started.
It’s a good idea to start your conclusion with transitional words (e.g. ‘In summary’, ‘To conclude’, ‘In conclusion’, ‘Finally’,) to help you to get the feel of wrapping up what you have said. The conclusion is not the place to present new facts (should be in the body of your essay), so conclusions don’t usually have references unless you come up with a ‘punchy’ quote from someone special as a final word.
Writing pattern for conclusion paragraphs
The conclusion to an essay is rather like a formal social farewell. For example, if an ASO consultant does a guest presentation at a lecture, it would be good practice to conclude the session by tying up the key points of the lecture and leave the students with a final message about the subject of the lecture:
To conclude, students, you should now know how to apply the three main steps for analysing a question (restatement main idea). If you identify the instruction words, the topic words and the restricting words accurately, this will provide you with a framework for building your essay plan (summary of key points). Essays that are analysed accurately will have much greater success in answering the set question and assist you to get better marks (statement of benefit).
A conclusion paragraph is very much tied to the introduction paragraph and the question that has been set (see Question analysis workshop), and we use special terms to describe each stage of the conclusion.
Click or hover over the conclusion paragraph to see an analysis of its structure and how the conclusion matches the set question.
We can show this as a diagram. The triangle of the introduction is the opposite in the conclusion. It begins with the narrowest topic (sentence 1), then widens to the summary of key points of the argument in the essay (sentence 2). The last sentence of the paragraph usually makes a broad statement that may be a reflection about the essay’s argument (sentence 3).
Figure 1: A pattern for conclusion paragraphs
Read the following question and the sample conclusion paragraph. The sentences are in the wrong order for a conclusion paragraph. Match the statements to the correct sentence type.
Some students who enrol in university studies have difficulties with their writing skills. Discuss the reasons for this problem and critically assess the effectiveness of university intervention writing programs.
The main causes of student difficulty appear to be that secondary school assessment has a different focus from university expectations and that universities are increasingly attracting mature age students who may require an update on their skills. In response, universities invest considerable capital into well-run programs that effectively assist students to overcome their writing problems.
To conclude, university students who are experiencing difficulty with their academic writing skills will require assistance to reach their academic potential.
In response, universities invest considerable capital into well-run programs that effectively assist students to overcome their writing problems.
These conclusion sentences are in the incorrect order. Now that you have identified the sentence types for a conclusion paragraph, put them in the correct order (restatement of main premise -> summary of key points -> broad statement).
The conclusion of an essay has three major parts:
- Answer: the thesis statement, revisited
- Summary: main points and highlights from the body paragraphs
- Significance: the relevance and implications of the essay's findings
No new information that is relevant to the focus of the essay should be introduced here. If you wish to make a new point, it should be in a body paragraph.
As in the introduction, it is essential to revisit your thesis statement in the conclusion. Again, do not simply repeat it word for word. Keep the essential keywords, and rearrange it. (For strategies on rewording, the principles of paraphrasing can help.)
Often the thesis statement is revisited near the beginning of the conclusion. The rest of the conclusion expands out, giving the reader an idea of the relevance and implications of your answer:
As with the introduction, this order of elements is not set in stone. Adapt the order to suit the needs of each particular essay.
The conclusion is the final place to show the connections between all the points made in your essay. Take the most important, relevant, and useful main points from your body paragraphs and summarise them here. Use the same keywords and ideas as the body paragraphs, but don't just repeat the same sentences.
Essays are often described as an attempt to “sell” your perspective on an issue. A good essay convinces the reader of the correctness of your argument. An excellent essay goes a step further: it demonstrates to the reader why the argument is especially important or relevant for the topic.
There are several general statements that you can make in the conclusion to take it beyond merely summarising the essay. What are the implications of this argument? Why is it important? What issues does it raise?
Not every essay can end on this note. Shorter essays (those below 1200 words) do not have enough space available to describe the significance in detail. However, if you are looking for a dynamic way to end your essay a broader statement on the big picture can be highly effective.
The following example conclusion contains all three components:
- the answer (first sentence, in italics)
- a summary of the main points
- a final note on the significance (final sentence, in italics)
Above all, teachers need to inform themselves and the rest of the school community so that together they can develop a policy to discourage bullying. By educating themselves about bullying, teachers and parents have the knowledge to set up effective programmes and structures both within the classroom and for the whole school. Furthermore, by removing the opportunity for children to bully, providing children with a stimulating environment, and giving them the tools to deal with conflict appropriately, teachers can reduce children's inclination to bully. Although bullying will never be fully eradicated and must be dealt with as soon as it occurs, increasing awareness of the problem is making schools a safer and more enjoyable environment in which children can learn.
For further examples, see sample essay 1 and sample essay 2.
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Last updated on 25 October, 2012