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Writing a Conclusion
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Writing a Conclusion

Writing a conclusion is about finishing an essay. There is no substitute for practice when it comes to writing a good conclusion to an essay. Many people are so relieved to have finished making careful points which are fully supported by evidence and explanation, that they tail off, or, even worse, fail to write a conclusion at all. Yet an excellent conclusion is as important as an excellent introduction - it is the last impression your essay will make on the reader.

Try this quiz to revise the techniques of effective conclusion writing.

What could happen if a conclusion goes entirely off-topic?
The reader might be distracted from the main argument
The essay will not leave a lasting impression on the reader
The reader might remember the essay for the wrong reason
Any of the above
An excellent conclusion is an art form. Repetition is either boring or patronising to the reader (it can also look as though you've run out of steam), while introducing anything too new can distract from the rest of the essay. The best way to improve is to read a variety of conclusions and to analyse what makes them effective
What is the purpose of a conclusion?
Its purpose is to balance the argument
Its purpose is to bring an essay to a finish
Its purpose is to remind the reader of every detail which has been included in the essay
Its purpose is to summarise the argument and finally answer the essay question
This is the concluding paragraph's only purpose - it should leave the reader feeling that the essay is complete. Imagine if you finished your essay with the paragraph which makes your final point - such an essay would come to an abrupt end and the reader would expect more (this sometimes happens when pupils run out of time in an exam). Your argument must be complete and the essay question must be answered before you begin the conclusion
'For those who study the great art of lying in bed there is one emphatic caution to be added.' -- This statement is the first sentence of the concluding paragraph in G.K. Chesterton's essay, 'On Lying in Bed'. Which of the following might be the opening sentence of the introduction?
'Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling'
'Let us pay a little more attention to these possibilities of the heroic and the unexpected'
'A man's minor actions and arrangements ought to be free, flexible, creative'
'But for the beautiful experiment of lying in bed I might never have discovered it'
A concluding paragraph may include...
a quotation
a rhetorical question
a link to the essay's introduction
Any of the above
Practise using each of these - but not all in the same conclusion! A reminder of the essay's introduction can be especially effective. This can be a reminder of the subject matter or an echo of introduction's style
'But however it may be with the physical sciences, or with music, painting, and architecture, it is -- as I have tried to show -- certain that literature is doomed if liberty of thought perishes.' -- This statement is the first sentence in George Orwell's essay, 'The Prevention of Literature'. Which of the following might be the thesis (main point) of Orwell's essay?
Freedom of thought is not very important in comparison to the importance of literature
Freedom of thought is necessary in order for a society to produce literature
True freedom does not exist
Writers should always seek the highest price for their writing
Orwell specifically writes about the freedom of the press in this essay (freedom of the press is dependent on freedom of thought)
An unsuccessful conclusion...
argues a different thesis (main point) from that of the rest of the essay
draws attention to the significance of the essay's argument
briefly summarises the essay's argument
restates the essay's argument
Although a conclusion's only purpose is to draw the essay to a close, successful conclusions often summarise, restate or refocus the argument. They do not, however, argue a different point altogether
How many new points may be introduced in a conclusion?
No new points may be introduced
If you have another point which must be made, your essay is not ready for a conclusion
Pupils are often advised to move from the specific to the general in a concluding paragraph. What is meant by this advice?
Move from the specific subject of the essay to an entirely unrelated subject
Move from careful analysis to unsupported assertions about the text
Move from the specific argument of the essay to broader or more generalised themes
All of the above
In essay writing, what is a conclusion?
The conclusion is the answer to the essay question
A conclusion is a factual summary of a text
A conclusion is the final paragraph of an essay
The conclusion is the choice between opposing sides of an argument
How does Austen present Mr. Bennet? -- Which one of the following sentences from a concluding paragraph does not answer this question?
Ultimately, Austen unmasks Mr. Bennet's joviality as a refusal to take responsibility
Austen shows how Lydia's disastrous elopement had a damaging impact on her family
Mr. Bennet is presented as a well-meaning, but fundamentally ineffectual, character
Austen shows how ineffectual Mr. Bennet is as head of the family, despite his good intentions
The question concerns the author's portrayal of Mr. Bennet, so these are the key concepts to which a conclusion should return
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - Organising information and ideas

Author:  Sheri Smith

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