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Good Conclusions For Academic Essays Samples

Key words: thesis statement, summary, transitional words, premise, key points

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.

Exercise 1: Understanding the stages of a conclusion paragraph

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

Exercise 2: Sentence types in 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.

1

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.

Restatement of main premise

incorrect.

Summary of key points in the essay

Correct!

Broad statement (evaluate, forecast future, make recommendations)

incorrect.

2

To conclude, university students who are experiencing difficulty with their academic writing skills will require assistance to reach their academic potential.

Restatement of main premise

Correct!

Summary of key points in the essay

incorrect.

Broad statement (evaluate, forecast future, make recommendations)

incorrect.

3

In response, universities invest considerable capital into well-run programs that effectively assist students to overcome their writing problems.

Restatement of main premise

incorrect.

Summary of key points in the essay

incorrect.

Broad statement (evaluate, forecast future, make recommendations)

Correct!

Exercise 3: In the right order

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 the essay

The function of the essay's Conclusion is to restate the main argument. It reminds the reader of the strengths of the argument: that is, it reiterates the most important evidence supporting the argument. Make sure, however, that your conclusion is not simply a repetitive summary as this reduces the impact of the argument you have developed in your essay. The conclusion provides a forum for you to persuasively and succinctly restate your thesis given the reader has now been presented with all the information about the topic. Depending on the discipline you are writing in, the concluding paragraph may also contain a reflection on the evidence presented, or on the essay's thesis. The nature of the reflection will depend on your topic (Woodward-Kron, 1997) but questions such as these may be considered:


What is the significance of your findings?
What are the implications of your conclusions for this topic and for the broader field?
Are their any limitations to your approach?
Are there any other factors of relevance that impact upon the topic but fell outside the scope of the essay?
Are their any suggestions you can make in terms of future research?

The conclusion should match the introduction in terms of the ideas presented and the argument put forward. Sometimes you will find that the process of writing has changed what you have argued and so it will be necessary to go back and reword the introduction. Finally, the conclusion is not the place in your essay to introduce new information or new ideas: these should be in the body of your essay.

Essay Question:: Italy on the eve of 1860 has often been described as an unlikely nation. Why?

Before 1860, only a tiny minority of the population believed that Italy could ever become a unified nation under one Italian ruler. Yet, despite this belief and the many obstacles blocking the path to unificationsuch as differences and suspicion between the many regions of the peninsula, the lack of planning and common goals that saw many uprisings fail and the divergent views and politics amongst the men who fought for unity,the Piedmont region emerged "...as the nucleus around which the rest of Italy could gather" (Mack Smith, 1959: 17). On March 17, 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed. Italy was no longer a geographical expression, it was a nation.reference to essay question
reiteration of thesis point
overview of main arguments explaining the obstacles to Italy's unification
concluding comment and reference to essay question

1 This essay has been adapted from material developed by R. Woodward-Kron, E. Thomson & J. Meek (2000) Academic Writing: a language based guide (CD-ROM), University of Wollongong



© Copyright 2000
Comments and questions should
be directed to Unilearning@uow.edu.au

 

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