Essay Writing: Writing: The conclusion of the essay

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Strategies for Writing a Conclusion


Strategies for Writing a Conclusion

Conclusions are often the most difficult part of an essay to write, and many writers feel that they have nothing left to say after having written the paper. A writer needs to keep in mind that the conclusion is often what a reader remembers best. Your conclusion should be the best part of your paper.


A conclusion should

  • stress the importance of the thesis statement,
  • give the essay a sense of completeness, and
  • leave a final impression on the reader.

Suggestions

  • Answer the question “So What?”

    Show your readers why this paper was important. Show them that your paper
    was meaningful and useful.

  • Synthesize, don’t summarize
    • Don’t simply repeat things that were in your paper. They have read it.
      Show them how the points you made and the support and examples you used
      were not random, but fit together.
  • Redirect your readers
    • Give your reader something to think about, perhaps a way to use your
      paper in the “real” world. If your introduction went from general to specific,
      make your conclusion go from specific to general. Think globally.

  • Create a new meaning
    • You don’t have to give new information to create a new meaning. By demonstrating how your ideas work together, you can create a new picture. Often the sum of the paper is worth more than its parts.

Strategies

  • Echoing the introduction: Echoing your introduction can
    be a good strategy if it is meant to bring the reader full-circle. If you
    begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof
    that your essay was helpful in creating a new understanding.

    Example

Introduction

From the parking lot, I could see the towers of the castle of the Magic
Kingdom standing stately against the blue sky. To the right, the tall peak
of The Matterhorn rose even higher. From the left, I could hear the jungle
sounds of Adventureland. As I entered the gate, Main Street stretched before
me with its quaint shops evoking an old-fashioned small town so charming
it could never have existed. I was entranced. Disneyland may have been built
for children, but it brings out the child in adults.

Conclusion

I thought I would spend a few hours at Disneyland, but here I was at 1:00
A.M., closing time, leaving the front gates with the now dark towers of
the Magic Kingdom behind me. I could see tired children, toddling along
and struggling to keep their eyes open as best they could. Others slept
in their parents’ arms as we waited for the parking lot tram that would
take us to our cars. My forty-year-old feet ached, and I felt a bit sad
to think that in a couple of days I would be leaving California, my vacation
over, to go back to my desk. But then I smiled to think that for at least
a day I felt ten years old again.


  • Challenging the reader: By issuing a challenge to your
    readers, you are helping them to redirect the information in the paper, and
    they may apply it to their own lives.

    Example

    Though serving on a jury is not only a civic responsibility but also
    an interesting experience, many people still view jury duty as a chore
    that interrupts their jobs and the routine of their daily lives. However,
    juries are part of America’s attempt to be a free and just society. Thus,
    jury duty challenges us to be interested and responsible citizens.


  • Looking to the future: Looking to the future can emphasize
    the importance of your paper or redirect the readers’ thought process. It
    may help them apply the new information to their lives or see things more
    globally.

    Example

    Without well-qualified teachers, schools are little more than buildings
    and equipment. If higher-paying careers continue to attract the best and
    the brightest students, there will not only be a shortage of teachers,
    but the teachers available may not have the best qualifications. Our youth
    will suffer. And when youth suffers, the future suffers.


  • Posing questions: Posing questions, either to your readers
    or in general, may help your readers gain a new perspective on the topic,
    which they may not have held before reading your conclusion. It may also bring
    your main ideas together to create a new meaning.

    Example

    Campaign advertisements should help us understand the candidate’s qualifications
    and positions on the issues. Instead, most tell us what a boob or knave
    the opposing candidate is, or they present general images of the candidate
    as a family person or God-fearing American. Do such advertisements contribute
    to creating an informed electorate or a people who choose political leaders
    the same way they choose soft drinks and soap?


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© 1995-2004 The Write Place

LEO: Literacy Education Online

This handout was written by Randa Holewa; Joe Mathison completed
the html markup for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University: it was updated
by Judith Kilborn. This document may be copied for educational purposes only.
If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name
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Techniques and examples are adapted from Basic Writing: A First Course, by Peter Carino, Harper Collins, 1991.

Last update: 19 February 2004

URL: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/conclude.html


Uni Learning Previous Next
Essay Writing
Introduction|Preparation|Research|Writing|Summary

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:


bullet
What is the significance of your findings?

bullet
What are the implications of your conclusions for this topic and for the
broader field?

bullet
Are their any limitations to your approach?

bullet
Are there any other factors of relevance that impact upon the topic but
fell outside the scope of the essay?

bullet
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.

Example of an essay conclusion1

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 unification
such 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




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