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.

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  1. How does Austen present Mr. Bennet? -- Which one of the following sentences from a concluding paragraph does not answer this question?
    The question concerns the author's portrayal of Mr. Bennet, so these are the key concepts to which a conclusion should return
  2. Pupils are often advised to move from the specific to the general in a concluding paragraph. What is meant by this advice?
  3. '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?
    Orwell specifically writes about the freedom of the press in this essay (freedom of the press is dependent on freedom of thought)
  4. What could happen if a conclusion goes entirely off-topic?
    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
  5. In essay writing, what is a conclusion?
  6. What is the purpose of a conclusion?
    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
  7. '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?
  8. How many new points may be introduced in a conclusion?
    If you have another point which must be made, your essay is not ready for a conclusion
  9. An unsuccessful conclusion...
    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
  10. A concluding paragraph may include...
    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

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