What are some tips you give your students for writing strong conclusions?
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First, I don't advise my students to begin a conclusion with "In conclusion," since it is overused. Also, I advise my students not to resort to too much summary. If they've done a good job in the essay of stating their points, the reader will remember them. I encourage my students to briefly restate their main points, if they choose, but also to end in a memorable way, perhaps encouraging their reader to take action, for example, if they're writing a persuasive essay, ending with an arresting statement, a question, etc. I remind them that they are leaving their readers with an impression, and many readers remember best what they read last, so it is important to leave these readers with a good impression about their papers when they end them.
Conclusion is a crucial part of an essay, because it leads the reader to understand that the author has finished providing his observations and therefore he is summing up. The best conclusion would be that which gives an overall impression of the topic that has been discussed in the main part of the essay. While in the introduction the author has to concentrate on initiating the main points of his discussion, in the conclusion he should try to let the reader know that all of these points have been discussed according to the need of the essay. A successful conclusion makes a reader happy and simultaneously makes the essay complete.
Begin your conclusion by going back to your introduction. Whatever hook you used to start your intro, return to that hook for your conclusion to create continuity. For example, if you started with a quote by Thomas Jefferson, mention Jefferson's name to start your conclusion.
Quote in Intro: "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."
Example start of Conclusion: So, when Jefferson announced that democracy is the same as mob rule, he might not have realized how true his sentiments would be over 200 years later.
This avoids the cliche "in conclusion" but still provides transition by linking the reader back to previous information. The writer can then reinforce the main points, and end with a lasting thought or additional question, such as: "So where exactly is the line between justice and just bullying?"
Conclusion is the last part of an essay. It is very important as it affects substantially the way reader will remember the essay in the long run.
The conclusion must be short and to the point to be most effective.
A writer has a very wide choice of matter to be included in the conclusion. The choice will largely be guided by the purpose of the essay and the contents. For example:
- An essay dealing with current social problem may end with exhortations for action by readers in general.
- A paper containing initial research on an emerging subject may end with indication for need for further research.
- A report examining a business opportunity may identify the exact nature of further action to be taken in respect of the opportunity.
- An essay describing a complex subject may just give a very short summary of the subject or its importance.
To write a strong conclusion, do not merely sum up what said previously. There is not need to review the material if that is all you do. For a great conclusion, try these:
1) Your final thoughts
2) A suggestion
3) A warning
4) A final dramatic quote
5) A final message relating back to an initial quote or statistic.
I agree with #2 - the best way of ending an essay is not by a banal restating of your main points in different words but by an ending that gives real closure to the entire essay by giving the reader a final thought or challenging them with regard to the content of the essay. #6 contains a number of different ways in which this could be achieved. The biggest advice I give though is not to be boring.
I agree with post 4. I often encourage students to go back to the hook from their introduction. In fact, it provides fodder for both the introduction and the conclusion to create a thought-provoking hook in the first place. Though I personally loathe essays which begin on a question, I've found that for young high school students (9th and 10th graders) it is one of the easiest ways to get them into an essay. If this is the case, I have them write the "take-home" message by answering their initial question as the final sentence to the essay.
Another tactic I've used is to have students read their essays aloud to a partner in class, slowly. When they get to the very end, the partner says, "So what?" Then, the writer puts the paper down and says the first (and therefore final) thought on their mind after reading the essay. Students then work with the partners to create a logical conclusive sentence.
I tell my students to remind their reader about their important points and evidence. So I have them restate their thesis and review their evidence briefly. Then I have them think of what I call a concluding thought, in other words an interesting way to remind the reader what the essay was about and give the person something to think about.
Mark Antony has a strong conclusion to his funeral oration in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. He saves his strongest point for last. His strongest point is that Caesar left a will in which he bequeaths money to every Roman citizen. Then Antony adds:
Moreover he hath left you all his walks,
His private arbors, and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber. He hath left them you,
And to your heirs for ever -- common pleasures
To walk abroad and recreate yourselves.
Here was a Caesar. When comes such another?
Antony introduces the will before the end of his speech, but he refrains from actually reading it until the very end, at which point the plebians start to riot, as he fully expected.
A strong conclusion needs a strong substance--whatever the speaker can say that will have the strongest impact on the listeners. If you are going to present three proofs to support your thesis, then you should save your best one for last, because listeners remember what they hear last.
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