What is the purpose of a concluding paragraph?
This is the first of three lessons about Writing Concluding Paragraphs. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Review the three sections of an academic essay
– Focus specifically on concluding paragraphs and their purpose in academic contexts
– Explore the elements and specific-general structure which make conclusions successful
It’s difficult to write an effective essay – even for native speakers of English, and concluding paragraphs are probably harder than introductions and sometimes even body sections. But why are conclusions so difficult? Isn’t a conclusion just about reminding the reader of what’s been argued throughout? By the final paragraph, shouldn’t a writer have all the pieces they need to conclude? While there’s a little more to it than that, a conclusion doesn’t have to be too challenging for university-level students.
This short course first explores the purpose of writing a conclusion (Lesson 1) before focussing more specifically on the four key elements of a well-written paragraph (Lesson 2). Then we finish up by discussing ten of the most useful tips for constructing excellent conclusions (Lesson 3), offering a variety of worksheets throughout the course to check progress and understanding.
What are the sections of an essay?
Essays can be many thousands of words long such as dissertations and theses and have many paragraphs, or they can be as short as 500 words across three paragraphs. One aspect that all essays have in common regardless of their length, however, is an introduction, a body section and a conclusion – in that order.
- Introductions provide the reader with the key background information needed to understand a topic; they define key terms and put forward a thesis statement (the focus and argument of the essay), outlining the main ideas of the body section.
- Body Paragraphs explore each main idea in turn, using topic sentences and summary-transition sentences to guide the reader and supporting details (examples, evidence, explanation and implication) to argue for/against a given claim.
- Conclusions remind the reader of the thesis of the essay, the main ideas and the key supporting details; they wrap up the essay, either looking to the future for how to apply the research or looking back for salient research gaps and limitations.
Conclusions are an important essay section as readers tend to best remember the last information they read. Write a convincing final paragraph and your reader may finish the essay with more clarity and confidence in its argumentation and findings.
What makes a conclusion successful?
As we will learn in Lesson 3, there are many pieces of advice that can help students to write an effective and convincing conclusion. For now, the two most important points to remember are (1) that your conclusion should try to follow a specific-general structure (inverse from an introduction) and (2) that a concluding paragraph should include at least some of the four concluding elements:
Which elements are common in conclusions?
Almost all successful conclusions will restate the thesis from the introduction, summarise the main ideas and supporting details from the body section, and contextualise how this information has provided a sufficient investigation of the essay question. This is achieved through the inclusion of two key elements, called the thesis restatement and the summary of ideas:
Following these two elements, many conclusions might also wish to look to the future by providing research gaps or recommendations (or both):
Hopefully you should now understand the basics of a successful essay conclusion. For detailed information about how to construct the four key elements listed above, continue reading on to Lesson 2.
Lesson 3 explores the topic: What are 10 tips for writing effective conclusions? Our Lesson 3 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button.
There are currently no PowerPoint activities, additional teacher resources or audio and video recordings created for this topic. Please come back again next semester.
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