Writing a Strong Conclusion Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Oct 1, 2011

Six More Ways To Write A Strong Conclusion

The right way to write a conclusion is to find the strongest, most effective strategy for convincing your reader to accept your point of view. Challenge yourself to be creative and imaginative in the way you construct your conclusion. Be sure to leave enough time (and energy) at the end of your project for the creation of a clever ending.

Here are six suggestions for strategies to adopt in creating effective conclusions. Note that they are similar, but not always identical to strategies you learned in the previous lesson for writing strong introductions.

  1. Ask a question. A well-constructed essay can often lead to a dramatic question at the end that challenges the reader in effect to contribute to the essay's argument. Imagine that you are writing an essay about the value of standardized tests. The following question might introduce your concluding paragraph and invite the reader to agree with the answer you will then provide to the question: "Can we be sure then, at the very least, that these standardized tests are providing valuable information?"  
  2. Quote an authority on your subject. Here's a quotation from an authority on standardized testing that might be used to support a thesis, or perhaps even to provide a contrasting point of view: "In the February 2007 issue of Science magazine, researchers Nathan R. Kuncel and Sarah A. Hezlett of the University of Minnesota conclude that: 'Standardized admissions tests are valid predictors of many aspects of student success across academic and applied fields.' " Finding an appropriate and relevant quotation might be difficult, but is often an effective strategy for a conclusion. Be aware that you don't have to find a quotation that agrees with you. Maybe a quotation from the opposition will provide a way for you to contradict a known authority and make a strong case for your side of the argument.  
  3. Provide a relevant anecdote. Anecdotes are easier to use in introductions, as scene setters, than as strategies for conclusion. However, if you can save the best for the last, your personal experience (or someone else's) might provide a strong punch at the end of your essay. The experience of 150 seventh-graders at Centreville Middle School who took the standardized test in English usage is instructive: While 80% of the students were above average students in their class work, only 56% passed the standardized test. Perhaps most damning of all, 53% of the students got lower grades in subsequent months. School administrators attributed this decline in study habits and class attendance to the dramatically lowered morale among the students. Obviously, this anecdote would work best for an essay critical of the use of standardized tests. Be cautious in choosing an anecdote. Make sure it is not too specific to provide support for your generalized thesis statement.  
  4. Offer a solution or a recommendation. Depending on your subject matter, providing a workable and realistic solution may be a difficult challenge. In the case of the assigned essay on the value of standardized testing, one student worked around the difficulty of solving this problem in the following way: "Whether or not standardized tests will continue to be part of national policy is at this time unknowable. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that local schools need to enhance their commitment to building writing skills among their students. Without better preparation, students will be ill prepared to succeed in their future lives, much less in the taking of standardized tests." Note that this conclusion sidesteps the challenge of offering a solution or alternative to the use of standardized testing by concluding that there is a larger, more important issue at stake. This is clever writing and provides the reader with a loftier subject to contemplate.
  5. Challenge the reader to action. In persuasive essays, the use of a call to action is often an effective way to conclude. You must use this strategy carefully, because demanding a specific action of your reader may sound hollow and unrealistic. Write your congressperson is an overworked example of this strategy. One of the students writing about standardized testing offered this conclusion: "Complaining about the use of standardized tests doesn't get anybody anywhere. These tests are here to stay. The energy that students (and their teachers) devote to criticizing the testing policies would be better spent figuring out ways to beat the tests and perform brilliantly on them. That'll show those test writers!"
  6. Make a prediction. How confident do you feel that you can solve the world's problems? Probably your answer is, "Not very confident." If so, you'll want to be cautious about using this strategy, but three cheers for you if you can find a way to guide your reader to look to the future. Here's what one student suggested: Twenty years from now, we'll all look back on the controversy about the use of standardized tests and laugh. The real problem facing schools by then is going to be what to do with the multiple languages our students will be speaking. With the increasing presence of recent immigrants in our schools, schools are going to find that 40% of their students are not native English speakers. Printing standardized tests in many languages will be the least of our problems!
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