Here’s the question you’ve probably got: what’s the difference between an introduction and a conclusion?
My advice is to use my two frameworks on how to write and conclusion and how to write an introduction:
- Write an introduction with the Perfect Introduction INTRO method;
- Write a conclusion with the Perfect Conclusion FIVE-C method that I outline below.
As a university teacher, I have marked well over a thousand essays.
In my time, the best conclusions I’ve seen have tended to sum-up a topic by showing-off how well the writer knows the topic and how effectively they have come to their conclusions.
The best conclusions also convincingly show why the topic is important.
In this post, I will show you how to write a conclusion that will amaze your teacher.
This formula is called the FIVE-C’s method and works for nearly every essay.
This method walks you through five potential strategies that you can use in your conclusion. I will show you all five steps and give examples for each to model how to go about writing a good quality conclusion.
For each of these steps, I recommend between one and two sentences to create a full detailed conclusion paragraph. You do not have to use each and every one of these steps every time.
Remember, once you’ve written your ideas, make sure you edit the conclusion to make sure it flows the way you want it to. Don’t feel like you have to stick exactly to these rules.
Here’s each step broken down one by one:
1. Close the Loop: Refer back to a statement from the Introduction
Have you ever noticed that comedians often start and end a show with the same joke? This method is called a “Callback” in stand-up comedy and is widely considered to be a very effective way to end on a high. I use this as an advanced form of transitioning to a conclusion.
Well, you can do this in your essay, too. Try to find a key statement you made in the introduction and return to it. In this way, you’re closing the look and ending your essay by tying it up in a thoughtful, memorable way.
Here’s a Tip: Forget about starting your conclusion with the tired old statement “In conclusion, …” and instead start it with “This essay began by stating that …” and continue from there.
Imagine you have an essay on “Should Fake News on Facebook be Regulated?” You might state an interesting ‘hook’ statement in the introduction such as:
- Intro Hook: “Mark Zuckerberg faced US congress in late 2018 to defend Facebook’s record of regulating Facebook News. He claimed that Facebook needs to do a better job of verifying the identities of Facebook users.”
You can return back to this interesting statement in the conclusion. For example:
- Close the Loop in the Conclusion: “This essay began by noting that Mark Zuckerberg accepts that Facebook needs to do a better job at regulation on the platform. As this essay has shown, it appears Facebook continues to be incapable to regulating content on its platform. Therefore, governments should step-in with minimum benchmarks for Facebook to adhere to for all advertising and news content.”
Closing the loop is a great literary strategy to tie up your essay and memorably conclude your argument.
2. Conclude: Provide a Final Evaluation by Referring back to your Arguments
Of course, a conclusion needs provide a final evaluative statement. If your essay is a persuasive or argumentative essay that asks you to take a stand, this is even more important.
The risk students run here is making their writing sound like propaganda. To prevent this, ensure your statement is balanced.
I like to use the formula below:
- Refer to evidence. In the first third of the sentence, refer back to the arguments in the essay.
- Use a hedging statement. Hedges when writing analysis verbs make your work sound more balanced and contemplative, and less biased. Hedges make you sound wise. A hedging statement withholds from being overly confident and unequivocal and softens your claims. Common hedges are: “it appears”, “it seems”, “the best current evidence is”, and “it is likely the case that”. These are the opposite of Boosters, which you should avoid. A booster is a statement like: “the data confirms”, “the truth of the matter is” and “it is undoubtedly true that”.
- State your conclusion. Conclude the sentence with your final evaluation.
Let’s have a look at how to use this formula of: Refer to evidence + Use a hedging statement + State your conclusion. See below:
|Refer to evidence||Use a hedging statement||State your conclusion|
|“Based on the available evidence provided in this paper…”||“…it appears that…”||“[thesis 1] is most accurate.”|
|“According to the key literature outlined in this paper…”||“…the most compelling current conclusion is that…”||“[your position] would be the best course of action.”|
|“From an evaluation of the above arguments…”||“…an informed analysis would find that…”||“[your position] is an accurate representation of the facts.”|
Here’s an example. Imagine your essay question was “Should all recreational drugs be decriminalised?” You could state in your final evaluation:
- (1) The evidence from both population data and criminological studies that were presented in this article (2) appears to indicate that (3) decriminalization of drugs would both save money and decrease drug overdoses.
This is far better than a propagandizing statement like:
- This essay has totally debunked the idea that the war on drugs has done any good for society. Decriminalizing drugs will save money and lives, and it should be done immediately.
The first example sentence above would almost always get a higher grade than the second. It shows balance and reduces the chance your reader will accuse you of bias. This is a secret sauce for top marks: hedge, hedge and hedge some more!
3. Clarify: Clarify the relevance of your statement to the Essay Question.
Read back through your conclusion and make sure that it directly answers the essay question. Too often, students write a few thousand words and end up talking about something completely different to what they began with.
Remember: you’re being marked on something very specific. It doesn’t matter how great and well formulated your argument is if it doesn’t answer the specific essay question.
To ensure you conclusion clearly addresses the research question, you might want to paraphrase some phrases from the essay question.
Here are some examples:
- If your essay question is about Nurses’ bedside manner, you’re probably going to want to use the phrase “bedside manner” in the conclusion a few times.
- If your essay question is about comparing renaissance and classical art, you better make sure you use the terms “renaissance art” and “classical art” a few times in that conclusion!
It is important to use paraphrasing here rather than explicitly stating the essay question word-for-word. For my detailed advice on how to paraphrase, visit my 5-step paraphrasing post.
4. Concern: Who should be concerned with this topic?
One of the best indicators that you know a topic well is to show how it relates to real life. The topic you have discussed is likely to have some relevance to someone, somewhere, out there in the world.
Make sure you state who it is that should be paying attention to your essay. Here’s my top suggestions for people who may be concerned with the topic:
- Policy makers. Is this a topic where new laws or regulations need to be introduced that could improve people’s lives? If so, you could provide a statement that explains that “Policy makers should …” do something in light of the evidence you have provided.
- Practitioners. If you’re doing a university degree that ends with a specific career, chances are the topic is relevant to that career. If you’re writing an essay on teaching methods, the essay is probably going to be something that teachers should be concerned about. Here’s an example: “Teachers need to know about children’s different learning styles in order to make sure their lessons are inclusive of all learning styles in the classroom.”
You’re in the best position to know who should be concerned with your topic. I can be any key stakeholder at all: parents, children, new immigrants, prisoners, prison guards, nurses, doctors, museum curators … you name it! It really depends on your topic.
5. Consequences: End by stating why the topic is important.
Your final statement can be something inspiring, interesting and relevant to real life. This is the opposite to the ‘hook’ in the introduction. While the hook draws your reader into the essay, your closing sentence sends your reader back out into the world, hopefully utterly convinced by you that this is a topic worthy of reflecting upon.
Here are some examples of a final sentence:
- “The sheer number of Shakespearian words and phrases that are common in the English language should show why Shakespeare remains the most significant literary figure in British history.”
- “The disastrous consequences of American regime change wars in the middle east that have been outlined in this paper highlights the case that the United States should not intervene in the Venezuelan political crisis.”
Remember when I said earlier that using hedges is good for your argument? The final sentence in the essay is the one place where maybe, just maybe, you can use the opposite: a Booster.
How to write a Conclusion with the 5C’s Method: Sample Conclusion Paragraph
Writing conclusions for your essay can be hard. With the 5 C’s paragraph model you can get a bit of an idea about how to write a conclusion that will amaze your teacher. Here’s the model one last time:
How to write a Conclusion: The Five-C Conclusion Method
1 Close the loop. Return to a statement you made in the introduction.
2 Conclude. Show what your final position is.
3 Clarify. Clarify how your final position is relevant to the Essay Question.
4 Concern. Explain who should be concerned by your findings.
5 Consequences. End by noting in one final, engaging sentence why this topic is of such importance.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]