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The Importance of Conclusions

The Importance of Conclusions

In academic prose the importance of conclusions should not be underestimated. The conclusion is the capstone on your essay and, moreover, the last thing the reader will encounter before they finish the piece. It needs therefore to leave a favourable lasting impression. The conclusion, in short, is your essay’s closing statement; the objective is to hammer your argument home. This translates to bringing all the relevant points of disputation into alignment, crystallising the logic of your approach, and making your point of view utterly transparent. No reader should ever walk away from an essay without a clear idea of what it was trying to say. Thus the conclusion affords the writer a final opportunity to clarify their position; this should be done in a compelling manner. A solid conclusion, after all, can mean the difference between a first and second class piece of work.

A paramount consideration when composing a conclusion is that the reader has by this stage been exposed to the body of your argument; thus they should be apprised of all the necessary facts, figures and other information needed properly to assess the point at issue. The conclusion should merely lead them to the finish line. For this reason, while you want to reiterate key points, you do not want merely to waste words by repeating yourself. Instead, you want to delineate the connection between all these distinct elements, thereby revealing the bigger picture. You do not want to be introducing new strands to the argument but, rather, pulling together the various strands established in the text body. Hence the conclusion is tooled to cohere and consolidate what has come before.

Importantly, a conclusion is brief; it should not ramble or digress. You want to be terse and pithy. The conclusion is the final optic through which the reader will view the entirety of the essay; it consequently has a special significance in colouring the overall work. As a result, you need to be mindful of tone. You need to be convincing and compelling without being strident or overly didactic. If during composition you have arrived at any particularly penetrating insights, this would be a good place to unveil them; for, you are trying at this juncture to endear yourself to the reader. This is an opportunity, also, to demonstrate linguistic flair; to reiterate the most important parts of your argument and do so in verbally impressing manner. You want your closing statement to be compelling and memorable. Remember, the conclusion is your last chance to convince the reader of your case.

You may find it useful when writing the argument body to make a brief note as to the express point of each paragraph. This will provide you with a loose outline for what the conclusion will entail. If you find that a given paragraph has no clear point then it can probably be excised without detriment. Indeed, every paragraph you write requires a sort of conclusion in and of itself: which sums up the relevance of the given passage. In addition, a good working rule is to consider whether any paragraph in your composition could be removed without having a significant impact on the conclusion. If so, then the necessity of that particular section is in question. When the essay is complete, every component of the argument body should in some way gesture toward the conclusion.

Finally, most importantly, your conclusion should not be a bolted-on after-thought. Instead, the conclusion should be the logical summation of the essay. All the constituent paragraphs of your essay should be working toward the ultimate conclusion. Hence each paragraph is building momentum for the final passage, which brings together all the distinct points summoned in the text body. There is a subtle architecture to essay writing that must be observed. Just as a spire would ill-suit a garden shed, an essay needs to be topped off in the appropriate fashion. You want to be shifting to a conclusive register which directs the prose to a tidy finish. Something of this order: “In conclusion we can see that . . .”; through, “which evidence clearly demonstrates . . .”; to, “leading us to the belief that . . .”. Finally, your closing line should be something with a little verbal punch; which will resonate. Usually this can be achieved with a subtle evocativeness. A closing line is, after all, a closing thought; it will reflect the expansiveness or restraint of the mind which produced it. 

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