ACTVITY: How to write a good conclusion

THEME: ESSAY WRITING SKILLS

ACTVITY: How to write a good conclusion

Originally I used this skill with A level students but now I use it to train ALL age groups – the younger they get used to it the better their essays will be when they get to KS5.

Writing essay conclusions is always difficult: students tend to write just ONE, fairly flimsy, sentence or they simply repeat everything they said in the essay.

Having a good conclusion, that relates closely to the original question, shows that they have indeed addressed the question. If, when they try to apply this technique, they can’t link the conclusion to the title then they have probably not addressed the question at all! They should be able to write their conclusion as soon as they have planned the content of their essay (but planning essays is another sore point!!)

This technique allows students to write something USEFUL and RELEVANT without repeating themselves.

Typical A level essays ask students to consider topics in depth and to consider different aspects of a topic. They might be asked…………… “To what extent do you think…..? ” or “Assess….” or “Discuss….” or “How successful were…?” This technique can be used to address most essay questions.

Main premise:

BALANCE + WEIGHT -------->>> JUDGEMENT

BALANCE is the number of points on each side of the argument

WEIGHT is the importance (or strength) of each of the arguments

JUDGEMENT is what you think after considering B and W

Step 1 (Introduce ideas)

  • Introduce the terms Balance, Weight, Judgement- explain what they mean

  • Give them an example to illustrate their meaning. I use a simple, but extreme, school based example…………..

“J, a lovely, hard- working, honest, reliable year 8 girl has had her pencil case stolen. Both she, and her equally reliable friend, S, say that B took it at the end of their lesson. He just grabbed it from her desk as he left the classroom. B has a reputation for stealing and bullying. He has 10, equally disreputable, friends who swear that he did not take it: he ran out of the classroom quickly at the end of the lesson and went straight to play football in the yard.” What do you think?

  • Now get them to apply B + W = J

The BALANCE of arguments is 11 saying B didn’t take it against 2 saying he did.

The WEIGHT of arguments is definitely in favour of J and S because they are reliable whereas B and his 10 friends are definitely not reliable as they have done this sort of thing before and have often lied about their actions

My JUDGEMENT therefore would be that the WEIGHT in favour of J and S outweighs the BALANCE in favour of B and therefore I think B is the culprit.

  • This little example, flawed though it might be, gets them used to the ideas

Step 2 (identify BALANCE)

  • Get them to write an essay

  • Assuming they have written an essay which addresses both sides on an argument* they should now consider the BALANCE of arguments – simply count up how many points they have “for” and how many “against”.

  • They can now start their new-style conclusion by making a statement such as……………..

“The balance of arguments presented shows that there are significantly more in favour…. “

Or

“The balance of arguments presented shows that there are slightly more arguments against…”

Or

“The balance of arguments presented shows that the arguments for and against are balanced in terms of number….”