Often students turn in their essays once they are done writing body paragraphs because ‘what else is there to write?’ I am then forced to slash bands for essays that ‘have no ending’ or a weak conclusion, no matter how good the actual essay was. ‘Some students struggle with writing an appropriate conclusion because they don’t know what else to say. Let us put an end to that misery!
We tend to call ‘conclusions’ end paragraphs. A conclusion suggests that the essay is a scientific paper with research and experiments done to come up with a new idea altogether. Our idea of the last paragraph is a summary of all the points and examples mentioned in the body paragraphs of the essay. Also, we believe you must offer your opinion only if the question asks for it.
Let us look at a sample essay question to understand this better.
Car ownership has increased so rapidly over the past 30 years that many cities in the world are now ‘one big traffic jam’.
How true do you think this statement is?
What measures can governments take to discourage people from using their cars?
As always, we must first identify the Focus and the Boundaries of the question. But what is that?
Focus is the main point of the topic. However, this question is a little trickier than the rest. The Focus of the question is on the rise in private car ownership.
Boundaries are the restrictions placed on the scope of the question. They help the writer to decide the subtopic of the essay. Here the first boundary is, “how an increasing number of cars is related to the traffic jam?” One could agree with the statement because families are buying more cars than they need. And we all can see how this excessive number of cars are creating traffic issues all over the world. So, our primary job here is to prove how increasing numbers of cars are responsible for traffic jams.
However, some of you may not be convinced with the explanation. You may say we are asked “How true do you think this statement is? So, we must offer our opinion. And if I disagree with the statement that means I could say that the rise in car ownership is not leading to traffic jams.” Alright point taken, but before we celebrate, let us look at the second boundary.
The second boundary is stating the steps the government can take to discourage the use of private cars. Now imagine if you agree with the topic statement that yes excessive cars lead to traffic problems, then the second boundary makes perfect sense. However, if you don’t agree with the topic statement that means if you say traffic jams have nothing to do with an increasing number of cars, then the next question is then why should the government discourage people from buying new four-wheelers. So, in a way, if you disagree with the topic, the second question becomes invalid. Hence the two boundaries or subtopics of the boundary are
Now, just for argument, let us say you present the following points in the essay
Now that we have our boundaries and points in the essay let us assume that you have written reasons and the solutions as suggested by the essay. As discussed already in the end paragraph, you must try to summarise the main points already discussed in the body paragraphs.
“To summarise, not only has the world seen a rise in population, but those people can also afford to buy more cars than ever, causing massive traffic jams on the road. To overcome these challenges, making cabs cheaper, and working towards making other public transports more convenient are the only ways for the government to discourage private vehicles without introducing new laws.”
Make sure never to introduce a new point in the end paragraph. Writing a new point randomly in the end paragraph will confuse the examiner. They might feel like they missed the new point you made in the end paragraph and reread the essay. They may also expect another paragraph because this paragraph is introducing a new point. They will then look for the next paragraph (which does not exist), which has the ending of the essay. Both are not good for you as you will lose marks in Cohesion and Coherence, and even Task Achievement to a certain extent. If the examiner must search for a point you have made, then your communication has not been clear enough for a high band. A flawed end paragraph could look like this:
“Along with a higher purchasing power, people are also living farther away from work, causing them to spend more time on the roads. This, combined with the rise in population are prime reasons for the rise in traffic jams. The government should look into making cabs cheaper, levying heavier taxes on cars and making other public transport more convenient. Hence, people prefer public transport over their own cars.”
This END paragraph has two points which are valid but were never discussed before this paragraph! The examiner is bound to be confused over where these points come from. Any confusion on the reader’s part means that the writer has not communicated effectively. IELTS is more about effective communication than excellence in displaying your general knowledge, after all.
You would not believe how many students end up writing their opinion about the subject when they should be summarising the arguments. Do not offer an opinion unless the question asks for it. The end paragraph is the place to answer the question asked in the first instruction in one sentence. If the essay is discussion-based and you have given your opinion, you will lose marks in Task Achievement, simply because you have not read the question adequately. On the flip side, if you have forgotten to state your opinion in an opinion-based essay clearly, your writing will meet the same fate. In this example, the question is discussion-based; therefore, you do not need to state your opinion. An inappropriate end paragraph could look like this:
“It is the car owners’ right to decide when they should use their car. If they do not want to use public transport, the government cannot force them. There are more car owners now than ever, because of population explosion and cars are the cheapest they have been. Maybe the government should spend more on bettering the public transportation system and making cabs cheaper instead of levying heavy taxes.”
The question was never about whether the government can force people to stop using their private vehicles. Therefore, any opinion about that issue is not required. The end paragraph would be completely disjointed from the rest of the essay if there is an opinion given in a discussion-based essay. This would not bode well for Coherence and Cohesion marks along with Task Achievement marks as mentioned before.
We suggest summarising each body paragraph in one sentence. You can get creative with your use of connectors in this paragraph. Make sure that they are appropriate; otherwise, you will lose more than you won. The end paragraph is a great place to showcase sentence structures. It has many opportunities to connect multiple ideas in a sentence, and then compare multiple ideas in different sentences. If you are not confident with complex sentence structures, you can always just plainly list each point, and divide the two boundaries with the appropriate connector. Lastly, offer an opinion only if it is asked.