Writing The Conclusion To Your Essay: Tips, Examples and Problems

In this lesson, you’re going to learn how to write the kind of conclusion you see in essays that get a high band score. You will also get some tips for writing conclusions, some examples, and the common problems with conclusions that you need to avoid.

What is the Conclusion?

The conclusion, or concluding paragraph, is not simply the last paragraph of your essay.

A good conclusion should do 2 things:

  1. remind your reader of your answer(s) to the essay question(s)
  2. refer to the main reasons for your answer(s)

For most IELTS essay questions, you can do this in just one or two sentences.

Having a conclusion is really important! If you don’t have a conclusion, then your band score for Task Response will be limited to Band 5 at best.

Look at this task:

In the future, nobody will buy printed newspapers or books because they will be able to read everything they want online without paying. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

(Cambridge IELTS 15 Academic Test 2)

Let’s say I strongly agree with this statement. That’s my answer to the essay question. That needs to go into the conclusion.

And I must also remind my reader (the IELTS Examiner!) of the reasons for my view. Let’s say I agree with the statement because: (1) it’s more convenient to get information online when compared to printed materials, and (2) books and newspapers are quite expensive.

So here is one possible conclusion to my essay:

“In conclusion, I strongly believe that everyone in the future will get all their information online for free because reading information online via phones and tablets is so much easier than through bulky books and newspapers, and also because books and newspapers are quite expensive.”

In the above conclusion, I presented my answer to the essay question, and I reminded my reader of the reasons for my view.

Tips for Writing the Conclusion

  • restate your answer to the essay question
  • summarise your main ideas from the body paragraphs
  • 1-2 sentences is usually sufficient, but will probably be longer in a ‘Discuss Both Views’ essay.

Examples

Here are 2 more examples of good conclusions.

Example 1

Look at this task:

“In the future, more people will choose to go on holiday in their own country and not travel abroad on holiday. Do you agree or disagree?”

(Cambridge IELTS 15 General Training Test 3)

My answer. Let’s say I broadly agree with the statement, but that I think it depends on where holidaymakers live. (That is my answer to the essay question.)

My reasons. Why do I think this? Here are my main reasons:

  • domestic holidays can be cheaper
  • overseas travel can be inconvenient
  • it depends where people live because people in cold countries want to go to warm ones.

So my conclusion can go like this:

“In conclusion, I feel that people will be more likely to take holidays in their own country because they are generally cheaper and more convenient than foreign holidays. However, it does depend, to an extent, on where people live, as people living in countries with cold climates will continue to want to take holidays somewhere warm.”

I’ve restated my opinion (my answer to the question), and I’ve also referred to my main ideas from the body paragraphs. You will also see that my conclusion is only 2 sentences long.

Example 2

The concluding paragraph of Discuss Both Views question needs to be a little different.

Look at this task:

“Some people say History is one of the most important school subjects. Other people think that, in today’s world, subjects like Science and Technology are more important than History. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.”

(Cambridge IELTS 13 Test 3 – Academic)

For most IELTS questions, you just need to restate your answer along with your main reasons / main ideas. But with Discuss Both Views essays you also need to present your own opinion. You can present your own opinion in a separate paragraph, but you can also include your opinion in the concluding paragraph.

In a Discuss Both Views essay, you would normally discuss the first view in Body Paragraph 1, and the second view in Body Paragraph 2.

In the conclusion, I’m going to say what I think: I think that history is an important subject, but because teaching time is limited, science and technology should be prioritised because of the need to teach job skills.

So my conclusion can go like this:

“In conclusion, there are clearly convincing arguments for both views. However, personally, I believe that while history is very important and should never be omitted entirely from the curriculum, there are only a limited number of teaching hours available, and for this reason, science and technology should be prioritised. After all, it is essential to provide young people with the technological and scientific skills and knowledge needed for life and work in the modern world.”

This paragraph refers very briefly to the 2 different views in the body paragraphs:

“There are clearly convincing arguments for both views…”

Before going on to present my own opinion.

Many people find it difficult to give their own opinion in a Discuss Both Views essay. They often agree strongly with one side, but that’s not always the best option, especially if you are aiming for a high band score. So here a couple of tips for Discuss Both Views essays.

Tip #1: Point out the weaknesses of the view you disagree with

I think one good way of presenting your opinion in a concluding paragraph is to point out the weaknesses in the view that you disagree with.

In the conclusion above, I’ve pointed out that I think history is important, but you have to prioritise science and technology because teaching time is limited.

Tip #2: Say what you REALLY think

My opinion for this essay is what I REALLY think. I’ve not made up my opinion! And because it’s actually my opinion, it’s much easier to explain.

Conclusions: Common Problems

If you are aiming for a high band score, you need to avoid the following common problems

Problem #1: Inconsistent Position

An inconsistent position is when your position seems to change during your essay. This is sometimes because your view in the conclusion seems to be different from your view in the introduction. For example, in your introduction you might write: “I strongly agree,” but in the conclusion, you write things that suggest you only “partly agree” or even “disagree.”

An inconsistent position will probably limit your band score for both Task Response and Coherence and Cohesion to Band 5 or Band 6.

Solution: an inconsistent position is usually the result of bad planning, so make sure you plan your essay before you start writing.

Problem #2: Presenting New Ideas in the Conclusion

A second common problem is presenting new ideas in the conclusion, such as new reasons for your view.

You should present the reasons / main ideas (eg advantages or reasons for a view) in the body paragraphs. The conclusion is not the place for new ideas.

I think this problem happens because test takers suddenly think of great new ideas while writing the conclusion.

Solution: Again, this problem can usually be avoided with good planning before you start writing.

Problem #3: Long Conclusion

I often see conclusions that are simply too long. Remember, you only need to present your answer(s) and reasons again, briefly. You can do this in 1-2 sentences. The only reason for writing more than 2 sentences is if you are presenting your own opinion in a Discuss Both Views essay.

Solution: keep the conclusion short and concise.

Problem #4: Unclear Conclusion

If your conclusions are unclear, then Task Response is going to be limited to Band 6. Make sure you write a clear conclusion, clearly present your explicit answer along with your main reasons.

Problem #5: No Conclusion

If there’s no conclusion – in other words, if you do not present your explicit answer to the essay question – then Task Response will be limited to Band 5 at best.

A conclusion in Task 2 is a little bit like the overview paragraph in Task 1. So, if you don’t have a conclusion (or an overview in Task 1), it’s going to keep your band score down.

Problem #6: Unnatural / Informal Transition Signals

I often see unnatural / informal transition signals at the start of conclusions, for example:

  • “to recapitulate”
  • “in conclusion, in my opinion.” (either write “in conclusion” OR “in my opinion”, but NOT both!)
  • “to bring it all together”

A simple “in conclusion” is all you need at the start of your conclusion.

Key Points To Remember

  • present your answer to the essay question(s) in the conclusion, along with brief reference to the reasons for your answer
  • keep it short: 1-2 sentences is usually enough
  • in a Discuss Both Views essay, you can present your own view in the conclusion
  • in a Discuss Both Views essay, point out the weaknesses in the view you disagree with in the conclusion
  • do not present new ideas in the conclusion
  • use “in conclusion” at the start of your conclusion

I hope that helps! Good luck with your IELTS preparation.

About the author

Charlie is a former IELTS Examiner with 25 years' teaching experience all over the world. His courses, for both English language learners and teachers, have been taken by over 100,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.