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Persuasive Essay (Conclusions)

Watch this for insights into how to conclude Persuasive Essays in Higher English (and why action until the end matters)

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There’s nothing better than a good adventure story, is there?

One of my favourite adventure stories, really the one that started it all, is the Scottish classic The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. The story has it all: murder, car chases, violence, code-breaking, submarines, spies.

But, however thrilling The Thirty-Nine Steps definitely is, I always found the ending really disappointing. It seemed to be such an anticlimax, after all the thrills of the previous chapters. In fact, in three of the film adaptations of the book, the ending was completely changed by the directors because it just wasn’t exciting enough.

So, what about the conclusion to your persuasive essay? By this point, you have put in a lot of work and it would be a shame to throw this away with an ineffective and flat conclusion. How do you make sure that you carry on with the same engaging and effective writing all the way to the very end?

Hmm.. let's find out.

This is Think Four.

The conclusion is often the most overlooked part of a persuasive essay. Some people view it as a nice add on, but nothing more than that. On the contrary, your conclusion is the sign off to your essay and a clear and effective one will leave the reader with a great lasting impression. It is key to get this right. There are lots of different ways to conclude an essay, but I’ve found that three simple steps will help to ensure you end your essay clearly and with flair.

Your first step in your conclusion should be to restate your argument. Remind the reader what the whole point your essay is. You don’t need to write “In conclusion…”; in fact, I prefer not to as it can come across as a little clunky. Just a short and simple sentence that lays out your argument will do just fine.

Your second step is to briefly summarise the points that you have already made in the main body of your essay. If you’ve ever seen a courtroom drama, this is your closing statement; you are simply reminding the jury (or in this case, the reader) of the brilliant points that you have already made. You do not need to go into much detail about each of these points, you already did that, and, so, a sentence on each will be fine.

A common mistake that I have seen in writing persuasive essays is arguing a new point in the conclusion; you definitely need to avoid this, as it will break up the flow of your summarising, and you certainly won’t have enough room in your conclusion to explore the point fully. Just recap what you’ve said in a fresh and concise manner, and that will do the job nicely.

The final step in your conclusion is perhaps the most difficult to describe. I call it finishing with a flourish. Just as with your introduction you had to impress the reader with an engaging and well written hook, you should try to leave them with a creative and lasting impression of your writing skills. There are lots of different ways to do this. Some people like to finish off by directly addressing the reader and challenging them to consider or act on the points you have made. Some people like to finish with some emotive language.

Some people like to finish with a powerful rhetorical question. My personal favourite is to refer back to your hook in your introduction, whether it was an anecdote, quotation, or shocking statistic. This reminds the reader of your earlier engaging writing and also shows that you have created a sophisticated essay that can feed into itself and is a whole and coherent argument.

But, to be honest, it is up to you how you choose to flourish. You can use one of these suggestions or come up with your own. The crucial thing to remember is that you must finish in a powerful way that will have the reader thinking about your essay even after they have put it away.

Writing a persuasive essay really is one of the most satisfying and exciting tasks you can do in Higher English. I really believe that. You have a chance to genuinely challenge the way someone thinks and, maybe, even change their mind.

So, it is important that you finish with an effective and lasting conclusion. It may seem like a difficult task but, really, it’s very achievable. What’s more, it won’t take Thirty-Nine Steps, it will only take three.

This was thinkfour, thanks for watching.