Writing a Strong Introduction and Conclusion
Throughout education, we are told many different things about introductions and conclusions. Many of our teachers and lecturers want us to write our essays in different ways, and it can all get rather confusing. Some expect long winded paragraphs, others only want a sentence and more focus on the bulk of the essay. Well, here’s the answer. This is how to right a concise, impressive introduction along with a conclusion that’ll wrap everything up and bring it all home.
Some lecturers will tell you to write just a sentence or two, summarising the essay question and the purpose of your essay. Some, will ask you to set out the plan of your essay, give a short synopsis of the plot (if it’s a novel), or the background of the study and so on. Now, in my opinion there’s a great sweet-spot in between that works really well.
Obviously, this tutorial, if you will, is nothing more than my opinion. However, I have extensive experience in essay writing, and this method I have found successful in acquiring the top grades. Obviously, the meat of the essay adds in too, but just think – the introduction gives the examiner a first impression of you and your skills; first impressions are important. The conclusion is the last thing said examiner reads before they start using ticks and crosses, so it’s going to stick in their mind and perhaps influence their generosity. Now, I’m no psychologist but that makes sense to me.
Length of the Introduction
Some people say that the length of the introduction depends on the length of the essay as a whole. The word count, and so on. For me, I don’t think that’s so. You only need so many words to spin an immersive introduction. The goal of the introduction is to spark interest in the reader, and give a small insight into the way your essay is going to roll.
For me, an introduction need be no longer than 100 words. I think fifty to one-hundred words is a great length for an introduction. I’ll go on to explain how you structure this.
Structure of the Introduction
Alright then, time to look at what we want in this introduction.
Reword the question: Put the essay question into your own words, to show that you understand it. For example, if the question says ‘To What Extent Did Tsar Alexander III’s Reactionary Politics Serve to Undermine Tsarism?” you could say “The Downfall of Tsarism can in some ways be attributed to Alexander III’s oppressive, political reaction after the death of his father.” In this way, the examiner knows that you have a good background knowledge.
Give your opinion: Linking in with the above, you should give an example of the tone you’ll use through the essay; will you agree or disagree with the prompt? For example “In many ways, Alexamder III’s reactionary politics undermined Tsarism and lead to the overthrow of autocracy.” Be definite, so your examiner knows what to look for in your essay.
Element: I wasn’t really sure what to call this bit. You need to take an element of whatever you’re studying, and throw it into the introduction. If it’s a novel, throw a quote in there, if it’s history as I’ve been using for example, allude to an important event then expand on it later. For example “much of Alexander III’s rulings were superficially effective, such as the Russification policy.” Again, this shows that you’re knowledgeable on the subject and you’re ready to rock.
Here’s an example of a introduction I’ve used in an essay. Admittedly not the best, but noticed and applauded.
In a lot of ways, Tsarist Russia was likely to inspire revolution in its citizens. As a nation, Russia was (and is) very large, so this brings immediate issues, one of these being the difficulty to police it generally. To effectively police the whole of Russia would require a huge workforce, which Russia did not have, what with only four percent of the population being classed as ‘working’. This means that a lot of communities within the Russian state were not efficiently held to the law, and might consider themselves within their ability to rebel and rise up without suffering consequences.
Conclusions by nature, will likely be a lot longer than introduction. You’re looking at up to 500 words here, maybe even longer. By this time, you’re probably really fired up and you’ve got loads to say (if you’ve any passion for your subject, that is). Well, this is your last chance to let it all out, so don’t hold back! Don’t ramble, though. Never be boring.
Structure of the Conclusion
Opening Sentence: Right at the start of your conclusion, you want to ram home the points you’ve been pushing all through your essay. That’s right. But, make it powerful. Make it, inspiring. “In conclusion, I think that blah blah blah…” isn’t going to get you anywhere. Okay, that’s a lie, it’s going to drive you to a mediocre grade. Mix it up, this is where you want to bring out the big guns, your fanciest words. Show ’em what you got! You’re probably half crazed by this time, let it all out! “To compound all of the points I have given, the evidence strongly suggests that Tsar Alexander III’s reactionary politics led to subsidiary undermining of Tsarism and ultimately, the downfall of the government.” For me, that’ a pretty powerful statement. If I saw something like that, I’d know that that candidate, over any other, knew and believed what they were saying. Make it like you care.
Redress your better points: Make some references to the better things you’ve said in the article – “This is proved by my earlier point that …”, back up your argument. It might seem like you’re repeating yourself, but it’s planting that little spark in the examiner’s mind so that when they scan back through, they’ll read those points a little bit more, and if you’re highlighting the best of what you’ve written and they notice that, only good can come.
Language is something I really have a passion for; and it is my opinion that by manipulating it, we can get a lot of what we want. As said by a man I rather esteem; “words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic”.
I hope that this little (well, fairly extensive) guide has served to help you, in some way, structure the book-ends of your essay. I firmly believe that what you write at the beginning and end of your piece can really influence your grade, and the message it has on people. A powerful beginning and a powerful end can help cover you if you’re starting to struggle in the middle. If you’ve any questions, are think I’m just plain wrong, then please, I implore you to use the comments section below!