In a previous article, Zenith shared how to ace your essay introduction during A Level General Paper examinations. Equally important is the art of ending what you started, and it is exactly this that Zenith, a leading JC tuition centre in Singapore, will share with you in this article. Find out the top five tips to keep in mind when concluding your A Level General Paper essay.
At this point, you might be wondering, why is the conclusion to my A Level General Paper essay even so important? It’s literally the shortest portion of my essay.
As American artist Richard Schmid once said, “The strength and clarity of the picture you envision at the start will tell you when you are done. You are finished when you have said what you wish to say when nothing added can make it better.” While the essay you write for the A Level General Paper examinations may not be your life’s greatest work, how well you convey your ideas is going to have a large impact on your grades. The conclusion serves as a comprehensive summary and reinforcement of the points you have made in your essay, synthesising in an easily digestible manner for your marker its key argument. It is necessary because, by the end of your essay, your marker might have already forgotten part of what you wrote at the start of your essay. In any case, they are going to be far less familiar with your main argument than you are. The conclusion serves to remind them of it in a clear and concise manner.
Now that we have established why it is so crucial for your essay to have a well-written conclusion, let’s get into how exactly you should go about it.
Tip #1: Use signposts
As with every essay you write, whether or not it is for the A Level General Paper examinations, it is extremely important that your reader has a clear idea of what you are discussing in each portion of the essay. In other words, the first sentence of your concluding paragraph should establish clearly that it is indeed the conclusion of your essay. Using words and phrases such as “in conclusion”, “to conclude”, “ultimately”, and “all things considered” indicate clearly to the reader, your marker, that you are at the end of your essay. This primes them to stay alert for overarching reinforcements and evaluations of all the content that you have covered in your body paragraphs, which makes the conclusion a much more effective one.
Tip #2: Reinforce your argument
At the A Level General Paper essay examination, your marker is expecting to be convinced that you have made a great argument by the end of your essay. Help them to feel impressed by reiterating how you have proved your argument systematically throughout your entire essay. To make it clear to the marker that you are reinforcing your argument, you might want to signpost it by writing any of the following:
- Throughout my essay, I have consistently shown that _______________.
- In my essay, I have attempted to demonstrate how ______________.
- To prove my argument that _______________, I have raised relevant ideas throughout the entire essay.
One more thing to note is to avoid introducing new ideas in your conclusion. Perhaps, towards the end of the A Level General Paper essay examination, you suddenly came up with a fantastic point that you realise could possibly be incorporated into your essay. However, you’re almost done writing whatever you have already planned for. Instead of planting this new idea in your conclusion, Zenith suggests that you just forgo it. Your new idea is unlikely to flow coherently in relation to the rest of the arguments you have made thus far in your essay. If you approach your essay in the right way from the start, which Zenith advocates for and explains in this article, you should have already come up with a bulletproof essay plan. Learn how to come up with a detailed essay plan within the first 15 minutes of your A Level General Paper essay examination here. This means that the ideas in your idea are cohesive and work together to prove your overarching argument. If that is the case, your essay should not be able to accommodate a random point that you just thought of at the back of your mind. Thus, the key learning point here is to plan your essay well, and stick to your plan till the very end!
Tip #3: Summarise your key ideas
Your conclusion should convince your marker that you have indeed answered the essay question satisfactorily. Therefore, aside from merely reasserting your main argument, the conclusion to your A Level General Paper essay should also briefly summarise your key ideas. Specifically pinpoint the ideas that they should be looking out for; this helps the marker to string together the various paragraphs in your main essay body. On that note, it is also possible to restate your key ideas in a way that adds value to the entire essay instead of being a mere repetition. To help you visualise what a good summary for your A Level General Paper essay could look like, here’s a short example (a full sample conclusion is included and dissected towards the end of this article!).
Question: Discuss the view that all countries have an equal responsibility to counter terrorism. (2018 A Level General Paper, Paper 1, Question 8).
Assume that the stand taken in this essay is in support of the notion that all countries have an equal responsibility to counter-terrorism. In your essay, you have argued that since terrorism is becoming increasingly international, all countries have a responsibility to combat it.
“To support my argument, I have raised throughout my essay that terrorism has become a global concern in recent years. I backed up my claim by explaining how international terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda have been working across borders. Thus, it is likely that with time, these groups will only grow stronger and greater in numbers, evident from how they have begun to infiltrate countries in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Therefore, it is necessary for all countries in the world, however, detached they might think themselves to be from terrorism, to take active measures in countering it. Just showing a strong stance against terrorism might be an effective deterrent against it.”
The above paragraph effectively summarises your ideas and the evidence you have introduced in support of it. We’ve also used tips 1 to 3 in the following manner:
- Signposts such as “raised throughout my essay” gesture to the marker that, among all the points you might have introduced, these are the ones you are emphasising as they are critical to your argument. It also reminds them that you are not bringing in new ideas.
- Mentioning the evidence that you have introduced in your main essay body emphasises to your marker that you are aware of the examples you chose to cite in your essay and that they are well-selected pieces of evidence that are integral to your argument.
- “It is likely that ______” suggests that you are making a further evaluation of your points by situating them in a future context that is likely to occur. This increases the relevance of your essay and impresses upon your marker that you have the foresight to understand the likely impact of your views on the global community in the future.
Tip #4: Feature relevant quotes and statistics
Quotes and statistics are a great way to show that you have engaged with the subject matter at hand. After all, they cannot just be fluffed out, you have to memorise them beforehand! In addition to (maybe) winning you some brownie points, featuring relevant quotes and numbers in your conclusion also adds value to your summary of key ideas covered in the main essay body. This is because quotes are typically concise one-liners that can elegantly encompass the essence of your essay, while statistics effectively appeal to the logos of a reader to convince them what you have argued for is indeed, from an objective perspective, valid!
We’ve already mentioned that to include relevant pieces of information in your A Level General Paper essay, you have to prepare them beforehand! One of the key mistakes students make is to walk into the exam hall without preparing any citable evidence for their essays. This not only affects the conclusion for your essay but the entire essay as a whole! Preparing well for your A Level General Paper examinations equips you with a repertoire of relevant and detailed examples which you can refer to when substantiating your arguments. Find out about the 9 other common mistakes students make when preparing for the A Level General Paper essay examinations here.
Tip #5: Use a Call-to-Action (CTA)
Calls-to-Action (CTAs) are sentences that prompt the reader to do something about the issue you’ve just highlighted in your essay. What do you want your reader to do after learning all about the horrible effects of climate change? What should they do? An effective essay conclusion with a CTA attaches a greater purpose to your essay, situating it as a productive response within the world of the issue you’ve just discussed. It proposes some sort of collective action which the reader could participate in to help improve the situation you’ve just discussed in your essay! Let’s take a look at what a CTA could look like.
Take for instance the following question: Do events, rather than politicians, shape the future? (2017 A Level General Paper, Paper 1, Question 6).
Assume that you have disagreed with the statement, instead arguing that politicians do shape the future.
“Given that politicians do play a significant role in shaping the future, perhaps it is time that the people begin to hold them accountable. Do your part today as a responsible citizen of your community by taking an active interest in political affairs, asking the questions which matter while knowing that your vote always counts.”
The above paragraph situated the role of the reader as an active citizen of their community. This signals to them that they should, after reading the essay, take tangible actions within the larger external environment. This is a novel and creative way of concluding your essay that is sure to set it apart from others!
Now that we have covered the top five tips for concluding your A Level General Paper essay with flair, here’s an example of how they look when applied in a conclusion. The following conclusion is written in response to the question:
To what extent should income equality be a goal in your society? (2019 A Level General Paper, Paper 1 Question 2).
Assume that the stand taken in this essay is in support of the notion that income equality should be a goal in Singapore. The bolded portions of the conclusion are indications of where the 5 tips are being put into action.
In conclusion, as Shakespeare wrote in his famous tragedy, King Lear, “So distribution should undo excess, and each man has enough.” Indeed, my essay has shown that income equality is an important goal for Singapore to strive towards. As reflected by Deputy Minister Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s Gini coefficient stands at 0.375 after taxes in 2020. While this is a massive improvement after the increase of government support during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is still significantly higher than that of countries such as Slovenia, whose Gini coefficient stands at 24.6 in 2020. Moreover, government support is not sustainable in the long run and cannot continue indefinitely. My essay has demonstrated that, for the sustenance and improvement of Singapore’s economy, and for the improvement in the standards of living for all individuals in society, it is important for Singapore to achieve greater income equality. As Singaporean citizens, it is perhaps necessary for us to look back upon ourselves and contemplate if we have shown enough active care and concern for the less privileged in society. We can all take initiative towards a positive change today by participating in voluntary work, donating to worthy causes, and never forgetting that income equality is for the greater good of the entire society. I concede that income equality cannot solve all societal problems and that Singapore is still far from complete equality, however, it is one of the best solutions among many others within the capitalist structures that we inhabit.
The above conclusion effectively summarizes the argument while strengthening its legitimacy by making reference to statistical evidence. Referencing a quote at the beginning also provides a rhetorical effect and shows that you are well-read. We’ve also added a CTA that can show how you have engaged with the question on a deeper level, beyond just preparing for your exam! It shows that you care and that you would like for the marker to care too, which creates a positive effect on the ethos and pathos of the marker. Towards the end of your conclusion, a sentence that acknowledges the existence of alternative viewpoints and the limitations of your argument without undermining it gives your essay a rational, measured tone. This is important as the A Level General Paper values your ability to convey your ideas clearly while not coming across as narrow-minded and unable to critically analyse other points of view. With this sentence, your essay is brought to a coherent close, with all the five tips incorporated within the paragraph.
Aside from the tips given in this article, another way to improve your overall performance at the A Level General Paper examinations is to improve your command of the English language, which is definitely achievable with the study methods Zenith provides in this article! At the end of the day, it is helpful for students not to view the A Level General Paper examinations as an end in itself, but as part of your lifelong learning journey where strong language proficiency is critical for expressing your views coherently. Indeed, even engineers need to be adept at explaining their ideas clearly in words, while perhaps someone that works in marketing needs to develop compelling and attractive narratives for various campaigns!
Keen to join the Zenith family? Find out more about the Zenith experience here! Get to understand how Zenith’s JC GP Tuition Programme is curated meticulously to be interesting, fulfilling, and relevant to your daily life here. Contact us for a free trial lesson today, no strings attached!