Sound conclusion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 12:00am

Alfred Yiu is here to help you get through your exams. A graduate of the University of Hong Kong, he has 15 years' experience in tutoring students for HKCEE and A-level exams and has also written English textbooks.

A good introduction is essential to your writing, so is the conclusion. There are basically four common ways to round up your essay.

First, end with a summary and an afterthought. This is the easiest but not the most impressive way to conclude. You just restate your thesis and summarise what you have written without putting in new ideas.

Second, end with a prediction. This method of concluding was covered here last time.

Third, end with a recommendation. This is only suitable for topics that don't require suggestions.

Last but not least, end with a series of thought-provoking questions. This is the most challenging and impressive way to conclude.

A bad conclusion is a place where you get tired of thinking. A good conclusion, on the other hand, is a place where you and other people start rethinking.

However, the questions raised must be appropriate. They should follow the points you have already made in the essay.

So good questions must deal with one of the following areas:

Why is the essay subject important?

What might happen in the future?

What should be done about the subject?

Which choice should be made?

Here are two examples:

On environmental protection

What, then, will happen in the years to come when there is no beach good for swimming, no seafood good for eating, no air good for breathing and no land good for farming? Should economic prosperity be understood in a short-sighted perspective? When will we learn from the mistakes made by past generations and start to respect and protect nature?

On the topic of child abuse

Should the child be penalised for having the guts to speak the truth? Who is out there to help these children and to give them and their families justice? Should our community be alerted to the problem so that it views child sexual abuse as a serious criminal offence?

Should we give equal attention to victims of child incest, child rape, sexual assault and abuse, all put under the umbrella of child sexual abuse? When and how should a care and protection order be issued? Should reporting of an offence be made mandatory, as is the case in Australia? Should there be a uniform approach among social workers of different agencies?

These are all questions that must be addressed.