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Final Essay Example

So much is at stake in writing a conclusion. This is, after all, your last chance to persuade your readers to your point of view, to impress yourself upon them as a writer and thinker. And the impression you create in your conclusion will shape the impression that stays with your readers after they've finished the essay.

The end of an essay should therefore convey a sense of completeness and closure as well as a sense of the lingering possibilities of the topic, its larger meaning, its implications: the final paragraph should close the discussion without closing it off.

To establish a sense of closure, you might do one or more of the following:

  • Conclude by linking the last paragraph to the first, perhaps by reiterating a word or phrase you used at the beginning.
  • Conclude with a sentence composed mainly of one-syllable words. Simple language can help create an effect of understated drama.
  • Conclude with a sentence that's compound or parallel in structure; such sentences can establish a sense of balance or order that may feel just right at the end of a complex discussion.

To close the discussion without closing it off, you might do one or more of the following:

  • Conclude with a quotation from or reference to a primary or secondary source, one that amplifies your main point or puts it in a different perspective. A quotation from, say, the novel or poem you're writing about can add texture and specificity to your discussion; a critic or scholar can help confirm or complicate your final point. For example, you might conclude an essay on the idea of home in James Joyce's short story collection, Dubliners, with information about Joyce's own complex feelings towards Dublin, his home. Or you might end with a biographer's statement about Joyce's attitude toward Dublin, which could illuminate his characters' responses to the city. Just be cautious, especially about using secondary material: make sure that you get the last word.
  • Conclude by setting your discussion into a different, perhaps larger, context. For example, you might end an essay on nineteenth-century muckraking journalism by linking it to a current news magazine program like 60 Minutes.
  • Conclude by redefining one of the key terms of your argument. For example, an essay on Marx's treatment of the conflict between wage labor and capital might begin with Marx's claim that the "capitalist economy is . . . a gigantic enterprise ofdehumanization"; the essay might end by suggesting that Marxist analysis is itself dehumanizing because it construes everything in economic -- rather than moral or ethical-- terms.
  • Conclude by considering the implications of your argument (or analysis or discussion). What does your argument imply, or involve, or suggest? For example, an essay on the novel Ambiguous Adventure, by the Senegalese writer Cheikh Hamidou Kane, might open with the idea that the protagonist's development suggests Kane's belief in the need to integrate Western materialism and Sufi spirituality in modern Senegal. The conclusion might make the new but related point that the novel on the whole suggests that such an integration is (or isn't) possible.

Finally, some advice on how not to end an essay:

  • Don't simply summarize your essay. A brief summary of your argument may be useful, especially if your essay is long--more than ten pages or so. But shorter essays tend not to require a restatement of your main ideas.
  • Avoid phrases like "in conclusion," "to conclude," "in summary," and "to sum up." These phrases can be useful--even welcome--in oral presentations. But readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the pages, when an essay is about to end. You'll irritate your audience if you belabor the obvious.
  • Resist the urge to apologize. If you've immersed yourself in your subject, you now know a good deal more about it than you can possibly include in a five- or ten- or 20-page essay. As a result, by the time you've finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you've produced. (And if you haven't immersed yourself in your subject, you may be feeling even more doubtful about your essay as you approach the conclusion.) Repress those doubts. Don't undercut your authority by saying things like, "this is just one approach to the subject; there may be other, better approaches. . ."

Copyright 1998, Pat Bellanca, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

A final draft is a piece of writing that will be handed in as your best work. Students should treat crafting a final draft as a task of increased importance, because it is their last chance to enhance their paper and correct any flaws.

Steps for Crafting the Final Draft of an Essay

  1. Take a break after writing your second draft. You will have to revise your second draft at least three more times until it is put in order—have a rest before starting the final copy of your paper.
  2. Do a spellcheck of your second draft. You should revise your paper in terms of misspelled words, typos, and accidental word repetitions; you could also perform a punctuation check at this interval.
  3. Do a grammar check. It is a process that requires extreme caution, because grammatical mistakes may be far less obvious than spelling errors. This check implies correcting faulty parallelisms, problems with noun-verb agreement, dangling participles, improper usage of passive voice, and so on.
  4. After you’ve checked the language of your paper, it is time to pay attention to its technical aspects. This includes the formatting style, your reference list, in-text citations, and the title page. Make sure all of these correspond with the requirements of your teacher or the publication you are submitting your essay to.
  5. Revise the whole piece of writing once again. Since it is the last time you will read through it with an intention to make corrections, be extra-attentive and check every little detail in the text. Evaluate the structure of your essay, the way your arguments are organized, and the credibility of these arguments. Check for poor or non-existent transitions between paragraphs, pay attention to grammar, stylistics, syntax, and punctuation.

Key Points to Consider

  1. Reading your final draft aloud will grant you an opportunity to take a fresh look at what you have written. Weaknesses in writing are usually easier to notice when heard.
  2. Your paper should be written in your own words, except abstracts where you are using citations. It is always better to show your own understanding of an issue, even if it is incorrect, than to frame your ideas in another author’s words. A final draft is your last chance to exclude any possible signs of plagiarism from your paper.
  3. Using a computer for proofreading is a sound idea, since text processing software often has a function of automatic spelling and grammar checking. However, proofreading on your own once again after the computer check is still recommended to avoid mistakes a computer may not have found.

Do and Don’t

Do
  • Do check whether your thesis statement is stated clearly, and whether it encompasses all of your key ideas. Also, check if your introduction draws readers’ attention in.
  • Do check whether each of your paragraphs represents an idea. It is important that multiple ideas are not crammed into one paragraph; topic sentences showing these main ideas should be included into each paragraph as well.
  • Do evaluate your evidence. It shouldn’t be insufficient, but the paper shouldn’t be overburdened with too much factual information as well.
Don’t
  • Don’t try to read your writing on a computer screen. After you’ve made a spell-check on the computer, print your essay out, and proofread the hard copy. It is much easier to perceive information on paper.
  • Don’t rely on automatic spell and grammar checkers. Though these tools contribute to the process of proofreading, they are far from being perfect, therefore they can miss obvious errors.
  • Don’t leave proofreading the final draft copy for the last minute; give yourself enough time to revise your paper thoroughly, because most likely this piece of writing is the one you will hand in.
  • Don’t be afraid to give your final draft to a friend or another person you trust for proofreading. A person who has never seen your piece of writing will take a fresh look at it, and most likely notice flaws and errors you’ve missed.

Common Mistakes When Crafting the Final Draft of an Essay

– Incomplete references. Students often tend to hurry when crafting the final draft to finally finish the writing process, and forget about the proper formatting of in-text citations and sources in the reference list.

– Forgetting to spell out abbreviations. You should provide a complete transcript of a certain term or name before using an abbreviation for it.

– Not explaining the meaning of uncommon words. Students use a term with a specific meaning, but forget to specify it; spell-checkers may not flag the term, and neither will these students pay attention to it while proofreading since it may have been spelled correctly.

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