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How to conclude effectively?

Writing conclusions for GSIV Answers!

Many students find concluding an answer a bigger challenge than writing introductions or the body. I guess the reason is twofold one is the anxiety of closing an answer well, and second, it is the issue of how to conclude with, do I summarise, do I take a middle path, such questions start running through the heads leading to a conclusion paralysis.

Let’s discuss how to conclude effectively!

What is a conclusion?

Conclusions are the last few sentences or the last paragraph of the answer that the evaluator reads before he awards marks. Since conclusions act as a closure of an answer, one must close well, as it is your last chance to leave a lasting impression.

Why conclusions are essential?

  1. It closes the answer by stating your position or providing a single-line summary.

  2. It refreshes your line of argument for the evaluator

  3. It gives the student one last chance to assert their point of view

Strategies to Conclude Effectively

The style and content of conclusions depend a lot on the demand of the question. If the question demands the student to take a position, the conclusion will reflect that position. Similarly, the conclusion will be a single-line summary if the question seeks an explanation. How one concludes altogether depends on the demand of the question. Let us explore a few ways of concluding effectively.

Single-line summary conclusions

A single-sentence summary is the most easiest and simplest form of conclusion.

Explain how ethics contributes to social and human well-being. UPSC 2016

Discuss the role of ethics and values in enhancing the following three major components of Comprehensive National Power (CNP) viz. human capital, soft power (culture and policies) and social harmony. UPSC 2019

How could social influence and persuasion contribute to the success of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan? UPSC 2016

What do you understand by term “good governance”? How far recent initiatives in terms of e-Governance steps taken by the State have helped the beneficiaries? Discuss with suitable examples. UPSC 2022

*If we look at the above set of questions, the questioning terms used are “explain,” “discuss,” “How,” and “what,” and these questions demand an explanatory answer, and while concluding explanatory answers, the conclusions can be a single-line summary.

Quotes as conclusions

Quoting statements and thoughts of eminent personalities is an excellent way to conclude answers to argumentative questions (where the student has to take a side).

Let’s consider the following questions:

It is often said that “politics” and “ethics” do not go together. What is your opinion in this regard? Justify your answer with illustrations. UPSC 2013

“Integrity is a value that empowers the human being.” Justify with a suitable illustration. UPSC 2021

The above two questions demand the student to justify their position, and while justifying, one can always rely on a philosopher’s thought or a statement made by an eminent personality.

Further, quotes are also helpful in concluding questions that focus on values and virtues. For instance:

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies” Aristotle UPSC 2013

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until and unless we obtain peace within ourselves.” Dalai Lama UPSC 2021

The above two questions focus on the virtue of self-control and the value of inner peace. While concluding the answer to the above question, the student can always use a thought or statement that makes for an effective conclusion.

For GS IV-Specific Quotes, Do Follow @Ethics.101

Eminent personality

Referring to eminent personalities can be an effective way to conclude, especially in questions dealing with values and virtues. But the limitation here is that the person referred to must exemplify or personify those values or virtues asked in the question.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi UPSC 2020

Acharaya Vinoba Bhave would be the perfect representative of the above value; therefore, referring to him, in conclusion, would have made perfect sense.

Taking a position

Let’s consider the following questions:

All human aspires for happiness. Do you agree? What does happiness mean to you? Explain with examples. UPSC 2014

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to make your emotions work for you instead of against you. Do you agree with this view? Discuss UPSC 2019

“Hatred is destructive of a person’s wisdom and conscience that can poison a nation’s spirit.” Do you agree with this view? Justify your answer. UPSC 2020

If we read the questions carefully, we can notice that the question has the phrase, “Do you agree,” meaning that the student has to give a clear YES/NO answer.

And the conclusion must reflect your agreement or disagreement with the view presented in the question. I know taking sides is difficult, but that is the demand of the question, and the conclusion must assert your YES or NO.

Conclusion Checklist

  1. Make sure there is a sense of closure

  2. Don't present any new ideas or arguments in the conclusion

  3. Avoid unnecessary wordings and transitions such as “to conclude,” “to sum up,” and “in short.”

  4. Do not repeat the exact words that you used in the main arguments.

  5. Avoid quoting or referring to the same personality multiple times

Happy Studying

PS: In case you missed the video on "Writing Comclusions," please follow the link. 👇

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