IELTS Writing Task 2: Writing the perfect one-sentence conclusion
Readers of this blog might be surprised – or even shocked – by its title. “One-sentence conclusions for Writing Task 2?” I hear you ask. Many IELTS teachers or online experts say that a conclusion for your essay should be at least 2-3 sentences long.
Well, as an experienced teacher of IELTS, I can tell you that a one sentence conclusion is sufficient to summarise a 250 word essay. In this blog post we’ll look at why this is, providing you with some examples and language to help you write your own one-sentence conclusions.
What exactly is a Writing Task 2 conclusion?
Essentially, the conclusion is the paragraph which comes at the end of your essay.
IT SHOULD: Include a very brief answer to the question. So, if you’re asked for your opinion in the question, you should state it clearly here (as well as in the introduction and throughout your body paragraphs)
IT SHOULD NOT: Introduce any new ideas or summarise any of the points you made in your body paragraph in detail. It also shouldn’t provide recommendations unless, perhaps, you’re writing a problem and solution essay.
Let’s look at some examples
Here we have three good examples of a one-sentence conclusion for Writing Task 2:
CONCLUSION 1: To conclude, although the idea of broadcasting trials on television might seem advantageous, the detrimental effects are more significant.
CONCLUSION 2: To conclude, I personally believe that whilst increasing police presence in our neighbourhoods can help to lower crime rates, other actions also need to be taken.
3: In conclusion, many criminals re-offend soon after leaving prison for a variety of economic or psychological reasons, but the problem could be tackled with better investment in prison education and probation services.
Can you match each one with the question it is answering?
QUESTION 1: In some countries, criminal trials in law courts are shown on television so that the general public can watch. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this trend?
QUESTION 2: Many criminals commit further crimes as soon as they are released from prison. What do you think are the causes of this? What possible solutions can you suggest?
QUESTION 3: Some countries are struggling with an increase in the rate of crime. Many people think that having more police on the streets is the only way to reduce crime. To what extent do you agree?
Hopefully you matched the questions and conclusions up as follows:
How do I write a perfect one-sentence conclusion?
You’ll notice that in all three conclusions above, I have:
Directly responded to the question on the paper
Paraphrased most of the keywords from the question
Used a linking phrase to introduce the conclusion such as ‘To conclude’ or ‘In conclusion’
Used a linking phrase for contrast such as ‘but’, ‘although’ or ‘whilst’.
Let’s have a look at two of these areas in more detail; paraphrasing and using linking words for contrast.
Paraphrasing keywords from the question
To demonstrate that I have a broad vocabulary and I’m able to use ‘less common lexical items’, I have used synonyms of a lot of the keywords from the question in my conclusions. Try to work out which synonyms I’ve used before referring to the table below:
Did you get a similar list?
I actually encourage my students to write synonym tables like this on a regular basis, as part of their IELTS preparation. Using good quality IELTS websites such as www.ielts-simon.com or www.IELTSliz.com, you can take introductions or conclusions and see how they’ve paraphrased keywords from the question.
Using a range of linking phrases for contrast
It’s common that you’re going to have to address two sides of an argument or two parts of a question in a single Writing Task 2 conclusion. That’s why learning how to use linking words or phrases to connect two contrasting ideas is going to be useful to you.
You’ll notice that each of the conclusions in this post uses a linking word for contrast – although, but and whilst.
I’ve picked out some words or phrases below that I think are particularly useful contrast words for IELTS writing. Notice how they’re used, paying particular attention to their position in a sentence and how commas are used in each case:
Over to you
Hopefully you’ve found this post on writing short conclusions for Writing Task 2 useful. Now it’s your turn! Take a few questions from the internet and practise writing your own. Perhaps you can post the best ones in the comments section below?
Laura Plotnek Jones is an experienced English language teacher, specialising in IELTS. She runs Home English - a private language school in Birmingham, The UK – where she helps to prepare 100s of students for the IELTS exam every year. As part of her work, she produces her own teaching materials to address her students’ areas of difficulty, particularly in writing. Laura holds the Diploma in English Language Teaching for Adults (DELTA) and is the National Coordinator for NATECLA (the National Association of Teaching English and Community Languages to Adults).
If you have any comments on or questions about this blog post, she’d love to hear from you!