ESSAY DEVELOPMENT EXERCISES: WRITING INTRODUCTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS

1. Writing introductions 2. Writing conclusions

1. Writing introductions

In the handout "Essay development" you have learned different ways of introducing a topic in an essay. The purpose of the introductory paragraph, as you remember, is to introduce the topic, set the background for the topic of the essay and funnel down to your thesis. In this exercise, we will practice how to write introductory paragraphs for our essays. We will practice writing introductions to the same topic using different methods.

Let's take up a process essay topic: "Write an essay describing how you prepared for the university entrance exam."

In order to write a proper essay on such a topic, the first thing you should do is to analyze the question properly and understand what is asked of you.

It is a process essay. In other words, you are asked to analyze the stages/ steps in the preparation process. You are not supposed to write about the difficulty of the problem, or how important it was for you to get admitted into the university. The important point to be stressed is the goal, that is, "passing the university exam" and the stages you have followed in the preparation process.

Now analyze the task: What stages did you follow in preparing for the university entrance exam?

See the stages suggested by other students who wrote on this topic.


Let's formulate a thesis sentence to start writing our introduction. Below are some thesis statements written by students:

1. OSS (University Entrance Examination) requires a sequence of stages that should be followed carefully.

2. To achieve your goal and pass the examination there are some major steps that you should follow.

3. It means that preparing for this exam, which is called the OSS, involves a number of important steps that you must be careful about.

Having formulated a thesis statement, we can proceed to write the introduction. As you remember there are several methods you can employ. Refer to the handout The Essay to read more about the various methods of writing introductions. In the handout the methods discussed are as follows:

1. The funnel method

2. Defining  a word or phrase

3. Asking questions

4. Turn about

5. Using an anecdote

6. Using quotations

Read the introductions below and decide  which method is used in each one:

Introduction 1

In Turkey, getting admitted into the university you want requires a difficult and serious preparation period. You have to take a 3-hour difficult exam in which you are competing with about one million eight hundred thousand people. Although such a huge number of people take the exam, only three hundred thousand of them can be admitted to a university. It means that preparing for this exam, which is called the OSS, involves a number of important steps that you must be careful about.

 

 

Introduction 2

The OSS is one of the biggest examinations in Turkey as more and more people take it every year. If you want to go to a university you have to take this exam. It is mostly based on high school subjects. You can pass this test with a little effort. But if you desire to go to a prominent university in Turkey such as BU, METU, Bilkent, Sabanci, Koc, or ITU, you should study very hard even if you are a genius. OSS (University Entrance Examination in English) requires a sequence of stages that should be followed carefully.

 

 

 

Introduction 3

Our lives are full of exams. One of these exams is the OSS. Since a lot of people take this exam, you have to pass through different stages and get a good score to be accepted to a university. This period starts at different times for everyone, but it is better for you if you start early.

 

 

Introduction 4

University education is very important for all students since it influences your future job.  In order to be accepted by a university in Turkey, you have to take “the university entrance examination”, namely the OSS . To achieve your goal and pass the examination there are some major steps that you should follow.

 

As you can see all the introductions but one use the funnel method, which starts with a more general idea, setting the background for the question at hand. Introduction 2 fits the turn about model more. The writer claims that getting admitted into a university is easy , but changes his position and states that his claim is valid unless you choose one of the better universities.      

Let's have a look at compare and contrast essays. Imagine that the topic given to you is "Compare and contrast your parents."

In order to write a proper essay on such a topic you have to analyze the essay question correctly. As you will remember from compare and contrast essays you have to decide on the points of comparison you will use to compare and contrast your parents. Write the possible points of comparison in the box provided below:

Now see the points of comparison suggested by your friends:


The other important thing you should do before you start writing your essay is writing your thesis statement based on the controlling idea. Are your parents more similar than different? Are they more different than similar? How similar or different they are?

Write you thesis statement in the box provided below:

Now see a thesis statement written by one student:


Here are some introductions written by your friends the previous year. Read the paragraphs and decide which method of introduction they employ. The thesis statement is highlighted for you.

Introduction 1

“Parents”. I consider mine as my flat mates these days because we do not spend much time together. We are four people living in a house together but we even eat our dinners separately because everybody comes home at different times and we are busy all the time. What I remember from the old days is my two grown up flat mates are two different characters so I have no idea why they still live together.

 

Introduction 1 starts with a humorous description of the writer's family. The writer calls her parents her "flat mates" and pretends to remember them from the old days. This makes the introduction interesting to the reader and invites him to read on.

Introduction 2

I think that my parents are very different from each other. They never agree on a point. They always have different opinions, even on very simple issues. They argue all the time and I think this is their secret formula for staying married for such a long time. Arguing is a way of talking to each other and talking enables couples to know and understand each other. As a result, my parents are still together although they have more differences than similarities.

Introduction 2 too starts with a lively description of the writer's parents' never agreeing with each other but making argument into a form of communication. It sounds interesting and encourages the reader to read on.

Introduction 3

My mother and my father got married in 1984 and since that time they have been living together, and they are really happy. I envy them their happiness and their relationship. One day if I get married, I want to be like them. They are very similar in some ways such as physical appearance, personality and tastes in life. I believe that because of these similarities they get on very well.

 

Introduction 3, contrary to the previous paragraphs, stresses the similarity of the parents and the writer's admiration for them.

Introduction 4

People have different characteristics, so it is very difficult for couples to continue a marriage. A couple like my parents who have different characteristics but who know how to complement each other is successful at continuing their marriage.

 

When you look at a paragraph and highlight the thesis sentence, you see how much introduction is there and how much of the first paragraph is taken up by the thesis. Introductory paragraph 4 is such an example  where there is only one introductory sentence. Therefore, it makes a very skimpy introduction to the topic. The same applies to Introduction 5, where there is again only one sentence besides the thesis statement.

Introduction 5

My mom and dad have been living happily for more than 20 years now. This is a very hard thing to achieve if you are that different from each other, so you should respect it.

 

2. Writing conclusions

If you have written an effective introduction, and logically developed your essay, the flow of ideas naturally leads to your conclusion. A good conclusion should round up your arguments and reach a final conclusion. There are a number of ways you can conclude your essay.

1. Review its major ideas

2. Restate the thesis

3. Make predictions based on the material in the body of the essay

4. Use questions and quotations

Remember the process essay topic "Write an essay describing how you prepared for the university entrance exam."

Getting prepared

The OSS is one of the biggest examinations in Turkey as more and more people take it every year. If you want to go to a university you have to take this exam. It is mostly based on high school subjects. You can pass this test with a little effort. But if you desire to go to a prominent university in Turkey such as BU, METU, Bilkent, Sabanci, Koc, or ITU, you should study very hard even if you are a genius. The OSS (University Entrance Examination) requires a sequence of stages that should be followed carefully.

First of all you need to make a decision about your field of study. There are four main fields: physical sciences, social sciences, equal-weight (Turkish + mathematics) and languages. Each department in university accepts students from one of these fields. To decide you ought to think about your future job. For instance, if you want to be an engineer, you must go to physical sciences. Or maybe you want to be a lawyer. Then you must choose equal-weight. It is really a very difficult decision that influences your life in many ways. Therefore, choosing a field of study matching your personality and talents is the first thing to do.

Secondly comes the longest period of the preparation: studying. This can be done in different ways. You have alternatives such as studying on your own, taking courses, taking private lessons and so on. These are to raise your  OSS scores, but you had better keep your high school grades high too, because they are added to the OSS score. It is a good idea to start studying early on. In this three year period, in the first year you learn new things and begin to get deeper into exam strategies, because this is not only an information based rivalry but also a tactical war. The test technique requires specific knowledge about eliminating alternatives, finding the right answer indirectly with the help of the wrong ones, using time without wasting it etc. You are also expected to explore easier and more creative solutions to the problems in a limited time.

People get scared more and more as the exam draws closer. The trick is not to give up before  the OSS. Go on studying until the day of the exam. Finish your test books as far as you can. Actually it is better to relax for a few days. But after that you must get back to work until the end.

Finally, it is time to take the exam. It is no use being anxious; it does not mean your whole life. The OSS cannot be an aim; it is only a device for getting a better education. Nevertheless, that does not decrease its importance. It works like a mirror, showing your studies, and most people get what they deserve. If you believe in your  heart that you have studied adequately, you are bound to succeed.

Mehmet ÇELEBİ  Oct, 2004

(The thesis statement of the essay, and the topic and concluding sentences of paragraphs are highlighted in red.)

As you can see, this is a simple, clear but well developed process essay. The thesis" the essential stages in preparation for the exam if followed carefully" naturally leads to the desired end which is success in the exam, which is the conclusion of the essay.

Let's see how the conclusion matches the introduction logically . This conclusion is for the introduction 1 for compare and contrast essays. The conclusion matches the introduction  in tone and controlling idea:

Introduction 1

“Parents”. I consider mine as my flat mates these days because we do not spend much time together. We are four people living in a house together but we even eat our dinners separately because everybody comes home at different times and we are busy all the time. What I remember from the old days is my two grown up flat mates are two different characters. I have no idea why they still live together.

Conclusion 1

Although my parents are very different from each other, they came to an agreement and that is not being a parent for me any more. They never worry about me when I am late and they never interfere in my choices. I think from now on they will work on my brother, my poor little brother.

 

 You should not forget that this consistency and cohesion should apply to the entire essay. The arguments you use should stick together logically, in style, tone and register. In this example essay, for instance, the humorous tone and the  idea that  parents are different from each other control the argument and examples given in all sections of the essay. The sections highlighted in red are the expressions that display a satirical or joking attitude towards the issue of the writer' parents.

PARENTS

“Parents”. I consider mine as my flat mates these days because we do not spend much time together. We are four people living in a house together but we even eat our dinners separately because everybody comes home at different times and we are busy all the time. What I remember from the old days is my two grown up flat mates are two different characters. I have no idea why they still live together.

They are pretty much the same in physical appearance.  They both have fair complexions which is typical of Caucasians. They should be thin if we consider this “type” but they are not. Actually they were but I can’t remember those days.

They have different personalities. My father is moody and pretty much aggressive just like me. He has obsessions, like everything should be perfect. On the other hand, my mother never cares about what she is doing and she has what we will call the patience of a saint. Whenever my father gets angry and starts shouting, my mother goes “Ergun, why are you shouting?” with a very calm voice.

What they really can’t get along about is their tastes in life. My mother loves spending money. She can spend her whole day going around the stores shopping while my father is sitting at home reading newspapers and books or watching documentaries on TV.

Although my parents are very different from each other, they came to an agreement and that is not being a parent for me any more. They never worry about me when I am late and they never interfere in my choices. I think from now on they will work on my brother, my poor little brother.

Ridade Guldal 2004

 

 See the other compare and contrast essays for further examples of consistency between the components of an essay. The controlling idea controls the tone and arguments in all paragraphs of the essay. Introduction matches the conclusion in logic and attitude.

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Written by Zeliha Gulcat April 2005