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Discussion Essay Conclusion Structure

Discussion essays, also called argument essays, are a common form of academic writing. This page gives information on what a discussion essay is and how to structure this type of essay. Some vocabulary for discussion essays is also given, and there is an example discussion essay on the topic of studying overseas.

What are discussion essays?

Many essay titles require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour. These are known as discussion or argument or for and against essays. In this sense, the academic meaning of the word discuss is similar to its everyday meaning, of two people talking about a topic from different sides. For a discussion essay, a balanced view is normally essential. This makes discussion essays distinct from persuasion essays, for which only one side of the argument is given. When writing a discussion essay, it is important to ensure that facts and opinions are clearly separated. Often you will examine what other people have already said on the same subject and include this information using praphrasing and summarising skills, as well as correct citations.

The following are examples of discussion essay topics.


Although the structure of a discussion essay may vary according to length and subject, there are several components which most discussion essays have in common. In addition to general statements and thesis statement which all good essay introductions contain, the position of the writer will often be stated, along with relevant definitions. The main body will examine arguments for (in one or more paragraphs) and arguments against (also in one or more paragraphs). The conclusion will contain a summary of the main points, and will often conclude with recommendations, based on what you think are the most important ideas in the essay. The conclusion may also contain your opinion on the topic, also based on the preceding evidence.

An overview of this structure is given in the diagram below.

Structural componentPurposeStage of essay
General statementsTo introduce the reader to the subject of the essay.Introduction
PositionTo give the opinion of the writer (not always possible).
Definition(s) (optional)To explain any important technical words to the reader.
ThesisTo tell the reader what parts of the topic will be included in the essay.
Arguments forTo explain to the reader the evidence for the positive side of the issue, with support. The most important ideas usually come first. This may be covered in one or more paragraphs.Main body
Arguments againstTo explain to the reader the evidence for the negative side of the issue, with support. The most important ideas usually come first. This may be covered in one or more paragraphs.
SummaryTo give the reader a brief reminder of the main ideas, while restating the issue. Sometimes also says which ideas the writer believes have the strongest evidence.Conclusion
Opinion & RecommendationTo give your opinion, and tell the reader what the writer believes is the best action to take, considering the evidence in the essay.

Discussion vocabulary

When summarising the stages in a discussion or in presenting your arguments, it can be useful to mark the order of the items or degrees of importance. The following words and phrases can be used.

The following can be used when introducing your opinion.

It is important in English writing, including academic writing, to use synonyms rather than repeating the same word. The following are useful synonyms for 'advantage' and 'disadvantage'.

Example essay

Below is a compare and contrast essay. This essay uses the point-by-point structure. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay, i.e. similarities, differences, and structure words. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also the thesis statement and summary, as these repeat the comparisons and contrasts contained in the main body.

Title: An increasing number of students are going overseas for tertiary education. To what extent does this overseas study benefit the students?





















Most people spend around fifteen years of their life in education, from primary school to university study. In the past, students only had the opportunity to study in their own country. Nowadays, however, it is increasingly easy to study overseas, especially at tertiary level.Tertiary education, also called post-secondary education, is the period of study spent at university.As the final aspect of schooling before a person begins their working life, it is arguably the most important stage of their education.While there are some undoubted benefits of this trend, such as the language environment and improved employment prospects, there is also a significant disadvantage, namely the high cost.

The first and most important advantage of overseas study is the language learning environment. Students studying overseas will not only have to cope with the local language for their study, but will also have to use it outside the classroom for their everyday life. These factors should make it relatively easy for such students to advance their language abilities.

Another important benefit is employability. Increasing globalisation means that there are more multinational companies setting up offices in all major countries. These companies will need employees who have a variety of skills, including the fluency in more than one language. Students who have studied abroad should find it much easier to obtain a job in this kind of company.

There are, however, some disadvantages to overseas study which must be considered, the most notable of which is the expense. In addition to the cost of travel, which in itself is not inconsiderable, overseas students are required to pay tuition fees which are usually much higher than those of local students. Added to this is the cost of living, which is often much higher than in the students' own country. Although scholarships may be available for overseas students, there are usually very few of these, most of which will only cover a fraction of the cost. Overseas study therefore constitutes a considerable expense.

In summary, studying abroad has some clear advantages, including the language environment and increased chances of employment, in addition to the main drawback, the heavy financial burden.I believe that this experience is worthwhile for those students whose families can readily afford the expense.Students without such strong financial support should consider carefully whether the high cost outweighs the benefits to be gained.
















Below is a checklist for discussion essays. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.

Bailey, S. (2000). Academic Writing. Abingdon: RoutledgeFalmer

Cox, K. and D. Hill (2004). EAP now! Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education Australia

Jordan, R.R. (1999). Academic Writing Course. Cambridge: CUP

Roberts R., J. Gokanda, & A. Preshous (2004). IELTS Foundation. Oxford: Macmillian

Next section

Find out how to write persuasion essays in the next section.

Previous section

Go back to the previous section about different essay types.

This post will help you write effective conclusions for IELTS writing task 2 essay questions. It is suitable for both General Training and Academic candidates.

The conclusion is the easiest paragraph to write because in many ways you are just using ideas you have already mentioned in your introduction and main body paragraphs. However, this is the last thing the examiner will read and it is therefore crucial that you finish strongly.

You will probably not have much time remaining when you are writing your conclusion so it is very important that you practice them and learn how to write them quickly. I will show you how below.

IELTS Conclusion Quick Tips

  1. Never write any new ideas in your conclusion. A conclusion should always simply restate the ideas you have in the rest of the essay. New ideas should be in the main body and not in the conclusion.
  2. Make sure you answer the question in the conclusion. The conclusion should state what you think about the question and make it clear how you feel about the issue.
  3. Vary your language. Just because you are restating the ideas you have in the rest of your essay, doesn’t mean you use the same language. Instead you show the examiner you have a wide vocabulary by paraphrasing.
  4. Don’t try to include everything. You are not required to go into detail, you have already done that in your main body paragraphs. Instead you will just summarise your main points.
  5. Always write one. It is very difficult to get a good score in task 2 if you haven’t finished your essay with a conclusion. Even if you are running out of time, make sure you write one.
  6. Two sentences are enough. 

Linking Phrases

First you should start with a linking phrase, but some are better than others . Here are some examples:

  • Finally
  • In a nutshell
  • In general
  • In conclusion
  • To conclude

Finally isn’t really suitable because it indicates that you are making a final point and therefore a new idea. Finally belongs in the main body of your essay, not the conclusion.

In a nutshell is too informal and we should never use it in IELTS conclusions.

In general tells the reader you are going to talk generally about a topic. This is not what we are going to do in our conclusion and we should therefore not use it.

In conclusion and to conclude are the only two linking phrases you should use to start your conclusion. They tell the reader exactly what the paragraph is about and they are formal.

How to Write a Good Conclusion

There are two elements to a good conclusion:

  1. Restating the main points of your essay
  2. Varying your vocabulary by paraphrasing

Luckily we have already stated our main points in the introduction, so all we have to do is look back at the conclusion and paraphrase this.

Let’s look at some examples:


It is argued that students should be taught real life skills, like how to look after money. This essay agrees that they should be part of the curriculum. The essay will first discuss how everyday competencies benefit people later in life and then talk about the dangers of not being taught how to manage money at an early age. 

I have completed an effective introduction by doing three things:

  1. Paraphrasing the question
  2. Stating my opinion
  3. Outlining what I will talk about in the rest of the essay or in other words, the main points I’m using to support my opinion.


In conclusion, this essay supports the idea that teenagers ought to be taught functional subjects like financial planning because it helps them in adulthood and a lack of education related to these topics can have serious consequences. 

So all I have done is restate my opinion and included my main supporting points. However, I have not simply copied the words, I have used synonyms and paraphrasing to vary my language.

Here are the paraphrases I used:

This essay supports- This essay agrees

should- ought to

students- teenagers

functional subjects- real life skills

look after money- financial planning

later in life- adulthood

dangers- serious consequences

Let’s look at another example:


Contemporary advances have a serious effect on the planet. While I appreciate that critics may hope that people will shun the latest developments, I believe that technology itself can give us an answer.  This essay will first discuss how not using electronics is unfeasible, followed by a discussion of how science is now coming up with ways to reverse global warming and pollution. 

This introduction does three basic things:

1. Paraphrases the question

2. States opinion

3. Outlines what the essay will discuss


In conclusion, this essay acknowledges that technological progress does jeopardise the planet, but cutting-edge discoveries can actually halt and even heal this destruction. 

Again, all I have done is repeat what I said in the introduction using paraphrasing.

Adding a Prediction or Recommendation to Our Conclusion 

We can also add a prediction (what we think will happen) or a recommendation (what we think should happen) to our conclusion.

This is totally optional. I teach students how to write these because it allows them to write something at the end of the essay if they are worried about not making it to 250 words.

Here are my two previous conclusions with one added sentence:

In conclusion, this essay supports the idea that teenagers ought to be taught functional subjects like financial planning  because it helps them in adulthood and a lack of education related to these topics can have serious consequences. It is recommended that governments make this a compulsory part of the education system. 

In conclusion, this essay acknowledges that technological progress does jeopardise the planet, but cutting-edge discoveries can actually halt and even heal this destruction. It is predicted that climate change will be successfully tackled with such inventions. 

Next Steps

If you found this article useful and want more help with writing task 2 please visit our task 2 page.

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