How to Build Your Conclusion

Now that you understand the significance of constructing a watertight conclusion and, to follow the building metaphor, the reasons for raising a solid roof to suit your house, you need to begin looking at the skills required to do just that.


What do we mean by ‘Raising the Rafters’?


‘We at The Coursework Club use ‘Raising the Rafters’ to refer to a crucial element of ýour roof-building (building of your conclusion), without which, your roof will collapse: the solid frame (the rafters) around which you will build your roof.’
Translation: The rafters are the key terms of the question. Your conclusion will make no sense in the context of the topic you have been asked to examine if you do not refer back to the original key terms of the question.


What do we mean, ‘referring back to the original key terms of the question’?


Just like the rest of your house, your roof relies on a solid framework, around which it can be constructed. In the same way, your conclusion relies on a robust framework in order to hold up the arguments and judgements therein. The rafters are the framework for your roof; the key terms are the framework for your conclusion.


Remind me, what are the ‘key terms of the question’?


Remember STEP TWO: Key Terms from the first unit of this course (the Introduction unit)? The key terms are those important parts of the question around which your entire enquiry should be ‘fixed’. As we mentioned in the first unit of this course, they are the building blocks of the entire essay. Now, since you have explained, argued, and discussed the key terms in both your introduction and main body of your coursework, it would make sense to continue this into your conclusion.

By referring back to the key terms of the question in your conclusion, you are doing a number of important things:

  • Reminding the examiner exactly what question it is that you are answering.
  • Linking all parts of your coursework together through these key terms.
  • Providing an easy ‘in’ to your concluding and judgemental remarks.
  • Framing your arguments and the arguments of others in the context of the question.
  • Reminding yourself that you are actually answering a specific question and not just rambling.
  • ANSWERING THE QUESTION! You’d be surprised how many students actually forget that they are answering a specific question.

03 Conc 01 01

Let’s use the example question from the last unit and see what we mean by, ‘referring back to the key terms of the original question’:

Example 1

How far would you agree that the Domino Theory was the main reason JFK became involved in Vietnam?

What are the key terms here?


  • How far… agree
  • Domino Theory
  • Main Reason
  • JFK
  • Involved…Vietnam

Now, all you need to do is make sure you re-address these key terms in your conclusion.

Basic Example

When JFK was assassinated in November 1963, he had overseen an unprecedented escalation in US interest in Vietnam, from one that lay primarily in the area of aid and assistance, to one that encompassed military personnel, direct administration of Vietnamese domestic policy, and a strategic view of the country as, “The Place”. As the evidence suggests, the Domino Theory was clearly one of the main reasons behind this escalation of interest, because it provided an apparently sound geopolitical cause of US involvement. However, it is difficult to agree that this was the main cause of US involvement because it is also abundantly clear that such causal factors as JFK’s personal ambitions, US failures in Cuba and Laos, and Eisenhower’s prior commitment to Vietnam, all tend to rank alongside the Domino Theory as vital elements to JFK’s foreign policy in the region...

See? Easy!

What you have learned

This section has shown you the importance of re-addressing the key terms of the question in your conclusion. Using a clear and basic example, we have shown you how to begin constructing a conclusion to your coursework. If you start your conclusion from this point, you will build a solid structure, with robust rafters, around which you can construct your roof. Now, apply these skills to your work.

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