Opinions on this vary a lot. I have a quite strong and clear point of view on it, but not being an IELTS examiner I still have enough doubt about it that I’d like to hear other people’s thoughts.
First of all, IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 must not finish with an actual “conclusion“. A conclusion is something meaning “therefore” leading logically on from the evidence given in the body of an essay such as choosing the better of two options, but in IELTS Academic Writing Part One you should only select, summarise and compare. No opinions or speculation are acceptable in Task 1 (unlike Task 2), so there can not be any kind of conclusion.
If there is a final paragraph after the body, that would have to be a summary. As that is often what students mean when they ask if a conclusion is needed, the question then becomes “Is a final summary paragraph needed?” This is where opinions are split, but my personal position is a clear “No – introduction, two (or sometimes three) main paragraphs, then just stop”. Here are my main reasons why:
– The whole essay is supposed to be selecting and summarising. If you have done that successfully in the introduction and body, it doesn’t make much sense to end with the summary of a summary.
– If you’re going to briefly summarise the overall trends etc, it makes much more sense to do that as a single sentence in the introduction (as would usually be the case in real academic writing).
– The closest thing to this kind of writing in real academic writing is a description in a (much) longer essay under a graph or similar, in which case the next paragraph would be the kind of interpretation that you must avoid in this IELTS task. Students should therefore think of it as part of a much longer essay and just stop.
– A good summary should give the same information as the body (not new information) in different words and in a way that makes reading it worthwhile. This is almost impossible to do well, especially as students will have already been trying to avoid repeating words from the task and from earlier in their essay in the introduction and body.
– A tip that really helps with IELTS Writing generally is to avoid one-sentence paragraphs. It’s almost impossible to write a two- or three-sentence final summary paragraph in Task 1.
– The time and words used to write a summary are almost always better used on the introduction and body.
– Fewer than 5% of student attempts to write a final paragraph after body that I receive are acceptable. All the rest would lead to a lower mark than avoiding one would have.
Here are some other views on the topic from two of the few IELTS sites I would recommend:
IELTS Writing Task 1: overview not conclusion on ielts-simon.com
Academic Task 1 – conclusions on dc-ielts
Would love to hear all views below.
And if you agree with me, here are my many IELTS Writing Part One materials: