Academic Success Tip - Avoid being too Conclusory

Have your professors told you that your analysis is too conclusory? To avoid making that mistake again, try not to begin your analysis with a conclusion. Instead, the first sentence of your discussion of each issue should identify the problem in need of resolution. For example, you might begin your analysis of a torts problem by noting that “John may have battered Fred when he threw a stick over the fence that struck the plaintiff.” In contrast, avoid writing “John battered Fred when he threw the stick over the fence.” While beginning with a conclusion may be acceptable when writing a memorandum, keep in mind that these conclusions are usually based on a great deal of thoughtful reflection. When writing an examination answer, time is of the essence and you may be incorrect regarding your initial belief as to how the problem will come out. Beginning each problem with an issue statement, as opposed to a conclusion, addresses two related problems. First, it provides you with the flexibility to look at all sides of a problem before coming up with an answer. Second, it helps you to remain objective. When you start with a conclusion, the tendency is to support that conclusion even in the face of strong opposing arguments. (Adapted from Succeeding in Law School by Herbert N. Ramy.)