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How to Write a Summative Essay | Definition, Topics, Structure, Examples

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What is a summative essay?

A summative essay is a type of essay that requires students to evaluate and synthesize information learned over a unit or semester. Summative essays are typically written at the end of a unit or semester, and they allow students to show what they have learned during that time. To write a successful summative essay, students must be able to identify the main points from their coursework and organize them into a coherent argument. Summative essays often take the form of argumentative essays, in which students must take a position on an issue and support their claims with evidence. However, they can also take other forms, such as compare and contrast essays or personal narratives. No matter what form they take, summative essays provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their learning and demonstrate their understanding of the material.

Summative essay structure

A good summative essay should provide a comprehensive overview of a topic. The structure of a summative essay will vary depending on the length of the paper and the specific requirements of the assignment, but all summative essays should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.


The introduction is one of the most important aspects of the paper, as it needs to provide a brief overview of the topic and main argument. Additionally, the introduction should grab the reader’s attention and give them a general sense of what the rest of the paper will be about. If you are having trouble crafting an effective introduction, try using a hook or an anecdote to engage your reader from the start.

Body paragraphs

In the body paragraphs, it is important to focus on several key points and to provide evidence to support your thesis. Each body paragraph should focus on a different point, and each paragraph should end with a sentence that connects back to your thesis. By focusing on several key points and providing evidence to support your thesis, you will be able to effectively communicate your position to the reader. In addition, by ending each paragraph with a sentence that connects back to your thesis, you will be able to remind the reader of the overall argument of your essay.


The conclusion of a summative essay should briefly summarize your main points and explain how they support your overall argument. In addition, the conclusion should provide a sense of closure by addressing any lingering questions or concerns that may have arisen during the essay. By providing a clear and concise summary of your main points, you can help to ensure that your readers have a full understanding of your argument. Additionally, by addressing any remaining questions or concerns, you can provide a sense of finality to your essay. Ultimately, the goal of the conclusion is to leave your readers with a well-rounded understanding of your argument.

By following this basic structure, you can be sure to craft a clear and concise summative essay that will impress your readers.

How to write a good summative essay

A summative essay is an important academic assignment, which allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of a subject. To write a good summative essay, seven important steps need to be followed:

1. Choose a topic:

The first step is to choose an interesting and manageable topic. Make sure you select a topic that you are familiar with and that can be adequately covered in the space available.

2. Do your research:

Once you have selected a topic, it is time to do some research. Be sure to consult a variety of sources to get a well-rounded view of the subject. When taking notes, be sure to include the name of the source, as this will be needed later when referencing.

3. Develop a thesis statement:

A thesis statement is a brief statement that summarises the main argument of your essay. It should be clear and concise and should be specific enough that it can be adequately supported by evidence from your research.

4. Outline your essay:

An outline helps you to organise your thoughts and logically structure your essay. It is important to include all the main points you wish to make in your essay, as well as signposting language that will let the reader know what is coming next.

For example, ‘First…’, ‘Secondly…’, ‘In addition…’ etc.

5. Write your introduction:

Your introduction should briefly introduce the reader to the main points of your essay and finish with your thesis statement.

Remember to keep it short – no more than five or six sentences.

A good sentence starter for a summative essay includes present tense verbs that take an active voice.

For example, “This essay will argue that” or “The purpose of this paper is to explore.”

By starting your sentences in the present tense and using active voice, you create a more lively and engaging writing style. This also helps to clarify your argument for the reader.

In addition, good sentence starters for a summative essay can also include rhetorical questions or strong statements.

For instance, you might begin your essay with a question such as, “What is the true cost of happiness?” or a statement like, “Few things in life are more important than our relationships.” By starting with such attention-grabbing sentence starters, you can ensure that your reader will be hooked from the very beginning.

6. Write your body paragraphs:

Each body paragraph should focus on one main point, which should be clearly stated in the opening sentence. The rest of the paragraph should then be used to support this point with evidence from your research. Be sure to reference all sources using the correct format (e.g., MLA, APA).

Conclude each body paragraph with a sentence that sums up the main point and reinforces your argument as a whole.

7. Write your conclusion:

The conclusion should briefly recap the main points of your essay and finish with a strong conclusion statement that leaves the reader with something to think about long after they have finished reading.

Again, this shouldn’t be too long – no more than three or four sentences should suffice.

Summative essay topics

The best sort of summative essay is one which allows students to display what they have learned over a term or academic year.

A good summative essay topic will therefore assess a student’s knowledge of a broad range of topics, rather than focus on a single area.

This allows students to show off their analytical and writing skills, as well as their ability to synthesize information from multiple sources.

It also allows the teacher to get a sense of what sort of material the student has been exposed to over the term.

When choosing a summative essay topic, therefore, it is important to select one which will be both challenging and informative.

Here are some interesting summative essay topics to get you started:

  1. Compare and contrast the economic systems of two different countries
  2. Analyze the causes of the First World War
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of different treatment methods for substance abuse
  4. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of different research methodologies
  5. Discuss the impact of globalization on developing countries
  6. Explain the importance of effective communication in business dealings
  7. Describe how changes in technology have affected society’s understanding of privacy rights.

These are just a few examples – there are many possible summative essay topics. The key is to choose one which interests you and which you think will challenge and enlighten your readers.

Summative essay example

A short sample summative essay

The following summative essay will compare and contrast the economic systems of two different countries; the United States of America and Canada.

Both the United States and Canada are developed countries with capitalist economies. However, there are some key differences between the two systems. The United States is a more laissez-faire economy, with less government intervention in the market. In contrast, Canada has a more regulated economy, with more government intervention to ensure that everyone has access to essential services like healthcare and education.

There are pros and cons to both systems. The laissez-faire approach of the United States leads to greater inequality, as wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. However, the regulated approach of Canada can lead to greater bureaucracy and slower economic growth.

In conclusion, while there are pros and cons to both systems, I believe that the regulated system of Canada is more beneficial for society as a whole. It ensures that everyone has access to essential services, while still allowing for economic growth.

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