Last updated: November 2019
Ever wondered how to conclude an essay?
For some students, it’s far from the most challenging part of essay writing. They find it more challenging to choose a good topic for an essay, state a thesis, or write a clear essay outline. But our reader Emily has knocked spots off them all when asked to share tips on how to write a conclusion for your essay to impress teachers and help you get an A!
Don’t worry, Emily, you are not alone.
A concluding sentence of your essay isn’t less but sometimes even more challenging to write than its introduction. Our writers know it firsthand, so they give consent graciously to share the ultimate guide on conclusion definition, conclusion paragraph outline, conclusion examples, and expert tips on how to how to write a conclusion for a research paper.
So, keep on reading to master the art of writing essay conclusions once and for all.
What is an Essay Conclusion?
Conclusion definition is simple:
It’s the last paragraph of your essay or any other college pager, summarizing its thesis and arguments. It helps readers see why your essay should matter to them.
Why you need to know how to end an essay:
A conclusion provides closure and drives the main points of your essay one last time. It’s the chance to impress and give readers an understanding of why your paper matters. In other words, your essay conclusion should answer the question, “So what?”
- Give the audience something to think about after they finish reading your essay.
- A conclusion should give completeness to your paper. Ending it on a positive note would be a good practice.
It’s not about introducing new ideas but summing up your writing. The goal is to restate the thesis, summarize the essay’s body, and leave readers with a final impression.
Key aspects to remember:
- A strong essay conclusion restates, not rewrites your thesis from the introduction.
- A strong essay conclusion consists of three sentences minimum.
- It concludes thoughts, not presents new ideas.
Example source: Purdue OWL
So, here’s how to write a conclusion for your essay.
Conclusion Paragraph Outline
- The number of sentences in your conclusion will depend on how many paragraphs (statements) you have in the essay.
- Conclusion paragraph outline:
- 1) A conclusion starter:
- It’s the sentence restaining a thesis of your essay. So, if you wonder how to start a conclusion, rephrase your thesis statement and write it first.
2) A summary of the main parts of an essay:
- Here you’ll have 2-3 sentences wrapping up the arguments of your essay. Explain how they fit together.
3) A concluding sentence:
- It’s a final sentence of your essay, providing a sense of closure and connecting readers back to the introduction.
Here goes a standard structure with conclusion examples for you to understand how to conclude an essay:
Sentence #1: restate the thesis by making the same point with other words (paraphrase).
- Thesis: “Dogs are better pets than cats.”
- Paraphrased: “Dogs make the best pets in the world.”
Sentence #2-4: review your arguments; summarize them by paraphrasing how you proved the thesis.
- “Dogs are cleaner, better at showing affection, and ultimately easier to train.”
Sentence #5: connect back to the essay hook and relate your closing statement to the opening one; transit to human nature to impress a reader and give them food for thought.
- “Change your life for the better – go get a dog.”
Strategies for Writing a Conclusion
|LEO: Literacy Education OnlineStrategies for Writing a Conclusion|
Conclusions are often the most difficult part of an essay to write, and many writers feel that they have nothing left to say after having written the paper. A writer needs to keep in mind that the conclusion is often what a reader remembers best. Your conclusion should be the best part of your paper.
A conclusion should
- stress the importance of the thesis statement,
- give the essay a sense of completeness, and
- leave a final impression on the reader.
- Answer the question “So What?” Show your readers why this paper was important. Show them that your paper was meaningful and useful.
- Synthesize, don't summarize
- Don't simply repeat things that were in your paper. They have read it. Show them how the points you made and the support and examples you used were not random, but fit together.
- Redirect your readers
- Give your reader something to think about, perhaps a way to use your paper in the “real” world. If your introduction went from general to specific, make your conclusion go from specific to general. Think globally.
- Create a new meaning
- You don't have to give new information to create a new meaning. By demonstrating how your ideas work together, you can create a new picture. Often the sum of the paper is worth more than its parts.
- Echoing the introduction: Echoing your introduction can be a good strategy if it is meant to bring the reader full-circle. If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay was helpful in creating a new understanding. Example
From the parking lot, I could see the towers of the castle of the Magic Kingdom standing stately against the blue sky. To the right, the tall peak of The Matterhorn rose even higher. From the left, I could hear the jungle sounds of Adventureland.
As I entered the gate, Main Street stretched before me with its quaint shops evoking an old-fashioned small town so charming it could never have existed. I was entranced.
Disneyland may have been built for children, but it brings out the child in adults.
I thought I would spend a few hours at Disneyland, but here I was at 1:00 A.M., closing time, leaving the front gates with the now dark towers of the Magic Kingdom behind me. I could see tired children, toddling along and struggling to keep their eyes open as best they could.
Others slept in their parents' arms as we waited for the parking lot tram that would take us to our cars. My forty-year-old feet ached, and I felt a bit sad to think that in a couple of days I would be leaving California, my vacation over, to go back to my desk.
But then I smiled to think that for at least a day I felt ten years old again.
- Challenging the reader: By issuing a challenge to your readers, you are helping them to redirect the information in the paper, and they may apply it to their own lives. Example Though serving on a jury is not only a civic responsibility but also an interesting experience, many people still view jury duty as a chore that interrupts their jobs and the routine of their daily lives. However, juries are part of America's attempt to be a free and just society. Thus, jury duty challenges us to be interested and responsible citizens.
- Looking to the future: Looking to the future can emphasize the importance of your paper or redirect the readers' thought process. It may help them apply the new information to their lives or see things more globally. Example Without well-qualified teachers, schools are little more than buildings and equipment. If higher-paying careers continue to attract the best and the brightest students, there will not only be a shortage of teachers, but the teachers available may not have the best qualifications. Our youth will suffer. And when youth suffers, the future suffers.
- Posing questions: Posing questions, either to your readers or in general, may help your readers gain a new perspective on the topic, which they may not have held before reading your conclusion. It may also bring your main ideas together to create a new meaning. Example Campaign advertisements should help us understand the candidate's qualifications and positions on the issues. Instead, most tell us what a boob or knave the opposing candidate is, or they present general images of the candidate as a family person or God-fearing American. Do such advertisements contribute to creating an informed electorate or a people who choose political leaders the same way they choose soft drinks and soap?
Return to the Write Place Catalogue
For questions and suggestions, please e-mail us at [email protected]
© 1995-2004 The Write Place
This handout was written by Randa Holewa; Joe Mathison completed the html markup for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University: it was updated by Judith Kilborn. This document may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.
Techniques and examples are adapted from Basic Writing: A First Course, by Peter Carino, Harper Collins, 1991.
Last update: 19 February 2004
Writing the Conclusion
You have written your introduction, you have pumped out a few killer body paragraphs, and now your work is done, right? WRONG. Do not underestimate the importance of a strong conclusion. The conclusion of your graduate school admissions essay will be the last thing that the admissions officer reads, so you want to make sure to leave a strong final impression.
By now, you have probably seen all over our site that we recommend that your essay include 40 percent narrative and 60 percent introspection.
Think of the narrative as the portion of your essay addressing the “what?”, and the introspection as the section addressing the “so what?” The conclusion then, attempts to answer the BIG “so what?” It should convey to the reader a clear reason why your paper’s argument is significant.
There are elements that a conclusion must include, and some additional elements that a conclusion may include. Do not settle for merely including the necessary elements; you want your essay to stand out.
Your conclusion must include a rehashing of your thesis. Rehashing your thesis does not mean repeating your thesis. Find a different way of stating your topic and your perspective on that topic.
The conclusion should also include a brief summary of your points.
You do not have to mention each individual supporting argument, but make sure that you at least generally explain the contents of your essay.
Most importantly, you want your conclusion to tie back to your initial arguments. In the beginning you introduced your ideas, after which you spent the rest of the essay proving your argument. In the conclusion, you want to remind your reader of what the purpose of proving your argument was to begin with.
Strengthening your Conclusion
Here we have four recommended options for strengthening your conclusion in order of effectiveness. You do not have to limit yourself to using only one of these. You can, for instance, use the Past, Present, Future approach and still ask a provocative question.
1. Past, present, future
If your essay includes a long running narrative, this is an excellent feature to include in your conclusion.
In the introduction you speak in the present tense. In the body, you relate to a story from the past. Now, in the conclusion, you may want to end on an upbeat note by concluding with your aspirations for the future.
Take a look at the following example:
When I was younger I had always looked up to my older brother; he could have done no wrong. Now, as our relationship has developed I have seen all aspects of his personality and recognize that he too has his flaws.
Yet his important qualities—respect, courage, and determination—I still admire and try to emulate.
I am certain that one day I too will be someone’s role model, and I will strive to exhibit my best qualities to be just as great an influence.
The blue portion of the above text is a reference to the beginning of the running narrative the author uses in his essay. The green has summarized the points that were made throughout the essay. Finally, the portion in black denotes the author’s intentions for the future.
2. Suggest consequences
This is a similar approach to the previous one, but it can be applied to all types of essays. In this feature, you suggest the consequences of your points to your future at a given university and in your career.
If taking 9+ hours of ballet classes has turned you into a diligent person, how will being diligent make you a great college student? If you can juggle many activities, maybe this means that you will be very involved at the university that you attend.
Ultimately, all college application essays should suggest the same consequence: that you would be a positive and worthwhile addition to their university.
Take a look at the following example:
Lacrosse has always been an important component of my life, and has contributed to my passion for physical fitness. Although it is a heavy-time commitment, I believe it was a fundamental and invaluable part of my undergraduate career.
The physical and mental training, teamwork, and diligence I have learned from playing D1 lacrosse have all had an extraordinary impact on my attitude and determination.
While in pursuit of a Masters in Physical Therapy I am now confident that I have the ability overcome any obstacle in my path.
3. Ask a provocative question
If the reader is left thinking about your writing later in the day (in a positive way), then you have nailed your essay! Asking a provocative question at the end of your essay can be an effective way to lodge yourself in an admissions officer’s memory.
The danger with this approach comes from the risk of asking a question that would demand a separate, new essay to answer it. Make sure your question is relevant to your topic.
Take a look at this good example:
I have always been captivated by the variety of cultures and the range of human living conditions in the world.
My extensive travels, my interest in current events, and my knowledge of four languages have inspired my interest in international human rights.
Yet how can one have an impact on the world, without first learning its constituents? For this reason I am in eager pursuit of an education in international social work—a goal that I am confident I can realize through the public policy program.
By this approach, you want to indicate how your argument relates to the grander scheme of things. How can your realizations about yourself apply and be beneficial to society? If you just narrated a story about the loss of your grandmother, for example, what does the process of losing a loved one generally teach people about going through difficult periods in their lives?
Check out this example:
Empathy is an extraordinary and infectious quality. Although it does not come naturally, it only requires some attention and a little bit of practice. After I made a conscious effort to be empathetic, I found that it had a profound effect on my day-to-day life. If every person could take on such an attitude, they would find themselves in a much better work and home environment.
There is nothing better than ending your entire essay with a strong quip, remark, or witticism (a zinger!). Of course, even a zinger has to tie in with one of the methods outlined above, but it is also important to pay particular attention to your closing sentence when taking this approach; your zinger must resonate with the rest of your conclusion.
Typically, a great note to end on is directly mentioning the university to which you are applying. In doing so, you indicate that your qualities, achievements, and background make you a perfect fit for the specific school to which you are applying.
As with all of the important and impactful sentences in your essay—keep your zinger short and sweet.
- Begin by rehashing your thesis (not word for word). Keep this clear and to the point.
- Next, summarize main points or important arguments that were in the body (2-3 sentences).
- End with a zinger. Make your last sentence resonate with the reader while keeping it short and sweet.
- Revisit your thesis.
- Summarize your main points.
- Add something more than the bare minimum. Too many graduate school admission essays have weak conclusions. Your conclusion is an opportunity to stand out.
- Spend time on your conclusion—it will not be overlooked.
- End on a strong note. Make sure that your final sentence leaves a strong impression.
- Rewrite the thesis with no significant changes.
- Introduce a new idea in the conclusion. You want to wrap up all loose ends.
- Attempt to make up for an unfinished argument—do not write your conclusion until you have written all that you have to say.
- Concentrate too much on a minor point in your essay. The summary should only include critical information for your argument.
- Do not claim that you are not an expert or that you are not sure about something. Confidence is key.
How to Write a Conclusion | Essay Writing Series Part 5
This post, How to Write a Conclusion, is part 4 in our Essay Writing Series.
Some common questions students have about essay structure are:
- How do I develop strong essay structure?
- Are conclusions important for essay structure?
- Can a conclusion be too long or too short?
- What should a conclusion include?
- How do I write a good conclusion?
In this post we’ll discuss the theory behind essay structure and show you why conclusions, are essential. We will then give you a step-by-guide for writing a Band 6 conclusion for your killer essay!
Table of Contents
1. Essential Essay Structure
2. Sustained Arguments and Conclusions
3. Recapping Essay Structure
4. Structuring Your Conclusion
5. How to Write a Conclusion – A Step-by-Step Guide
If you are unsure how to write an introduction or topic sentences, then you should read the previous posts in the series:
These posts give you step-by-step advice for writing well structured essays that will score you Band 6. They will provide the foundations of essay structure that we will conclude (pun intended!) in this post.
Now, let’s discuss how to develop a conclusion that sustains your argument and concludes it effectively and memorably before walking through an easy step-by-step process for writing fabulous conclusions.
Essential essay structure: How to write a conclusion | Essay writing Part 5
Essay writing is not an innate skill, it is a craft that it is learned and refined through practice and dedication. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, writing is something you need to work at to perfect. Writing good conclusions takes practice. But before you begin practising, you should learn how to write them effectively.
Let’s see how Matrix Students are taught how to write conclusions.
What is a conclusion?
A conclusion is the part of an essay that summarises your argument and recaps what has come before it.
A conclusion needs to do three things:
- Restate the thesis: It needs to reassert you overarching argument, first;
- Recap the key ideas: It needs to revisit the key ideas from the essay and touch on the logic for their inclusion or relevance.
- Make a closing statement: It needs to include a statement that explains your final thought on the matter, a statement on what you have taken away from writing the essay, or perhaps provide an overall statement about studying the text or Module you have been engaging with.
Think about that.
A conclusion is a simple thing, but very important to your argument. So, you have to get it right!
Let’s discuss how to do that.
Conclusions, and sustained arguments – Thinking for the reader
A good speech or a good essay is essentially manipulative. It is crafted to convince your readers of a position or belief that you have. To do this effectively, you need to present information in an order and fashion that makes it digestible and logical.
You want to do the reader’s thinking for them!
This is a crucial part of readability that Matrix students learn. Writing that is readable presents the information the composer feels is relevant to an audience, and connects it together in a way that makes it seem unified and logical.
How to Write a Conclusion
When contemplating how to write a conclusion, just remember: your introduction and conclusion are the appetizer and the dessert of your essay. Conclusions should round off the topic and leave a strong impression in the readers' minds. After all, this is your final moment to drive home your theme.
Yet, it's easy to develop writer's block when it's time to craft a winning conclusion. You may be tired of writing. You may be ready to move on to another assignment. But, now's not the time to give up.
The good news is, conclusions are semi-formulaic. Here are the three key elements to that formula.
1. Restate the Main Idea
What's the central idea to your thesis? That's a safe place to begin your conclusion. After all, you've directed every other section of your essay to support your thesis. To kick off your concluding paragraph, feel free to reiterate your main idea.
Try to make it fresh, though. You don't want to restate it verbatim. Rather, loosen it up a little as you prepare to remind readers why they'd be well-served to adopt your stance on the subject or follow your recommendation.
2. Summarize Three Main Points
Three is a good benchmark for your overall summary. You don't need to restate every argument you made, just the three you believe are the most striking. As with your main idea, don't be bland. Avoid simply repeating three points. Instead, show your readers how those points made your argument stronger.
Pull them together into one special force, adding weight to your main idea. Sometimes one idea won't hit home. But, when three compelling arguments join together, it's hard not to give some sort of credence to your argument.
3. End on a High Note
Leave the reader satisifed but also wanting more. For your closing line end on an interesting, thought-provoking idea. Pose a rhetorical question. State a striking quote from your research. Sometimes, good quotations act as illustrations, saying what we want to say with a little more glamour or panache.
Another way to add some “food for thought” to your conclusion is to tie your main idea to a broader scenario. Perhaps your paper examined Virginia Woolf's mark on literature. As you bring your three points home, consider the broader implications to her legacy, not only for literature but for feminists yet to come.
The closing line in your concluding paragraph is one that requires extra TLC. It's, literally, your last chance to make it stick.
One thing you should never do in your conclusion is introduce new information.
This will only confuse the reader and take away from the important features of a conclusion: the restatement of your main idea, your summary of three main points, and an epic closing line.
With these three elements in mind (a restatement of the theme, three key points, and a compelling closing line), let's take a look at an example of a good conclusion. Then, we'll pinpoint each of the three elements.
When you adopt a dog, you're not saving his or her life. You're saving your own.
With an ability to lower stress levels, increase cardiovascular activity, and improve your overall mood, who's getting the better end of the deal? The more you can support your local shelter, the more they'll be able to give back to the local community.
After all, “When you adopt a shelter pet, you save two lives – the one you adopt and the one that takes its place.” Together, we can save our finest friends, one adoption at a time.
In this conclusion, the writer restated the thesis: adopting a dog can save your life.
The paragraph progressed into three main points: dogs lower stress levels, increase cardiovascular activity, and improve peoples' moods.
Finally, the writer broadened the argument beyond the readers' immediate world. The case was made that one pet adoption actually saves two lives, not to mention the dog owners themselves.
Remind the Reader Why it Matters
Whatever you do, don't allow your conclusion to be an afterthought. Let it be the big brother who has his little sister's back. It's defending all those pages you just wrote in five powerful sentences.
Remind the reader why it matters. And then leave them nodding in agreement. That's the goal, anyway. You can't win everyone over, but you can certainly make readers pause and think.
If you've managed that much, then you've done well.
Now you're familiar with the formula for writing a striking conclusion, you can read through some further examples in our article Conclusion Examples to give you inspiration for formulating your own.