Starting A Good Conclusion For An Essay

The Concluding Paragraph

Although conclusions generally do not cause students as much trouble as introductions, they are nearly as difficult to get right. Contrary to popular belief, conclusions do not merely restate the thesis, and they should never begin with "In conclusion…" They represent your last chance to say something important to your readers, and can be used for some, or all, of the following tasks:

  • Emphasizing the purpose and importance of your essay
  • Explaining the significance or consequences of your findings
  • Indicating the wider applications of the method developed in your essay
  • Establishing your essay as the basis for further investigation
  • To show other directions of inquiry into the subject
Exactly which tasks your conclusion fulfills will vary according to your subject, your audience, and your objectives for the essay. Generally, conclusions fulfill a rhetorical purpose—they persuade your readers to do something: take action on an issue, change a policy, make an observation, or understand a topic differently.

Structure

Conclusions vary widely in structure, and no prescription can guarantee that your essay has ended well. If the introduction and body of your essay have a clear trajectory, your readers should already expect you to conclude when the final paragraph arrives, so don’t overload it with words or phrases that indicate its status. Below is an outline for a hypothetical, abstract essay with five main sections:

V: Conclusion

    1. Transition from last body paragraph
    2. Sentences explaining how paper has fit together and leads to a stronger, more emphatic and more detailed version of your thesis
    3. Discussion of implications for further research
      1. Final words
    Sample Conclusions

    Here are a few ways that some good writers ended their essays:

    Writing a Good Conclusion Paragraph

    Parents, does your student need assistance with writing a concluding paragraph? Our teachers can help. Sign up for either our Middle School Essay Writing or High School Essay Writing course for 1-on-1 guidance.


    In a conclusion paragraph, you summarize what you’ve written about in your paper. When you’re writing a good conclusion paragraph, you need to think about the main point that you want to get across and be sure it’s included. If you’ve already written a fabulous introductory paragraph, you can write something similar with different wording. Here are some points to remember.

    Use your introductory paragraph as a guide. You may have started by saying, “There are three classes at school that I absolutely can’t wait to go to every day.” You can start your conclusion by saying, “Gym, Math, and Art are the three classes I try to never miss.”

    If it’s a longer paper, a good place to start is by looking at what each paragraph was about. For example, if you write a paper about zoo animals, each paragraph would probably be about one particular animal. In your conclusion, you should briefly mention each animal again. “Zoo animals like polar bears, lions, and giraffes are amazing creatures.”

    Leave your readers with something to think about. Suggest that they learn more with a sentence like, “We have a lot to learn about global warming.” You can also give them something to do after reading your paper. For example, “It’s easy to make your own popsicles. Grab some orange juice and give it a try!”

    To sum up, remember that it’s important to wrap up your writing by summarizing the main idea for your readers. This brings your writing to a smooth close and creates a well-written piece of work.


    What is a conclusion?

    • A conclusion is what you will leave with your reader
    • It “wraps up” your essay
    • It demonstrates to the reader that you accomplished what you set out to do
    • It shows how you have proved your thesis
    • It provides the reader with a sense of closure on the topic

    Structure

    • A conclusion is the opposite of the introduction
    • Remember that the introduction begins general and ends specific
    • The conclusion begins specific and moves to the general

    Essay Structure

    • So, if we use shapes to demonstrate the essay’s content, it would look like this:

     

    Introduction

    Thesis statement

    Body of Essay

    Rephrased thesis statement

    Conclusion

     


    What to include

    • Your conclusion wraps up your essay in a tidy package and brings it home for your reader
    • Your topic sentence should summarize what you said in your thesis statement
      • This suggests to your reader that you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish
    • Do not simply restate your thesis statement, as that would be redundant
      • Rephrase the thesis statement with fresh and deeper understanding
    • Your conclusion is no place to bring up new ideas
    • Your supporting sentences should summarize what you have already said in the body of your essay
      • If a brilliant idea tries to sneak into the final paragraph, you must pluck it out and let it have its own paragraph in the body, or leave it out completely
    • Your topic for each body paragraph should be summarized in the conclusion
    • Your closing sentence should help the reader feel a sense of closure
    • Your closing sentence is your last word on the subject; it is your “clincher”
      • Demonstrate the importance of your ideas
      • Propel your reader to a new view of the subject
      • End on a positive note
    • Your closing sentence should make your readers glad they read your paper

    Strategies for an effective conclusion

    • Play the “So What” Game.
      • When you read a statement from the conclusion, ask yourself, “So what?” or “Why should anybody care?”
      • Ponder that question and answer it
        • Basically, I’m just saying that education was important to Douglass
        • So what?
        • Well, it was important because it was a key to him feeling like a free and equal citizen
        • Why should anybody care?
        • That’s important because plantation owners tried to keep slaves from being educated so that they could maintain control. When Douglass obtained an education, he undermined that control personally.
    • Return to the theme or themes in the introduction
      • This brings the reader full circle
      • If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay is helpful in creating a new understanding
      • Refer to the introductory paragraph by using key words, or parallel concepts and images that you also used in the introduction
    • Summarize
      • Include a brief summary of the paper’s main points, but don’t simply repeat things that were in the paper
    • Pull it all together
      • Show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together
    • Include a provocative insight or quotation from the research or reading you did for the paper
    • Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or questions for further study
    • Point to broader implications
      • A paper about the style of writer, Virginia Woolf, could point to her influence on other writers or later feminists

    Concluding strategies that do not work

    • Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase
    • These may work in speeches, but they come across as wooden and trite in writing
      • “in conclusion”
      • “in summary”
      • “in closing”
      • “as shown in the essay”
    • Stating the thesis for the very first time
    • Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion
    • Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of the paper
    • Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper

    Ineffective conclusions

    • “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It”
      • Restates the thesis and is usually painfully short
      • Does not push ideas forward
      • Written when the writer can’t think of anything else to say
      • Example
        • In conclusion, Frederick Douglass was, as we have seen, a pioneer in American education, proving that education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.
    • “Sherlock Holmes”
      • State the thesis for the first time in the conclusion
      • Writer thinks it would be more dramatic to keep the reader in suspense and then “wow” them with the main idea, as in a Sherlock Holmes mystery
      • Readers want an analytical discussion of the topic in academic style, with the thesis statement up front
    • “America the Beautiful”
      • Draws on emotion to make its appeal
      • Out of character with the rest of the paper
    • “Grab Bag”
      • Includes extra information thought of or found but couldn’t integrate into the main body
      • Creates confusion for the reader

    Conclusion outline

    • Topic sentence
      • Fresh rephrasing of thesis statement
    • Supporting sentences
      • Summarize or wrap up the main points in the body of the essay
      • Explain how ideas fit together
    • Closing sentence
      • Final words
      • Connects back to the introduction
      • Provides a sense of closure

    More Concluding Paragraph Resources

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