So you’ve just finished writing the bulk of your essay. You’ve already stated your thesis, advanced your points in the body paragraphs, and finalized your title. And now you’re exhausted. You may be tempted to submit your essay as it is, but remember that an essay without a conclusion is incomplete. Though your mind may be tired, capping off your essay with a well-written conclusion need not be a daunting task. So your question now is: how to write a conclusion for an essay? By keeping in mind the purpose and goals of a concluding paragraph, you can be assured that your conclusion will add great value to your essay.
Purpose of a conclusion
Before you learn how to write a conclusion for an essay, you must learn its main purpose first. The main purpose of a conclusion is to summarize your entire essay. You can think of it as a review of what your paper discusses. Moreover, a conclusion adds a nice touch to your essay by giving it a sense of completeness, which helps you avoid leaving your reader hanging.
Goals of writing a conclusion
An effective conclusion accomplishes three goals:
Restate your thesis A strong conclusion should restate the thesis. While the introduction presents your thesis statement, the conclusion restates the thesis as a way to remind your reader of the idea you are trying to communicate. Restating the thesis at the conclusion is different from simply copying it word for word. This means that you need to make changes to the wording yet retain the message. Simply copying the thesis will make your conclusion appear weak and lazy. The first sentence is often the best place to restate your thesis.
Summarize the main points Your conclusion should also be able to provide a summary of your main points. You may notice that your discussion often features a number of points. For instance, an argumentative essay on why the United States government should pass a proposed law will typically cover a brief overview of the proposed law, its benefits, its drawbacks if any, and refutation of counterarguments. Therefore, a conclusion for this essay should be able to feature summaries of these points. A good way to summarize main points is by first identifying what your points are and then crafting one or two sentences for each. Think of points as subtopics you discuss. Also, make sure that you present the summaries of your points in the same order as they appear in your paper.
Leave final thoughts or impressions Finally, a strong conclusion leaves final thoughts to the reader. This is the part where you go beyond simply summarizing or reviewing your paper. By leaving final thoughts or impressions, you are connecting your essay to the bigger picture or encouraging your reader to further discuss your topic. Depending on the type of your essay, there are many ways by which you could accomplish this:
- End with a question. Posing a question at the end of your conclusion is a good way to prompt your reader into exploring the topic further. However, not all essays should be ended with a question, so you need to be careful with how you use this technique. Also, note that your question does not have always come in basic question format; rather, you may rephrase it so that it comes across as a statement that causes your reader to come up with questions. For instance, if your essay argues why we must address the growing issue of plastic pollution, you may perhaps end with this statement: “Having reviewed the effects of plastic wastes on the planet, one could only imagine what other bigger problems a future of unchecked pollution has in store for humanity.” Notice how this ending sentence makes the reader think what these bigger problems might be.
- End with a quotation. Sometimes, ending with a quotation can help enhance the ideas you are trying to communicate. Quotes become famous for a reason: they can say so much in such few words. Therefore, adding a well-chosen quote that gives your reader excellent insight can greatly enhance your conclusion. Going back to the example of the essay on plastic pollution, see how this example leaves the reader with something to ponder on: “The effects of plastic pollution that people now suffer from are a reminder of the fragility of humanity’s own existence. As Evo Morales, Bolivia’s president once said, ‘Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.’”
- Call the reader to action. Finally, calling the reader to action is a good way to leave your reader with final thoughts or impressions. Calling to action basically means encouraging your reader to do something about the issue. This particularly works well for persuasive or argumentative essays wherein you use first-person (e.g. using “I,” “we,” “our,” etc.) and address the reader directly as if engaged in conversation. An example is provided: “Rampant plastic pollution are a stark reminder of what we must do to save not only ourselves but the countless creatures affected by this problem. We must minimize our use of plastic, recycle those that can be recycled, and replace what object we can with organic materials. Every action, however small, can make a big difference.”
A conclusion is an essential component of your essay, and ensuring that it restates the thesis, summarizes main points, and leaves final thoughts and impressions is the best way to cap off your paper. With these tips, you'll never have to ask yourself again how to write a conclusion for your essay.