An effective Conclusion your conversation about the topic, and leaves your readers with a final thought. This is your last chance to your main ideas.
Here are some strategies to wrap up your conversation:
- Re-connect to your opener. If you started your essay with an anecdote, for instance, consider re-visiting that story, or finishing the ending of it. If you started your essay with a question, perhaps you could provide a possible answer in your Conclusion. If you started with a statistic or quotation, maybe inserting a related statistic or quotation here would work well.
- Remind your readers about your thesis. This may feel or obvious to you, but it is common in the U.S. for writers to re-state the main point in a fresh way in the Conclusion. You can summarize your main ideas here in 1-2 sentences.
Because you are an author contributing to a scholarly conversation, your Conclusion should also leave your readers with a final thought. This is a way for them to enter into the conversation with you, as when you ask your audience if they have questions when you give a speech.
Here are some strategies to leave your readers with a final thought:
- Invite your readers to do something. This is a “call to action.”
- Ask a new question for your readers to – one that is related to your essay, but that re-frames your idea in a different way.
- Remind your readers WHY your idea is important.
- Make a prediction about your topic.
- Recommend further reading or analysis of your topic.
As always, consider your audience as you draft your Conclusion. What would appeal to your readers? What would be reasonable to ask them to do?
Here are some examples:
call to action:
Citizens who agree that music education should be a part of all public schools in the United States can make a difference by writing their representatives, going to a school board meeting, and when a ballot initiative comes around, voting to fund music education.
question to ponder:
Should schools in the U.S. be concerned with the kind of emotional and cognitive development that music education prompts? If we’re interested in educating the whole child, not just the most academic parts of the brain, then the answer is yes, and we have to reconsider our priorities when it comes to school funding.
quotation from an expert:
As Oliver Sacks notes in his book Musicophilia, “Rhythm and its of movement (and often emotion), its power to ‘move’ people, in both senses of the word, may well have had a crucial cultural and economic function in human evolution, bringing people together, producing a sense of collectivity and community” (268). Our schools aim to foster that same sense of community, which is why music must be part of a well rounded education.
It may be tempting to start with “In conclusion, I have…” or “To sum up,…” as transitions into your Conclusion paragraph. But your readers can tell that your essay is nearly done – they see just one paragraph on the screen or paper, so they know this final paragraph is your Conclusion; there is no need to add that “writing about writing.” A more elegant way to finish is to make sure the ideas in your final Body Paragraph connect to your Conclusion.
Note: You can draft and revise your Introduction and Conclusion at any point during your essay-writing process. Just be sure to re-visit the Introduction and Conclusion at the very end of your process, and ask yourself:
- Do my Introduction and Conclusion match? That is, am I consistent with my main idea? (Often, as we write and conduct research, our ideas and points of view can change. It’s important to make sure that you have updated both your Introduction and Conclusion so that you are not yourself in your essay.)
One way to improve your conclusion-writing skills is to look at different choices that other writers make when concluding a topic and to consider what feels satisfying or thought-provoking to you as a reader and what doesn’t. Read the conclusions below about teenagers and decision making. Which ones pull you in? Which ones are less interesting? What’s the difference? What’s missing? Discuss with a small group.
- Should teens be given complete freedom? Probably not, but a measured level of responsibility helps kids of all ages learn to trust themselves to make good decisions. This is especially important for teens since they will be adults very soon.
- Parents who want to teach their teenagers to be responsible decision makers can start by talking to their teens regularly about the kinds of decisions their teens are being faced with and allowing teens to make decisions about anything that won’t put them in immediate danger. This may be difficult at first, but the reward will come when parents see their teens feeling more confident in the face of difficult decisions and more ready to face the adult world.
- As stated above, research shows that the teenage brain isn’t fully matured, so adults should consider this when deciding how much freedom to give them.
- According to the AACAP, teens are more likely to make decisions based on emotions without thinking first. This means they’re more likely to “engage in dangerous or risky behavior.” Therefore, teens need to be protected until they’re old enough to make thoughtful decisions.
- Now that Rachael has been given the freedom to make some big decisions in her life, she’s more willing to talk to her parents when she needs advice or isn’t sure about something. Even though she sometimes makes mistakes, her parents trust that she will learn important lessons from those mistakes, and they help her feel supported when she experiences a failure. Raising a teenager isn’t easy, but this family has found a method that’s working for this particular teen.
Now that you’ve had an opportunity to think about some different approaches and techniques for writing Conclusions, try some practice writing. Choose a writing assignment you have created this term and use what you’ve learned in this section to write a compelling Conclusion to your piece.
For more practice, write a Conclusion using one of the scenarios below. Read through the following list and choose one. (You may want to match the one you chose in the Introductions chapter.) Then, practice writing a concluding statement or paragraph on the topic.
- Persuade your readers to visit your country.
- Persuade students to learn a foreign language before they graduate from college.
- Give some tips to new parents that will help lower their stress and make their new baby feel safe and loved.
- Review a movie, book, product, or trip for someone thinking of making one of these purchases to help them decide that they should or shouldn’t do it.
Share your Conclusion with your classmates and discuss what about it is effective and how it could be improved.
Is this section:
…too easy, or you would like more detail? –> Consult “Ending the Essay: Conclusions” from the Harvard College Writing Center.
…about right, but you would like to read more? –> Check “Introductions and Conclusions” from University of Toronto.
Examples and activities in this chapter were adapted from “Writing Conclusions” from The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
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to stress; to emphasize
repetitive; saying the same thing again
to think about
carrying or pulling along
saying the opposite