All’s well that ends well... including your essay! Writing a strong conclusion paragraph for your college essay is important if you want to leave a positive lasting impression on your reader.
Once you’ve laid out a solid introduction and supported your ideas with quality details, you want to finish strong by wrapping up your thoughts perfectly.
The conclusion paragraph, in theory, seems like the easiest part of an essay to write..really, you’re just wrapping up thoughts you’ve already written. But conclusions (and introductions) are sometimes the trickiest parts of an essay to get right.
Learning how to write a conclusion takes practice, but there are many tips to help guide you through the process. With a few hints about what to do (and what not to do), you’ll be crafting stellar conclusions in no time!
Why does a conclusion paragraph matter?
Your conclusion is your final word in the argument you’ve written out. It can inspire your reader to see things from a different point of view or challenge the reader to open his mind to new ideas. It also serves as a reminder of everything the reader has just learned and ties together all of the points you’ve made.
You want to craft your last words well so that people take something important away from what you’ve written. It should also provide an understanding of your topic as a whole and how all of the different claims you’ve made in your essay connect back to your central argument.
How should I format a conclusion paragraph?
There are some basic formulas that fit in with a standard college essay format that can help you get started on laying out your final thoughts.
Most conclusion paragraphs are four to five sentences long and should average between 50–75 words. They should be long enough to get your point across, but short enough that you’re not rehashing every idea you’ve ever had on the subject.
Conclusion paragraphs begin by revisiting the main idea definition. The first sentence reminds the reader of what this has all been about. This sentence revisits your thesis statement or main topic.
The next two to three sentences tie together the main points you have used to support your thesis or central topic. Finally, your closing sentence is where you drive home the meat of your message and leave a lasting impression on the reader.
What should I include in my conclusion?
Every conclusion is trying to accomplish similar goals: making a lasting and positive impression on the reader, tying all of the pieces of an essay’s argument together, and making the reader think. But the road to these goals can take many different directions.
There are a lot of options as to what to include in your conclusion. Here are a few to consider:
- A connection to your hook. If you began your essay with a hook to get your reader’s interest, you can tie back into it at the end. Did you start off with a question? Provide the answer. Did you tell the beginning of a story? Let them know the ending. Using a hook is a great tactic to start a paper, and tying it into your conclusion artfully is an easy way to end your paper.
- An answer to the question “So what?” When you can’t think of what to say, pretend to be your reader and ask yourself, “So what?” When the reader reaches the end of your essay, they should completely understand your essay’s purpose. Why should they care about the argument you’ve been making? Take your main idea and ask, “So what?” Then keep digging deeper until you have the ultimate takeaway from what you’ve been trying to express.
- A solution. Or a challenge to the reader to think of a solution. If your essay involves a problem or an issue that needs to be solved, you can end with an answer to that problem. If it seems unsolvable, you can end with options that might get people closer to solving the issue.
- A poignant quote. If there’s a powerful quote that adds substance to your essay, feel free to add it. But it has to be relevant and tie together your concluding thoughts (and of course, give credit to the author).
What should I avoid in my conclusion?
You don’t want to put all of your hard work into a powerful introduction and fantastic body paragraphs, just to tank it in the end with a conclusion that goes way off course.
Be sure to avoid these common errors:
- Repeating your introduction as your conclusion. Although it’s good practice to revisit your thesis statement or main ideas in your conclusion, make sure you rephrase your thoughts and present them in a slightly different light. You want to connect to your opening and reflect on it, but you don’t want it to be exactly the same.
- Introducing a completely new idea for the first time in the conclusion. After you’ve organized your ideas and made your claims, it’s very confusing to the reader if you throw in a random new idea at the end of the essay. It may seem like an exciting twist, but really, it’s just poor organization. Keep your focus on the main argument throughout the essay, especially when you are wrapping it all up.
- Using boring phrases to start your conclusion. In summary... In conclusion... These phrases (and others like these) have no place in a conclusion paragraph. Let your ideas and creative wording guide the reader to realize you’re wrapping up your thoughts.
- Changing your tone. The tone of your essay should be consistent throughout. If you’re very scientific in your entire essay, don’t end it in a really conversational tone. If your tone is very friendly and laid-back, don’t get extremely serious and judgmental in your conclusion. Whoever you are in the introduction, that voice should be clearly echoed in the conclusion.
- Rambling. Be succinct. This is not the time to start listing random thoughts or coming up with supporting details that really should have already been mentioned in previous paragraphs. Nor is it the time to restate the same idea over and over.
There are a lot of things to consider when concluding your essay. You want to hit the highlights, make people think, and leave them with a positive impression of what they have just read. You only have one chance to wrap things up nicely for your reader. Make your conclusion succinct, thought-provoking and powerful.