The conclusion of an essay has three major parts:
- Answer: the thesis statement, revisited
- Summary: main points and highlights from the body paragraphs
- Significance: the relevance and implications of the essay's findings
No new information that is relevant to the focus of the essay should be introduced here. If you wish to make a new point, it should be in a body paragraph.
As in the introduction, it is essential to revisit your thesis statement in the conclusion. Again, do not simply repeat it word for word. Keep the essential keywords, and rearrange it. (For strategies on rewording, the principles of paraphrasing can help.)
Often the thesis statement is revisited near the beginning of the conclusion. The rest of the conclusion expands out, giving the reader an idea of the relevance and implications of your answer:
As with the introduction, this order of elements is not set in stone. Adapt the order to suit the needs of each particular essay.
The conclusion is the final place to show the connections between all the points made in your essay. Take the most important, relevant, and useful main points from your body paragraphs and summarise them here. Use the same keywords and ideas as the body paragraphs, but don't just repeat the same sentences.
Essays are often described as an attempt to “sell” your perspective on an issue. A good essay convinces the reader of the correctness of your argument. An excellent essay goes a step further: it demonstrates to the reader why the argument is especially important or relevant for the topic.
There are several general statements that you can make in the conclusion to take it beyond merely summarising the essay. What are the implications of this argument? Why is it important? What issues does it raise?
Not every essay can end on this note. Shorter essays (those below 1200 words) do not have enough space available to describe the significance in detail. However, if you are looking for a dynamic way to end your essay a broader statement on the big picture can be highly effective.
The following example conclusion contains all three components:
- the answer (first sentence, in italics)
- a summary of the main points
- a final note on the significance (final sentence, in italics)
Above all, teachers need to inform themselves and the rest of the school community so that together they can develop a policy to discourage bullying. By educating themselves about bullying, teachers and parents have the knowledge to set up effective programmes and structures both within the classroom and for the whole school. Furthermore, by removing the opportunity for children to bully, providing children with a stimulating environment, and giving them the tools to deal with conflict appropriately, teachers can reduce children's inclination to bully. Although bullying will never be fully eradicated and must be dealt with as soon as it occurs, increasing awareness of the problem is making schools a safer and more enjoyable environment in which children can learn.
For further examples, see sample essay 1 and sample essay 2.
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Last updated on 25 October, 2012
Make Your Last Words Count
In academic writing, a well-crafted conclusion can provide the final word on the value of your analysis, research, or paper. Complete your conclusions with conviction!
Conclusions show readers the value of your completely developed argument or thoroughly answered question. Consider the conclusion from the reader's perspective. At the end of a paper, a reader wants to know how to benefit from the work you accomplished in your paper. Here are ways to think about the purpose of a conclusion:
- To connect the paper's findings to a larger context, such as the wider conversation about an issue as it is presented in a course or in other published writing.
- To suggest the implications of your findings or the importance of the topic.
- To ask questions or suggest ideas for further research.
- To revisit your main idea or research question with new insight.
Should you summarize?
Consider what readers can keep track of in their heads. If your paper is long or complex, some summary of your key points will remind readers of the ground you've covered. If your paper is short, your readers may not need a summary. In any paper, you'll want to push beyond mere summary to suggest the implications or applications of your work.
How do you start drafting a conclusion?
Effective conclusions take the paper beyond summary and demonstrate a further appreciation of the paper's argument and its significance: why it works, why it is meaningful, and why it is valuable. To get started, you might ask yourself these questions:
- How do the ideas in your paper connect to what you have discussed in class, or to what scholars have written in their treatment of your topic?
- What new ideas have you added to the conversation? What ideas do you critique?
- What are the limitations of your data, methods, or results?
- What are the consequences of the strongest idea that comes out of your paper?
- How can you return to the question or situation you describe in your introduction?
From Mounting methodologies to measure EUV reticle nonflatness (SPIE Proceedings 7470, 2009), by UW–Madison Professor Roxanne L. Engelstad's lab. Notice how Battula et al. explain the limitations of their findings, and identify specific future developments that would make their proposal more accurately testable.
The horizontal whiffle tree mount should have performed the best considering the kinematics of the 16 support points, as well as theoretically displaying the least amount of gravitational distortions. However, due to possible friction at the pivoted joints and the current tolerances on the whiffle tree system, there were difficulties in using this mount. At this time, the process of averaging the measurements taken at four vertical orientations appears to be the best approach.
Gender and Women's Studies
From Examining Millie and Christine McKoy: Where Enslavement and Enfreakment Meet (Signs 37, 2011), by UW–Madison Professor Ellen Samuels. Notice how Samuels's conclusion briefly summarizes her article's main claims before turning to the consequences of her strongest claims.
While there are still many questions left unanswered about the McKoys, and many possible truths to be drawn from their lives, I have aimed in this article to establish that at least two things are not true: the tale of the beneficent and beloved slaveowners and the resigned, downcast expression on Millie's face in the altered picture. Moreover, I contend that turning away from historical legacies as complex and dangerous as those of enslavement and enfreakment keeps us from being able to understand them and to imagine different futures. We need to develop paradigms of analysis that allow us to perceive and interpret both the radical empowerment of the McKoys' lives and the oppressions that are no less fundamental to their story. Such an analysis must allow for dissonance, contradictions, and even discomfort in its gaze. Only then can we move forward with the work of shaping new representations and new possibilities for extraordinary bodily experience.
From UW–Madison Law Professor Andrew B. Coan's Judicial Capacity and the Substance of Constitutional Law (2012). Notice how this conclusion emphasizes the significance of the topic under consideration.
Judicial capacity has been too long misunderstood and too long neglected. It is a central institutional characteristic of the judiciary, which has significant predictive power in important constitutional domains and also significant normative implications. It deserves consideration from constitutional theorists on par with that accorded to judicial competence and judicial independence. Indeed, it is crucial to a full understanding of both of these much-discussed institutional features of the judiciary.