How To Write An Essay Conclusion Quickly and Easily


If you’ve known me long enough, you probably know how I feel about essay conclusions. If not, then here’s the gist:

They are unnecessary because they are repetitious. That’s it.

However, I realize that we live in a real world where people will require you to write an essay conclusion probably more often than not. In fact, I’ve received questions about this from more than one of my visitors. So, in this post, I’d like to teach you a simple way to write an essay conclusion and to alleviate your biggest worries about this pesky closing paragraph. So, let’s begin. Here’s a simple rule of thumb:

An essay conclusion should simply restate the main point using words that are different from the ones you used in the thesis statement.

That’s it. And let’s look at an example right away. Here is a thesis statement:

In spite of a couple of minor setbacks, a vacation in the Dominican Republic can be totally awesome. There may not be much sight-seeing, and the weather may disappoint in the wrong time of the year. However, beautiful sandy beaches, excellent food, and twenty-four-hour entertainment are bound to make it a winner.

So, if this is the thesis, then how would you rewrite it using different wording? Let’s try:

To sum up, although the scarcity of interesting places to see and a few rainy days could dim the impression, a vacation in the Dominican Republic is very likely to be a success because of the beaches, excellent dining, and the possibility to party non-stop.

If you were paying attention, you noticed that I found a way to repeat each of the pros and cons in different language, except for the word ‘beach’. I simply couldn’t find a better way to say ‘beautiful sandy beaches,’ you see.  :)

And how do you find all these different words? If you find yourself stuck, consult a thesaurus – it’s a great book of synonyms and antonyms. You could use either the ones that are available on the Internet or a real printed book. I use both. My physical thesaurus is Roget’s Thesaurus in Dictionary Form – it’s easy to use and is filled with awesome words.

So, as you can see, writing a conclusion is a matter of being able to find a few synonyms or equivalents for the things you already said. So, I hope you can see that the value of a conclusion is pretty weak. It’s simply repeating stuff. Therefore, don’t kill yourself trying to write the best one in the world. Keep it simple.

Now, here are some common instructions on writing essay conclusions that I’ve encountered in the past. I’d like to discuss these just to address some of the questions you may have as you’re reading this:

Common Instruction #1:   Offer your own opinion.

This one makes me laugh every time: “Wait a second – I thought my entire essay was my opinion. And if it wasn’t, then what was it?”

Common Instruction #2:   Summarize your main points without being redundant/repetitious.

Interesting. To summarize literally means to repeat in fewer words. So, how am I supposed to repeat something without being redundant or repetitious? Hmmmm…

My point here is that when you are asked to write an essay conclusion and are given these or similar instructions, it is no wonder that you become frustrated and don’t know what to write. Of course you are frustrated – sometimes instructions just don’t make a whole lotta sense.

But now you know what to do – simply summarize key points using different wording. That’s it. Remember – your thesis is really your conclusion. Think about it. You’ve done some thinking or some research about something and, as a result, you came to a conclusion; and now you’re writing about it, presenting your conclusions in the opening paragraph as your thesis. Does this make sense?

That said, it is a very good idea to ask your professor or instructor what she thinks a conclusion should include. And then just follow the instructions. This is the surest way to get an A.

Finally, here’s a good post for you to read about Introductions and Conclusions:

How to Cut Out Paragraphs of Needless Work in 1 Easy Step.

Questions? Comments? Post ‘em here.

Tutor Phil

FREE Report Reveals an EASY Technique to Add 300 Words to ANY Essay In 15 Minutes!

Comments

  1. Thuan says

    I had many problems whenever I wanted to write good conclusions; thus, it is great to read your great tips.

    By the way, I totally agree with you when you wrote that conclusions in essays are unnecessary. However, I think the main purposes of a conclusion are to wrap things up, re-emphasize the main points, and announce the ending of our essay to readers; therefore, in my opinion, it is better if a essay has its own conclusion. Moreover, I have an intention of taking the TOEFL test soon. The TOEFL essay always require a conclusion.

    Again, your post is really interesting and useful to me. Thank you.

    • TutorPhil says

      I’m glad you liked it, Thuan. Thanks for the warm words.
      The best strategy in any writing class or test preparation is to know what exactly is required of you first. Yes – the TOEFL test requires a conclusion, and you should write it.
      I recently wrote my graduate term paper and did not include either an intro or a conclusion. I got full credit. But I knew my professor only cared about the clarity of my arguments.
      You have many tools here on my blog. Use them according to your needs. I’m glad you know what you’re doing.

  2. Sanjay says

    Hi ! Phil !
    Cheers !
    I have noticed that many good students write great essays but when it comes to conclude, they falter and potter out meekly. Why is it so ? Do they fall short of words or they feel tired by the end of it as they find the essays to be painful? I some time feel as if they are shot dead soon enough as they seem to end their essays abruptly. Now I have some observations. Pl. tell me if I am right. Marks are mostly awarded soon after the teacher reads the last line. So it’s of great importance. Do you agree? Is it all right if the writer asks the opinion of the reader, in this case the examiner if he has the same opinion with a sentence, “Are there any takers?”

    • TutorPhil says

      Sanjay,

      With regards to conclusions, when I taught writing at the City University of New York, one of my requirements was NOT to write conclusions at all.
      It is no wonder that students often falter when writing a conclusion. They simply don’t fully understand what’s required of them once they’ve spend several paragraphs explaining and supporting their points.
      You see, a conclusion and a thesis are really one and the same thing. The writer has made several observations and came to a conclusion. And now his job is to present his conclusion as a thesis and support it.
      Now, if that’s the case, then what is the purpose of the conclusion, anyway?
      It seems that the purpose is to simply remind the forgetful reader in a couple of sentences what he’s just been reading about.
      The notion that the conclusion must present the “writer’s opinion” just plain doesn’t make sense. The writer’s opinion must be supported with evidence. Otherwise, it’s just a statement not worth considering. And if it’s presented in the last paragraph, then it can have no evidence to support it.
      And if you say that the evidence was given in the body of the essay, then wasn’t that the evidence to support the thesis?
      If not, then why is the thesis there in the first place?
      Bottom line is, if the thesis statement and the conclusion are not one and the same, then one of them will be left without the evidence to support it.

      Therefore, present your main point in the opening paragraph; support it in the body; and write a concluding paragraph, if required, which will simply summarize the main points.

      See what I’m getting at?

      Phil

  3. nehak says

    People attend college or university for many different reasons (for example, new experiences, career preparation, increased knowledge). Why do you think people attend college or university? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
    this is one of the type of ques we get in toefl, does they require conclusion ?

    • TutorPhil says

      I’ve done some research, and it looks like you are expected to write a conclusion at the end of your Toefl essay. This means that, if you don’t, your score will go down. So, just write a conclusion to every Toefl essay you write. And here are some very good suggestions:

      How to write a TOEFL essay Conclusion

        • TutorPhil says

          Jordan,

          The conclusion depends on your thesis, which is your main point.

          Basically, whatever you’ve said in your essay about your family – just summarize that without adding anything else in the conclusion.

          That’s it…

          Hope this helps.

  4. nehak says

    UNIVERSITY SHOULD GIVE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY TO SPORTS AS THEY GIVE FOR LIBRARY..

    “World of bookworms is gone, now people appreciate those who are all rounder”and yes i so believe that university should give same amount of money to sports as they give for library. The reason behind this is first, sports being an extra curricular activity which is equally important for a student as books. Second, sports is the best physical exercise. And finally third, it improves our personality. Now lets discuss it in detail.

    First and foremost reason why sports should be encouraged in schools and university is because of the increasing demand and importance of extra-curricular activities. There was a time when all importance was been given to grades no grades meant no opportunity, no job, no success whereas these days the student should not only be academically active but he should be active in all other extra-curricular activities as well, sports being the most important one. Giving importance only to credits wont enhance other skills in child, hence university should emphasize on sports as well for all round nourishment of students.

    Sports is also considered to be a very good physical exercise and when we are physically fit the probability of mental fitness also increase manifold. Studies every time no doubt will improve the grades but it will make life monotonous and dull. It mite make you mentally strong but physically u cannot stay fit until and unless you do some exercise, sports being the best among all. It relaxes your mind and muscles, improves the blood circulation, strengthens and improves the muscle tone, and makes your body flexible and fit. It also improves the stamina remarkably, hence should be encouraged in schools and colleges.

    Finally, sports also grooms your personality, student come across other team members and learns how to play in a team, sportsmanship and leadership skills also comes naturally that way. Student learn other important things like how to take victory and defeat, commitment towards work etc. Hence these things are further helpful in classroom and outside as well, wherever the child goes he carries these qualities for lifelong.

    In conclusion, i would say that universities should give same money for sports as they give for library because that is the only way they can attract and encourage students to join sports as extra-curricular activity, and further which can improve physical fitness and personality of an individual.Hence it should be made indispensable.

    • TutorPhil says

      Bravo, Nehak!
      You are making tremendous progress! I’m proud of you.
      Do you see how there is rhyme and reason behind your essay now? I am very glad that you are so persistent in your efforts to become a better writer. I also know that it takes a great deal of mental work to do the homework that I’m giving you. So, again, great work.

      As you can probably tell right now, even you as the author understand your own writing better. Do you agree with that? You know why this happens? Because you are thinking more clearly, dear Nehak.

      Okay. Let’s keep working on this particular essay, because there is still work to do.

      So, what has improved about your essay up to this point?

      1. Your thesis statement. Now it does 2 of the most important things:
      a. It states your main point. b. It tells the reader exactly why the author believes the main point is true (which is also the essay’s outline).

      2. The body of the essay. Now it has 3 distinct sections, each giving a reason that the thesis is correct.

      Now, what still needs work here?

      Several things. Your grammar and punctuation will keep your score and your grades down even if the intellectual content is good. So, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll be putting up a blog post about writing sentences shortly – tomorrow or the day after. I’ll address the issues many students have, and you’ll benefit a lot from it, I think. It will help you with your punctuation, too. In the mean time, for the rest of your homework, try to write in short sentences. Just keep them short, at least for now. Let’s see if that will help.
      So, have a little patience, and pat yourself on the back for all the good work you’ve done so far.

      Here’s your homework for now:

      You have three well-defined sections in the body of the essay:

      1. Extracurricular activities are as important as books
      2. Sports are good for physical development, which creates a healthy balance
      3. Sports help shape personality

      Now, notice something.
      Numbers 2 and 3 are excellent supportive points for the thesis. Why? Because they are about sports, which is what your thesis is about.
      What about number 1? Can you improve it?
      You see, it is a little too general. It kind of sounds like the thesis itself, do you agree?
      Now, you came up with wonderful sections 2 and 3 – they are very clear and distinct. They actually kind of support section 1, if you think about it.
      Don’t forget that your essay is not about extracurricular activities in general, but about sports specifically. So, can you come up with section 1 that would be just about sports, and not about extracurricular activities in general? I know you can do it. You’ve done it twice already – in sections 2 and 3. Just do it one more time. And then we’ll continue.

      You are one smart cookie, Nehak. Keep working.

    • TutorPhil says

      Two more little things:

      1. Don’t forget that if your section 1 will change, then your thesis statement must change as well to reflect it. It only has to be that part of the thesis statement, not the whole thing. You know what I mean.

      2. Please post your next reply here:

      http://tutorphil.com/blog/why-writing-an-essay-is-still-a-challenge/

      I think it’s a good idea to keep our sessions under a relevant blog post. Let’s try that, okay? Since we’re working with the overall structure here, let’s keep it under that blog post.
      Thanks,

      Tutor Phil

    • TutorPhil says

      Hi, Nehak.

      First, as an aside, I’m trying to keep all posts, comments, and questions nicely organized. You can help me do this by posting your questions and comments under the relevant blog posts. Is that a deal?

      Now, to your progress:
      You’ve done very well with your essay. Now it is much better structured and much clearer intellectually. I’m wondering: did you notice the difference between writing the thesis statement the old way and the new way that you learned on this blog? Is it easier this way? Is it more difficult, but produces a better result? Any other thoughts and feelings? What do you think? Please post the answer to this question right here:

      How to Write a Great Thesis Statement

      Now, I have a surprise for you:
      I took one sentence from your essay and analyzed it in detail for punctuation. It is now a new blog post right here:

      The Easiest Way to Learn How to Use a Comma

      Please read it, do the exercises, and here’s your new homework:

      Take one or two sentences from your essay that you think need a comma or two, and improve them by placing the necessary punctuation marks (commas). Post your homework under that blog post, and we’ll continue from there. Deal?

      P.S. You’ve progressed immensely, Nehak. Keep up the good work – I really enjoy working with someone who is making a real effort to learn.

  5. Thuan says

    Dear Tutor Phil,

    Your blog is really interesting. I have found many useful tips and advice here.

    By the way, could you please teach me how to write a great conclusion?

    Thank you!

    • TutorPhil says

      No problem, Thuan.

      A post on how to write an even better conclusion is a bit overdue. I’ll write one – keep an eye on the blog. I might even send you an email to let you know it was posted.

      Sounds good?

      In the mean time, don’t hesitate to ask if you have any other questions.

  6. Lindsay says

    I miss being able to write conclusions this easy…In university they expect much more from a conclusion, not just a restating of your points. They ask for the “conclusions you draw” based on what you have written, aka “what does this all mean?” or “why does this matter?”

    • TutorPhil says

      Lindsay,

      Of course, this is what many professors say – they want a conclusion that “states your conclusions and opinions, etc.”

      But I’ll tell you this. I’m living proof that a conclusion is not necessary at all. I wrote a bunch of papers as a grad student without adding ANY conclusions at all. Very often, however, they will want one. And a simple restatement works in most cases, especially as an undergrad.

      True, I’ve written some elaborate conclusions that had only a tangential relationship with the rest of the paper. And every time I did that, I felt I was BS-ing someone. And I was.

      Think about it. If the conclusion states your opinion, then what in the world does the rest of the essay state? I mean, what could it be other than your opinion or your conclusion based on gathered evidence?

      I say – sanity and clarity above all. If the professor still wants a strange conclusion – just make something up – his intellect will swallow it.

      Cheers…

  7. Dan Hart says

    No, an essay is not supposed to be your opinion. You are entirely wrong on this point. An essay is supposed to be the opinions of others essentially reworded and condensed into a well-structured format. The purpose of the essay is to provide proof of your knowledge in the given area, not to provided your own hypothesises on the subject.

    After all, the people who have dedicated their lives into studying a topic, probably know better than you.

    To reiterate, if you are giving your own opinions in an essay, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

    • TutorPhil says

      Dan,

      Thank you for an excellent comment – I don’t get critical comments very often. And that is unfortunate, because such comments give me a chance to rebut and dig deeper into my points. And here is my reply:

      No – I am not doing it wrong. The purpose of an expository essay is to present your opinion and to support it using evidence. This is true for three reasons.

      First, if you are simply summarizing the ideas of others – there is a word for that: summary. A summary can be a part of an expository essay, but it is not the entire essay. If the entire essay contains only the thoughts of others, it is only a summary and nothing else.

      Second, if you are simply rewording the ideas of others, then the value of your own writing is near zero. Why should I read what you have to say when I can read the original author and get the opinion of someone who actually knows what he is talking about – after all, this person has dedicated his life to studying the subject? Perhaps you are better off simply pointing the audience in the right direction by naming the book or essay in question as recommended reading.

      Third, if your essay contains a number of thoughts of other people synthesized into a coherent paper, then the whole message of the paper is uniquely yours. It becomes new information, and its succinct statement should be put forth in the opening paragraph as the thesis. And what you have as a result is an essay that, whether you like it or not, puts forth your unique opinion.

      For example, let’s suppose that Nietzsche’s argument is that “God is dead.” If you simply reword his argument, then that is summary, and I’d rather read Nietzsche in the original that your summary. If, on the other hand, you add your own thoughts and say something like, “Nietzsche’s argument that God is dead is hardly significant,” then that is your opinion, and the essay finally has a chance to be worthy of my attention. In this case, this point must be presented as the thesis in the opening paragraph and supported with evidence.

      Hope this makes sense, and thank you again for the comment.

      Phil

      P.S. No reiteration at the end of your comment is necessary – I understood you the first time. This is why I don’t advocate writing conclusions ;)

      • Dan Hart says

        I’m going to let Google make my argument for me. Simply type “expository essay” into Google’s search. Look at the first 4 result descriptions. You don’t even have to visit the sites in the results list, just read the descriptions! The very first sentence of the very first result reads, “Expository essays are simply essays that explain something with facts, as opposed to opinion.” And for wikipedia: “Expository essays should not reveal the opinion of the author or writer.”

        The point of an expository essay is to provide proof that you know the subject via informing your reader. The ultimate value is in achieving a qualification that shows you’re versed in the particular subject of study. How can you honestly not know this? I find it somewhat shocking that you have failed to understand the purpose of an essay. You do not have to present new theories to learn a subject!

        If you are writing a thesis or dissertation you still should not be presenting your own opinions! You should instead present theories backed by facts and evidence. For example, “Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe” is a fact known by educated people. “The fall of communism is the best thing that ever happened in Europe” is an opinion.

        An opinion is an unsubstantiated theory. To quote the World English Dictionary, “Opinion: 1.judgment or belief not founded on certainty or proof”.

        To re-reiterate, if you are giving your own opinions in an essay, YOU ARE DEFINITELY DOING IT WRONG.

        • TutorPhil says

          Okay – I see the source of our disagreement, and I’d like to make a concession.

          The word ‘opinion’ is not the perfect word to describe what I am talking about. And I agree that I should be more precise when choosing my wording, apparently :).

          The word I should choose instead is the word ‘argument.’ And of course, I realize that ‘argument’ and ‘opinion’ are not always one and the same. So, instead of saying that ‘the purpose of an expository essay is to present an opinion and to support it using evidence,’ I should say ‘the purpose of an expository essay is to present an argument and to support it using evidence.’ Because that is exactly what I mean and always meant, as numerous examples (i.e. samples of essays and thesis statements) on my website show.

          That said, the word ‘opinion,’ while imprecise for my purpose here, is not wrong. Here is why, and I am quoting from my American Heritage Dictionary of 1976: “Opinion is applicable to any conclusion to which one adheres without ruling out the possibility of debate.” And this is one accurate description of an argument presented in an expository essay.

          In other words, you give something some thought, you arrive at a conclusion, and you present that conclusion as an argument, and support it using evidence. I think this is pretty simple.

          So, if I use the word ‘argument,’ then my definition of an expository essay becomes absolutely precise, and all my advice on this website should now make sense to you.

          Now, in view of what’s been said, “The fall of communism is the best thing that ever happened in Europe” can be an opinion or an argument. If it is presented as a bare statement without support, then it is merely an opinion, according to the definitions that you quote and that can be found easily in any dictionary.

          This statement can also be presented as the argument (i.e. a thesis) of an expository essay and supported using evidence. That is to say, it is a perfectly good opinion argument to back up by evidence in an expository essay, and if you disagree with that, then you should research the meaning of ‘expository essay’ further.

          Here is the first definition I got when I googled it:

          “The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc.”

          This is from Purdue University.

          As for wikipedia – I love these guys, but their articles are not always precise, and that is why they are not accepted by the academia as sources of reliable evidence.

          Just look up the word ‘exposition,’ and you will get (by different dictionaries, in the order given by google):

          “A comprehensive description and explanation of an idea or theory.” (‘idea OR theory,’ not fact)
          ” A setting forth of meaning or intent.” (‘meaning or intent,’ not fact)
          “the act of expounding, setting forth, or explaining: the exposition of a point of view.” (‘a point of view,’ not fact)

          In addition, let me quote you: ‘The very first sentence of the very first result reads, “Expository essays are simply essays that explain something with facts, as opposed to opinion.“‘ Now, according to the new standard of precision set forth by you, Dan, this definition does not contradict mine.

          It says that ‘something’ is explained with facts, not opinion. It does not say that this ‘something’ IS facts or a fact. In other words, this definition does NOT say that the main argument presented should be a fact, but that it should be explained with facts, and there is a big difference.

          Finally, Dan – I appreciate your fervor in this matter. I wish more people were as eager to dig at the truth as you are. Expository writing is epidemically taught the wrong way at schools all over the world. Why? I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that’s because it requires clear thinking – something we as species must work on, because this skill doesn’t develop itself. It needs hard work.

          Thank you for making me dig deeper into my own topic. And please don’t yell by using all caps – it’s impolite :)

          Cheers…

  8. Amy says

    i am trying to conclude my essay on broken bones and this is what i got so far but i think it needs one more sentence. any ideas? btw the thing about conclusions was helpful so thanks!

    Now that broken bones are becoming more common it is helpful to know about causes, symptoms, and treatments to help in first aid situations. To reduce chances of breaking a bone, eat healthier and be careful. Knowing the symptoms of a broken bone, a person can determine if its broken or not. It is also helpful to know treatments and to be prepared.

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