Writing an essay conclusion doesn’t have to be difficult or confusing. It is actually a simple process once you understand what a conclusion is supposed to do and how to write it.
In this article, you’ll learn what a conclusion for an expository essay should really do. And you’ll learn a simple yet effective way to conclude your essay.
I will also give you some tips to maximize your grade on your writing assignment.
The Truth About Essay Conclusions
The first thing to understand about conclusions for essays or research papers is that they are primarily a repetition of what was already stated.
If your conclusion does not restate your points, then it must introduce new material. Because what else can it do, then?
And if new material is introduced, it belongs in one of two places:
- New material belongs in the body of the essay to support your main point
- New material that does not serve to support your main point does not belong in the essay at all
So, to be clear: your conclusion is always either repetitive or irrelevant.
However, here is another truth about conclusions.
Your Professor or Teacher Probably Expects You to Write One
Most teachers, professors, and test graders expect a conclusion. This means that you should always write one.
But if you understand that essay conclusions either repeat stuff or contain irrelevant material, this makes your life easier, for a simple reason:
You no longer have to wonder why you always struggle when writing a conclusion!
You’re struggling because this is the most confusing part of essay writing. But I wrote this article to shed some light on conclusions and give you practical ways to write them.
Advice About Essay Conclusions That Is Complete Nonsense
Here is some advice that you’ll get from some essay writing experts:
“Essay conclusions should captivate the reader.”
No, they should not. The opening paragraph does that. It’s a bit too late to captivate the reader at the end of the essay.
“Conclusions should enforce and deepen the supporting points.”
No, they should not. All the relevant evidence to support your main point should be presented in the body of the essay.
“A conclusion is a sales pitch.”
No, it’s not. You “sell” your essay and your main point in the opening paragraph. And if your first paragraph was not enticing enough, then trust me – the reader will not even get to your conclusion.
The Only Thing an Essay Conclusion Should Really Do
The real purpose of your conclusion is to make your grader happy enough to give you a good grade. That’s it.
So, you must fulfill your grader’s expectations for your conclusion. One of the best ways to do it is to talk to your professor and ask what she prefers to read in the conclusion.
If you are writing an essay as part of an exam or test, you don’t have that option.
But don’t worry. What I’ll teach you here will work for you in any situation. Here is how this tutorial works.
First, I’ll teach you the Main Technique. This is the technique that you can and will use over and over in your academic life.
And then, I’ll give you 3 tweaks to apply to your main technique that you can use to produce variations for different topics, professors, and situations.
Let’s get started.
To write a conclusion, we need an essay or at least its summary. Here is the thesis statement and structure of the body of the essay we will be concluding.
“In spite of a couple of minor drawbacks, 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 24-hour entertainment really make it a winner.”
Structure of the Body
Without further ado, let’s explore how you can write an essay conclusion.
Main Technique: Restate your main and supporting points
This technique is foundational. It is most commonly expected, and you should use it most often. In fact, you should always use it unless you know that your professor wants more than just restatement in your conclusion.
Restatement is easy to write, and it satisfies most graders, including those who grade tests.
I know that many “experts” out there will tell you that this is not what you should be doing. Just ignore them and make this technique your main tool.
I’ve taught essay writing since 2004, and I’ve never seen an essay or a paper downgraded for a well-executed restatement.
So, what do we have here? We have an essay that is divided into two parts – a small negative part and a larger positive part.
It’s a mostly positive review of a vacation spot. By the way, I’ve never been to the Dominican Republic and am just using it as an example.
Rewriting the Thesis Statement
All we really need to do here is rewrite the thesis statement (including its supporting points) using different words.
In case your thesis statement does not include your supporting points, you should read my guide to writing an effective thesis statement.
And second, don’t worry. Just look at your essay structure the way I represent this one in the diagram, and pull out your supporting points.
Let’s do the restatement:
“To sum up, Dominican Republic is mostly a winning vacation spot. The scarcity of interesting places to see and a few rainy days could dim the experience. But a vacation in this tropical country is very likely to be a success because of the pristine beaches, excellent dining, and the possibility to party non-stop.”
If you compare this conclusion with the thesis statement, you’ll notice several things:
- They have the same structure. Each has three sentences: the main point, the smaller negative, and the bigger positive.
- We are saying exactly what we stated in the essay, including the thesis and the body. We are not adding or contradicting anything.
- We are using different words and phrases to say the same thing.
This is a solid, safe, and time-proven way to write an essay conclusion.
You see, it’s hard for a grader to argue with it. It is true to the rest of the essay, yet is not an exact copy of anything in it.
When looking for non-repetitive words, you can use an online thesaurus. A thesaurus is simply a tool that gives you synonyms, antonyms, and other words that you can use in your writing.
3 Ways to Take Your Conclusion Beyond Restatement
Let me emphasize here that you should only use these tweaks if you know that simple restatement won’t do it for your grader.
Some graders, mostly college professors, want and expect conclusions that are more than just simple restatement.
And that’s okay. Like I advised before, you can simply ask your professor what he or she wants in a conclusion. And then just do what they tell you.
The 3 tweaks I’m about to give you will make your conclusion mostly non-repetitive. I say “mostly” because we’ll have to at least briefly restate the main point whatever technique or tweak we choose.
You can combine these tweaks. You can start out by restating the main and any of the supporting points briefly. And then you can follow up with one or more of the ideas I give you here.
That said, here are your essay conclusion tweaks.
Tweak 1. Zoom out
This tweak is about putting your main point in perspective by explaining why it is relevant. You do it by zooming out and looking at the subject from a bird’s eye view.
“Dominican Republic is mostly a great vacation spot. Though it may not offer spectacular sightseeing or perfect weather, its beaches, food, and entertainment are sure to satisfy vacationers. In today’s world, people have all kinds of choices. But in a search for a perfect spot, they can miss this Caribbean jewel. And this would be a pity.”
We zoomed out and looked at vacationing, or picking a vacation spot, as a whole. And we explained why DR can be easily missed in the world of choices.
You don’t have to zoom out only geographically. This tweak will work in any essay.
You can zoom out about a work of literature or a painting just by looking at other works of art and talk about why it is relevant in its time period, genre, or movement.
Tweak 2. Admit that your point of view is limited
In our essay, when we discuss the positives, we choose to talk about the beaches, the food, and the entertainment.
This leaves out many other positive aspects of the Dominican Republic as a vacation destination.
So, in your conclusion, you can simply admit that you chose to focus on some of the aspects but not the others. You simply omitted them because of the time or word count constraints.
Let’s write the tweaked conclusion:
“In conclusion, many things make Dominican Republic a really great vacation destination. The beaches, the food, and the entertainment are only a few of them. To discuss all of them would take up many pages. Suffice it to say that this country is definitely a winner when it comes to picking a spot to relax and renew.”
In this example, sentence 2 and 3 are where we use the tweak and admit that we had to leave things out.
And the rest of the conclusion is mostly restatement.
Tweak 3. Make suggestions for future research
This tweak is commonly accepted in research papers. A good, legitimate way to conclude a study is to suggest future areas of research for this subject.
Like in the second tweak, you can admit that you haven’t quite covered something enough or at all, and future researchers would do good to research those things.
Let’s pretend that we’re writing a big research paper that explores trends in DR vacationing. This would be our tweaked conclusion:
“To conclude, the literature has revealed that Dominican Republic has been increasing in popularity as a vacation spot in the past decade. Future studies can explore the role of different aspects of resorts that have contributed to this increase the most. It would be interesting to learn if people have been attracted more to the beaches, the food, the entertainment, or to other factors more than to others.”
We’re done with the tweaks. And now you have your main technique and a bunch of tweaks you can make to write a conclusion to suit any essay.
Conclusion Writing Tips
Here are a few tips that will help you further.
- Your conclusion can be as short as one sentence or as long as a big paragraph. It all depends on the length of your essay.
- You can begin your conclusion by stating, “To conclude,” “In conclusion,” or “To sum up,” but you don’t have to. You can just start your conclusion with your subject.
- Use a thesaurus. The easiest way to do it is to enter your term into google search and type “synonym.” The first result will usually take you to that entry in a thesaurus.
- Use simple restatement unless you know that your professor wants more from your conclusion.
- Ask your professor about her conclusion preferences and simply deliver. Your professor’s wishes override any other advice because he or she is in charge of your grade.
Hope this was helpful.
Go write that conclusion!