Conclusion paragraphs can be tricky to write, but a clear conclusion can sum up your main points and leave your reader with a clear sense of what to take away from your overall essay. Creating a strong essay means making sure that you have a clear introduction, several body paragraphs, and an equally strong conclusion. Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to write a conclusion paragraph, and then check out our library of conclusion worksheets to get plenty of practice in how to write a strong conclusion.
How to Write a Conclusion Paragraph
Choose Smooth Conclusion Transition Words
Your conclusion paragraph should begin with a smooth transition from the body of your essay. The first sentence of your paragraph should include clear transition words to signal to your reader that you are beginning to wrap up your essay. Different transition words can have different effects, so be sure to choose a transition word or phrase that clearly communicates that you are closing your essay. Some common examples of conclusion transition words and phrases include words / phrases like “in conclusion”, “to conclude”, “in summary”, “all things considered”, “ultimately”, “to sum up”, “in essence” and “in short”. Learn more about the different types of transition words.
Restate Main Points
Once you have signaled that you are drawing your essay to a close, you can then restate the main points of your essay. Depending on the length of your essay, this may be done in a single sentence, or it may require a few sentences. Be concise and clear; you should be able to summarize each main point in a simple phrase that avoids restating each detail and piece of evidence related to the point. Simply list off the points as a reminder to your audience about what they’ve just read.
Restate Your Argument
Finally, if you’re writing an argumentative essay, you’ll want to clearly restate your main argument in order to leave readers with one final appeal. If you have provided enough evidence along the way, this restatement should make readers feel as if you’ve persuaded them fully.
Call to Action
For some expository and argumentative essays, it’s appropriate to end with a call to action as your last sentence. For example, if you’re writing an informative essay about the sea creatures that live in the very deepest parts of the ocean, you may close with a sentence like this: “It’s clear that today’s scientists should continue to observe and document these mysterious creatures, so we may all learn more about life at the bottom of the ocean.” A call to action like this can make your reader feel inspired and informed after reading your essay.
What to Avoid with Conclusion Transitions
When writing a strong conclusion paragraph, you want to keep it simple. Use a clear transition word or phrase, restate your main points and argument, and possibly finish with a call to action. Be sure to avoid the following missteps:
- New Information. Your conclusion is not the place to introduce anything new. Simply restate and summarize the main points clearly.
- Personal Opinion. Unless you are writing an opinion piece that includes several “I” statements throughout, avoid ending your essay with a sudden “I think…” or “I feel…” If you haven’t been including your personal opinion throughout the essay, then you shouldn’t insert your opinion into the conclusion.
- Lots of Details. When you restate your main points, don’t worry about restating all the small details that make up your description or evidence. The place for details is in your body paragraphs. The conclusion is simply for summary and a possible call for action or next steps.
Check out our printable conclusion paragraph worksheets too!
As the government begins its crackdown on essay mill websites, it’s easy to see just how much pressure students are under to get top grades for their coursework these days. But writing a high-scoring paper doesn’t need to be complicated. We spoke to experts to get some simple techniques that will raise your writing game.
Tim Squirrell is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays a week for his own undergraduate degree.
“There is a knack to it,” he says. “It took me until my second or third year at Cambridge to work it out. No one tells you how to put together an argument and push yourself from a 60 to a 70, but once you to get grips with how you’re meant to construct them, it’s simple.”
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The goal of writing any essay is to show that you can think critically about the material at hand (whatever it may be). This means going beyond regurgitating what you’ve read; if you’re just repeating other people’s arguments, you’re never going to trouble the upper end of the marking scale.
“You need to be using your higher cognitive abilities,” says Bryan Greetham, author of the bestselling How to Write Better Essays. “You’re not just showing understanding and recall, but analysing and synthesising ideas from different sources, then critically evaluating them. That’s where the marks lie.”
But what does critical evaluation actually look like? According to Squirrell, it’s simple: you need to “poke holes” in the texts you’re exploring and work out the ways in which “the authors aren’t perfect”.
“That can be an intimidating idea,” he says. “You’re reading something that someone has probably spent their career studying, so how can you, as an undergraduate, critique it?
“The answer is that you’re not going to discover some gaping flaw in Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 3, but you are going to be able to say: ‘There are issues with these certain accounts, here is how you might resolve those’. That’s the difference between a 60-something essay and a 70-something essay.”
Critique your own arguments
Once you’ve cast a critical eye over the texts, you should turn it back on your own arguments. This may feel like going against the grain of what you’ve learned about writing academic essays, but it’s the key to drawing out developed points.
“We’re taught at an early age to present both sides of the argument,” Squirrell continues. “Then you get to university and you’re told to present one side of the argument and sustain it throughout the piece. But that’s not quite it: you need to figure out what the strongest objections to your own argument would be. Write them and try to respond to them, so you become aware of flaws in your reasoning. Every argument has its limits and if you can try and explore those, the markers will often reward that.”
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Fine, use Wikipedia then
The use of Wikipedia for research is a controversial topic among academics, with many advising their students to stay away from the site altogether.
“I genuinely disagree,” says Squirrell. “Those on the other side say that you can’t know who has written it, what they had in mind, what their biases are. But if you’re just trying to get a handle on a subject, or you want to find a scattering of secondary sources, it can be quite useful. I would only recommend it as either a primer or a last resort, but it does have its place.”
Focus your reading
Reading lists can be a hindrance as well as a help. They should be your first port of call for guidance, but they aren’t to-do lists. A book may be listed, but that doesn’t mean you need to absorb the whole thing.
Squirrell advises reading the introduction and conclusion and a relevant chapter but no more. “Otherwise you won’t actually get anything out of it because you’re trying to plough your way through a 300-page monograph,” he says.
You also need to store the information you’re gathering in a helpful, systematic way. Bryan Greetham recommends a digital update of his old-school “project box” approach.
“I have a box to catch all of those small things – a figure, a quotation, something interesting someone says – I’ll write them down and put them in the box so I don’t lose them. Then when I come to write, I have all of my material.”
There are a plenty of online offerings to help with this, such as the project management app Scrivener and referencing tool Zotero, and, for the procrastinators, there are productivity programmes like Self Control, which allow users to block certain websites from their computers for a set period.
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Look beyond the reading list
“This is comparatively easy to do,” says Squirrell. “Look at the citations used in the text, put them in Google Scholar, read the abstracts and decide whether they’re worth reading. Then you can look on Google Scholar at other papers that have cited the work you’re writing about – some of those will be useful. But quality matters more than quantity.”
And finally, the introduction
The old trick of dealing with your introduction last is common knowledge, but it seems few have really mastered the art of writing an effective opener.
“Introductions are the easiest things in the world to get right and nobody does it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.”
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