How To Start A Conclusion In An Academic Essay

2.3: Conclusions

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 22, 2013 .

Summary:

This resource covers writing a detailed conclusion for your GED essay.

Writing a Developed and Detailed Conclusion

It is important to have a strong conclusion, since this is the last chance you have to make an impression on your reader. The goal of your conclusion isn’t to introduce any new ideas, but to sum up everything you’ve written. Specifically, your conclusion should accomplish three major goals:

  • Restate the main idea of your essay, or your thesis statement
  • Summarize the three subpoints of your essay
  • Leave the reader with an interesting final impression

The paragraph below is an example conclusion. As you read, think about what each sentence accomplishes within the paragraph. What sentence(s) restates the essay’s thesis statement? What sentence(s) summarizes the essay’s three subpoints? What sentence(s) leaves the reader with an interesting final impression?

Getting a better job is a goal that I would really like to accomplish in the next few years. Finishing school will take me a long way to meeting this goal. To meet my goal, I will also prepare my résumé and search for jobs. My goal may not be an easy one to achieve, but things that are worth doing are often not easy.



Notice that the first sentence restates the thesis. The second and third sentences summarize the essay’s subpoints. Finally, the fourth sentence leaves the reader with an interesting final impression.

No new information is presented in this paragraph. Instead, the writer sums up what has been written so far and leaves the reader with a last thought. While the content of the paragraph is very similar to the introduction, the paragraph itself is not exactly the same. This is important. Even though the goal of the conclusion is to restate a lot of the information from the introduction, it should sound different because the conclusion’s purpose is slightly different from the introduction.

Practice writing a conclusion using the sample essay topic and the thesis statement. Remember to support the points you have gathered. Remember to restate your thesis, summarize your subpoints, and leave the reader with an interesting final impression.

For more information development and details, please visit these Purdue OWL resources:

To practice responding to a writing prompt, please use the CWEST GED Essay Game.

Key words: thesis statement, summary, transitional words, premise, key points

Often students feel tired from the effort of researching and writing an essay and toss in a few rushed words to finish up. But, the conclusion is the last paragraph your marker will see of your writing effort. So, it is worth putting in the last dregs of your intellectual energy to come up with a convincing conclusion. Fortunately, conclusions have a pattern (recipe) you can follow so that you can write a convincing conclusion.

About conclusion paragraphs

Conclusion paragraphs are about 5% of your essay word count (e.g. about 50 or so words per 1000 word essay). In clearly-written sentences, you restate the thesis from your introduction (but do not repeat the introduction too closely), make a brief summary of your evidence and finish with some sort of judgment about the topic. You can follow this basic pattern (recipe) for writing introduction paragraphs to help you get started.

It’s a good idea to start your conclusion with transitional words (e.g. ‘In summary’, ‘To conclude’, ‘In conclusion’, ‘Finally’,) to help you to get the feel of wrapping up what you have said. The conclusion is not the place to present new facts (should be in the body of your essay), so conclusions don’t usually have references unless you come up with a ‘punchy’ quote from someone special as a final word.

Writing pattern for conclusion paragraphs

The conclusion to an essay is rather like a formal social farewell. For example, if an ASO consultant does a guest presentation at a lecture, it would be good practice to conclude the session by tying up the key points of the lecture and leave the students with a final message about the subject of the lecture:

To conclude, students, you should now know how to apply the three main steps for analysing a question (restatement main idea). If you identify the instruction words, the topic words and the restricting words accurately, this will provide you with a framework for building your essay plan (summary of key points). Essays that are analysed accurately will have much greater success in answering the set question and assist you to get better marks (statement of benefit).

A conclusion paragraph is very much tied to the introduction paragraph and the question that has been set (see Question analysis workshop), and we use special terms to describe each stage of the conclusion.

Exercise 1: Understanding the stages of a conclusion paragraph

Click or hover over the conclusion paragraph to see an analysis of its structure and how the conclusion matches the set question.

We can show this as a diagram. The triangle of the introduction is the opposite in the conclusion. It begins with the narrowest topic (sentence 1), then widens to the summary of key points of the argument in the essay (sentence 2). The last sentence of the paragraph usually makes a broad statement that may be a reflection about the essay’s argument (sentence 3).


Figure 1: A pattern for conclusion paragraphs

Exercise 2: Sentence types in conclusion paragraphs

Read the following question and the sample conclusion paragraph. The sentences are in the wrong order for a conclusion paragraph. Match the statements to the correct sentence type.

Some students who enrol in university studies have difficulties with their writing skills. Discuss the reasons for this problem and critically assess the effectiveness of university intervention writing programs.

1

The main causes of student difficulty appear to be that secondary school assessment has a different focus from university expectations and that universities are increasingly attracting mature age students who may require an update on their skills. In response, universities invest considerable capital into well-run programs that effectively assist students to overcome their writing problems.

Restatement of main premise

incorrect.

Summary of key points in the essay

Correct!

Broad statement (evaluate, forecast future, make recommendations)

incorrect.

2

To conclude, university students who are experiencing difficulty with their academic writing skills will require assistance to reach their academic potential.

Restatement of main premise

Correct!

Summary of key points in the essay

incorrect.

Broad statement (evaluate, forecast future, make recommendations)

incorrect.

3

In response, universities invest considerable capital into well-run programs that effectively assist students to overcome their writing problems.

Restatement of main premise

incorrect.

Summary of key points in the essay

incorrect.

Broad statement (evaluate, forecast future, make recommendations)

Correct!

Exercise 3: In the right order

These conclusion sentences are in the incorrect order. Now that you have identified the sentence types for a conclusion paragraph, put them in the correct order (restatement of main premise -> summary of key points -> broad statement).

 

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