Conclusions aren’t easy—but they’re very important. And contrary to popular belief, they’re not simply a place to restate what you’ve said before in the same way. They’re an opportunity to cast all the arguments you’ve made in a new light.
Conclusions give you a chance to summarize and organize your main points, reminding the reader how effectively you’ve proven your thesis. It’s also your final opportunity to make a lasting impression on your reader.
Simple conclusion formula
- Proper, relevant restatement of thesis statement and strongest evidence
- Relevant final thought
As an example, let’s create a conclusion following our two-step process.
Let’s say your thesis statement is:
College athletes should not be paid because many receive compensation in the form of scholarships and benefit from more visibility to potential professional recruiters.
Now we’ll follow our formula to write an effective conclusion.
Restatement of thesis and strongest evidence
The first step in writing our conclusion is to restate the thesis statement.
It’s important not to simply copy your thesis statement word for word. You can also briefly include evidence or other points that were mentioned in your paper.
You could write something like:
College athletes don’t need financial compensation because they receive numerous benefits including scholarships, additional experience and coaching, and exposure to professional teams.
This sentence reminds the reader of our original thesis statement without copying it exactly.
At this point, you could also synthesize 1-2 of the strongest pieces of supporting evidence already mentioned in your essay, such as:
With four years of tuition costing up to hundreds of thousands and salaries in potential professional sports careers averaging millions, these benefits already amount to significant compensation.
Notice that we didn’t start with a transition like, “In conclusion,” or, “In summary.” These transitions aren’t necessary and are often overused.
Relevant final thought
You want to end your conclusion with a strong final thought. It should provide your reader with closure and give your essay a memorable or thought-provoking ending.
The last sentence of your conclusion can point to broader implications, like the impact the topic of your essay has had on history, society, or culture.
Another good rule of thumb is to allow your final sentence to answer the question, “So what?” Your reader has spent time reading your paper, but why does any of this matter? Why should your reader—or anyone else—care?
For our sample conclusion, for example, you could write:
Providing still more compensation to college athletes would send the message that they are employees, not students. If we don’t want education to be sidelined, college athletes should not be paid.
This concluding sentence answers the, “So what?” question by explaining the potential repercussions of paying college athletes. It gives the reader a reason to be more invested in your essay and ideas.
Some of the most powerful words in your paper may have been written or said by someone else. Selecting a quote from a well known public figure or an expert in the field of your topic allows you to finish strong with a credible source.
Example quote ending:
“The case for recycling is strong. The bottom line is clear. Recycling requires a trivial amount of our time. Recycling saves money and reduces pollution. Recycling creates more jobs than landfilling or incineration. And a largely ignored but very important consideration, recycling reduces our need to dump our garbage in someone else’s backyard.” – David Morris, co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance
If you have a bibliography, add a citation for your quote source. It doesn’t matter if it is in MLA format or another style, it’s a good practice to always create citations for information you’ve used.
Ending your paper with a smart and relevant question allows your readers to think for themselves and make your topic their own. The best type of question leads your reader to the same conclusion you have presented in your paper.
Example question ending:
Recycling reduces pollution, saves energy and makes us feel good about ourselves; why wouldn’t we make it a part of our everyday lives?
Call to Action
Most popular in advertising, a call to action asks your reader to execute a specific task after reading your paper. A call to action can contain phrases like: Think about it, See for yourself, Consider, Try, or Remember.
Example call to action ending:
Now that you have read about the benefits of recycling, consider the awesome impact it could have on your local community.
Prediction statements often begin with the words “when” or “if.” In this type of ending, the writer makes an educated guess based on the factual information presented in the paper.
Example prediction ending:
If recycling is adopted by all major cities, we can expect its benefits to spread to smaller cities and towns. That means a significant reduction in landfill use, less pollution and more job creation across the entire country.
A perspective change can help you end your paper in a way that is creative and interesting. One method is to zoom out and present your subject in a greater context. This ending allows you to take your reader beyond the specifics and provide a more global understanding of your topic. When working with this type of ending, be sure that your statement remains on subject and does not present entirely new information.
Example zoom out ending:
Recycling is more than a solution for waste management. Treating our environment with respect and protecting our natural resources will benefit our society for generations to come.
Putting it all together
The conclusion reads:
College athletes don’t need financial compensation because they receive numerous benefits including scholarships, additional experience and coaching, and exposure to professional teams. With four years of tuition costing up to hundreds of thousands and salaries in potential professional sports careers averaging millions, these benefits already amount to significant compensation. Providing still more compensation to college athletes would send the message that they are employees, not students. If we don’t want education to be sidelined, college athletes should not be paid.
To create effective conclusions of your own, remember to follow these guidelines:
- Don’t feel the need to start with overused transitions such as, “In conclusion,” or, “In summary.”
- Restate your thesis statement in a new way.
- You can also restate 1-2 of your strongest pieces of supporting evidence.
- Don’t mention anything in your conclusion that wasn’t mentioned in the body of your essay.
- End with a strong final thought, preferably one that answers the question, “So what?”
By following these simple steps, you’ll craft a conclusion that leaves a powerful final impression on your readers.
When you mention or quote evidence from other sources, be sure to cite them. There are helpful resources at CiteThisForMe.com such as a Harvard referencing tool, an MLA formatting guide, an APA citation generator, and more!