| Number. 34
© CDTL 2003
a Conclusion for an Essay
for English Language Communication
If a fine introduction gives the reader a good initial impression,
a strong conclusion will leave the reader with a lasting memory.
An essay conclusion accomplishes three essential purposes: to provide
the reader with a sense of completeness or finality, to emphasise
key material, and to direct the reader’s attention to future
action or study. Five of the most common ways to achieve these purposes
are listed below.
- End with a summary. A typical and traditional
way to conclude an essay is by restating the thesis and summarising
its main support points (which are also the least dispensable
components of a conclusion). Such an ending very often occurs
in a relatively long essay containing a number of important points;
it may also occur in some short essays as well. However when using
this form of conclusion, summarise the thesis statement in the
introduction and the key points in all the main body paragraphs
differently, but most persuasively. Avoid the trap of repeating
the thesis and main ideas word for word.
- End with further comments from the writer.
Such comments (which can include opinions, suggestions and predictions
you may want to make about your topic) should be natural and logical
extensions of the information in the body of your essay. In general,
they should not consist of unsubstantiated new claims.
- End with a call to action for the reader. After
presenting all your points in the body of your essay, what recommendations
can you make to effect possible changes or improve the situation
you have described? What actions can you propose your readers
to take? Answering such questions is also an effective strategy
to end your essay. But when making recommendations or a call to
action, try not to preach or threaten. The reader would more readily
respond to your suggestions than to your commands.
- End with fervour. Strategies for getting the
reader’s attention in introductions can also be used to
end your essay uniquely and memorably (e.g. stating an apt quotation,
a provocative question, a dramatic anecdote, and/or some startling
facts about the subject).
- End where you began. Sometimes called ‘echoing’
or ‘framing’, this type of ending picks up an idea/image
suggested in the introduction and echoes it in the conclusion.
For example, you can refer back to the anecdote/example you have
mentioned previously and show how it is still relevant or how
it could have been different. You can also provide a solution
to the problem you have raised or give your own answer to a question
you have asked. This form of conclusion gives the essay symmetry
and provides the reader with a sense of closure.
Go through the essays you have written so far and see which type
of strategies you have used or prefer to use in concluding your
essays. You may want to try different methods and see the different
effects they have on your essays.
Folse, K.S.; Muchmore-Vokoun, A.; & Solomon, E.V. (1999).
Great Essays: An Introduction to Writing Essays. Boston
& New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Hawley, J. & Tilghman, C. (1992). Getting Down Specifics.
New York: HarperCollins.
McDonald, S. & Salomone, W. (2000). In Brief: A Handbook
for Writers. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Newman, B.S. (1995). Teaching Students to Write (2nd
ed.). New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Thonney. T. (2003). Qualities of Good Prose. New York: Longman.