You may know what you want to say to summarize your arguments, but do you really know how to start a conclusion properly? If you’re scratching your head wondering where to begin, you’re not alone.
The conclusion paragraph of any essay is a very important component of the paper that sometimes gets overlooked. You can write the most amazing, effective essay with solid points, but if you don’t wrap it all up properly in your conclusion, your whole argument can come crashing down. In other words, a weak conclusion can leave your reader feeling like they don’t have the closure they need to agree with your entire point.
So, how do you go about fixing this and writing a great summary that leaves an impact on your audience? That’s what we’re here to help you with. When you get to the end of your essay and start to feel that pressure, don’t worry! Learn how to start a conclusion right now and you’ll leave your reader with an imprwession that will leave a lasting impact.
Student sitting with laptop on crossed legs learning how to start a conclusion for her essay
What’s The Point of a Conclusion, Anyway?
When you’re learning how to start a conclusion, it’s important to understand why your conclusion is so important in the first place.
Essentially, your conclusion paragraph is the part of your essay where you demonstrate to your reader that you’ve done everything you said you were going to do at the beginning of your essay (in your introduction). In other words, you’re giving your reader the closure they need to make their own informed opinion or decision about your topic or ideas.
Your conclusion makes it clear to your reader that they have reached the end of your paper and that it’s time to reflect on the information and evidence you provided. Without this there, you’re leaving them hanging and giving them nothing to process after you’ve poured your hard work into your essay.
Your Conclusion Paragraph Should Always Leave an Amazing Impression
The goal of your essay conclusion is to ultimately leave your reader with a lasting impression, or give them something to think about. It’s the last part of your paper they’re going to read, and likely the last thing they’ll remember.
Just like first impressions matter, so do your last ones. Have you ever had an awkward interaction with someone where you walked away after saying something embarrassing? Usually when that happens, you worry about the other person thinking you are weird or awkward because of those last moments. That’s a last impression that can stick with you, and it’s no different for your writing assignments.
Writing coach Lorinda Toledo suggests that you think of your essay introduction as an appetizer, your body as a delicious entree, and your conclusion as the dessert. You’re likely going to remember the taste of the dessert because you ate it last and used it to add a sweet finale to your meal. The same thing goes for your conclusion.
Female student writing a conclusion paragraph on her laptop
Start Narrow and Build Out
When it comes to determining how to start a conclusion, the best way is to start narrow and then build out with more information as you go.
Think of your conclusion paragraph as a triangle. While your introduction should resemble an upside down triangle, with broad information that leads into a narrowed thesis statement, your conclusion should be the opposite. It should be narrow, leading into a more broad summary. Basically, you’re doing the same thing you did at the beginning of the paper, but the other way around.
Essentially, you need to start with your thesis statement, then summarize your main points and arguments, provide an analysis that draws a conclusion, and then wrap it up with a powerful sentence or two. This should be the case for any conclusion in any type of essay – according to Massey University, the three core elements in any conclusion are your answer (thesis statement), summary (main points), and significance (the relevance of your main points and any implications that your research found).
The reason we want to do this is because you’ve already given your reader tons of great information and said everything you need to say in the body of your paper. At this point, you need to remind them of that information and give them a quick summary of the key takeaways. From there, your reader gets a great idea of what they think about that information and can make a decision on their own stance about your topic.
Restating Your Thesis Statement
When figuring out how to craft and finalize your conclusion, the best place to begin is with your thesis statement. Every good conclusion paragraph should start with a restatement of your thesis.
Don’t just copy and paste your thesis statement from your introduction. It needs to make the same point, but with different phrasing. A good way to do this is to reverse the order in which you wrote the sentence, but you need to make sure you don’t change the order of the main points. That sounds pretty tricky, but it’s not as complicated as it seems. It can be as simple as putting your main points or arguments before you introduce the topic instead of the other way around.
Here is an example of a very basic thesis statement for an essay on why college tuition should be free: “College tuition should be free for all students because it will help create a more educated population, give lower income students an equal chance to learn, and eliminate student debt for graduates.” Now, if we want to rephrase this for our conclusion, we can say something like this: “Creating a more educated population, promoting equal opportunities for learning, and eliminating student debt are the core reasons why college tuition should be free.”
Remember, this is a very basic thesis statement and yours should be a little more complex than that. However, you can see that simply reversing the way you introduce your arguments can be enough to restate your thesis in your conclusion.
Need help narrowing down your thesis statement? Check out our blog! We walk you through everything you need to know to make a winning argument that will have your reader convinced of your main points.
Student sitting on her bed working on an argument for her paper
How to Start a Conclusion: Finding The Perfect Words
Transitions are an important part of any essay, and they should be included in your conclusion paragraph as well. Transition words are used to connect sentences and ideas together to help them flow effectively and form relationships between main points. Since the entire point of your conclusion paragraph is to summarize and wrap things up, transition words are key here.
Here are some good transition words that can be used in your conclusion to help summarize your main points:
● In summary
● To sum up
● In conclusion
● In a word
● In sum
● In the end
● To conclude
● On the whole
While we’re on this topic, transition words should also be included in conclusion sentences within the body of your essay as well. At the end of each body paragraph, you need to have some sort of transition that leads into your next point.
To learn more about transitions, transition words, and how to properly use them in your essay, read our latest blog article! We give you some great advice on how to use them, a list of 200 words to choose from, and much more.
Female student writing out her main points using a pencil and paper
How NOT to Start a Conclusion
Now that we’ve shown you how to start a conclusion, it’s important that you know what NOT to do at the beginning of your conclusion paragraph. Like any part of your essay, there are certain things you should avoid doing in this section to make sure you get top marks and check all of the boxes your professor is looking for.
DON’T do any of the following things:
● Start your conclusion with a generic phrase such as “in conclusion” or “in summary.” These transitions are fine within the body of your paragraph, but not as the starting point.
● Introduce any new ideas or arguments that you haven’t already gone over in your body. Your conclusion paragraph is there to summarize what you’ve already said – not to add any new evidence.
● Include new evidence for a previous point. As we just stated, introducing any new ideas or evidence in your conclusion is not effective. This evidence should be in the appropriate body paragraph.
● Apologize or go on the defense for your perspective. Avoid phrases such as “I am no expert, but this evidence…” or “This is just my opinion, but…” Be strong and confident with your assertions.
● Go over minor details that were used in the body as additional supporting points. You should be clear and to the point when you’re summarizing your arguments in your conclusion. The reader has already read the supporting details, anyway.
● Make your conclusion too short or too long. It should be relative to the length of your essay. For example, if your essay is 10 pages long, your conclusion can be a full page.
Female student hands typing an essay conclusion on a Macbook keyboard
Writing The Rest of Your Conclusion
So now that you know how to start a conclusion, as well as what to avoid, you might be wondering what to do next.
Following the right essay format is an important part of any essay or assignment, no matter which paragraph you’re writing. You need to make sure that you follow those conventions to not only get top marks on the structure component of your rubric, but to ensure that your paper flows effectively.
Each paragraph has its own format you need to follow. Here is the proper format you should follow for your conclusion paragraph:
1. Topic sentence or restated thesis statement
2. Summarize and connect your main points and arguments
3. A powerful closing sentence
Of course, you’ll have to fill in the gaps between each section of your conclusion, but you should always use this structure to make sure you’ve covered everything for an effective last impression on your reader.
Answer The “So What?”
Ultimately, your conclusion paragraph is meant to answer the “so what?” for your reader. At the end of the day, you’re writing this essay to make a certain point, whether it’s to reflect on something, to convince your reader of your perspective, or to answer an essay question. Why should they care about what you have to say?
Answering the “so what” question can be tough when you’re writing a paper that was assigned on a specific topic and you didn’t really choose it in the first place. While it’s easy to point out in an argumentative or persuasive essay, it’s a little more difficult to determine when it comes to a reflection paper, article summary, or even a research paper.
However, anything you write can serve a purpose. Think about the underlying point. For example, if you’re writing a reflection paper on your experiences in a particular course, the “so what” is to show your audience how much you’ve grown and learned in that course. If you’re writing a research paper about a battle in the American Civil War, the “so what” could be why this battle was so significant for the outcome of the war.
Female student writing her essay on a blanket in the park
How to Summarize Your Arguments Effectively
The key to any good conclusion is making sure that you summarize the arguments you made in the body of your essay. Use this section to remind your reader why you wrote this paper to begin with. Were you trying to convince them to agree with your arguments?
A good way to summarize your key points is to go back and review the topic sentences you used for each body paragraph. These topic sentences should hold your main points that you introduce in each section, so all you need to do is rephrase them and expand a little bit. As we said before, don’t repeat all the evidence you presented, as your conclusion should be mostly in your own words.
When you’re summarizing your arguments, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t just regurgitate the information you already presented. Your reader has already read that. You need to put it together to present the underlying analysis of why you’ve written your paper, and give them some context on how all of your evidence, main points, and information fit together.
Some Final Tips For Your Conclusion Paragraph
Here are some great tips and ideas to remember while writing your conclusion:
● Make a connection between the points of your paper and a broader context, either within the current world as a whole or within your specific course theme.
● Issue a challenge to your reader. Maybe they will see a solution to a problem, or maybe you want them to look at the world in a different way.
● Pose a question to your reader that makes them think deeply.
● Give your reader a call to action.
● If you’re stuck, try to echo your introduction and flip the message so it’s about what you presented instead of what you’re going to present.
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