The conclusion of an essay is the short section at the end of the assignment which succinctly brings together the different elements included in the main text, to recap on the most important components and present the main finding, or support for the argument of the paper. The conclusion provides an opportunity for the writer to engage their audience and reinforce the purpose and finding of the essay in a memorable manner with the potential to leave the reader with a lasting impression of the content and effectiveness of the essay. It may also be used by students to demonstrate their ability to correlate and synthesize information in a meaningful manner providing the ability to enhance the marks given with a conclusion reinforcing the writers understanding of the topic. Therefore, while many students may focus on the main body of the text, it is advisable that significant effort is also placed into writing a meaningful conclusion

Before Writing the Conclusion

It may be tempting to believe that the conclusion to an essay will be easy to write as all the research has been undertaken and arguments already formulated and presented. However, despite the relatively simple concept, students will often find that writing the conclusion to an essay can be highly problematic. The process can be improved if the student rereads the essay they have written to refresh their recall, identifying the most important points they want to include in the conclusion. There should also be the determination of the main issues the writer wants their audience to remember. Following the review of the essay the student should start to write the conclusion

The Structure of the Conclusion

An appropriately structured conclusion can guide the writing process. The conclusion should be formatted opposite to the introduction, starting with the more specific issues and moving towards generalisations; the introduction started with general issues and narrowed the topic down to specific issues that were included in the essay. The length of the conclusion should also be a similar length to the introduction. The conclusion should not include any new material; if the student identifies a new argument that they believe should be included the new content should be inserted into an appropriate position within the main body of the text.

What to Include in the Conclusion

The content of the conclusion should include;

  • A brief rephrased recap/summary of the main points of the essay,including any thesis stated.
  • The persuasive use of rhetoric to support the arguments
  • Link conclusion with the issues raised in the introduction to demonstrate the essay has achieved its purpose
  • The use of the ‘so what?’ strategy; where the student should ask themselves why the arguments are important, and provide the answer to that ‘so what?’ question that should be included in the conclusion,
  • Explicitly state the broad implications of the findings, demonstrating how they may be generalised or applied in the future.

By following these basic guidelines, students should be able to write effective conclusions to aid with optimising the grades they receive for their essays.