They tend to be the most emotional, the most dramatic, the most inspiring, and the most thought provoking. Simultaneously, they are the most difficult, the most challenging, and the most dreaded. What am I talking about? Beginnings and endings.
We are all familiar with the scene: a sobbing mother stands outside her son’s kindergarten classroom as the youngster scampers off to his first day of school. Fast forward several years and the same mother is sobbing over his last day of school. Why? Because beginnings and endings are hard!
The First and The Last
Just as a child’s first day of school and last day of school are memorable, your first paragraph and your last paragraph need to be noteworthy. Here are some tips to make your academic writing more successful.
The first paragraph of your essay could be the most important. You need to find a creative “hook” to grab – and keep – your readers’ attention. Otherwise, there is very little chance they will proceed.
In The New Writer’s Handbook: A Practical Anthology of Best Advice for Your Craft and Career, author Brandi Reissenweber commented:
“Your reader is not a penniless and weary traveler who will be happy to take any bed you can offer. They are discerning, with plenty of money for a night’s sleep and if you show them something uninspired, they’re off to the next inn. You have to work to get them to stay with you.”
How can you keep readers from going to the next inn? Here are three examples of quality essay hooks:
Use an Introduction that Exposes the Author
This technique allows the author to be vulnerable, making the readers feel they are getting an inside glimpse at the writers feelings and emotions. This all-access pass gives readers something they couldn’t get anywhere else.
“I cried at work today. I couldn’t help it. My boss was going on and on about an error I made in one of his precious reports. Before I could stop it, my chin began to quiver. I bit down – hard – on my lip to try to stem the tide. However, that just seemed to make things worse.”
Use an Introduction that Infuses Humor
Before you can begin writing your essay, you must determine who your audience is. Once you are focused on who you are writing for, you can find a way to connect with them. Get inside their heads. Meet their needs. Relate to what they are going through. Embrace those feelings and put a humors spin on it.
“Before I had children, I was the perfect mother.”
Use an Introduction that Asks a Question
Used effectively, a question can make readers beg for more. Spark their curiosity and you’ve almost created a guarantee they’ll make it to the end of your essay. Just make sure the question relates to the overall theme of the story. Otherwise, readers will feel duped.
“Last week, I learned the secret to parenting. The last ten years of my life would have been so different if only I had known this one piece of information! It changed my life. Do you want to know the secret?”
If the first paragraph of your essay is the most important, the conclusion is the second most important. You want your readers to leave with a feeling of closure. You don’t want any loose ends. The conclusion needs to develop naturally from the essay; it can’t be an afterthought.
How can you leave readers feeling satisfied?
End with a Startling Statement
You don’t want to use anything too radical in the conclusion. After all, if the information was that important, you should have featured it prominently earlier in the piece. However, leaving them with something to think about can be good.
“A recent study showed that women are more sensitive to a key stress hormone. Just a tiny amount can send their emotions into overdrive. Meanwhile, men seem immune to this chemical. I think today’s incident proved that nicely.”
End with the Beginning
Bring your essay full circle. While your introduction and conclusion shouldn’t be interchangeable, they could be similar. Book-end your essay with the same thought.
“Now you know the secret to parenting, what will you do with the information? Will you share this life-changing information with others or will you keep it to yourself?”
End with a Summary
This is probably the most textbook answer to your problems. At the very least, it could be Speech Writing 101: tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. While this standby method will get you by in a pinch, don’t rely on it too often. It’s…well…boring.
“In this article, we focused on one of the most difficult tasks in writing. Composing an introduction and conclusion for an essay can be quite challenging. However, you always want to write an opening paragraph that will hook the readers and a closing paragraph that will wrap up all your lose ends.”
See? That was boring, right? Wouldn’t you rather I said…
Did you find this article useful? Would you like us to cover some specific topic in writing? Tell us in comments.
What is the most challenging part of essay writing?
Some name the process of thesis clarification, others mention essay hooks and writing an outline, but our reader Emily has knocked spots off them all when asked to share tips on writing essay conclusions!
Don’t worry, Emily, you are not alone.
Finishing your essay isn’t less but sometimes even more challenging than starting it. Our writers know it firsthand, so they give consent graciously to share expert tips on creating strong conclusions for college papers.
Keep on reading to master this craft once and for all.
Why do you need essay conclusions?
A conclusion provides closure and drives main points of your essay one last time. It’s the chance to impress and give readers understanding why your paper matters. In other words, your conclusion should answer the question “So what?”
- Give the audience something to think about after they finish reading your essay.
- A conclusion should give completeness to your paper. Ending it on a positive note would be a good practice.
It’s not about introducing new ideas but summing up your writing. The goal is to restate the thesis, summarize the essay’s body, and leave readers with a final impression.
Key aspects to remember:
- A strong essay conclusion restates, not rewrites your thesis from the introduction.
- A strong essay conclusion consists of three sentences minimum.
- It concludes thoughts, not presents new ideas.
Example source: Purdue OWL
So, here’s how to end an essay.
How to write a strong essay conclusion?
The number of sentences in your conclusion will depend on how many paragraphs (statements) you have in the essay.
Consider a standard structure for essay conclusions:
Sentence #1: restate the thesis by making the same point with other words (paraphrase).
- Thesis: “Dogs are better pets than cats.”
- Paraphrased: “Dogs make the best pets in the world.”
Sentence #2-4: review your supporting ideas; summarize arguments by paraphrasing how you proved the thesis.
- “Dogs are cleaner, better at showing affection, and ultimately easier to train.”
Sentence #5: connect back to the essay hook and relate your closing statement to the opening one; transit to human nature to impress a reader and give them food for thought.
- “Change your life for the better – go get a dog.”
Finally, combine all sentences to improved and expanded conclusion.
- Based on the above examples, it might look as follows (source):
“There is no doubt that dogs make the best pets in the world. They provide a cleaner environment for your home, are not afraid to show their feelings, and can be trained to do a variety of tricks and jobs. Every second that goes by, you are missing out on happiness. Get out of your chair and make a positive difference in your life – go get a dog!”
Also, you will need a transition word to make readers understand you are going to conclude. The most common are “In conclusion…”,“To sum up…”, and “As previously stated…”, but don’t use them! (If you don’t want to drive your teacher nuts, of course.)
Try “So…” instead. Or, visit the web page of John A. Dowell from Michigan State University to find more transition words for finishing an essay.
You’ve been hit by the structure of essay conclusions.
What about strategies to use for writing them?
Paraphrase the introduction to bring a full-circle to readers. Ending an essay with the same scenario might help to prove your point and create a better understanding.
“From the parking lot, I could see the towers of the castle of the Magic Kingdom standing stately against the blue sky. To the right, the tall peak of The Matterhorn rose even higher. From the left, I could hear the jungle sounds of Adventureland. As I entered the gate, Main Street stretched before me with its quaint shops evoking an old-fashioned small town so charming it could never have existed. I was entranced. Disneyland may have been built for children, but it brings out the child in adults.”
“I thought I would spend a few hours at Disneyland, but here I was at 1:00 A.M., closing time, leaving the front gates with the now dark towers of the Magic Kingdom behind me. I could see tired children, toddling along and struggling to keep their eyes open as best they could. Others slept in their parents’ arms as we waited for the parking lot tram that would take us to our cars. My forty-year-old feet ached, and I felt a bit sad to think that in a couple of days I would be leaving California, my vacation over, to go back to my desk. But then I smiled to think that for at least a day I felt ten years old again.”
Try looking to the future for emphasizing the importance of your essay and give readers food for thought. “When” and “if” are power words to support your points.
“Physical punishment can be a useful method of discipline. However it should be the last choice for parents. If we want to build a world with less violence we must begin at home, and we must teach our children to be responsible.”
You might want to amplify the main point of an essay or put it in a different perspective for setting a larger context. That would help readers gain a new vision on the topic and bring ideas altogether to create a new but related meaning.
“Finally, I feel that we cannot generalize about children or adults being better learners. It depends on the situation and the motivation of the person, and the level of enthusiasm he or she has for learning.”
“Society would be healthier if more people took part in sports of all kinds. We should continue to try to prevent accidents and injuries. However, we should also ensure that sports are challenging, exciting, and, above all, fun.”
How not to fail your essay conclusion?
With all of the above, you feel like a guru who writes essays that work, don’t you? The structure and strategies are clear, and nothing can stop you on the way toward high grades for college papers. Go for it!
But first a warning:
When writing a strong essay conclusion, be sure to avoid these teeny-tiny pitfalls able to sink your paper despite it was legen… wait for it…dary!
- Don’t write any new information. Your conclusion is about summarizing the thesis and statements.
- Don’t share personal thoughts unless you write a first-person opinion piece.
- Don’t restate each and all details. You have body paragraphs for that.
- Don’t just restate the thesis if you can provide some further – not new! – sophistication to original ideas.
- Don’t write lousy words in the conclusion, but use concise language instead.
Your essay needs a conclusion to drive main points and give understanding why it matters. Writing a strong finishing paragraph might be challenging, but a clear structure, together with several strategies to operate, provide room to work.
To end an essay like a boss, consider its type and audience. A conclusion is your last chance to impress readers and give them something to think about, so do your best to summarize statements and answer a “So what?” question the audience might have after reading your paper.
It’s all in your pitch.