Just as introductions are important because they are the first impression readers receive of your writing, conclusions tend to be what readers remember most. And this makes sense, it’s just our memories work. We tend to remember what we read last. Thus, you want to be sure that you leave readers with something noteworthy.
In your conclusion paragraph, it’s not enough just to restate your main ideas. If you only did that and then ended your essay, your conclusion would be flat and boring. You should try to make a graceful exit from your essay by leaving a memorable impression on the reader. You should say something that will continue to simmer in the reader’s minds long after he or she has put down your essay.
To leave this memorable impression, try . . .
Talking about consequences or implications.
Describing a powerful image.
Giving a thought-provoking quotation.
Moving towards the general.
Explaining why the topic is important.
Types of Conclusions
The following sections discusses common types of conclusion strategies in college essays.
Implications or Consequences
When you discuss the “implications” or “consequences” of your argument, this means that you discuss what would happen next if your ideas were implemented. Implications and consequences can be good or bad, depending on the argument. For example, if your essay advocated for stricter regulation of tail-pipe emissions, you could discuss what might happen to the world’s environment if we fail to curb our current dependence on fossil fuels.
I am quite convinced that what hinders progress in the Arab world is the absence of a free press. The dirt in our society has been swept under the carpet for too long. But I am certain that this won’t be the case for much longer. Arabs are beginning to engage in lively debate over their political and social predicament. And Al-Jazeera offers a ray of hope. Already, other Arab stations are imitating The Opposite Direction, though with limitations. Press freedom leads to political freedom. Someday, in spite of the attempts by today’s totalitarian rulers, a free Arab press may help to create real democracy in the Arab world. –Fasial al-Kasim, “Crossfire: The Arab Version”
Describing a Powerful Image
This is strategy used often by literary writers. It involves painting a picture of a powerful image you want your reader to picture. They often involve people, as human beings tend to care about others, and an image of triumph or suffering can make a strong impact.
When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page. It is not necessarily the actual face of the writer. I feel this very strongly with Swift, with Defoe, with Fielding, Stendhal, Thackeray, Flaubert, though in several case I do not know what these people looked like and do not want to know. What one sees is the face that the writer ought to have. Well, in the case of Dickens I see a face that is not quite the face of Dickens’s photographs, though it resembles it. It is the face of a man of about forty, with a small beard and a high colour. He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry-in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls. –“Charles Dickens,” George Orwell
Giving a Thought-Provoking Quotation
I’m sure you’re familiar with the strategy of citing other writers in order to lend credibility to your own ideas (think back to the chapter on evidence!). This conclusion strategy takes that idea to the next level. Through your research, if you find an especially powerful quotation that epitomizes the idea of your essay, use it as a conclusion.
A popular tale, which I picked up in Geneva during the last years of World War I, tells of Miguel Servet’s reply to the inquisitors who had condemned him to the stake: “I will burn, but this is a mere event. We shall continue our discussion in eternity.” –Jorge Luis Borges, Nonfictions
Moving Towards the General
This conclusion strategy is similar to the filming term “panning out.” The middle of your essay consists of the specific details and reasons that build your argument. In your conclusion, it can be helpful for readers if you move back out to the more broad idea in your thesis statement. In other words, you can end with the idea you began the essay with, but stated in a new way.
The practice of rhetoric involves a careful attention to the characteristics and preferences of the audience for whom the writer intends the message. Although Syfers’ and Limpus’ essays might be somewhat out of place for a contemporary audience, in the 1970s they were not. However, as argued throughout this essay, it is Syfers’ memorable sarcasm and wit that ultimately win over her audience. Being humorous while also driving home a worthwhile point is a difficult feat to accomplish in writing. Because Syfers accomplishes it so well, she seems to have stepped over the boundaries of time and reached a much larger audience than she may have originally intended. –Student Paper
Explaining Why the Topic Is Important
As I discussed in the “Thesis Statement” section, it is important to tell and show your readers why the topic of your essay is important and why they should care. I find the most effective way to do this is to explain why I think the topic is important and why I’m writing about it. People are only driven to action when they care about something. This conclusion strategy gives you one last chance to state your case to your readers and motivate them to do something.
Financial literacy is one of the most important things a person needs to understand as a fully functional adult. It’s crucial for someone to be able to know how to purchase a car, open a bank account, invest in a 401k plan, and pay back his or her student debt all while being able to balance paying rent and saving money. Financial literacy should be taught to students while they are still in high school so that they can feel prepared to go out on their own and make a positive contribution to society.
No matter which type of conclusion you use, be sure to muster the energy to write a thoughtful one. You may have to walk away from your essay for a couple of hours, or even days, but be sure to come back to it and conclude it in a way that is satisfying for readers. You want them to remember you and your argument fondly, so give them something to think about as they finish your piece of writing. It doesn’t have to be fireworks, but it should be something memorable.