The sentences or paragraphs that bring a speech, essay, report, or book to a satisfying and logical end.

Also Known As: concluding paragraph, closing

Methods and Observations:

Strategies for Concluding an Essay
  • "Although there are no set formulas for closing, the following list presents several options:
    1. Restate the thesis of your essay, and perhaps your main points.
    2. Mention the broader implications or significance of your topic.
    3. Give a final example that pulls all the parts of your discussion together.
    4. Offer a prediction.
    5. End with the most important point as the culmination of your essay's development.
    6. Suggest how the reader can apply the information you have just imparted.
    7. End with a bit of drama or a flourish. Tell an anecdote, offer an appropriate quotation, ask a question, make a final insightful remark."
    (X.J. Kennedy et al., The Bedford Reader. Bedford Books, 1999)

  • Circular Closing"This strategy works on the analogy of a circle, which ends where it began. The final paragraph repeats an important word or phrase prominent in the beginning, something the reader will remember. If the strategy is to work, the reader has to recognize the key term (but of course you cannot hang a sign on it--'Remember this'). You must stress it more subtly, perhaps by position or by using an unusual, memorable word."(Thomas S. Kane, The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing. Berkley Books, 2000)

  • Composing a Conclusion Under Pressure"Even though the conclusion is the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae, you may not have a lot of time to formulate one if you're writing under exam conditions. In fact, on the actual AP exam you may not get to the conclusion at all. Don't worry; you can still do well if your essay stops abruptly. If you do have a moment, however, you can impress the exam grader with a short but powerful conclusion."(Geraldine Woods, AP English Literature & Composition For Dummies. Wiley, 2008)

Strategies to avoid

  • Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase such as "in conclusion," "in summary," or "in closing." Although these phrases can work in speeches, they come across as wooden and trite in writing.
  • Stating the thesis for the very first time in the conclusion.
  • Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion.
  • Ending with a rephrased thesis statement without any substantive changes.
  • Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of an analytical paper.
  • Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper.