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In high school, students are often taught that an introduction tells readers “what you are going to tell them,” that the body “tells them,” and that a good essay conclusion tells readers “what you have told them.”  While certainly simplistic, this is a good starting point for thinking about writing essay conclusions. As writers become more skillful, however, and as writing topics and genres become more complex, the conclusion often becomes more than a mere summary of the essay or paper.

There is no single essay conclusion format.  Dependent upon the breadth and depth of the written works, content of conclusions may vary.  The “common denominator” among all conclusions, however, is that they should leave readers satisfied and impressed.  Beyond this, an essay conclusion may point the reader toward more investigation, may call upon the reader to take some action or to change his/her thinking, or may leave questions that the reader has not asked before – in other words, closure without termination!

Writing Essay Conclusions for the Basic 5-Paragraph Essay

An essay conclusion for a basic 5-paragraph work will depend upon the purpose for which the essay is written.  For example, if the purpose is to provide a narrative or description, then the conclusion would most likely include your reaction or response to the content.  On the other hand, a persuasive purpose could conclude with a strong statement about your position and perhaps a “call to action” for readers to concur or to “do” something.  If, for example, the essay addressed the position that, in the United States, 15 million people should not be hungry, then a good essay conclusion would perhaps call upon readers to contact their Congressmen about the issue or to become active in volunteer organizations that feed the poor.

An Essay Conclusion Format for the Basic Term or Research Paper

Again, the content of a conclusion for these works will depend upon the purpose of the paper.  If the term or research work is primarily informational, a good essay conclusion will summarize this information and include a personal response to what has been learned.  Why is it important to have gained this knowledge?  What might you and/or the reader do with this increased understanding or awareness?  Perhaps a paper has explored the increasing carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere.  The essay conclusion format should summarize the scientific findings and, as well, make predictions for their impact on human life if the levels continue to increase at the same rate.

If the purpose of the paper is to persuade or to influence readers to take some type of action, a good essay conclusion would include a summary of your position, as well as suggestions for action or further study.

Writing Essay Conclusions for Major Research Works

Conclusions for these works will be far more than a paragraph in length.  Obviously, the results of your research must be summarized and, beyond that, you must discuss their implications for the body of research and knowledge that already exists in the topic field.  Has your work added anything new?  Have you validated or invalidated the earlier research of others?  What are the suggestions for additional study or research for the future? 

General tips for Writing Essay Conclusions

  1. One of the best “teachers” can be a model or example that will provide you with an essay conclusion format for the type of work you have just completed.  Studying conclusions of published works and/or fellow students, who have received excellent grades on similar works, will provide you with great samples that you can then emulate as you create your own.
  2. Do not simply provide a short summary of your work.  The conclusion should “grab” the reader in some way.  Find a famous quotation or saying that relates directly to what you have said. 
  3. Do not add additional information of data in your conclusion.  It fails to achieve closure for the reader.
  4. If your topic has been relatively narrow, provide a larger context into which it may have implications or comparisons.
  5. Give your reader(s) something to “chew on,” perhaps by posing a question.
  6. Link back to the introduction with a similar phrase or statement.


Essay Topic:  The Sorry State of American Education

The “brain drain” is quite real.  Indeed, it will continue so long as we, as a people, fail to set priorities that are futuristic and long-term.  Until we solve the problems facing our educational system today – crumbling schools, cuts to essential programs, low pay for teachers, and the under-funding of research, equipment, and supplies – we will continue our descent into a second-class nation.  Talented young people and valuable corporations will simply move elsewhere, to places where welcoming governments can provide what they want and need.  Is it not time for our state and federal governments to heed the dire warnings they are receiving?

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