A lot of students worry too much about their conclusions and what to write. All you really have to do is synthesize and drive home the points you made in your paper. The conclusion is basically a reflection of your introduction – moving from specific back out to general statements – and a chance for you to assert your opinion or a call to action. Try out the same strategies you used in your introduction in your conclusion. If you started with imagery, return to it. If you started with a question, offer an answer or another question to keep the reader thinking after they have finished reading. If you started with a quote, you might try pairing or contrasting it with another famous quote. If you started with a funnel, flip it over like the example below.
Move from a restatement of your thesis to a more broad implication.
Leave Them Thinking
Another strategy you might use is to connect your paper to modern day or offer your audience something to think about. Here’s an example from our expository thesis in the Writing Introductions section:
Maybe President Washington wasn’t a bastion of integrity, but the importance of his role in shaping modern society is undeniable. Modern presidents aren’t perfect either, but they, too, are important indicators of our values and the direction our country is going. You have to wonder, how will history remember them. What will Obama’s or Trump’s cherry tree be?
Call to Action
With argumentative writing, this idea of leaving them thinking is sometimes referred to as the call to action. What should your audience do in light of the information you just shared? Do you want to encourage them to change they way they think? Do you want them to vote? Volunteer? Donate? Exercise? . . . you can also offer a qualifier or concession. In conclusions you can be a little bit more assertive or allow more of your true opinion come through.
Here’s an example paired with our argumentative thesis in the Writing Introductions section:
The next time you see your kids playing video games, ask yourself: what are they really doing? Are they following a narrative and mission statement? Are they working with others to solve a problem? Are they spending multiple hours on a screen to complete a task? Does that sound like someone who is going nowhere or does that sound like someone getting prepared for the modern workplace? Those “Good habits formed at youth [may] make all the difference” (Aristotle). Just like at work, however, balance is important and you might have to kick them off from time to time and get them to do other things for their own benefit, but don’t demonize the entire gaming experience or feed the negative stereotypes.
In science writing the conclusion offers the implications or possible applications of the research, next steps for future research, and further questions that still need to be answered or that the research brought up. The same concept applies to most writing: what are the implications and next steps for this information you just shared?
Drop the Mic:
Try not to overthink your conclusions. You ever type a way-too-long text message, but, hey, you typed it so you might as well send it? Or go to leave a voice mail and then leave a ridiculously long message because you were rambling and if you stopped now that would be abrupt and awkward, so, um, yeah, call me, I guess, if you get a chance, you know, when you get this, or whatever? Yeah, don’t do that. With conclusions, less is more. Make your point, drop the mic, and get out.