Conclusions in Academic Writing

There are very few rules that apply to conclusions in academic writing. This makes conclusions a great place to get creative.

However creative you get, just remember to follow these rules in your essay conclusion:

  • Stop presenting new evidence.
  • Stop citing outside sources.

After making sure you apply these simple rules, there are many different paths to take with the last section of your paper.

You can…

  1. …summarize the main points of the essay
  2. …highlight the most important fact or statistic presented in the essay
  3. …explain what the most important idea is for the reader to take away from the essay (and explain why this idea is the most important)
  4. …comment on why the issue addressed in the essay is important, relevant or interesting
  5. …pose a question that reinforces the thesis argument
  6. …distinguish your thesis from a potentially similar thesis
  7. …comment on the limits of the essay (if the essay were longer, what other topics or ideas would you have liked to discuss?)
  8. …explain your personal connection to the topic

Recommended Strategy

Perhaps the most engaging method on this list is item number three.

…explain what the most important idea is for the reader to take away from the essay (and explain why this idea is the most important)

In your essay, you have presented several points to support your thesis. One of them is probably more compelling, persuasive or important than the others.

By explaining why one point is more significant than other points, the writer can clarify the moral, practical, social or political context of the essay’s topic and thesis. This is true because the most important supporting point is almost certainly the one that illustrates the reason the essay’s entire argument is important and interesting.

Key Elements: Be conclusive and clearly indicate that the essay has arrived at the end.

Questions the Conclusion Can and Sometimes Should Answer:

  • What is the most important idea for the reader to take away from the essay?
  • What alternative points of view exist on the topic?
  • Where do you feel that a contrary reader will most likely agree with your argument?
  • What questions about the topic has the essay not been able to explore or answer?
  • Of the various points made in the essay, what is the most important?
  • Are there any mental images you would like to leave the reader with – any poetic idea or metaphor that summarizes the reason this topic is important?
  • Why should the reader care about what has been said in the essay?

Essay Writing Tips

Essay Basics

Thesis Statements

Essay Introductions

Body Paragraphs


Do’s and Don’ts of Academic Essays

Common Essay Mistakes to Avoid

MLA Formatting Guidelines (Plus Common Mistakes & How to Avoid Them)

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Published by eric m martin

A writer, teacher and coffee shop owner living in the southern reaches of the Mojave Desert.

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