Writing a Conclusion for a Persuasive Essay

Some high school and college students assume the body paragraphs are all that matter in an essay. However, an argument will fall flat if it does not end with a strong conclusion -- especially when your intent is to persuade. A good conclusion summarizes the points you made earlier and also makes the reader want to act in response to the paper. Occasionally, this includes the thesis statement in the conclusion paragraph, as well as new points of view for larger observations. Keeping the reader’s attention should be important to include, especially in the first sentence of the conclusion, as well as in the first paragraph, the introductory paragraph, of the essay.

The last thing you may include in a conclusion could be your main points of the essay summarized in a new way. Academic writing, especially for these essays, includes knowing what to include for the body of the paper, topic sentences, a sense of closure, restatement of main points, key points of research or insight, main arguments supported by details and context, and an effective conclusion or concluding paragraph. An essay conclusion is essential for readers to fully comprehend what you are writing your persuasive or argumentative essay about.

Describe the Stakes

According to Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, begin with a reminder. Let the reader know what will happen if nothing is done to resolve the issue in your argument. Reuse a particular statistic or an example you used earlier. If, to get the reader interested, you started your persuasive essay on drunk driving with the story of a mother and children who were killed by a drunk driver, begin the conclusion by referring back to that family.

Summarize Your Position

Briefly restate your position. Touch on the highlights of your argument, and show how your essay resolves or addresses the issue. Waterford Union High School advises students to restate the thesis and summarize all of the main points from the body paragraphs. For example, if you're writing a persuasive essay that argues that legal consequences for drunk driving are too lenient, emphasize key evidence you introduced in the body -- such as the percent of offenders that go on to drive under the influence again.

Clincher: Call to Action

End by arming your readers with specific actions they can take based on the information you have just provided. To encourage stronger penalties for drunk driving, for example, you might ask readers to put pressure on the legislature to create change. As a final note, consider using a quote related to the topic or show how your position relates to a broader issue, according to the Harvard College Writing Center. Ending with a prediction of how the situation will improve if people follow your advice in the paper is another commonly recommended practice.

Problems to Avoid

Avoid these common pitfalls to make your conclusion stand out. The Writing Center at Harvard recommends to not begin this section or paragraph with a phrase like “in conclusion” or “to conclude." Though transitions are important in persuasive writing in general, these tend to be overused.

Make sure your final paragraph does more than just summarize your position. Remember, if you only explain why you hold a certain belief, you are not writing an argument or persuasive essay. You must cause some change in the reader to be successful with this assignment.

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