SAT Essay, Part 8: The Conclusion
This is the eighth part of our series on preparing for the SAT essay. All of these articles are excerpts from the curriculum for WriteAtHome’s new and popular SAT Essay Prep course.
At the end of a tiring trip, it’s a nice feeling to finally pull into your own driveway and put the car in park. That’s how good essays should come to an end also — with a graceful and satisfying sense of closure. An essay without a conclusion is like slamming on the brakes a block from home.
When time is short, SAT takers often omit the conclusion of their essay, and since the readers are supposed to keep in mind the time limitations, they might overlook its absence. On the other hand, your last few words can be just as important as the first few. You want to leave your readers with a strong impression. Manage your time well so that you will have a few minutes to compose a strong concluding sentence or two.
Skillfully concluding an essay takes practice and instinct. There’s no formula to guarantee success. In general, however, you will do well to keep these three principles in mind:
1Start by restating your thesis. This doesn’t mean copying your thesis word for word, or simply changing a word or two. Express the main idea in a completely different way. English is a varied and flexible language. There are countless ways to say essentially the same thing. Here are some examples of ways to restate a thesis:
The internet is the 21st century’s most effective means of advancing freedom and democracy.
The world will be freer and more democratic in the next generation because of the powerful influence of the internet.
The most courageous people are not those without fear, but those who act in spite of their fears.
Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the will to keep going when confronted with frightening circumstances.
A world without great works of art would be a sad and shallow place.
Humans are artistic beings with a deep-seated need to express themselves through art; thus art must be encouraged and protected.
2Don’t introduce any supporting points or new information in the final paragraph. Use it to wrap up your essay by reemphasizing your thesis and leaving the reader with something to think about. Use the body paragraphs for introducing supporting points. The conclusion should be reserved for reiteration.
3Conclude with a broad concluding statement. If your introductory paragraph is funnel-shaped, think of the conclusion as an upside-down funnel (like the Tin Man’s hat in The Wizard of Oz). After creatively restating your narrow thesis, finish the paragraph with a broader statement that leaves the reader with something to think about.
Example: Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the will to keep going when confronted with fearful circumstances. Everyone knows what it is to be afraid, even the bravest among us.
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