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National College of Ireland


Academic Writing Skills Guide: Conclusions

What Should a Conclusion Do?

Most assignments include some type of conclusion, a final paragraph or section which brings the assignment to a clear end. The primary aim of the conclusion is to provide a final summarised version of your assignment’s core arguments and the key debates raised by the question. The conclusion is where you remind the reader of what you have done – the main issues you have addressed and what you have argued. It should link back to the introduction showing that the stated purpose and aim of the assignment has been fulfilled.

The claims you make in your conclusion should be consistent with the introduction and the points you have made in the main body of your assignment. Your introduction and conclusion should act as bookends, keeping the ideas in your assignment consistent. Your introduction provides a road map for your assignment, while your conclusion gives a snapshot of the journey you have taken with the reader.

Where the introduction goes from general to specific, the conclusion needs to go from specific back out to general. So, for your conclusion, you are doing the opposite to your introduction - moving from the specifics of what you have covered, back out to a broader, wider context. Think of your conclusion as an upside-down introduction paragraph.


  • Start by reiterating what your assignment has done.
  • Recap some of the main points and emphasise how they have supported your argument.
  • Try rephrasing your thesis statement to remind your reader of your main argument. Do not copy and paste your thesis statement from the introduction, rather, reword the thesis in a different way.
  • Your conclusion should show the development or growth in your thinking during the course of your discussion, so it is important to not just say exactly the same thing as your introduction.


  • By the end of your assignment, you should have worked through your ideas enough so that your reader understands what you have argued and is ready to hear the larger point you want to make about your topic.
  • Provide your final point of view based on the evidence, opinions, ideas or theories that you have examined in the main body of the assignment.


  • Extend the perspective to link what you have argued to a wider focus. What do your findings or discussion tell you about this topic more generally?
  • If appropriate, conclusions can move from the narrow focus on the outcomes of your specific discussion to a broader view of the topic's relevance in a wider context. Point out the wider significance of your findings or the implications of the issues.
  • Having answered the question, a good last sentence that broadens your focus a little at the end of an assignment can help leave your reader with something to think about. See if you can answer the ‘So what?’, ‘Why is this important?’, ‘Why should the reader care?’ questions. If appropriate, you might finish by indicating where further research in this area could go next or include recommendations.

How Long Should a Conclusion Be?

Conclusions should be neither too short nor too long. If the conclusion is too short, it can leave the impression that you ran out of time or were not able to bring your points together to a logical end. If the conclusion is too long, it leaves the impression that you were disorganised, trying to fit in material at the end that should have been included in the main body of the assignment. The conclusion should be no less than 5% and no more than 15% of your overall word count.

Try answering the following questions to help generate content for your conclusion:
Where are we? Here you can sum up briefly your overall answer to the assignment question 
How did we get here? Provide a reminder of the main points discussed and how they contributed to the overall conclusion
Where does that leave us? This is where you look at your conclusion and ask yourself 'so what?' What is the significance of your conclusion?
Where next? What is the wider context of your conclusion?
Consult the Academic Phrasebank for helpful phraseology suitable for writing conclusions.

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