You probably learned the basic structure of an English essay in grammar school: State your thesis, provide supporting evidence for your thesis, present opposing views, refute those views and then restate your thesis. At the AP level, teachers want you to do more than restate your thesis word for word in the conclusion. After all, a three-page or 750-word AP English essay is brief enough to allow your reader to flip back a few pages to refresh his memory if need be. Score points for creativity in your conclusion by leaving no doubt about your thesis -- and leaving a lasting impression at the same time.
Amplify Your Thesis
Repetition in writing can be a powerful technique, but try to exceed your reader’s expectations – and your instructor’s – by amplifying your thesis without taking your essay off-track and in a new direction. For example, let’s say that your thesis basically says that “Joe Slugger got a lousy, one-year contract,” and the rest of your essay explains why you believe so. A conclusion might say, “There’s no doubt that Joe Slugger deserves a far more lucrative contract than what he got. If it’s any comfort to him, at least his fans realize he got a raw deal, too.”
Make a Prediction or Recommendation
No writer wants to walk a pier and come up short of wood, but grounded, realistic predictions and recommendations that play on a thesis can forge effective conclusions. If predictions make you nervous, downshift to floating a hopeful idea. In this example, you might say, “One year will be a long time for Joe Slugger to live with this underwhelming vote of confidence. But with any luck, at this time next year, another team will come along and correct this egregious mistake.”
Issue a Call to Action
Call to actions can be fun to write, and in most cases, they can be directed to several people (or organizations) within an essay. Be logical and reasonable; if you’re not, your lasting impression might be a negative one that undercuts your credibility as a writer. In this example, a call to action could be directed to Joe Slugger – perhaps urging him to become a free agent – or to the team’s owners, perhaps by urging them to renegotiate the contract.
Find a Telling Quotation
Choosing a quotation that supports your thesis in a clever way can leave a memorable impression with your reader. Try to create symmetry between your essay topic and the person you are quoting. In this example, you might quote New York Yankees Manager Yogi Berra: “After losing to Pittsburgh in 1960, Berra famously said, ‘We made too many wrong mistakes.’ More than 50 years later, Joe Slugger’s insulting contract shows that baseball continues to make them – only without a semblance of Yogi's humor.”
- The New St. Martin’s Handbook; Andrea Lunsford and Robert Connors; 1999.
- The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers; Maxine Hairston and John Ruszkiewicz; 1991.
- The Prentice Hall Guide to Basic Writing; Emil Roy and Sandra Roy; 1989.
- Step by Step Writing; Randy Devillez; 1992.
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Conclusions
- Yogi Berra.com
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