How to Write a Conclusion for a Compare & Contrast Essay

A strong conclusion paragraph leaves the reader agreeing with the writer's comparison.
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Comparisons come naturally in life: We often evaluate items for value and choose a winner. The traditional compare-and-contrast essay asks students to put this evaluation into words. The final paragraph holds a strong position in the essay. The reader encounters it last and so remembers its the place to reinforce the main thrust of analysis essay. The conclusion of a compare-and-contrast essay encourages the reader to agree with the writer's points.

1 The Assignment

Compare-and-contrast essays encourage students to make connections between ideas and, therefore, gain an understanding of their relationship with each other. When teachers assign these essays, the wording includes the obvious: compare, contrast, differences, similarities. Sometimes the assignment is more oblique; you'll know the essay is a comparison because you are being asked to consider two things. For example, if an assignment asks you to reflect on how a theme is treated in two texts, this is a compare-and-contrast assignment. If the prompt specifies "compare," you compare similarities; if the prompt specifies "contrast," you consider differences.

2 Structure

The structure of a conclusion paragraph mirrors the introduction, which takes readers from broad to narrow. The conclusion should take the focus from the narrowness of the thesis statement to the broader implications of the main idea. For a compare-and-contrast essay, the conclusion starts with the thesis statement and includes a brief summary of the comparison. A strong conclusion paragraph leaves the readers with final thoughts: an image, a quote or even a rhetorical question. The goal is to leave a lasting impression with the readers.

3 Thesis Statement

The thesis statement in a compare-and-contrast essay makes a specific claim, preferably including some analysis related to the two ideas. For example, if comparing theme in two pieces of literature, you would include some evaluation in the thesis statement: "By indulging in hyperbole, the poem treats the theme of love less believably than the short story." In the conclusion, the thesis statement gets reformulated: "The short story more accurately develops the theme of love than the poem." You can use synonyms or change the order of clauses and wording of a thesis statement in the conclusion.

4 Style

Essays call for an academic style. However, well-crafted writing stands out. A strong ending paragraph can include figures of speech such as simile or metaphor. Figurative language makes for effective final thoughts. The conclusion also needs to give a feeling of completeness, that the topic is thoroughly explored. Word choice that displays confidence engenders a feeling of trust in the reader. A well-written essay is also concise, and this shows in the conclusion. Conciseness comes from finding the appropriate word rather than using modifiers. If appropriate, you can also inject humor. The conclusion paragraph ties up loose ends and leaves the reader thinking, hopefully, in alignment with your points.

Nadia Archuleta has a B.A. in English writing. She spent five years working abroad and has traveled extensively. She has worked as an English as a Foreign/Second Language teacher for 12 years.