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If you’re like most students, you might have questions about the conclusion paragraph of the SAT essay.
This seems to be one of the SAT essay tips that my tutoring students find most interesting, and everyone tends to have a few questions about it.
First things first, though…
Do you HAVE to have a conclusion paragraph in your SAT Essay?
Every student should know that a concluding paragraph is optional. It’s by far the least important section of the essay, and you can still get a perfect score without one.
In other words, if you have a great intro paragraph, and solid body paragraphs that use good examples and evidence, along with some cool vocabulary words sprinkled throughout, the conclusion is just a footnote.
If you’re running out of time and can’t complete a whole final paragraph, you could either just gently end your last body paragraph without a separate conclusion, or you could write a one- or two-sentence conclusion instead of a longer paragraph.
That said, I definitely think a conclusion is nice to have as it rounds off and completes your argument, bringing everything to a convenient stopping point, and leaving the grader with a clear idea of what they just read about.
So, assuming you’re going to write a conclusion in your SAT essay…
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What does a great SAT essay conclusion need to do?
- Restate your position for clarity and emphasis.
- Summarize your argument.
- Remind the grader of the SAT essay evidence that you used to prove your point so well.
- Take up space and fill the last few lines of the paper.
- Provide a final chance to show off your vocabulary!
- End with something to think about.
Instead of putting your “hook” at the beginning of the SAT essay, which ensures that it will be wasted and forgotten by the time the grader gives your essay a score, save it for the last line of the conclusion, where it will be remembered and appreciated.
Plus, this gives you the whole 25 minutes to think of just one creative idea for your SAT essay conclusion, rather than holding your head in your hands at the beginning as you struggle to think of the perfect hook. Cool strategy, right?
Use your essay’s conclusion to put the grader in a good mood:
This student deserved a 12 on every essay they wrote, but he was getting back scores of 8s and 10s.
The reason for his lower-than-expected scores? His pessimism and cynicism showed through in every essay… he’d prove how World War III is coming any day now, how humans will destroy the planet with carelessness and greed, and how the education system was horribly flawed… go dig a bomb shelter and stock up on Spam. And that’s kind of how his SAT essays would always end.
When I told him to end on a positive note, he started getting higher scores.
All he had to do was say, “Despite these myriad failings, humanity has always striven to reach our highest nature. We may make mistakes along the way, but we have infinite potential to learn from our mistakes!
Restate your position and use up leftover time by adding words:
If you have a lot of time left after writing the body of your essay, use it to fill up the page, since longer SAT essays generally score higher!
Good filler material comes from rewording your thesis, or restating your evidence, or coming up with a creative “thinking point” or personal observation that ties in (directly) with your thesis (and yes, your personal observation can be made up.)
Just be careful not to wander off topic at the last second and confuse the SAT essay grader. The conclusion requires laser-like focus to avoid getting confusing at the last second by going off-topic.
Also, don’t be lazy just because it’s early in the morning and you want to put your head on the desk. Make the use of any leftover time to proofread.
Set the tone for the rest of your test day by giving the essay your all. It will make you feel better later to know that you did your best on the SAT essay!
Now, go get the rest of my pro SAT essay tips and tricks by ordering my tutor’s guide to the SAT essay!