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Lesson Five: Introductions and Conclusions

Introduction

Surprised to see introductions as the topic of our second-to-last lesson? Most writers find that it is nearly impossible to craft an essay by beginning with the introduction. The best leads often develop during and after writers have written the remainder of the essay.

Maybe a fantastic introduction or conclusion is caught floating around in the middle of your rough draft. Maybe you find that your essay does not even need an introduction or conclusion (see sidebar). More likely, however, it is in these later stages that you have a good sense of the way your essay is shaping up, all the way to the nitty-gritty details. Since beginnings and endings can be the most challenging and important part of any piece of writing, you will want to take advantage of a completed rough draft.

Part of the reason why introductions and conclusions are so difficult is that writers tend to worry about them too much. Writing teachers give so much attention to the need for a thorough introduction and a sharply drawn conclusion that anxious essayists compensate by going overboard. They feel that in order to appear mature and worldly, their essays must contain profound insights and sweeping observations.

While your introduction and conclusion need not provide the answers to every worldly problem, they do need to be engaging. Admissions officers may spend just a few minutes reading your essay. Your introduction must grab their interest from the beginning and your conclusion must make a lasting impression.

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