Start with this video.  It’ll take a few minutes to watch, but it will be worth it.  He just covers all of the important aspects of the conclusion, what it should have, what it shouldn’t–these are important to know so that you don’t mix elements of an essay into a lump whole.  

He says 

What functions do conclusions serve that make reading easier for the reader?  Conclusions should . . .

Restate or summarize the main thesis or conclusion of the main argument of the essay—what the essay argued for.

Summarize the key argumentative moves that were made in the essay—so you’re reminding the reader what you argued for but how you argued for it.

The concluding section of an essay should provide additional commentary on the argument or the issue.  Optional. Some use it as an opportunity to comment on the significance of the issue or point to questions that require further research. 

The conclusion is NOT the place to present ARGUMENTS that really belong in the main body of the essay.  Avoid using additional argumentative material

As with introductions, conclusions will often require more than one paragraph—that’s why “concluding section” is a more helpful term than “concluding paragraph.”

I say

The best way to end an essay is to restate your thesis and summarize your main points. Avoid including new information, “fluffy” language, or minor details. Write a memorable ending by making a provocative statement that ties everything together. 

You may have to brainstorm your conclusion.

Consider the “So what?” question. A helpful way to generate your conclusion can be to imagine that your reader has just asked you “So what?” about your argument. Why does what you’ve written matter? What can you say in your conclusion to help convince your readers that they should care about your ideas and argument? Asking yourself the “so what?” question as you write your essay can also help you dig below the surface of your ideas.

Sample Conclusions for different modes of writing–narrative essay, analytic, and so forth.

Here are 12 options



Find some standard phrases here.  And here is a similar list.