How to Write the New SAT Essay Conclusion
This post has been updated for the New SAT that premiered in March 2016 by Magoosh test prep expert David Recine. So all the material is current for the redesigned SAT!
You can breathe a sigh of relief—the conclusion is the least important part of your SAT essay. You are merely recapping what you already said. In other words, you don’t want to say anything you haven’t already said in your essay.
Can it really be that simple?
Yes and no. Yes, if you are running out of time and can barely knock out a sentence. As long as that sentence gives the essay a sense of finality (this is the conclusion after all), you should be fine—fine, in the sense that the essay grader’s mind is mostly made up by the time he or she gets to your conclusion.
Of course if you have more time, add some polish to your conclusion. But don’t feel like you have to write a long paragraph. Indeed, if you have that much time left, you should have spent it developing your body paragraphs.
Because it is better that you have at least a couple of sentences for your conclusion, here is recipe (much like the one I used for the Intro) that will keep things simple.
Sentence #1 – Restate your central claim about the reading passage.
Sentence #2 – Restate your evidence for the claim.
Sentence #3 – Restate your opinion, based on your claim and your evidence.
Sentence #4 – Include a “sendoff,” leaving your reader with a lasting impression or final thought. (This is optional, and you’ll probably want to skip sentence 4 more often than not. But can be a nice final touch if you have an extra moment or two to get it in.)
Before I show you this recipe “in action,” it’s important to remember that your conclusion will mirror your introduction in many ways. So let’s look at the introduction I wrote to the New SAT’s third official practice essay question and then go through the formula for writing a conclusion to the same essay:
In “The Digital Parent Trap,” an op-ed for Time Magazine, author Eliana Dockterman asserts the many benefits of exposing children to multimedia technology via computer, Internet and mobile platforms. Dockterman challenges the traditional beliefs that electronic media is bad for children, saying that exposure to electronic media actually benefits children cognitively, developmentally, and educationally. The author’s argument unfolds clearly as she provides evidence that anti-tech bias exists and is incorrect. Citing statistics, scholarly research and quotations from experts, Eliana Dockterman credibly demonstrates all of her key assertions. Through an impressive array of external sources, the author crafts a multifaceted argument that adults should allow children to use technology and electronic media.
Yes, introductions to essays on the New SAT really can be that elaborate. Fortunately, the conclusion can be shorter and simpler.
So let’s say you followed an introduction like this with some nice body paragraphs showing how Eliana Dockterman made her case that electronic media is good for kids. Now it’s time for your conclusion. You don’t really have to bring up specific points from your body paragraphs—though you can.
To give you an example, I’m going to write a conclusion, breaking it up sentence by sentence, with the recipe above as my guide.
Using many good external sources, Eliana Dockterman provides strong evidence for her claims and arguments.
The writer includes the words of authorities on electronic media and child development as well as the results of relevant studies.
The ultimate result is a thoughtful essay that puts forth Dockterman’s viewpoint in an informative, interesting, and convincing way.
Sentence # 4 (optional)
By the end of this op-ed, readers will likely have a keen understanding of the author’s perspective and much deeper knowledge of this important social issue.
Conclusion (combining the three sentences above)
Using many good external sources, Eliana Dockterman provides strong evidence for her claims and arguments. The writer includes the words of authorities on electronic media and child development as well as the results of relevant studies. The ultimate result is a thoughtful essay that puts forth Dockterman’s viewpoint in an informative, interesting, and convincing way. By the end of this op-ed, readers will likely have a keen understanding of the author’s perspective and much deeper knowledge of this important social issue.
The New SAT essay doesn’t have to be amazing
This is not the most insightful, astounding, and brilliant conclusion ever written. Far from it. But it gets the job done in a quick few sentences. Most importantly, it gives the essay a clear ending. And that’s the thing—you don’t want to waste time on your conclusion; you want to spend those valuable minutes in the important body paragraphs. So instead of tacking on a few extra sentences to the conclusion above, I can spend that time to write more.
I want to make final note: I’ve offered you a cookie-cutter approach. Blindly following is not going to ensure a good score. And not following it, but leavening your essay with a wealth of insights and stylistic prose, will most likely result in a great score. So if the structure of your essays doesn’t mirror the recipe above, but you are writing well, then do not suddenly change the way you are writing, thinking that the SAT graders are particularly fond of this structure. However, even if you are writing well, but seem to struggle writing a convincing, organized conclusion, then the formula above can help you.