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Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you've told them. This simple formula has been around since Aristotle (literally)—so why would we need to improve upon perfection? It turns out that, a lot of the time, "perfection" isn't so perfect if we don't spice it up. There's nothing wrong with the above formula in theory, but in practice it can end up leading to introductions and conclusions that are pretty blah. Often, we as writers develop such prejudices about these vital paragraphs that they end up contributing nothing to the content of the essay. This is a huge missed opportunity!
One of the main reasons this happens is writer's block. You may encounter this in several forms. Chief among these is procrastination (no judgment—hey, we've all been there). If you have a paper due in eight hours, it's unlikely you'll do anything beyond the basics when it comes to your intro or conclusion. The opposite can also be true; you may end up spending too much time thinking about how to get started and end up just going through the motions. These two very different approaches can actually end up getting you to the same place. Generally, this involves a three-sentence introduction: statement of the question, elaboration (or, let's face it, re-statement of the question), and thesis. The same thing pretty much happens in the conclusion—by this point, a lot of students just give up and end up with a couple sentences re-stating the thesis with increasingly desperate synonyms.
On some level, this is fine; it's functional. But your intro and conclusion are the first and last things your teacher will read. And by the time you get to college, your professors will expect more. Why not take it to the next level? Here are a few tips to avoid traps writers fall into with introductions and conclusions to take you from basic to impressive.