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What are the expectations for an introduction and a conclusion paragraph in an essay?

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The introduction and conclusion paragraph should mirror each other somewhat. Both should contain a thesis statement, which is a statement in which you state your main argument for the essay. It needs to be in both, to introduce and then conclude your topic symmetrically.
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Post #2 is absolutely correct.  A strong introduction should also provide an overview of the general organization of the paper.  If the essay has a thesis, then it should also include what subtopics will be covered. 

Then, in your conclusion, be sure to restate your thesis.  Like #2 suggested, the conclusion is often a good place to provide fresh perspective, so if you were writing an expository essay, then in your conclusion you could share your opinion on the topic.

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Your introduction should prepare your reader for your topic. You might give a little background information to help set the tone for your paper.

The conclusion should give the reader a sense of closure. Don't make the common mistake of simply repeating your introduction. Sometimes a nice conclusion gives the reader a fresh perspective on the topic. You shouldn't introduce new details or evidence in the conclusion.

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