Strategies for summary writing


Many students are worried about the question on summary writing but actually summary writing should be a breeze for five reasons: 

  •       the passage is shorter,  

  •       the passage is familiar as it is the one used for reading comprehension,  

  •        the summary is short –130 words,including the first 10 words which are  

    given, 

  •        focus on reading skills, so more time for reading and selection of content, and 

  •        task is directed – you know what content to select. 

    Points to bear in mind 

    Firstly, given the length of the reading passage and the summary that needs to be written, one can usually include about 10 points.  

    So make sure you identify 10 points. Do not write less than the number of words allowed because that would mean you have not included sufficient content.  

    Secondly, as much time is spent on reading and selecting relevant information, it is logical that a larger portion of the 15 marks allocated will be awarded for content.  

    My advice would be to try and score the maximum marks for content and let the writing skills be of secondary importance.  

    After selecting the relevant content, organise the information so that it is coherent and cohesive.  

    When summarising, the following steps may prove helpful: 

    The reading task  

    Read and understand the task. Write down the information you need to extract, for example:  

  •        what Mokhtar did to earn money, and  

  •        what he and his wife did to ensure their children grew up well. 

    Read the section identified in the instruction, for example, lines 5 to 39. Then, jot down relevant content in the appropriate columns, for example, what Mokhtar did to earn money (in one column), and what he and his wife did to make sure that their children grew up well (in another column). 

    Check against the headings to make sure you selected content relevant to the task. 

    The writing task 

  • Combine the ideas into sentences.  

  • Revise the sentence structure. 

  • Use connectives.  

  • Write in one paragraph. 

    Should you substitute words 

    The statement at the end of the question on summary writing reads like this:  

    Credit will be given for use of your own words but care must be taken not to change the original meaning. 

    Does this mean that you should rephrase or substitute the words used with your own words as much as possible?  

    Well, if you decide to substitute words, make sure that the new words are grammatically correct, convey the same meaning, and reduces length so you can include more points. Do not substitute words just for the sake of substituting them.  

    Don’ts in summary writing 

  •        Do not exceed the 130 word limit. Every word counts. My name “Jaya Pushani” is two words. 

  •       Do not start with an introduction. 

  •        Do not include a conclusion. 

  •        Do not include your own opinion. 

  •        Do not include material outside the lines mentioned. 

  •        Do not include information outside the reading passage. 

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