Many students are concerned about summary writing for several reasons: they are unable to identify information relevant to the answer and are unable to put the information together into a coherent paragraph. Weak students have an additional problem to grapple with – language. While these concerns are genuine, there is no reason to fret as these problems can be easily overcome with proper guidance and help from teachers.
Let me remind you that summary writing is not a writing skill. It is largely a reading skill (you are required to select relevant information in the text) with a bit of writing thrown in (you have to string the points together into a unified text).
The task is made easier for you as you do not need to summarise the whole text, only certain aspects (usually two). Therefore, it is crucial that you read the question carefully and consider what information is relevant.
Remember, you need to identify at least 10 points (for content). So do not worry too much about paraphrasing. Focus on getting marks for content, not language.
Summary writing involves specific skills such as the following:
Guidelines for summary writing:
1. Read the question carefully. Ask yourself: “What am I required to summarise”.
2. Mark the first and last lines of the passage you are asked to refer to.
3. Then select information that is relevant to your answer. To do this, underline the relevant lines or ideas as you read the text. Always ask yourself: “Is this??” (For the summary below, you would ask: “Is this what Yunus did to help the poor? Is this an improvement in the lives of the women?”).
4. Look through the lines/ideas you have underlined.
5. Summarise these ideas, using condensation, reorganisation or paraphrasing skills.
6. If you cannot paraphrase ideas, see if there are words in the text that you can replace.
7. Begin the summary with the 10 words given and remember that the three dots after the tenth word mean you have to complete the sentence with some relevant information from the text.
8. Organise the ideas/points in the manner in which they are found in the text.
9. Adhere to the word limit. Writing more than the required number of words will not get you any marks. Anything far too short of the word limit means you lack content.
10. Pay attention to the tense (and sometimes pronoun) used in the given 10 words.
11. Write the summary in one paragraph.
Things to avoid
1. Do not include information not in the text.
2. Do not include your own ideas or opinions.
3. Do not spend too much time paraphrasing as you might end up losing marks for content unless you can do so without altering/distorting meaning.
4. Do not repeat ideas. Sometimes, an idea is repeated in the text and you may not notice it as it may have been paraphrased.
5. Do not include material from other lines in the text.