How to Write a Summary in 8 Easy Steps
Writing a good summary demonstrates that you clearly understand a text...and that you can communicate that understanding to your readers. A summary can be tricky to write at first because its tempting to include too much or too little information. But by following our easy 8 -step method, you will be able to summarize texts quickly and successfully for any class or subject.1) Divideand conquer. First off, skim the text you are going to summarize and
divide it into sections. Focus on any headings and subh eadings. Also look at any bold-faced terms and make sure you understand them before you read.2) Read. Now that youve prepared, go ahead and read the selection. Read straight
through. At this point, you dont need to stop to look up anything that gives y ou troublejust get a feel for the authors tone, style, and main idea.3) Reread. Rereading should be active reading. Underline topic sentences and key
facts. Label areas that you want to refer to as you write your summary. Also label areas that should be avoided because the details though they may be interesting are too specific. Identify areas that you do not understand and try to clarify those points.4) One sentence at a time. You should now have a firm grasp on the text you will
be summarizing. In steps 13, you divided the piece into sections and located the authors main ideas and points. Now write down the main idea of each section in one well-developed sentence. Make sure that what you include in your sentences are key points, not minor details.5) Write a thesis statement. This is the key to any well-written summary. Review
the sentences you wrote in step 4. From them, you should be able to create a thesis statement that clearly communicates what the entire text was trying to achieve. If you find that you are not able to do this step, then you should go back and make sure your sentences actually addressed key points.6) Ready to write. At this point, your first draft is virtually done. You can use the
thesis statement as the introductory sentence of your summary, and your other
sentences can make up the body. Make sure that they are in order. Add some transition words (then, however, also, moreover) that help with the overall structure and flow of the summary. And once you are actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys!), remember these tips:y y y y y
Write in the present tense. Make sure to include the author and title of the work. Be concise: a summary should not be equal in length to the original text. If you must use the words of the author, cite them. Don't put your own opinions, ideas, or interpretations into the summary. The purpose of writing a summary is to accurately represent what the author wanted to say, not to provide a critique.
7) Check for accuracy. Reread your summary and make certain that you have
accurately represented the authors ideas and key points. Make sure that you have correctly cited anything directly quoted from the text. Also check to make sure that your text does not contain your own commentary on the piece.8) Revise. Once you are certain that your summary is accurate, you should (as with
any piece of writing) revise it for style, grammar, and punctuation. If you have time, give your summary to someone else to read. This person should be able to understand the main text based on your summary alone. If he or she does not, you may have focused too much on one area of the piece and not enough on the authors main idea.
The question on summary writing is based on the same text used for reading comprehension. This should be a boon as you would be familiar with the text after several readings. Despite this, many students are not comfortable with summary writing. Their fears stem from their inability to identify information relevant to the answer. Some are also worried that they may not be able 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. Remember that summary writing, in the context of this paper, is largely a reading skill (as you are required to select relevant information in the text), with a bit of writing thrown in (a s 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. Therefore, it is crucial that you read the question carefully and consider what information is relevant. The allocation of marks for summary writing is as follows: 10 for content and five for language. Usually, there are more than 10 content points but you should be able to identify at least 10. Do not worry too much about paraphrasing. Instead, focus on getting marks for content, not language.General guidelines
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 a reason tigers have become extinct? or Is this a measure that should be implemented? 4. Look through the lines/ideas you have underlined. Sometimes, an idea is repeated in another line. Ask yourself: Is this idea a repetition?
5. Summarise the ideas. You can combine ideas by joini ng phrases or sentences, or you may want to paraphrase ideas/sentences. However, make sure your sentences are complete sentences and not fractured bits and pieces. 6. If you cannot paraphrase, see if there are words in the text that you can replace without affecting the meaning. For example, you can use a pronoun to replace a noun. 7. If you are a weak student, copy the entire sentence. This way, you will not lose marks for content or language. 8. Begin the summary with the 10 words giv en and remember that the three dots after the 10th word mean you have to complete the sentence with some relevant information from the text. 9. Organise the ideas/points in the manner in which they are found in the text. Do not waste time trying to rearrange ideas. 10. Adhere to the word limit. Writing more than the required number of words will not get you extra marks. Anything short of the word limit means you lack content. 11. Pay attention to the tense (and sometimes, pronoun) used in the given 10 words. 12. Write the summary in one paragraph. Some students are in the habit of drawing columns to facilitate counting of words. This is fine but write your final draft in one paragraph.Pitfalls to avoid
Do not include information not found 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. Here is a sample reading passage. Write a summary.
1. The tiger, the largest cat in the world, is one of the m ost majestic animals on land and is found only in Asia. It is also one of the most powerful mammals, yet it is on the brink of extinction. In the 1900s, the tiger population was more than 100,000. Today, the number has dwindled to less than 10,000 worldwid e. Nepal has only 200 tigers, India has about 4,000, while Malaysia has less than 500. The reason for the decline in numbers is poaching. 2. Tigers are hunted not only by human beings but also by other predators such as elephants, bears and large buffaloes . The only defence tigers have against their enemies are their razor-sharp claws, their strong teeth and their sheer weight. The weight of a tiger, which can range between 200 and 300 kilogrammes, can kill an 10 average sized human being. 3. Tigers have fascinated human beings for several reasons. For instance, marks on their forehead resemble the Chinese character wang, which means king. Furthermore, the markings on a tigers forehead and the stripes all over its body are like finger prints. Experts can tell individual tigers apart by observing the markings and stripes closely. This is because no two tigers have identical markings. The patterns of their stripes vary immensely, especially from one sub -species to another. The Sumatran tiger has the most stripes and markings while the Siberian tiger has the fewest. The stripes of a tiger always run at right angles to its body and not along its bodyline. Otherwise, it would be very conspicuous and find it impossible to camouflage itself. 4. These carnivorous beasts thrive well in areas of dense vegetation with ample sources of water and large populations of hoofed animals. They instinctively avoid human beings and only attack people if they are provoked, injured or unable to hunt for their usual food. 5. Despite their prowess, tigers are unable to protect themselves from their greatest threat human beings. These magnificent creatures have been hunted for hundreds of years for sport as proof of ones strength and manliness, and for their skin. They have also been trapped and poisoned by farmers to protect their livestock. As a result, the Caspian, Javan and Bali tigers have become extinct. In many Asian countries, tigers are killed for their precious claws. It is believed that wearing a talisman made of a 30 tigers claw can protect its wearer. It is almost impossible to ascertain whether a tigers claw has any supernatural powers, but what is certain is that many a tiger will lose its life so that someone can profit from it. 6. Other than that, tigers have been hunted for their body organs, which are believed to be a cure for many ailments. This superstition may have resulted from the connection 35 made with their masculinity and strength. This has resulted in massive poaching of tigers for their whiskers, eyes, teeth, penises, liver and fat.
7. Hunting of tiger prey has also caused the number of tigers to dwindle. Tigers usually feed on hoofed animals such as deer, wild boar and buffaloes. The hunting of these animals by human beings has caused tigers to starve to death. 8. Serious action has to be taken to ensure the survival of this majestic creature. Although the tiger has been labelled an endangered species and the sale of tigerrelated products has been banned in many countries, these measures have backfired, with illegal poaching of tigers for their fur, bones and other organs becoming rampant. Some countries, such as India, have allocated millions of dollars to set up tiger reserves to protect these animals but even these are not safe. Poachers completely wiped out wild tigers in the Sariska Tiger Reserve in India. To ensure the survival of the tiger, conservation efforts need to be improved to reduce threats to tigers. Efforts must also be made to improve tiger habitats and to increase tiger prey populations so that they will not starve to death in the wild. There must be more stringent controls on the demand for tiger parts. When there is no demand, there will be no supply. To drive the message home, poachers should be punished severely. Otherwise, they will not stop their illegal activities.Answers to summary writing
Below are the sentences taken from the passage; the summary points are in italics and have been numbered. > These magnificent creatures have been hunted for hundreds of years for sport as proof of ones strength and manliness (point 1) and for their skin (point 2). > They have also been trapped and poisoned by farmers to protect their livestock (point 3). > In many Asian countries, tigers are killed for their precious claws. It is believed that wearing a talisman made of a tigers claw can protect its wearer (point 4). > Other than that, tigers have been hunted for their body organs which are believed to be a cure for many ailments (point 5). > The hunting of these animals (tiger prey) by hu man beings has caused tigers to starve to death (point 6). > To ensure the survival of the tiger, conservation efforts need to be improved to reduce threats to tigers (point 7). > Efforts must also be made to improve tiger habitats (point 8) and to increase tiger prey populations so that they will not starve to death in the wild (point 9).
> There must be more stringent controls on the demand for tiger parts (point 10). > To drive the message home, poachers should be punished severe ly (point 11).Here is a sample summary using phrases and sentences from the passage.
The tiger population has suffered a serious decline because tigers have been hunted for sport as proof of ones strength and manliness and for their skin. Besides, tigers have been killed by farmers to protect their livestock. These beasts have also been killed for their claws which are believed to protect the wearer. Worse still, tigers are killed for their body organs, which are believed to cure many ailments. Moreover, hunting of tiger prey has caused tigers to starve to death. Stern measures must be taken to protect them. For instance, conservation efforts and tiger habitats must be improved. To prevent tigers from starving, tiger prey populations must be increased. Most importantly, there must be more stringent controls on the demand.