Summary writing allows you to combine both English reading comprehension and writing into a single task that focuses on both skills. It’s important to understand what summary writing is first, so you can get the most benefit from this useful tool.
Summary writing is composing a summary of a piece of written material into a one or two paragraph piece that conveys the main topics and points of the original written material. The original written material can be a single chapter from a novel, an article in a magazine, or a short story. The objective is to carefully read through the content and identify what ideas are being presented.
The best way to do this is to read through the material slowly and take notes. It is also beneficial to reread through the material a second time to ensure you didn’t miss any important ideas. While reading the material ask yourself questions, like:
- What information does the author want me to know?
- How does the author share this information?
- What details does the author provide to support the main topic?
- Are there any phrases I don’t know and need to research further?
Answering these questions and taking notes while reading through the material will help you compose your written summary.
Once you have completed your reading and have taken notes, your next step is to compose a summary of the material. To do this, you’ll want to avoid referring to the written material during your writing and rely completely on your notes.
The objective is to write a summary of the information and ideas presented in the written material in only one or two paragraphs. Writing a summary helps influence and reinforce the structure used in the original written piece while writing your own original sentences.
After writing your summary, read through it a few times to verify you have included all of the details you wanted. This is also a good time to reread through the original piece and compare it to your summary. You want to make sure your summary isn’t too close to the original text. If it is, then you want to rewrite the summary again, focusing on developing your own original sentences.
If you’re struggling with writing a summary from written materials, a good way to practice summary writing is to use a television program or movie. Write a summary of what the program or movie is about and remember every detail isn’t needed to explain the overall meaning of the story.
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*The original version of this article first appeared on IELTS Canada Test.