Before we look at how to approach and answer questions from any summary, it is essential to understand what a summary is and realise that we use summaries in many everyday situations.
How to approach a summary question?
Read the question. What exactly do you need to summai·ise? How many words do you have to use? Look at any pictures or headings for clues about the content of the passage. • As you read, underline the key words in the question. For example, from the exam question ‘Write a summary about the cause and extent of the flooding’, you would probably identify cause and effect as key words. • Code the key words if there is more than one. Choose whichever coding method you prefer: either a, b, or 1, 2, or the first letter of the key word(s). In the above example, and depending on which coding method you choose, cause will be coded a or 1 or c; C.’l;;tent will be coded b or 2 or e.
Stage 2 • Skim read the passage paragraph by paragraph. Pick out relevant points and underline them. At the same time, use your code to identify each poinr at the side of the text so that you can find it easily. Continuing with the above example, every time you found a reference to cause in the passage, you would write a orl or c next to the text. Every time you found a reference to extent in the passage, you would write b or 2 or e next to the text. See pages 146-7 for an example of where this has been done. • Sometimes the points related to each key word can be scattered throughout the passage. Coding in this way helps you to locate the relevant points easily.
Stage 3 • On a blank page of the exam question paper (or underneath the summary text if there is space), write a heading for each key word you are looking for (if there is more than one). • Take each of your underlined points and rewrite it in your own words under the relevant heading. • Do not try to translate each word and replace it with another. Instead, try to vvritc down what you understand from the sentence.
Stage 4 • Group together any points that are similar, and then number the points according to how important you think they are, with 1 for the most important.
Stage 5 • Compare how many points you have found with the number of words asked for in the question. If there are too many points: – check that no idea has been repeated – try to connect similar ideas drop any point that seems unnecessary, or that you do not fully understand. • If you do not have many points, consider using gcner,1lis.itions and Stage 6 • Write your summary.