• Vanita Pal

Why do you need to focus on Summary writing for O level English Paper




There are several important components for the O level English exam. Most teachers will spend hours helping you to prepare for Comprehension and Composition. Of course, practicing in these areas will be a great help.

Why is the summary section so important?

It is only a small section at the end of your comprehension paper but you can score a total of 15 marks at one shot.


The summary portion is the only part where you can score extensively in as short a time as 20 -25 minutes. That is about all it takes to do the entire summary.

You do not NEED:

1. your own content

2. to analyse

3 infer

All you need to do is to take the facts which are already in the text and shorten it. It is really rather easy to score in this area as students can get full marks if they follow the rules.

Students who do summary writing should follow these Golden Rules if they want to get a full score.

1. Read the passage carefully after reading the summary question.

Ok. You may have already read the passage the first time when you were doing the comprehension text. So?

Yes, I know but the summary question will have a particular focus. It may only ask you to write on the failures of that activity or it may ask you to examine only the happy times which were experienced.

This is when you have to start weeding out the points. Sift through the passage carefully and underline what you need.

Ok. This is the easy part.

2. The next part is to EDIT.

3. Paraphrase

4. Word count

These are the 4 basic steps which I teach my students. When you actually get down to writing it, the steps may be slightly different.



Editing and Paraphrasing

What is Editing really?

It is all about reducing the words to fit a more concise form.

And how are you expected to do that?

Well, this is where you need to pay careful attention.

i) some students will simply start crossing out phrases and include only the parts needed for the summary.

This is alright except in cases where you cannot reduce any further without losing the point altogether!

ii)There is another way to reduce the words and that is by Paraphrasing.

To paraphrase properly, you will need to use your own words. A longer phrase may be reduced to just 2-3 words if you are clever enough to reduce and keep the meaning intact. Using your own words is paraphrasing and reducing is editing. It is actually impossible to edit properly without using your own words to reduce. The entire process is called editing. I prefer this way of editing to number i) where you run the risk of missing out points.

Word Count

The word count is 80 words and examiners pay attention to see if you are over-writing. Please plan your summary by using the ‘grid’ format where you can count the words easily.

How are you graded for your Summary?

The most important part of your summary should comprise of those 8-10 points which the answer should comprise of.

You can always check to make sure you are on the right track by counting the points which correctly ‘answer the question.’

The next steps are to ensure that you edit and lastly, keep to the word count.

Needless to say, the correct 8 – 10 points are the most important part of the answer. Always make sure that you have that written correctly and do not leave anything out.

It is easy to check to see if you are on track to get your 15 marks by looking out for these.

Check for these important Factors

1. 8-10 points

2. Editing it in 80 words

3. Organising it in a smooth flow so that the points are coherent

4. Spelling and grammar

How to organise in a smooth flow?

It is best to follow the flow of the comprehension passage. Try not to skip around the points and write erratically. Always underline the points first before writing it.

Your writing should Make Sense. Marks will be allocated for this. Do not edit to the point where the sentence does not make sense.

And lastly, make sure that you Answer The Question.

If you follow all these simple rules, there is absolutely no reason why you should not score a full 15 marks for your Summary.

This is the only part of the English paper where you have high marks and where it is possible to get a full score.

So, make sure you get your full score by following my Golden Rules for Summary.