Now, it gets hard!
Exercise 4 of ESL paper, is summary writing. A passage will be given, on which you are required to write a summary.
What is a summary? The formal definition is: a brief statement or account of the main points of something. And that’s exactly what you have to do. Identify the main, relevant points and write them in your own words in an organized manner.
This is the part of the paper I, personally, had the most trouble with. It is not as easy as it looks. So, let’s get to it.
- Read the question properly.
What exactly do you have to write a summary on. In the question, they could specify one or more detail. So you need to write the summary on just those details. Leave out the rest.
- Read the passage.
As you go, underline the points that you need to include in your summary, that are relevant and important to the question.
- Write the summary.
That’s easier said than done. You have got all your points, now you need to collate and organise it into one write-up using your own words.
- Write a one-line introduction that tells the examiner what you’re writing a summary on. Keep it short. In the example above, you could start the summary by writing : Poon Lim, a ship-wreck victim, managed to survive an astounding 133 days on an island all alone.
- Start organising the points. You could do it chronologically, advantage-disadvantage format or problem-solution format- whatever works for the task at hand. In the example above, writing points in their chronological order seems to be the right choice since it’s a narrative type of article.
- Use connectives, lots of them, to organise your points and add a sense of continuity. Some examples are: Firstly/Secondly/Thirdly, In Addition/Also/Furthermore, Consequently/As a result, Thus/Hence etc.
- Use your own words. Use synonyms of word in the passage, if possible. In the example above, the phrase ‘invented ways to find food and water’ can be changed to ‘came up with a system to obtain food and water’.
- You don’t have to write a conclusion. If the question asked you to write the summary on the entire passage, then maybe a conclusion would be fitting. But in questions like the one above, it is irrelevant to the question.
- Stick to the word limit. For the extended paper you have to write at least 100 word but not more than 120 words. For the core paper you need to write at least 70 word but not more than 80 words. Don’t write too much; scrap unnecessary points not relevant to the question; cut short words.
That’s all about Exercise 4! The best way to get better at it, is to keep practicing past paper questions, nothing more. Polishing up your vocabulary skills might be helpful in using your own words.
The summary writing exercise in the core paper 1 is too easy, so it should only take about 5 minutes to attempt it.
Spend about 15 minutes on this exercise, in the extended paper 2. Reading the passage should take about 5 minutes and the rest 10 minutes should be used to write your summary.
Notes submitted by Lintha
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