Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tips on Summary Writing ( SPM )

The question on summary writing is based on the same text used for reading comprehension. This should be an advantage  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 the language. While these concerns are genuine, there is no reason to worry as these problems can be easily overcome with proper guidance and help from your 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 (as 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 important 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 5 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 ( unless if you are good at paraphrasing )
Things You Need to Do
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 whether the information is relevant and keep on looking at the question to remind yourself what the question wants you to find.
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 joining 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 given 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.
Things to avoid
1. 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.