Summarising – doing it well!

Help, tips and assistance for students. This blog is part of a range specifically for students and can be found, along with others, under Student GCSE Blogs.

These are the skill descriptors you need to meet:

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and, a typical question will look like this:

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To summarise means: give a brief statement of the main points of (something).  In other words recap, review or condense the important parts of a text.

A summary is a short, focused statement about an article.

Summary Writing:

Read Carefully and Closely: Your key to success in writing an article summary is your understanding of the article; therefore, it is essential to read carefully and closely.

Common mistakes in writing a summary: The most common problem that students have when writing a summary is that they misunderstand the point of summarising. When writing a summary about an article, your job is to write about the key points and make an inference.

Let’s look at an example (1):

During my vacation last May, I had a hard time choosing a tour. Flights to Japan, Hong Kong and Australia are just too common. What I wanted was somewhere exciting and exotic, a place where I could be spared from the holiday tour crowds. I was so happy when Joan called up, suggesting a trip to Cherokee, a county in the state of Oklahoma. I agreed and went off with the preparation immediately.

(73 words)

What are the key point(s):

  • The text is about selecting a holiday
  • Picking the right holiday wasn’t easy because they wanted something unusual
  • They wanted something interesting/thrilling/breathtaking but free from ‘tourists’
  • Joan made a suggestion to Cherokee which the writer liked.

How would you write the bullets into a cohesive summary? Remember you need to write only the key points. Which of these do you prefer?

  1. The writer struggled to think of a suitably thrilling holiday without tourists, but he did like his friend’s suggestion of Cherokee. (21 words)
  2. Cherokee offered the thrill they wanted from a holiday without the tourists. (12 words)
  3. Jan’s suggestion of Cherokee was exactly what he wanted. (9 words)

Number two is my choice, it picks out the key elements – Cherokee, thrill, holiday and tourists.  Remember for AQA P2 Q2, you also need to include a quote and inference and COMPARE to a 2nd text.

Cherokee offered the thrill they wanted from a holiday without the tourists, “they wanted to be spared from the holiday tour crowds”. A reader could infer the couple are older and want to discover new places.

 

Here’s a second example text linked.  This is also clearly about another holiday:

There is so much to see and do in Beijing that if you are visiting this city for the first time or the even the tenth time, it can feel overwhelming. Prepare to have your tastebuds delighted with the most delicious food you have ever tasted (don’t be afraid to try something new!). Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for amazing architecture, both old and new. And brace yourself for a cacophony of unfamiliar sounds and smells that fill this bustling, hustling city that will make you realise, happily, that you are truly halfway around the world.

(98 words)

What are the key points?

  • They are in Beijing and there’s lots to do
  • It’s for people who’ve never visited before or people who have visited many times
  • Sights, smells, sounds will be a highlight
  • It’s completely different to (England)

How would you write the bullets into a cohesive summary? Remember you need to write only the key points. Which of these do you prefer?

  1. Regardless how often you’ve visited before, Beijing always has something new to offer. Even though the city is full of everyday sounds, smells and tastes, it’s nothing like home. (29 words)
  2. New and old visitors to Beijing are sure to discover something new every time. (14 words)
  3. Beijing always surprises travellers with new adventures and experiences. (9 words)

Number two is my choice, it picks out the key elements – new, old, Beijing, discovering.  Remember for AQA P2 Q2, you also need to include a quote and inference and COMPARE to a 2nd text.

New and old visitors to Beijing are sure to discover something new every time which“fill this bustling, hustling city” which could suggest that there are still many places to discover in the busy city.

 

Now put the two together, remember the question will give you a focus (eg how are they similar/different-so read the question carefully), however, the majority seem to ask for a summary of differences:

(SUMMARY POINT) Text A points to how Cherokee offers the thrill the couple wanted from a holiday without the tourists, (QUOTE) “they wanted to be spared from the holiday tour crowds”. (INFERENCE) A reader could infer the couple may be older but still want to discover new places. (CONJUNCTION) Whereas Text B (SUMMARY POINT) is different, commenting on how new and old visitors to Beijing are sure to discover something new every time which (QUOTE) “fill this bustling, hustling city”. (INFERENCE) This could suggest that there are still many places to discover in the busy city and the lively nature would suit tourists that like energetic places, unlike Text A.

You can read more about P2 Q2 here.

Thank you for reading.

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2 thoughts on “Summarising – doing it well!

  1. Hi Ms,
    Is it possible to post or send to me some students high band responses marked by the examiner from AQA so that I can get an idea on what to write for Language Paper 2 for every question.
    Thank you

    Like

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