4 Tips To Summary Writing For Secondary 1 English Students

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Summary writing can be a challenge to Secondary 1 English students. 

I mean, it is a 15-mark section tailing the second comprehension passage. It is certainly not something to be scoffed at.

Most students think it is just a matter of copying out the portions pertaining to the Secondary 1 English question.

In doing so, they invariably run into 2 major problems:

1. They end up copying nearly the entire portion earmarked for the question and overshoot the word count.

2. They do not paraphrase.

This will obviously not bode well.

In order to sail on to good summary grades, there are a few salient points you will have to take note of. 

I have outlined 4 tips and they should get you through to a good finish in Secondary 1 English summary writing:

secondary 1 english

Tip #1 – The vital 8 points

Every summary consists of about 8 points. Sometimes one of these points may require some elaboration due to statistics. 

Underline these points carefully while ensuring that each one meets the requirement of the question. Interpret the Secondary 1 English question carefully and set out the parameters for it.

Do not ‘under-write’ or write more than is necessary. Most students eliminate as much as possible to meet the word count. 

Sometimes, a vital piece of evidence may be overlooked. Clinch those 8 points and they should flow in the order that it is presented. 

Organise your points in a coherent way and they should be written in a concise manner.

Read the Secondary 1 English passage carefully, only concentrating on the paragraphs the question focuses on. 

Do not write out everything. The objective is to summarise.

Tip #2 – Paraphrasing

Paraphrase your points. Once you get your 8 points, ensure that you do not copy and paste everything.

Zoom in for adjectives and adverbs. Those are the ones to paraphrase. They are easier to tackle as more word substitutes can be found for them.

Instead of changing one work at a time, focus on phrases. Each phrase you select from the text should be paraphrased to a shorter one. 

Observe words describing characters, places, and thoughts. These are far easier to replace.

And when you do substitute them, the meaning should be intact. If you veer away from the textual meaning, you will be out of point.

What is the best way to check if you are on track? Read it through while checking for the 8 points.

Are they accurate? Consistent with the demands of the question?

Well-organised? And most importantly, does it make sense?

Do not skip a point and insert it at the last minute. It will only indicate a lack of clarity.

Tip #3 – Editing

This is synonymous with paraphrasing but I want to make a point. Editing is about cutting down the words while paraphrasing is about word substitution.

You may paraphrase but it has to be done in such a way, that the phrases are as short as possible. This is ellipsis. 

Make it short and accurate. And this is where the power of your word bank is all-encompassing.

Words, words, words. They will make all the difference when you attempt to scale down the words while keeping the original meaning.

Editing is about keeping all the 8 points in a tight formation so that it meets the 80-word requirement. 

Reduce but do not reject necessary points. This is the part where you will be earning your marks. Clock in the points and make each one link to the Secondary 1 English question.

Tip #4 – Word count

Ok. This is the last part for Secondary 1 English summary writing. What if you have written over the word count?

You can make last-minute reparation. 

Check for points that may overlap. And reduce long phrases. It may be a struggle at this point. 

Deciding between sticking to the original content and editing it. The main idea should still be intact. That is the key factor.

The last step can make a big difference. If you overshoot, it will definitely mean a loss of marks. 

Try to cap your summary at 80 words. A bit of practice will help. Just keep doing this and you will be word-perfect!

I always like to sidestep this last-minute debacle by using the grid method to write. 

Drawing vertical lines across so you can observe if you are over-writing will be easier.

Ok. The other problem is not writing enough. I have had students who write about 60 to 70 words and they feel less is better. 

Not true. It only reveals that you may have skipped something.

I have written several books on Secondary 1 English summary writing. Just practise some of the passages. 

Any summary question from a Secondary 1 English past year’s exam paper will be just as useful. 

Remember, practice makes perfect, and remember these 4 vital tips whenever you write. Good luck!

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