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How to Answer Summary Questions 2023
Summary writing constitutes Section C of English Language Paper 1 in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations. In this article, I will show you step by step the procedure for answering summary questions in the exam. Let’s begin with the question:
What is Summary Writing all about?
First, let’s understand what a summary is. A summary is a brief statement of the main ideas in a passage or piece of writing. So, summary writing is all about picking out the main ideas in a passage and presenting them in your own words.
What are the Steps for Answering Summary Questions?
(1). Read the questions first so as to know what you are to look for in the passage. This will facilitate your reading – you can now read with purpose since you already know what you’re looking for in the passage. So, the moment you come across the main idea, you underline or pick it out.
(2). Read the passage twice or until you understand what the passage is about. This is important because comprehension should come before summarizing.
(3). Read the questions again and make sure you understand what you’re asked to do. Many students fail because they give answers that are directly opposite to what the examiner has asked them to do.
(4). Extract the main points in the passage in strict adherence to the instructions given in the summary questions. Two things are helpful at this point, namely: a. the thesis is the main idea of the whole passage and is usually in the first paragraph.
Identifying the thesis can help you to summarize the entire passage in a single sentence if you’re asked to do so.b. the topic sentence is the main point of each paragraph, and it summarizes the whole paragraph, all things being equal.
Here, you must examine each paragraph critically to ensure that the writer has followed the principle of the paragraph, which is that each paragraph should contain only one main idea. Some writers ignore this principle and go ahead to discuss two or even more main ideas in a paragraph. In such cases, you need to treat every main idea as it is.
(5). Reconstruct the extracts in your own sentences using word-reduction methods. There are various methods of reducing words, and this will be discussed in detail in a separate lesson.
(6). Present your answers in the specified number of sentences. WAEC would normally ask you to summarize a passage in four or five sentences, as the case may be. You should not exceed the specified number of sentences to avoid being penalized.
(7). In presenting your answers, you can use a preamble or direct sentences. You cannot use the two methods at the same time: you must choose one of them: a. A preamble is an opening statement used to introduce two or more ideas. Example: If you’re asked to summarize a passage in five sentences, you can use the following preamble: The five causes of road accidents in the country are: i. Most of the roads in the country are bad. ii. Vehicles are not maintained by their owners, etc. b. Direct sentences do not need any written intro; you just state the sentences directly. Example: i. Most of the roads in the country are bad. ii. Vehicles are not maintained by their owners, etc.
(8). Crosscheck your answers and make sure they are grammatically correct. This is very important to avoid losing marks as a result of grammatical errors.
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