Summary Question

O-Level Comprehension: Analysing the Summary Question

Hi everyone! My name is Ms Geraldine and I am an English Teacher and Curriculum Specialist at Lil’ but Mighty. In one of my earlier blogposts, I shared the different types of questions found in Non-Narrative Comprehension. In today’s video, we will be taking a closer look at one such question type in greater detail: the summary question, which many students find extremely challenging to do well in. So let’s take a look at O-Level Comprehension: Analysing the Summary Question!

Like what you are watching? Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive our tips and strategies fresh from our studio!

Watch the video below!

Just in case some of you have never encountered the summary question before, here is an example!


Now that you have seen an example, let me give you an overview of the summary question for those of you new to it. The summary question is one of the question types that you will come across in the comprehension component of the O Level paper. Specially, the summary question is usually the last question of Paper 2, Section C. It requires students to pick out points from certain paragraphs in the Non-Narrative passage and summarise them into 80 words or less. Paraphrasing is a key skill required for the summary question because students are expected to use their own words as much as possible. Finally, students are marked upon 8 for content and 7 for language!


Worth 15 marks, the summary question definitely carries a high weightage. This is why it is important for us to learn how to approach it with care and caution. In order to achieve this, you must analyse the summary question and understand its requirements. Now, I will go over the three steps of summary question analysis which all of you should carry out before diving into answering the question!

Step 1: Identify the Focus of the Summary Question

The focus of the summary question refers to the type of points you must identify from the passage to summarise. So, if we look back at the example summary question from earlier, I will highlight “the daily tasks of the zookeepers at the Singapore Zoo” and label it as the focus of the summary question.


By picking the focus of the question out, I know I SHOULD NOT be picking out information about the emotions, diet, or relationships of the zookeepers when hunting for points in the passage later. Instead, I need to locate points about the many different tasks these keepers carry out as part of their job taking care of animals in the zoo.

After identifying the summary’s focus, I will try to unpack the meaning of certain keywords. For example, I will scribble down that the word “tasks” usually refers to “actions” or “activities”, and will thus be on the lookout for verbs (action words) when scanning the passage for possible points. I will also note that the word “daily” suggests these tasks MUST be carried out every day, and I cannot pick out any tasks that are not carried out on a daily basis as points to use for my summary.


By ensuring that you fully understand the focus of the summary question, you will find the process of picking out points much, much easier! So, do not underestimate the power of highlighting and annotating on your summary question!

Step 2: Identify Which Paragraphs the Summary Points Are Located In

Reading on, you will realise the question always identifies for you which paragraphs to pick out points from. Once again, you should highlight the numbers, and then turn back to the passage and circle these corresponding paragraphs to use.


Carrying out this step reduces the risk of you carelessly highlighting points from the WRONG paragraphs, a fatal mistake that can cost you a lot of marks. Students have the tendency to do this when they are rushing through their summary question, so always spend some time double-checking that you have identified the correct paragraphs to pick out points from!

Step 3: Analyse the Starting Words That Have Been Given to You

In every summary question, you are given certain words to help you begin your paragraph. It is essential that you read through these words and ask yourself the following questions:


For the example question earlier, we have these given as our starting words:


While reading through these words, I know that I must write in present tense, since the starting words are in present tense. Similarly, I deduce that the first point I start the summary paragraph with MUST be the very first task zookeepers carry out during their day given the phrase “at the beginning of their work day”.

And there you have it! The three main requirements you must analyse before diving into a summary question. Of course, after analysing the summary question comes the more difficult process of picking out the points and then later paraphrasing them accurately, which you can look forward to in future videos. Until then, happy revising and take care!

Lil' but Mighty Secondary School Schedule

Level up with advanced O-Level English examination strategies. Without compromising on the joy of learning.

Components covered:

1. Paper 1 – Writing (Editing, Situational Writing, Continuous Writing)
2. Paper 2 – Comprehension
3. Paper 4 – Oral Communication (Reading Aloud & Spoken Interaction) 


Group 48 24 1
Ms. Geraldine

In her free time, Ms Geraldine enjoys writing her own prose and poetry, online gaming with friends, as well as critically analysing movies by penning down reviews. A die-hard fan of Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as an avid consumer of Netflix shows, she draws on such material in her process of lesson planning and curriculum design, with the goal of boosting student engagement and interest.

Have something to share? Drop us a comment below!

Leave a Reply


Other related posts

Creative Writing | 3 Easy Steps to Write Your Own Haiku!
Verbs: More than Just Action Words! | Part 3: Changes in Verb Forms
Ketchup on English! – is, are, was and were!
Audience In Visual Text | Visual Text Comprehension
Exploring Points of View (POV) in Composition Writing
Metaphors For? | Part II – Implied Metaphors
10 Beautiful Vivid Verbs to Boost Your Writing and Oral! | Primary School English
Metaphors For? | Part I – An Introduction to Metaphors
3 Family-Friendly Shows on Netflix (Educational & Entertaining)!
Verbs: More than Just Action Words! | Part 2: Tenses
2021 Father’s Day Contest Winners
Verbs: More than Just Action Words! | Part 1: Subject-Verb Agreement
10 Beautiful Words You Can Use in Narrative / Descriptive Writing | Secondary School
Ways To Create A Well-Rounded Character | Creative Writing
Understanding Purpose-Related Questions in Visual Text Comprehension
How Playing Video Games Can Improve Our English (With Practical Tips for Parents!)
Primary School Composition | Onomatopoeia – What’s That?
2021 Mother’s Day Contest Winners + Our Founder’s Journey (Mother’s Day Special)!
Composition Revision: Using Your 5 Senses in Your Writing
How to Create A Dynamic Piece of Writing Using Idioms
Ketchup on English! – Subject-Verb Agreement
Punctuation Marks: Colon Vs. Semicolon
4 steps to Create Suspense
That Simile Though 2 | Using Stronger Similes
5 Films on Netflix to Watch During the Holidays!
PSLE ORAL | Compiled Prelim 2021 Oral Topics + Questions!
If you’re looking at getting recent PSLE Prelim Oral topics and practice questions, this will be an excellent resource for you!
5 Steps to Convert a Newspaper Article into a Cloze Passage
I would like to share with you 5 steps on how authentic articles can be transformed into cloze passages easily. Read on here!
PSLE English | Oral Conversation: Free SG50 Sample Practice + Model Answers
In this blogpost we will be touching on the oral stimulus-based conversation topic of National Day and SG50! Read on here!
PSLE English | Oral Conversation: Filling your Story with Details Easily + Free Revision Cards
By simply using the 5W1H, your children will be able to lengthen their stories (hence, the conversation!). Read on here!
PSLE English | Situational Writing: Q&A + Formal vs Informal Writing Comparison Chart
To aid you in your situational writing revision, here is a comparison chart that shows the differences between formal and informal writing!
PSLE English Tips | Oral: Stimulus-Based Conversation Checklist
To help my children handle the Stimulus-Based Conversation examination, here are some instructions again about using the checklist!
A Little Encouragement | DIY Motivational Bookmark (Easy to personalise too!)
A bookmark with a quote to motivate is also a chance for them to see the power of words and how words can mean more than what they seem.
Situational Writing: Step-by-Step Guide + Free Revision Card
I believe a walkthrough on the process of doing situational writing is in order. Here are the requirements for content and language!
I Love Reading | 5 Ways to Motivate Reluctant Readers
One of the most important ingredients necessary for a child or anyone learning English is the habit of reading. Get motivated to read now!
PSLE English | Printable Ultimate Grammar & Synthesis Summary
Today, we are sharing two lists of essentials in our Ultimate Grammar and Synthesis Summary Printable. Download them free here!
How Well Do You Know Your Past Participles?
While we are familiar with the past, present and future tenses, the little less known but equally important tense is the past participles.
Primary Composition Writing | Starting Sentences with Introductory Clauses
Today, we'll be revising the use of sentence starters to help you create variety in your sentence structures. Read on here!
The Sentence Train | Lower Primary English
Today, we are going to learn what makes up a sentence. It will come in handy when you do the word order activity in school! Read on here!
PSLE English Tips | Oral: Reading Checklist
This Oral Reading Checklist can be used by children when they practise reading on their own. Download it now!
Language of COVID | 10 Words Added to the Dictionary
Using Personification to Show, Not Tell!
Expressing Character Feelings Too! | Using Show-Not-Tell (Part 2)
How to Choose a Book to Read: 8 Ways
How to Dress Up A Boring Paragraph | Creative Writing
Ketchup on English! – Halloween Special: Prepositions of Time!
Ketchup on English! – Verbs Are Not Just Action Words!
Expressing Character Feelings | Using Show-Not-Tell
Which Picture Should I Use? | Choosing the Best Picture to Use for Composition!
Oral: Reading Passage | Long Vowels – Have You Been Reading Your Vowels Correctly?

Like what you are reading?

Subscribe now to receive news and tips hot off the press!

shape icon 06
shape icon 05