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!
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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!