To answer questions such as "What was the movie about?", "What did I miss in class today" you must be able to summarize. The person who asked you these questions does not want to know every detail. You are only required to select the important details and summarize them. Similarly, in your studies in the university you will have various opportunities to summarize the texts you have read.
· You may use summarizing as a useful study technique: you may write down the main points of a writer's article and learn the material you need.
· You may also be assigned to write summaries by your instructors so that they can check whether you have read the assigned passages.
· Most often, summaries are also included in other types of writing and academic papers. In a research paper you revise and summarize information on the topic under study. In an argumentative essay you may summarize texts and research findings that support your thesis.
Here in the prep school our aim is to prepare you for your future studies. Therefore, you should learn how to summarize texts in an acceptable and successful manner.
What is a summary?
The goal of writing a summary of an article, a single chapter or a whole book is to offer as accurately as possible the full sense of the original, but in a more condensed form. A summary restates the author's main point, purpose, intent and supporting details in your own words.
The process of summarizing enables you to grasp the original text better, and the result shows the reader that you
understand it as well. In addition to this, the knowledge you gained by summarizing makes it possible for you to analyze and critique the original text.
How to summarize?
There are several techniques to be used while summarizing a text and they all stress full understanding of a text and require the reader to spot the main or major ideas in it. But before we move any further, here are some useful tips about summarizing:
- Restate, that is repeat the ideas of the source in different words and phrases Do not add your own ideas, opinions or judgment of the arguments Make it shorter than the source
The Cornell method
Here in this handout we will follow the Cornell method to summarize a factual text. Divide your notepaper into two columns. On the left hand side, write the main points, in the right hand column write down a few details or important explanations about the main point.
Let's assume that you were assigned the news story about the dolphin that lost its tail.
- Make notes as you read along. Never use a sentence if you can use a phrase.
The following chart demonstrates how to fill in the details as you read along. The news story is not told in the chronological order. If you use the outlining method you may not be able to put the story in time order. However, if you write the main points in the left, and add details in the right column, you see that your summary forms itself in a logical and chronological order.