Summary Writing. (Paper 3 Question 3)


Question 3  asks you to write a summary using information from two passages. You are asked to summarise the points made about  two specific topics.

No other information is relevant. You will lose marks if you include points that are not directly relevant to the topic you have been asked to write about. e.g. A past IGCSE question asked for a summary of “Hippy John’s lifestyle”. Only information given about his lifestyle is relevant, any other information about him or other characters given in the passage is irrelevant. The history of hippies in America is irrelevant – writing about these things wastes time and marks.

The mark scheme will list all the relevant points you should have made, for which you will be given one mark each up to 15. You should aim to cover 20 content points.
A Step by Step Guide to Summary Writing for the Extended IGCSE Exam Step

  • Step 1: Read the question and underline the key words
  • Ask yourself: What information is it I am being asked to select for this summary?
  • Step 2: Change the wording of the task into a question and write it at the top of each passage. For instance, if the task is ‘Summarise the problems Jane has on her journey’ Change it to ‘What problems does Jane have on her journey?
  • This will help you to keep focused on selecting relevant ideas only as you reread.
  • Step 3: Reread the passages and start selecting relevant points underlining them.
  • The relevance of some points will be more obvious than the relevance of others – you will need to read very carefully and think very carefully in order to judge relevance.
  • CONCENTRATE – you can’t skim read and then write an effective summary.
  • Step 4: Evaluate and count the points you have identified by underlining
  • Reread carefully the information you’ve underlined to check it is relevant to the specific demands of the question, double check the question you’ve noted at the top of the passages.
  • If it is not relevant put a cross through the information so you remember not to use it when you write.
  • Count all the points that you think are relevant. There should be around 20 different points in the two passages. If you have much fewer than 20 different points REREAD the passages searching for additional relevant points to select and underline.
  • Step 5: Write the summary, organizing your ideas into paragraphs as you write and thinking about THE RULES for summary writing
  • As you write put a tick next to each selected, underlined point in the passages so you can check you haven’t left anything out and have covered
  • EVERYTHING MUST BE RELEVANT – approximately 20 different points.
  • Step 6: Read over your summary, asking yourself – will this get 15/15 for content and 5/5 for summary style and quality of language?
  • To achieve 15/15 for content you should have approximately 20 RELEVANT points in your summary.
  • If you have much fewer than this go back and scrutinise the passages looking for other relevant points to add.
  • To achieve 5/5 for summary style and quality of language you need to have made all points clearly and concisely in your own words.
  • The answer must be strongly focused on the passages and on the question.
  • Correct spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes and cross out any words or phrases that unnecessarily repeat points already made.

The Rules for Writing an IGCSE SUMMARY


  • Use a concise, formal, impersonal style
  • Use key words from the question, e.g. “ … is a sign of the past remaining”
  • Remember to cover approximately 20 different points
  • Consider the word limit given on the exam paper. If you write a lot less, you haven‘t included enough information, if you write a lot more, you must have included irrelevant information, repeated points or given your opinion


  • Don’t include an introduction or conclusion
  • Don’t copy the wording from the passages – the information needs to be the same, but the wording needs to be different – Use your own words throughout.
  • Don’t write using “I” or “you”
  • Don’t use informal language or slang
  • Don’t add to descriptions using unnecessary adjectives or adverbs.
  • Don’t repeat any information – even if a point was made twice in the given passage you should only make it once.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s