Category Archives: Paper 2 Question 3. Summary Writing.

The Man Who Got Swallowed By A Hippo.


Read this feature article ‘I was swallowed by a hippo’

For paper 2 practice try to:

Summarise what happened to Paul after Evan was flung out of the boat.

For paper 3 practice:

Choose words and phrases and explain how the writer creates effects through these descriptions.

I reached over to grab his outstretched hand but as our fingers were about to touch, I was engulfed in darkness. There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf.

I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry. I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest. My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around – my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo’s snout. It was only then that I realised I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.

I wriggled as hard as I could, and in the few seconds for which he opened his jaws, I managed to escape. I swam towards Evans, but the hippo struck again, dragging me back under the surface. I’d never heard of a hippo attacking repeatedly like this, but he clearly wanted me dead.

Maintaining Point of View.


It is very important that you never change your point of view. Students often make this error in their narratives. Narratives can be written in the third or first person, but remember if your write it in the first person you cannot die!  Students also make the error of writing in the first person in their summary writing. Summary writing must be in the third person, even if the stimulus material is in the first person.

To revise maintaining point of view take this quiz.

Formal Letter (Question 1 Paper 2 or Question 1 Paper 3)


Formal Letter Structure

1. Opening

Address your letter to Dear + the name or job title of the person you have been asked to write to, then start a new line for the opening paragraph.

2. Paragraph 1: Introduction

Why are you writing?

Give the general aim and minimum information only, e.g. to complain, apply, request, disagree, and an indication of what you are responding to e.g. a recent holiday or a letter in last week’s newspaper.

3. Paragraph 2: Details of situation

Give previous history of event or your background or experience.

Say what happened exactly if you are making a complaint, or focus directly on the text you are arguing with.

This section should include specific data such as names, dates, facts and details.

4. Paragraph 3: Further development

Give further support to your claim or request.

Summarise the current situation and why you should be given consideration e.g. other problems which occured with your holiday accommodation, how well you fulfil the job requirements

5. Final paragraph: Future action

Say what you wish to happen next e.g. that you look forward to being called for interview or expect to receive some compensation as soon as possible. Suggest, firmly but politely, what may happen if you do not receive a response to a complaint.

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.

Paper 2. Question 3. Examiner Tips.

  • Though this question is called Summary it is not a summary in the sense of being a general description of a situation but instead it is a focused list of the specific ideas or details contained in the passage, after anything irrelevant to the two questions has been removed. • Find all the points you can for each part of the question; do not stop when you get to 15 as these may not be the same ones the examiner has on their list. The only way to be sure of getting all 15 Reading marks is to use everything relevant.
  • To get all 5 Writing marks you need to show evidence of clear and concise summary style throughout, precise focus and the use of your own words.
  • Do not attempt to synthesise the two passages as this is not required, is not rewarded; it makes your task more difficult to attempt to do so as they may not be directly comparable. Treat the passages separately and focus on the exact wording of the question.
  • Do not give your summary in the wrong form as this is penalised i.e. do not offer bullet points or a list, or write in the first person, or comment on the content of the passages, or present a narrative, or use quotation.
  • The lengths of the summaries of each passage should be roughly equal.
  • Though you must use your own words whenever possible, you do not have to find synonyms for technical objects e.g. solar heaters.
  • Both halves of the question are equally important and should be done in the same way and given the same length of about half a page.
  • Summaries much longer than half a page are no longer summaries and will be penalised in the Writing mark.
  • To be concise enough for summary style and to get in all the points you should use complex sentences containing two or three points in each.
  • Do not repeat points, or express them vaguely; (these will be given an R (repetition) or PNM (point not made) respectively in the margin, and discounted.
  • There is no need to introduce or conclude a summary, and doing so wastes time and words. Start by using the wording of part of the question e.g. ‘The features of the desert were…’