By | August 13, 2022

What Is A Summary?

Summary involves writing down a brief and concise account of a long passage. In other words, a summary can be described as a shortened form of a long passage after removing your all irrelevant points from the main points and giving a short account of the passage using your own words.

In any summary exercise, there is always a piece of written prose that students are expected to read and understand. Moreover, the ability of students to comprehend and report accurately the main points in a passage is always tested through the summary questions set in the passage.

Steps to Write a Good Summary

There are four main things students have to note in order to write a good summary, these are:


This demands that they must be brief and concise in their answers. There is no room for the use of flowery language or any other additional information aside from the main points.


This calls for a candidate’s answer to be relevant to the points mentioned in the passage. Additionally, students are not expected in summary writing to give any fact or point outside the passage, however relevant the fact or point is.

Proper Coverage of the Passage

This demands that students must read and understand every aspect of the passage. This calls for a proper understanding of the passage since the passage is unlikely to lend itself so easily to them.


This means that students are expected to put down their answers clearly.

How to Write a Good Summary

It is possible to score all the marks in summary writing in WAEC, NECO, and any other examination, and also, very easy to score zero. Students’ success, in summary, depends on how well they follow the procedure given to them on how to write a good summary. A student who fails to take the step-by-step approach to summary writing may end up flopping the whole exercise. Therefore in order to write a good summary, you are advised to read the following approaches:

Read the Passage Very Carefully

Most of the students fail in summary writing because they fail to read the given passage and carefully understand it. You cannot write a good summary if you don’t understand the given passage. Moreover, most students feel that they can have a look at the questions first before reading the passage. This approach is wrong as this may attempt you to start reading the passage piecemeal within paragraphs, searching for where the answers are, and thereby putting it down verbatim or word for word.

Writing a good summary demands that you read the passage very well so as to have a proper understanding of it before attempting to put down your answers. Having said this, reading and understanding the passage may take you more than one reading.

Firstly, read the passage very quickly to know the subject matter of the passage. WAEC, NECO, and NABTEB examinations are never titled. This is deliberate as it is meant to make students read through the passages and to forestall students’ attempts to guess at answers to the questions.

Secondly, after the first reading, you can read the passage once again to intimate yourself better with the subject matter of the passage. Additionally, after the second reading, you can then proceed to read the questions as this will provide an insight into what you will now focus your attention on when you are reading for the third time.

Finally, re-read the passage for the third time and you can now underline or note where the required information for answering your questions are. Of course, after the third reading, you should be ready to go back to the questions and answer them. Of course, after the third reading, you should be ready to go back to the questions and answer them.

How to Put Down Summary Answers

  1. Write in Sentences
  2. Short and Concise Answers
  3. Use Your Own Words
  4. Use a Good Grammar

Causes of Loss of Marks in Summary Writing

Summary Writing

Students lose marks heavily in summary exercise because they fail to adhere strictly to the principles and procedures guiding the practice of summary. A careless student will lose some marks because various penalties are imposed on every careless presentation of summary answers.

The causes of loss of marks in summary writing are:

  1. Mindless Lifting of Words from the Passage
  2. Absence of Conciseness and Relevance
  3. Phrases and Incomplete Sentences
  4. Wrong Preamble (Introduction)
  5. Writing Two Scoring Points in One Sentence
  6. Writing More than Required Number of Sentences
  7. Grammatical Errors

In Conclusion, you should be aware that imposition of one penalty for an error does not preclude the imposition of another penalty, for any other error committed even in one scoring answer. In other words, the imposition for inclusion of irrelevant or extraneous material in one scoring answer will not arouse pity in your examiner not to impose penalty for another error you committed in the same scoring answer. Therefore, you have to ensure that you practice summary regularly so as to acquire the necessary skills and techniques of summary writing.

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