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Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing

by | Apr 3, 2024 | 0 comments

Introduction | Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing


Summary writing is one of the skills tested in the O Level / G3 English paper. It is the last question in Paper 2 and constitutes 60% of Paper 2 Section C (15 out of 25 marks). With such a high weighting, students are encouraged to spend a decent amount of time on it.


Breakdown of Mark Allocation

Summary writing has essentially two parts: identifying the right content points (content), and paraphrasing the points accurately (style / language).

  1. Content: 8 marks, 1 mark per correct point identified
  2. Style / Language: 7 marks


Summary Style Band Descriptors


  • Sustained and successful use of own words and structures
  • Consistently well organised ideas which convey the meaning of the text clearly and precisely


  • Frequent and usually appropriate use of own words and structures
  • Mostly well organised ideas which convey the meaning of the text clearly


  • Some use of own words and structures
  • Some attempts at organising ideas to convey the meaning of the text


  • Occasional attempts at use of own words and/or structures
  • Attempts at conveying the meaning of the text


  • No creditable response.



Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing


Here are some tips, notes and strategies to help you tackle summary writing effectively:


1. Understand the passage | Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing


Before attempting to summarise a passage, students should thoroughly read and understand the passage. You should identify the main ideas, supporting details, and the overall message or purpose of the text. This puts you in a better position to identify the points later on.


2. Analyse the summary question and understand what you need to summarise | Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing


Before diving into writing the summary, carefully analyse the summary question provided. Identify key instructions such as specific areas of focus. Pay close attention to any keywords or phrases that indicate what should be included in the summary. Understanding the question thoroughly will help you tailor your summary to meet the requirements and ensure you address all aspects specified by the summary question.


2021 O level

Paper 2

summarise the ways in which robotic technology can be helpful to humans


2020 O level

Paper 2

summarise the appearance and behaviour of penguins on land, and in water, as outlined in the passage.

*Note how there are 4 key things about penguins you have to look out for*


3. Allocate sufficient time | Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing


As previously mentioned, summary writing has a high weighting in Paper 2 and therefore deserves a considerable amount of time dedicated to completing this section. If too little time is set aside for summary, students might end up rushing through the identification of points and making poor attempts at proper paraphrasing. Allocate a good 25 to 30 minutes to this section.


4. Ensure accuracy of content point identification | Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing


The content marks for summary is 8 marks – essentially meaning that you should include 8 valid points in your summary. When identifying the content points, make sure you find at least 8 relevant content points. A typical summary question will have about 10 points, sometimes more than that. When you find 10 points or more, you will need to then make a wise decision to choose the most relevant 8 to 9 points to include in your final summary. Keep asking yourself if the content point you have chosen answers the question to ensure you have picked the right ones.


5. Eliminate unnecessary details | Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing


Include only information that is directly relevant to the main ideas and eliminate any unnecessary details, elaboration or examples from the passage when writing summary. These unnecessary details take up precious word count and do not add value to the main ideas that are required to answer the summary question. Remember, in summary writing, we want only the main ideas.

6. Paraphrase effectively | Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing


Summaries should be written in your own words rather than simply copying sentences from the original passage. While you are encouraged to use your own words, you must make sure that you accurately represent the meaning of the original text while using your own language.


6.1 Change the word form or sentence structure


One of the most common paraphrasing techniques is using synonyms. However, use synonyms only when you are confident of the meaning in context. In the event you are unsure of the choice of synonyms, you can also play around with the parts of speech or word classes. The four main word classes are: nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. Choose a particular keyword and change its word class. After doing so, you will be compelled to change the sentence structure to accommodate the word that has a different word class.

Here is an example from 2017 O Level Paper 2:


From passage Paraphrased point
As traffic increased, devices such as roundabouts and traffic lights were introduced to regulate it, which made roads safer, as did the various speed limits which were imposed on drivers. The introduction of roundabouts and traffic lights and imposing of speed limits, helped in regulating the increased traffic.


6.2 Retain the original meaning of the text

When paraphrasing, ensure that you accurately represent the meaning of the original text while using your own language. Avoid changing the meaning or misinterpreting the author’s intent. More often than not, we see students changing the original meaning of the content point in a bid to use their own words. See examples below, taken from 2015 O Level Paper 2:


From passage Paraphrased point
requires the seeds to be soaked first Seeds are supposed to be wet first.
are commonly grown in low-lying areas Rice is generally grown on flat lands.


Notice that the underlined words do not mean the same. For such cases, the content mark will not be awarded. It is hence important to be accurate during paraphrasing.


7. Use linking words or connectors to improve overall coherence of summary | Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing


To improve overall fluency of ideas in your summary, use linking words or connectors. Clear connection and sequencing of points help the examiner to follow through your content points and can help signal a change in idea should the summary question requires you to summarise two very different aspects e.g. past vs. present, for elite athletes vs. ordinary athletes. It also showcases your understanding of the text and identified points.

Here are some examples of connectors or linking words that you can use.


Additional ideas additionally
Contrasting ideas however
Sequencing ideas firstly
Cause and effect therefore


8. Check for Accuracy | Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing


After writing your summary, you should carefully review it to ensure that it accurately represents the main ideas of the original passage while answering the summary question. You should also check for clarity of expression to ensure that your points won’t be misinterpreted.


Conclusion | Tips & Notes for O Level / G3 English Summary Writing


Before sitting for your exam, make sure you attempt past year papers and understand your mistakes and areas for improvement. Practice makes progress. Allow yourself plenty of opportunities to practise summarising different types of passages and summary questions. This will help you improve your point identification skills, paraphrasing skills and overall confidence over time.

Join our classes, and our MOE-trained teachers will show you exactly how to apply the above strategies – and more! With our extensive experience, we provide tailored guidance to help you excel in summary writing, as well as the other components in the English paper.

Summary can be a challenging task, but with the right guidance, it can become easier! Sign up for a trial lesson today!

Learning Gems is a premium tuition centre that provides quality online English tuition classes to PSLE and G3 / GCE ‘O’ Level students in Singapore. Our teachers are well-versed with the latest MOE syllabus and have taught at various schools in Singapore. Be it the primary or secondary level, we possess the relevant experience and are fully qualified to help your child.

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