HOW TO HANDLE NIGERIAN WAEC/NECO ENGLISH LANGUAGE SUMMARY QUESTIONS (1)
NATURE OF SUMMARY QUESTIONS
1. The other word for summary is to contract, compress or distill sentences or paragraphs into shorter forms. A summary is also called an abridgement, reduction, docket, resume or precis.
2. For WAEC/NECO exams, the summary will usually be made up of one prose passage of about 500 words and it is usually for 30 marks. It is also the most neglected area of the syllabus and an Achilles’ heel of students.
3. Passages can be excerpts, narrations, dialogues, expositions of social, cultural, commercial or political issues from any part of the world. It does not matter where the passage is from, whether from Iceland or Australia, your answers will be the same.
4. Summary passages usually test the student’s ability to extract relevant information and summarize the points demanded for in clear concise English
STUDYING/PRACTICING ANSWERS TO SUMMARY QUESTIONS PRIVATELY BEFORE THE EXAM
5. Students are advised to read the passage 2 or 3 times to know what it is about. They should write down the main theme or ideas or what they think is the purpose or reason for the passage.
6. Students should select the main points. Actually, most passages can be divided into 3 to 5 broad sections, each of which marks a stage in the development of the author’s theme. Sometimes, these sections are indicated by paragraphs (though not necessarily so all the time). The paragraphs of course need not to be of uniform length. Students should give each of these sections a definite heading. The headings will form the skeleton of the summary.
7. Thereafter, each section should be examined. To do this, the student should pick out those points which are essential to the theme and cross out details which are not so important, such as illustrative examples, repetitions, figurative expressions.
8. Students should use about one-third of the available time for theme work indicated under 5 to 7 above. Those paragraphs constitute what is called the 3-step preliminary work.
9. The next step is to write a rough draft of the summary using only the notes already made. As much as possible this draft should be written in the “student’s language”. Though students are not expected to lift passages verbatim essential words or phrases in the original passage may be retained if they are necessary for exactness.
10. Students are usually required to show the author’s meaning of certain expressions. Students should only interpret in line with the context before them. To “express in your own words” does not mean “express your own idea”.
11. Students are permitted to show the tone of the original text e.g students can use statements like “the author funnily suggests” or “the author ironically suggests…”. But the tone of the original passage should be preserved.
12. Generally speaking, students should state the author’s points in the order they are stated. However, if rearrangement will help the smooth reading of the summary, then they can go ahead.
13. Students should avoid phrases such as “the author added”, “the author said” or “he went on to say”. These phrases do not usually add any mark to the summary. They should be avoided entirely if possible. The use of “former” or “latter” to describe persons should be sparingly used too.
14. Usually, students should write a summary in a single paragraph, unless there is a distinct break in the thought of the original passage into 2 different themes. In which case, it may be better to make the summary 2 paragraphs.
15. When the draft is ready, students should compare the draft with the original passage to make sure no essential point has been omitted.
16. The next step is to polish up the draft with the following in mind.
a. To make any more alteration depending on paragraph 14 above.
b. To see that the style used is adequate while avoiding jerky and disconnected sentences. Each sentence would lead normally to the next.
c. To make sure that the summary is a readable piece of prose, and that it is intelligible to a reader who has not seen the original passage.
17. The final version should then be written from the rough draft and should be a mere copy of the polished draft. Therefore the summary should be read by the student to himself for satisfaction purposes.
18. The verb tense should be changed from present or future to past except where the statement reflects a truism or the question indicates an answer in the present tense.
19. There is always a need to pick at the central idea of the sentences and paragraphs of the write-up.
20. Select the main points related to the central theme, then write the summary in your own words. You may use keywords, but for examination purposes never reproduce whole phrases or sentences. For each passage you must find the main theme and the chief points. It is only then you can summarize.
TO BE CONTINUED