Summary Writing: Identifying what is Relevant and Examination Guidelines

Identifying relevant Ideas

Relevance has to do with the appropriateness of the point in relation to what you have been asked. Therefore, not all important points or main ideas are relevant to the question asked.


Examination Guidelines

Here are some guidelines to follow when writing a summary:

  • Read the extract at least twice. Once to form a general impression and second to jot down the relevant points.
  • When jotting down points try to: find a specific set of statements, ideas or illustrations which are similar and group them together; substitute one word for several; and check that the same idea in a different form does not appear more than once in your list of points.
  • Read the passage a third time to double check that you have jotted down all the information necessary.
  • Write your first draft of the summary and do not include your own ideas in the passage.
  • Use your own words as much as possible. It is alright to use words and phrases from the passage from time to time, however.
  • Check the number of words in your draft against the number of words specified. If the number of words exceeds the word limit, then shorten your summary without removing the ideas necessary. CXC will only mark up until the word count given, so try to stick to the guideline given. If your draft is below the limit, then double check the extract, you may have left out ideas.
  • Write your final version and double check for grammar and that you have fulfilled the requirements put forth.


King, P.H., Writing Summaries and Statistical Reports, 1988

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