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Here's 2 sample summaries of the same passage done by 2 candidates.

To help you recognise the content points, the numbers assigned to them in the list of content points are inserted in both summaries as the points are made.

Candidate A


Candidate B

Over the centuries, people had eventually forgotten about Pompeii because its precise location remained unknown (1), because molten rock had poured over the area from eruptions in later years (2) and altered the shape of the coast (3). Debris obscured the site (4) and rainwater hastened its decay (5). Fiorelli's approach was the essence of discipline and orderliness (6). He removed all the debris (7) and installed a drainage system to draw off the rainwater (8). He believed in a systematic study of the ruins (9) and traced the perimeter walls (10), mapping out the site (11) and numbering buildings (12). He gave each new object a precise description (13) and insisted that new discoveries were left in place rather than removed for shipment to a museum (15). He recorded his progress in journals (16). He was the first to notice that there might be human remains buried in the ruins (17). He noticed a cavity (18) and ordered liquid plaster to be poured into it (19). He had the surrounding ash removed (21), revealing a complete figure (22).


Over the centuries, people had eventually forgotten about Pompeii because its exact position was unclear (1), owning mainly to lava from subsequent eruptions covering the area (2), thus changing the coastline (3). Besides, rubbish from excavations littered the site, hiding it even more (4), while rainwater accelerated its decay (5). Using a disciplined approach (6) and believing in a methodical study (9), Fiorelli cleared the rubbish (7), putting in a drainage system (8). Furthermore, his tactics included locating the outside walls (10), producing maps of the site (11), splitting it into areas and establishing the identity of particular buildings (12). He ensured that new discoveries were given exact descriptions (13), and left where they were rather than removed (15). He also noted his discoveries in journals (16). He realised that humans might be buried in the city (17), and so, when he spotted a cavity in some earth (18), he had liquid plaster put into it (19), and allowed it to set (20). When the surrounding ash was taken away (21), a human figure was seen (22).

(149 words)

(146 words)

As both candidates have more than 15 content points in their summaries, they will both score full marks (15 marks) for content.

To assess which candidate has done better in summary writing, we need to compare the style in which their summaries are written.

  • Candidate A has done little to use his own words, but Candidate B has made a sustained and successful attempt to use his own words.

  • Both candidates have made no errors under mechanical accuracy.

  • Candidate B used much more present participles and conjunctions than Candidate A, hence showing more complexity in his sentence structure.

  • Candidate B maintains a good 'flow' to his writing by maintaining an orderly sequence of ideas and using linking devices, but Candidate A shows no clear attempts at organisation and linking.

Therefore, it is clear that Candidate B will score well in style assessment - for the use of own words and for the use of English. Overall, Candidate B will score much higher than Candidate A in summary writing.

So do you want to write summaries as well as Candidate B? The secret of success therefore lies in content and style! Let's proceed to review the summary writing skills!


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