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.
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).
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
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
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
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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