Summarizing is a process of condensing or expressing in short something you have read, watched or heard. A summary conveys a general sense and includes only the main points or ideas, key words or phrases, and crucial details. The objective is to write just enough – not too much and not too little.
Summarizing is used when:
• we want to establish background or offer an overview of a topic;
• we want to describe common knowledge (from several sources) about a topic;
• we want to determine the main ideas of a single source.
Summarizing differs from paraphrasing as when paraphrasing we tell all the information but in other words, whereas summarizing we mention only the key ideas.
Summarazing on the TOEFL
The reading section of the TOEFL usually includes a question asking for the main idea of the passage. You should choose the best words and expressions to convey the main idea and not to be excessive in words.
In the integrated writing section of the TOEFL you are usually asked to summarize what you have heard and read. Here you should in written form explain what the connection is between the reading passage and the spoken lecture, whether they resemble or contradict one another. All thoughts must be given in short summarized form but not lose the meaning of the whole information. You have only 20 minutes to complete this task.
Integrated speaking section of the TOEFL presents two tasks demanding efficient summarizing skills. The first task is: you hear a conversation between two people and then are asked to describe what the conversation was about. The second: you read a short passage, hear a short lecture and then have to summarize both, by comparing and contrasting them, telling the main points in your own words.
How to summarize
When summarizing, include all the important ideas. To convey general meaning and a style, use the author's key words. It will help you to stick closely to the topic. If an article has a big size or complicated structure, follow the original organization where possible. If the article includes any important data – mention them. Do not forget about conclusion. Put any original important conclusions into your summarized writing or story.
To make a written summarizing:
1. Read the original article.
2. Re-read the article. Find the main idea of the article. Define and underline important ideas, key terms. Divide the article into logical sections or stages of thought. Define the main idea of each part to convey them.
3. Write your rough draft of the summary. Write step-by-step sticking to the main idea and important facts, terms and dates. Use your own words.
4. Check and edit your version. Be critical to your work: eliminate needless words and repetitions. (Avoid using "the author says...," "the author argues...," etc.)
5. Compare your version to the original and make final corrections.
Remember, in the summary, you should include only the information your readers need.
Use a simple organization:
• main point;
• main results;