Caribexams tutorial: How to write a summary?

This is a visual representation of what you do when you summarize a written passage.

sumary writing

Caribexams tutorial: English A writing a summary

How to write a summary

The following are the six (6) steps for writing a summary


Find the main idea of the passage:

Read the passage the first time for understanding.

(So you can get a sense of what point they are trying to make.)

Ask yourself, “ What was the passage about?”

(You should answer yourself with a sentence or a phrase)

Hint: If you are having problems, scan the passage to see which 'topic' word appears most often. This is likely the topic of the passage.
Now you have to figure out what is being said about the topic.

Read the passage a second time.

What is the overall point being made about the topic word? You need to be able to see the "big picture" being presented by the passage. This is the main idea of the whole passage; Write it down.

Never start writing a summary before you read the passage for a second time.


Find the supporting ideas in the passage:

(Supporting ideas are used to develop, explain or expand on the main idea.)

While "skimming" (reading through quickly) the passage for
the third time, look for the supporting ideas by reading over
the opening sentences of the paragraphs.

(A paragraph expresses and develops one main idea or point)

Underline topic sentences in the paragraphs and the key ideas in them.


After reading the passage for the third time, write one or two summary sentences for each paragraph describing the main idea that you see expressed by the paragraph.

If you see yourself repeating the same ideas, you will need to read the passage again to get a clearer picture and then revise your summary sentences.


Join together the main idea of the passage and your paragraph summary sentences by using transitional words and/or phrases.
These transitional words/phrases do three things:
1) They give your summary a sense of being a "whole" - not just a group of unconnected sentences.
2) They also make your summary "flow" smoothly when reading
3) They reinforce and support the main idea being expressed in the passage.


Reread (and edit if necessary) the summary to make sure it clear and to-the-point.
Eliminate repetitive words, too many descriptive words (adjectives and adverbs)and non-essential sentences.
The final version should read like a whole, sensible piece of writing.

**Check your spelling and grammar.


Finally, check your summary against the author’s original. Have you correctly described the author’s main idea and the essential supporting points?

Make any necessary adjustments or changes to your summary.

Example of a summary.

guest (not verified) 4 May 2009 - 9:31pm

I find this site useful. Is it possible to get updates on ever-changing English Language?

I would appreciate an explanation of the difference between an Argumentative and a Discursive essay - eg, does one write both sides in an argumentative essay and put weight on the side one is supporting?

Does a Discursive essay present both sides equally? Does the writer support one side?

What is an Expository essay? Is a Descriptive essay under the umbrella of an Expository essay?

Thank you.


Hi Guest,
I am glad that you like the community! Sounds to me that you know quite a lot about essay types already. Please feel free to write some more about essays, I am sure that there are many CXC students here who would like and benefit from your explanations.

Basically, the term "continuous prose" means that you must write your answer in the format of an essay. That is, you must use complete sentences and paragraphs to write your answer.

I think CXC says this, because sometimes exam candidates write their answers in the form of notes - like bullet points. They do not bother to write complete sentences and they do not use  paragraphs. They do not write complete passages for their answers. That is why CXC stresses that your answer must be in "continuous prose". 

I hope this is helpful.

IDerrick23 (not verified) 13 November 2010 - 11:59am

This tutorial is very helpful,now to put these steps to the plate and eat them like food.

cyana (not verified) 5 May 2011 - 9:09pm

am looking forward to see u write more about stories........ and some tips on to how to do maths.

chantal (not verified) 15 May 2011 - 11:33am

how can u help me

TIKA_BEE (not verified) 16 May 2011 - 1:36pm

Today is the day b4 my english language cxc...n i needed a bit of las minute help wid summaries...this really helped me!!tank u very much!!

Samantha Niles (not verified) 22 August 2011 - 6:09pm

i want to pass all my subjects

nateshia (not verified) 6 July 2012 - 5:04pm

no matter wat i do i cant pass,i go classes..wen i was in form five my english teacher didnt didnt gve me a chance to do english,i belive if i did do it that time around i would of get it,cause i pass all my subject expect maths.Well that didnt stop me from going college,i get in college without english and i go english classes.thinking that i would get a better chance of getting it but i didnt i waste my mother money and now i feel so down,i would never be successful,cause if i cant pass one common CXC english,I cant go to people work place witout without,so i guess i would alway be a bat...please help me.

your truly

PreciousLovesJesus (not verified) 8 July 2012 - 8:24pm

In reply to by nateshia (not verified)

Hi Nateshia. Firstly, "when you think and act negative, you will get negative results but...when you think and act positive, you will get positive results." What is your choice today? Never say you can't, instead say "I CAN DO IT!" BECAUSE WITH GOD, "ALL" THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! :D NEVER GIVE UP! PUT GOD FIRST, IN "EVERYTHING" YOU DO! Nateshia and to all of you who might be having similar battles, you can do it! :D GOD BLESS TO ALL :)

guest (not verified) 9 October 2012 - 2:39pm

In reply to by nateshia (not verified)

nateshia, i am positive you are not a bat. However, I strongly believe no one took the the time to really teach you English. If you had a good tutor who understood your learning style and developed a lesson plan that suits you, you would be very successful. Please do not give up!

guest (not verified) 16 July 2012 - 11:58am

very cool

june joseph 6 November 2012 - 9:05pm

Hi, I am very grateful to be part of this online learning site thing. I am learning quite a lot from reading through the different things posted here. Thanks so much for allowing me. I look forward to lots more. I totally understand how to Summarize a passage now. Thanks.


kingsleyhenry (not verified) 4 September 2013 - 1:11am

how much time should i take when im writing a summry

elladi (not verified) 6 September 2013 - 11:31am

this site have been very helping to me,and it paid off very well. Thank u so much Kathy

lou (not verified) 15 April 2014 - 10:36pm

I can't pass english

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Enter the characters shown in the image.